World Touring Car Championship 2016: Rounds 3 and 4 of 24

WTCC Race of Slovakia, Automotodróm Slovakia Ring, 15-17 April

Sixth-gear Turn 2 one of the fastest corners of the season

World champion López heads tightly-poised title battle

Motorsport history-making WTCC MAC3 to take centre stage on Saturday

One of the fastest corners of the season awaits the FIA World Touring Car Championship drivers in Slovakia when the battle for WTCC glory resumes next week (15-17 April).

Turn 2 at Automotodróm Slovakia Ring is taken in sixth gear at approximately 215kph and provides an adrenalin-fuelled test for the WTCC drivers and their TC1 World Touring Cars.

But, as 2009 WTCC champion Gabriele Tarquini explains, it’s not just the high-speed nature of the corner that sets the pulses racing. “Because you cannot see the exit you must trust yourself to be flat,” says Tarquini. “Then after the corner you have a small jump before being hard on the brakes for Turn 3. It’s very exciting.”

LADA driver Tarquini is a two-time winner at the Slovakia Ring and rates the 5.922-kilometre layout as one of his favourites. And he has an opportunity to add to his tally of two wins with his Vesta free of the 80 kilograms of success ballast being carried by the Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs, including the one driven by defending world champion José María López.

While the Argentine’s victory in the Main Race in France in early April hands him a four-point title lead, he expects a big fight to remain competitive at the longer and more technical Slovakia Ring before the compensation weight is reviewed for the third weekend of the season in Hungary.

The trio of factory Honda Civic WTCCs also currently run without success ballast under new rules for 2016 and Rob Huff, Norbert Michelisz and Tiago Monteiro are all potential podium visitors having claimed top-three finishes in France with Huff winning the Opening Race. LADA’s Nicky Catsburg is one of the WTCC’s fastest drivers over a single lap, while Polestar duo Thed Björk and Fredrik Ekblom will be racing at the Slovakia Ring for the first time. Elsewhere, Medhi Bennani was a double WTCC Trophy winner last time out for Sébastien Loeb Racing, while Hugo Valente started the reverse-grid Opening Race on the DHL-presented pole position on his first WTCC event as a factory driver.

WTCC MAC3 proves a big hit
Motorsport history was made in the FIA World Touring Car Championship in France when Citroën won the inaugural WTCC MAC3 competition, the team trial inspired by professional cycling events such as the Tour de France. In a dramatic finish, the Citroën team of Mehdi Bennani, José María López and Yvan Muller edged LADA (Nicky Catsburg, Gabriele Tarquini and Hugo Valente) by 0.030s after two flying laps of the 3.841-kilometre Circuit Paul Ricard. Honda was forced to settle for third after a slow start from Rob Huff meant it took the Japanese make 2.453s longer than Citroën to get its three cars over the line with Nobert Michelisz and Tiago Monteiro also in action for the team. Citroën scored 10 points toward its FIA WTCC Manufacturers’ Championship total, LADA eight and Honda six. A highlights video is available here: and this is a reminder of how it works:

Citroën, Honda and LADA (Polestar will participate when it enters a third car) will nominate three drivers to take part in WTCC MAC3, which follows Qualifying Q3, once all cars have been refuelled and fitted with a new set of tyres. As soon as a team’s three cars vacate the grid side by side, the clock starts and then stops once the last car completes two flying laps (one lap at the Nürburgring Nordschleife). Failure to get all three cars over the line – or if the second or third car doesn’t finish within a maximum of 15 seconds after the first car – means no points.

Hello Opening Race and Main Race!
Gone are Race 1 and Race 2 for 2016, in their place come Opening Race and Main Race with the reverse-grid now used for the first clash of the weekend and the grid for the second event, which runs over an extra lap, based on the results of Qualifying.

WTCC Premium TV:
Bringing the WTCC’s video content to fans through mobile apps (iOS and Android) and online, WTCC Premium TV costs €14.95 for a weekend or €99.95 for a season. Included in the package is the world feed plus a choice of 10 on-board cameras, no geo-blocking, video on demand, plus stats and facts.

