Vila Real is gearing up to host the WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup’s 100th race on Sunday with the three Kings of WTCR highlighting the enormity of the occasion.
Gabriele Tarquini (2018), Norbert Michelisz (2019) and Yann Ehrlacher (2020 and 2021) have taken the four WTCR titles awarded so far, earning coveted King of WTCR status in the process.
All three will be in action in northern Portugal this weekend with Michelisz and Ehrlacher competing on track for BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse and Cyan Racing Lynk & Co respectively. And having called time on his driving career at the end of last season, Tarquini will be present to oversee Michelisz’s progress in his new role as Team Manager of the Italian BRC outfit.
“It’s great to see this number and to be part of this great family,” said Tarquini, who not only won the first WTCR title but also the first WTCR race in Morocco in April 2018.
“To reach this number means the formula works and I’m very happy to be part of this history. When it started in 2018, I was in a new car and I didn’t expect to win the first race but the oldest guy  in the paddock won and it was a very successful year for me. I’m very proud to have won this title. It was my last world title and it’s a great memory.”
Michelisz, who like Tarquini became king of WTCR driving for the Hyundai-powered BRC team, said: “It means a lot but it’s a moment when you realise how fast time passes because I remember the very first race in Marrakech and it doesn’t feel like 100 races ago. I’m very proud of everyone involved because the format is fantastic and to get this far shows all the commitment that there is. Always when you win races and compete for a title it’s very satisfying and I’m very proud of my achievements competing against multiple world champions and top-level touring car drivers from around the world. It’s a great series and there are a lot of seasons ahead of us. I’m sure we’ll get to a couple of hundred more races in the future with a similar level of competition.”
After claiming his first WTCR title in 2020, Ehrlacher repeated the feat 12 months later for Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, becoming the first driver to win the WTCR title more than once and at the young age of 25 to boot.
“It’s a lot for a series to have 100 races and I’m really pleased to be part of it,” said Frenchman Ehrlacher, the nephew of four-time FIA World Touring Car Championship winner Yvan Muller. “I have been with two manufacturers and three teams [since the WTCR started] but it feels like yesterday that we were starting the first race and it’s nice the series keeps going like this. Okay, I am the only one who has won two titles and I’m quite pleased about it, and to be doing my 100th WTCR race also. But my goal is to get another [title] as soon as possible so I will work on that.”
Circuit Moulay El Hassan in Marrakech, Morocco, hosted the first of 30 races held in the WTCR’s inaugural 2018 season when China, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Macau, Netherlands, Portugal and Slovakia also staged races. Malaysia was added to the schedule for 2019 in place of WTCR Race of China-Wuhan when another 30 races took place.
The global health pandemic resulted in a delayed start to the 2020 season and a heavily revised calendar with Belgium and Spain joining the roster.
More COVID-19 disruption in 2021 caused the cancellation of the Asia leg for a second season and gave the opportunity for Czech Republic, France, Italy and Russia to host races for the first time.
So far in 2022, races have taken place in France, Hungary and Spain with Portugal the setting for WTCR races 99 and 100 this weekend (July 2-3).
A full data kit will be issued following the weekend, while the list of WTCR race winners so far is attached.