The WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup fires back into life at Autodrom Most next week (October 8-10) when part two of the all-action season gets underway in Czech Republic.
An untried track for the bulk of the WTCR drivers and their teams, the 4.212-kilometre Autodrom Most layout is set to deliver a memorable spectacle − and an exciting challenge − with eight of the scheduled 16 races remaining and less than 40 points covering the top 12 in the Drivers’ standings.
But as well as the high-tempo combat on four wheels, the FIM Endurance World Championship for motorbikes from Discovery Sports Events provides even more thrills for the fans attending the Most World Weekend event.
Two (wheels) is not only the key number in the EWC, it’s also the amount of points separating current King of WTCR and Goodyear #FollowTheLeader Yann Ehrlacher and his Cyan-run, Lynk & Co-powered team-mate Santiago Urrutia after eight rounds.
The WTCR title top two are among eight different winners this season and will be firm contenders for victory at Autodrom Most in their Goodyear-equipped Lynk & Co 03 TCRs, as will their team-mates Thed Björk and Yvan Muller. Björk spent three seasons racing touring cars in Czech Republic and was a frequent winner at Autodrom Most during that time.
Jean-Karl Vernay had worn the coveted blue jacket as the Goodyear #FollowTheLeader until a tough WTCR Race of Hungary weekend dropped him to third place in the title fight. With reclaiming lost ground the priority for the Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team driver, the fact his team-mate Luca Engstler has raced at Autodrom Most in TCR machinery will serve as a useful boost.
Having battled for the Race 2 win at WTCR Race of Germany in June, young German Engstler has been unable to make the same impact subsequently and will look to capitalise on his track knowledge and hat-trick of recent race wins in the ADAC TCR Germany series.
After the heartbreak of not being able to take up a first WTCR pole for Zengő Motorsport and the CUPRA Leon Competición following a crash in Race 1 at the Hungaroring, Rob Huff will be eager to hit back at Autodrom Most where he’ll form part of the CUPRA-powered attack along with Mikel Azcona − a double WTCR Race of Hungary podium finisher − plus Bence Boldizs, Jordi Gene and home hero Petr Fulín, who is competing in a privately-entered CUPRA as a wildcard.
Azcona heads to Czech Republic on a high after he increased his grip on the TCR Europe title following another impressive showing at Monza. For Fulín, meanwhile, the chance to race 80 kilometres from his home is one he couldn’t turn down and as a three-time winner of the FIA European Touring Car Cup, the experienced Czech will be on to watch, even though his wildcard status means he’s not eligible for WTCR points.
WTCR RACE OF CZECH REPUBLIC ESSENTIALS
Rounds: 9 and 10 of 16
Date: October 8-10
Venue: Autodrom Most
Location: Tvrzova 5, 434 01 Most, Czech Republic
Track length: 4.212 kilometres
Race 1 distance: 13 laps (54.756 kilometres)
Race 2 distance: 15 laps (63.180 kilometres)
WTCR qualifying lap record: To be established
WTCR race lap record: To be established
Friday October 8:
Free Practice 1: 12h00-12h45
Free Practice 2: 14h30-15h00
Qualifying Q1: 16h45-17h05
Qualifying Q2: 17h10-17h20
Qualifying Q3: 17h25-17h40
Sunday October 10:
Race 1: 14h15 (13 laps, 54.756 kilometres)
Race 1 podium: 14h50 approx.
Race 2: 17h10 (15 laps, 63.180 kilometres)
Race 2 podium: 17h50 approx.
All timings are local (CET), provisional and subject to change
Thed Björk (SWE) Cyan Performance Lynk & Co / Lynk & Co 03 TCR: “I raced in the Czech Republic for three seasons in a DTM Audi and I won many races at Most. I feel so familiar to the track and the surroundings and that gives me a really positive boost because I like the track even though it was 14 years ago since I was last there. We’re going to have some interesting races because it’s a track where a lot of things can happen with overtaking possibilities. Obviously at this time of year the rain can play out but, as a team, we try to figure out what to do before. You have to play some tactics with the tyre strategy if it does rain but, for me, it’s work as usual, if it’s dry or wet it’s not any different for us. I’m a really big fan of the bikes and will definitely watch the EWC race. The start is always intense and it’s going to be interesting for see the start and feel the atmosphere.”
Bence Boldizs (HUN) Zengő Motorsport Drivers’ Academy / CUPRA Leon Competición: “Most, like all four remaining tracks on the calendar, will be unknown for me so I am doing a lot of practice on my simulator and I really like it. For the CUPRAs it will be good with high-speed corners and a long straight. Last year, my debut year, I finished with three Q2 appearances in a row. This year we are struggling and I am not satisfied with my performance, which is strange because it’s exactly the same car I used last year. Therefore, I am really happy we are going to an unknown track because I have to learn everything from zero but it’s not really a second home race for me because it’s 700 kilometres by car from Budapest to Most so not so close.”
Luca Engstler (DEU) Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team / Hyundai Elantra N TCR: “I have raced at Most before, in ADAC TCR Germany, but I’m not taking [my track knowledge] as a good advantage to be honest. Of course, it’s good to know at least where to turn left and right but these [WTCR] drivers on that level learn the track in four laps. If we had a superpole [shootout] on Friday morning then I think I would have been quite fast but there is still half a day of practice [before Qualifying] so my experience will not make a difference. The track is really nice with a long straight so there will be a bit of slipstream strategy and many overtaking manoeuvres.”
Esteban Guerrieri (ARG) ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport / Honda Civic Type R TCR: “Even though I lived in Czech Republic for one year when I raced for ISR in Formula Renault 3.5 in 2010, I never raced at Most. But I’ve done a lot of laps in the sim and watched some videos from TCR Germany when it was there in the past. It’s a lot of fun to drive in the simulator and maybe the first chicane will be the place for overtaking. There is a lot of combined corners, left/right and medium- speed corners when the tyre consumption will be a factor. My title chances are very clear and open to be honest and I feel I am totally in the game even though I haven’t scored a podium yet.”
Gilles Magnus (BEL) Comtoyou Team Audi Sport / Audi RS 3 LMS: “From looking at the onboards it’s not going to be very easy into the first corner because it’s a tight chicane and that will be a difficult point to survive. But for the rest it looks like a quick track, high-speed so good for us and the Audi. At the level we are all at we all learn tracks quite quickly, but the priority will be to get the kilometres covered in FP1 to improve myself but to already get a feeling with the car and give a direction to the engineers. Cold temperatures and rain are not a concern at all because we’ve always been better in these kinds of conditions. We were competitive in Aragón and Budapest, but I think we could have been even more competitive if it was cooler. Being a race winner now for sure feels good and we are still in contention for the title. The win shows we are capable of doing something great and we need to keep on pushing. Everything can happen and we need to stay focused, but we also need to be happy and enjoy the moment.”