WTCC Fan Village: There will be fast-paced entertainment on and off the track in the WTCC this season with the WTCC Fan Village at the races in France, Slovakia, Hungary, Morocco, Germany, Russia and Portugal. WTCC Fan Village features displays, meet the driver sessions, music, merchandising and a WTCC Hall of Fame. Entry is free.

New partnerships: TAG Heuer and OSCARO are welcomed as Official Series Partners. JVCKENWOOD’s renewed commitment will bring team radio to TV, Polestar will provide the Official Safety Car, the Volvo V60 Polestar, while a new alliance with the Goodwood Festival of Speed will bring WTCC ‘art cars’ to the annual motorsport extravaganza in June. DHL, the WTCC’s Official Logistics Partner, will present the DHL Pole Position Award at every event. The new TAG Heuer Best Lap award goes to the driver setting the weekend’s fastest race lap of all.

Slovakia Ring changes: While the track layout remains unchanged for 2016, upgrades over the winter have included the creation of wider run-off arras and modifications to barriers and marshal posts as the circuit looks to obtain an FIA Grade 2 licence.

World champion José María López and Yvan Muller remain in factory C-Elysée WTCCs. Privateer squad Sébastien Loeb Racing expands to a three-car effort with Tom Chilton and Grégoire Demoustier joining Mehdi Bennani.

Honda: Independent champion Norbert Michelisz gets his big factory break, while Rob Huff joins from LADA. Tiago Monteiro stays put but there’s no drive for Gabriele Tarquini

LADA: Gabriele Tarquini continues in the WTCC at LADA after leaving Honda. Hugo Valente is handed a dream works ride after impressing as a privateer. Nicky Catsburg gets a full season.

Polestar: Volvo’s performance brand begins its long-term WTCC campaign with two S60 Polestar TC1s for Scandinavian Touring Car aces Thed Björk and Fredrik Ekblom.

WTCC Trophy: Bennani, Chilton and Demoustier aside, Tom Coronel is back for WTCC season 12 in his privateer Chevrolet. John Filippi turned 21 in February and gets Yvan Muller as a driver coach. John Bryan-Meisner crosses over from single-seater racing, while René Münnich will combine the WTCC with World RX. He will recruit replacements for the races he can’t contest and has handed James Thompson his WTCC return after almost one year away. Zengo Motorsport will enter two Hondas for Hungarian teenagers Ferenc Ficza and Dániel Nagy.

Honda’s trio of factory drivers, Rob Huff, Norbert Michelisz and Tiago Monteiro, were on fine form at WTCC JVCKENWOOD Race of France as they made the most of their ballast-free Civics. However, Yvan Muller and Gabriel Tarquini have both won at the Slovakia Ring in the past and will be looking to hit back following early-season frustration in France.

Race wins in 2016:
Huff and López 1
Pole positions in 2016: López 1
Fastest laps in 2016: Huff and Muller 1
Laps led in 2016: López 17, Huff 16

All-time race wins (top 5): Y Muller 47, Huff 28, Menu 23, López 22, Tarquini 20
All-time pole positions (top 5): Y Muller 28, Tarquini 17, López/Menu 15, Farfus/Huff 11
All-time fastest laps (top 5): Y Muller 38, Huff 25, Tarquini 22, López 21, Menu 20
All-time laps led (top 5): Y Muller 565, Huff 322, Menu 297, Tarquini 274, López/Priaulx 240

WTCC Race of Slovakia winners
Race 1: Yvan Muller (Citroën C-Elysée); Race 2: Sébastien Loeb (Citroën C-Elysée)
2014: R1: Sébastien Loeb (Citroën C-Elysée); R2: Race cancelled due to heavy rain
2013: R1: Gabriele Tarquini (Honda Civic); R2: Tom Coronel (BMW 320)
2012: R1: Gabriele Tarquini (SEAT León); R2: Rob Huff (Chevrolet Cruze)

Automotodróm Slovakia Ring

The most famous American of Slovak descent is arguably the artist Andy Warhol, who contributed to the BMW Art Car Project at Le Mans in the 1970s. Warhol’s parents emigrated from Miková in north-eastern Slovakia before he was born. He died in 1987.

By taking part in both races in Slovakia, ROAL Motorsport’s WTCC Trophy contender Tom Coronel will have started 250 WTCC races.

For the first time since 2013, Honda leads the WTCC Manufacturers’ Championship following its strong showing at Circuit Paul Ricard in France earlier this month.
2 James Thompson will start his first WTCC race in almost a year when he deputises for René Münnich at ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport.
3 After engine supply issues prevented him from racing in France, Ferenc Ficza is set to start his first WTCC races in Slovakia. However, Zengo Motorsport team-mate Dániel Nagy will have to wait until the third weekend of the season in Hungary to get his big chance.

It’s zero compensation weight unless you’re driving a Citroën C-Elysées with all examples of the French make fitted with 80 kilograms of additional weight.

Fredrik Ekblom (Polestar):
“The track looks fantastic and from what we saw in France we can be quite good on the medium and high-speed corners. Because we have no simulator at this stage I have looked at videos on YouTube [to learn the track] and we will also have a meeting with the team where we will discuss all the different scenarios. We have only done two days of set-up testing this year so we are still learning a lot but, hopefully, improving.”

Rob Huff (Honda): “This is probably one of the most technical tracks we go to, it’s a long lap and a very bumpy track due to the settlement of the land where the track is built. This makes the braking zones very tricky but it’s a fantastic, flowing track and you can really get into a good rhythm. You know you’ve done a good job when you get every corner right, which is challenging as a driver. With the bumps it’s quite easy to make a mistake when you’re pushing on the limit.”

José María López (Citroën): “Slovakia’s going to be really interesting. Honda have been competitive there so it’s going to be really tough. We know the competition is going to be strong but we have also pushed hard, we are not sleeping on our laurels and we’re still competitive. It was a bit of a surprise qualifying on pole in France but with new tyres you can hold a little bit more the car, the extra grip is there so you can manage it. But in the race when the grip is going away it’s a bit more difficult with 80 kilograms.”

Gabriele Tarquini (LADA): “It’s one of the most exciting tracks in the WTCC. It’s very nice, very difficult, very long, very easy to make a mistake but one of my favourite tracks. I won twice in the past and I’m hoping to do a good performance again this year. You need to have the perfect car and if your car is working well at Slovakia Ring then it’s a good car. The set-up is a compromise of everything because you have a very fast corner, changes of direction, traction is very important out of T10 and aerodynamic balance is also very important.”

Tom Coronel (WTCC Trophy): “We have to work on the set-up for the full race distance. We have to improve the tyre management to be able to fight to the max towards the end, too. We had a good weekend in France with a second and a third in the privateers’ classification but there is absolutely more in store.”

Automotodróm Slovakia Ring (
Location: 800 Orechová Potôn 930 02, Slovakia
Length: 5.922 kilometres Opening Race distance: 11 laps Main Race distance: 12 laps
Lap record (qualifying): José María López (Citroën C-Elysée), 2m03.736s (172.3kph), 20/06/15
Lap record (race): Gabriele Tarquini (Honda Civic), 2m05.748s (169.5kph), 21/06/15
WTCC appearances: Four
Time zone: GMT +2 hours Sunrise/sunset: 05h58/19h45 (Sunday 17 April)
Average temperature: 5°C-16°C (for April)
The venue: The Automotodróm Slovakia Ring was the setting for an unfortunate piece of WTCC history in 2014 when organisers were forced to cancel race two due to heavy rain – the first time this had happened since the series was revived in 2005. But there were no such problems last season when warm temperatures and bright sunshine formed the backdrop to two entertaining races. Located 40 kilometres east of the capital Bratislava, the Slovakia Ring was built between 2008-09 and has also hosted FIA GT1, FIA GT3 and FIA GT in the past. The FIA ETCC will be calling again in 2016.
The timetable:
?Following a 30-minute test on Friday, Saturday’s timetable includes Free Practice 1 and 2 (both 30 minutes), Qualifying and WTCC MAC3. The Opening Race on Sunday covers 11 laps with the Main Race running over 12 laps.

With two wins from seven starts and the circuit lap record, Gabriele Tarquini is a Slovakia Ring expert. This is the LADA Sport Rosneft driver’s guide to a rapid lap of the 5.922-kilometre track, the second longest circuit in use in the FIA World Touring Car Championship.

“Turn 1 seems very tight but it’s very wide on the exit and you can use the kerbs and more in third gear. Then you pass through fourth, fifth and sixth gears before the fastest corner, Turn 2. This is one of the fastest corners in the WTCC at around 215kph, it’s very exciting and it’s very close to be flat. Because you cannot see the exit you must trust yourself that you can be flat. You can use the very wide exit without any problem and after you have this small jump before being hard on the brakes. Usually you have lost the weight on the front and immediately after this jump you must brake and come back to third gear for a very late apex corner. You can be a little bit long on the entry and come back later on the apex to prepare for Turn 4. Like Turn 4, T5 is also a flat corner. Turn 6 is a very challenging braking point because you can be very deep on the braking but you have a lot of turn-in oversteer and it’s not very easy to find the braking point. For me it’s the easiest corner to make a mistake under braking. But it’s also a good possibility to overtake during the race because of the different line. Turn 6, like Turn 3, is a very late apex to prepare for Turn 7. It’s an easy-flat corner if you exit very good Turn 6. After you have the very slow part of the track. Turn 8 is normally third gear with a lot of power understeer coming out. After you put fourth, shifting a little bit earlier on Turn 9 to be very close to flat but it’s not completely flat and in the race you must save the tyres because normally if you are forcing the front tyres you can destroy the front-right. Approaching Turn 10 can be an overtaking opportunity. It’s the slowest one and you need to short shift because it’s very difficult for front-wheel traction. After Turn 11 you pass third, you short shift in fourth, fifth before the corner number 12. After you put again sixth gear and for the last corner this is a very difficult corner with a difficult braking point because normally you can brake very deeply. It has a very late apex so you can be very deep on the braking in fourth gear. It’s exciting because you fight with the steering wheel in the middle of the corner and then you are flat out for the finish line.” Gabriele Tarquini’s perfect passing place: “T1, T6 and T10 are the best places to overtake.”

Yvan Muller narrowed José María López’s advantage at the top of the standings to 30 points with his fourth win of the campaign in the first WTCC Race of Slovakia. However, both WTCC champions had no answer to Citroën team-mate Sébastien Loeb, who bagged his first win since March with a fine drive in the second race at the sun-baked Slovakia Ring where 40,000 fans watched the bumper-to-bumper action over the course of the weekend. Starting from pole, Muller produced a faultless display in his C-Elysée WTCC to win the opening 11-lap contest from López with Loeb third after the latter pair had initially battled for position. Rob Huff finished fourth for LADA with Hugo Valente topping the Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy in his Campos Racing Chevrolet Cruze, one place ahead of Honda driver Gabriele Tarquini. Jaap van Lagen started the reverse grid second race in first place but was unable to keep the chasing pack at bay, first dropping behind Tarquini before losing out to the flying Citroën trio. He finished sixth with Tarquini slipping to fourth and Valente again the top independent racer in fifth. Reigning Argentine Súper TC2000 champion Néstor Girolami scored a point on his WTCC debut by finishing P10 in race one.

Event press officer:
Martin Trenkler,, +421 907370727
Accreditation location/opening times: The Media Accreditation Centre is located at the Hotel Ring, Orechová Potôn 930 02, Slovakia. The Media Accreditation Centre is open as follows: Friday 15 April, 08h00-20h00; Saturday 16 April, 08h00-20h00; Sunday 17 April, 08h00-12h00.
Media centre location/opening times: The Media Centre is also located at the Hotel Ring and open as follows: Friday 15 April, 08h00-20h00; Saturday 16 April, 08h00-20h00; Sunday 17 April, 08h00-until the last journalist leaves.

Thursday 14 April

14h00-15h00: Pre-event press conference (Crowne Plaza Bratislava, Hodžovo nám. 2, 816 25 Bratislava). Followed by photocall at the Bratislava UFO Observatory
Friday 15 April
08h00-20h00: Media Accreditation Centre open; 08h00-20h00: Media Centre open
12h30-13h00: Testing
18h00-19h00: WTCC Happy Hour (WTCC VIP Club): all WTCC drivers present
Saturday 16 April
08h00-18h00: Media Accreditation Centre open; 08h00-20h00: Media Centre open
08h45-09h15: WTCC Free Practice 1
10h30-10h45: Driver Q&A session with Ferenc Ficza and Yvan Muller (WTCC Fan Village)
11h30-12h00: WTCC Free Practice 2
12h30-12h45: Driver Q&A session with Tom Chilton and Tom Coronel (WTCC Fan Village)
14h00-14h20: WTCC Qualifying Q1
14h25-14h35: WTCC Qualifying Q2
14h40 (pit lane opens: WTCC Qualifying Q3
15h00-15h30: WTCC Manufacturers Against the Clock
15h40 (approx.): WTCC MAC3/post-qualifying press conference (Media Centre). Representative from each team contesting WTCC MAC3, followed by the fastest three drivers in Qualifying Q3 and fastest WTCC Trophy driver in Qualifying in attendance
Sunday 17 April
08h00-12h00: Media Accreditation Centre open; 08h00-until the last journalist leaves: Media Centre open
10h30-11h00: Autograph session (WTCC Fan Village)
11h50: Pit lane open; 12h00: Pit lane closed 12h05: Five-minute board displayed
12h10: WTCC Opening Race (11 laps)
12h50 (approx..): WTCC Opening Race podium
13h40: WTCC refuelling time starts 13h45: OSCARO WTCC repair time starts
13h50: Pit lane open; 14h00: Pit lane closed 14h10: Five-minute board displayed
14h15: WTCC Main Race (12 laps)
15h00 (approx.): WTCC Main Race podium
15h15 (approx..): Post-Opening and Post-Main Race press conference (Media Centre). Top-three drivers and WTCC Trophy winner from both races in attendance.
Timings are provisional and subject to change. Additional activities may be arranged.

Available at, the WTCC media website contains a press release archive, press kit, event guides, Q&As, high-resolution rights-free images, driver profiles, statistics, results, track maps, logos, accreditation details and much more. We hope it proves a useful resource.

1-3 April 2016: FIA WTCC Race of France (Circuit Paul Ricard)
15-17 April 2016: FIA WTCC Race of Slovakia (Slovakia Ring)
22-24 April 2016: FIA WTCC Race of Hungary (Hungaroring)
7-8 May 2016: FIA WTCC Race of Morocco (Circuit Moulay El Hassan, Marrakech) S
26-28 May 2016: FIA WTCC Race of Germany (Nürburgring Nordschleife)
10-12 June 2016: FIA WTCC Race of Russia (Moscow Raceway)
24-26 June 2016: FIA WTCC Race of Portugal (Circuito Internacional de Vila Real) S
5-7 August 2016: FIA WTCC Race of Argentina (Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo)*
2-4 September 2016: FIA WTCC Race of Japan (Twin Ring Motegi)
23-25 September 2016: FIA WTCC Race of China (Shanghai International Circuit)
4-6 November 2016: FIA WTCC Race of Thailand (Chang International Circuit)*
23-25 November 2016: FIA WTCC Race of Qatar (Losail International Circuit) N
S Indicates street race; N Indicates Night Race; * pending on signature of promoter agreement

– See more at:


- Advertisement -