RACE PREVIEW: FIA WTCC Race of Germany, 25-27 May 2017
FIA World Touring Car Championship 2017: Rounds 7 and 8 of 20

*Iconic venue provides major challenge for top touring car drivers
*Rollercoaster race track ready to host all-action WTCC races
*Honda’s Monteiro heads Volvo Polestar’s Catsburg in title fight
*Five winners from six races in wide-open WTCC season

FIA World Touring Car Championship racers will face a challenge like no other next week (25-27 May) when they try to tame the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife – venue of WTCC Race of Germany and ranked by many as the toughest track on the planet.

Measuring 25.378 kilometres in length and packed with turns, climbs, dips and flat-out straights, the Nürburgring Nordschleife is the ultimate test of driver bravery and skill and one of the highlights of the 10-event WTCC campaign.

Two three-lap blasts await some of international touring car racing’s finest and with the current WTCC season the most open for nearly a decade – there have been five winners from the first six races – a thrilling spectacle is in store in the Eifel mountains next Saturday morning.

Sir Jackie Stewart, a three-time winner of the German Grand Prix on the Nordschleife, remembers the circuit with plenty of trepidation. “I called it the Green Hell because that’s what it was. Every time I left my home I wondered if I’d be coming back so it was a seriously threatening race and I don’t think there is a single driver who went into it thinking this is for pussycats. You’d be going towards the Karusell, up a steep hill and there was one high tree you aimed at because the Karussel was down a dip and you didn’t know where to turn. If I stayed on that one fur tree I got the lock on just right and I went over the rise into the Karussel.”

José María López, who scored three WTCC wins at the Nordschleife during his triple title-winning stint, said: “It was the most amazing race of the year. Everything is special about this track and it’s different from anything you have experienced before and to be able to win here was something else. It’s something amazing to be flat out on this track. You have jumps, high-speed corners, a long straight, a long lap, it’s amazing.”

Apart from López, Yvan Muller is the only other driver to have won in the WTCC on the Nordschleife, a feat he achieved in 2015 albeit by a slender margin of 0.173s. Having retired at the end of last season and now development driver and consultant for Volvo’s factory team, Cyan Racing, Muller is only too aware of the Nordschleife’s unforgiving nature when he slammed into Tiago Monteiro’s Honda in last year’s race after the Portuguese driver had crashed out following tyre failure.

*This year’s WTCC Race of Germany is the 10th to take place in the country and the third held at the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
*While there won’t be a German driver on the grid this year, Rob Huff is the next best thing as German team ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s representative. Still chasing his first win of the campaign, expect a major push from the Briton.
*Having topped the support bill last time out in Hungary, the FIA European Touring Car Cup drivers will be on track at the same time as their WTCC counterparts in a unique spit-grid format.
*WTCC Race of Germany is part of the famous ADAC 24h-Rennen event, a week-long motorsport extravaganza, which culminates in the twice-round-the-clock race from Saturday afternoon. Nicky Catsburg is the only driver attempting both events.

*Factory teams from Honda and Volvo Polestar go up against leading privateer entrants.
*Revamped and compact calendar (10 events only to reduce costs) features return to iconic venues Monza and Macau, a new track in China, plus a mid-July date for WTCC Race of Argentina.
*More points are on offer to the top 10 in the Main Race as follows: 1=30 points; 2=23; 3=19; 4=16; 5=13; 6=10; 7=7; 8=4; 9=2; 10=1).
*WTCC MAC3, the Tour de France-inspired time trial, continues with two more points for winning.
*FIA World Rallycross-style ‘joker’ lap planned for WTCC Race of Portugal in Vila Real.
*Renewed social media push with several innovations coming during the season.
*Use of 360-degree camera to give viewer the impression they are in-car with the driver.

*Factory teams Honda and Volvo Polestar both feature tweaked driver line-ups for 2017. Japanese racer Ryo Michigami replaces Rob Huff at Honda where he will partner Norbert Michelisz and Tiago Monteiro. Thed Björk gets two new team-mates: Nicky Catsburg and Néstor Girolami, while Yvan Muller has signed as a development driver for partner team Cyan Racing.
*Huff has returned to ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport after three years away to drive the German team’s Citroën C-Elysée WTCC. Mehdi Bennani and Tom Chilton continue in Sébastien Loeb Racing-run Citroëns and welcome new team-mate John Filippi.
*There will be family pride at stake for rookie racers Yann Ehrlacher and Aurélien Panis. Ehrlacher is the nephew of four-time world champion Yvan Muller, while Panis’s father Olivier won the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix and commentates on Eurosport France’s WTCC coverage.
*Panis will partner Dániel Nagy at Zengo Motorsport, while Ehrlacher joins new team RC Motorsport, which also includes American Kevin Gleason in its line-up.
*Esteban Guerrieri has secured a partial programme with Campos Racing with work underway to make it a full-season deal following his maiden win last time out in Morocco.
*Like Guerrieri, Tom Coronel will be Chevrolet Cruze-mounted in 2017 after he extended his long-term agreement with inaugural WTCC champion Roberto Ravaglia’s ROAL Motorsport team.

The compensation weight carried by World Touring Cars, which is designed to equalise performance using a time-based calculation, has been adjusted for WTCC Race of Germany as follows: Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1: 30kg; Citroën C-Elysée WTCC: 80kg; Honda Civic WTCC: 70kg; LADA Vesta WTCC: 0kg; Volvo S60 Polestar: 80kg.

Produced in partnership with _wige, the global coverage of WTCC Race of Germany is made possible through the use of 68 TV signals including 32 trackside cameras, 26 onboard cameras – including two 360-degree cameras – and two helicopter-mounted Cineflex cameras, one of which was flown by a crew who working on the Tour de France each year.

Nicky Catsburg (Polestar Cyan Racing):
“For me it’s one of the best events of the year because the track is so unique. It’s one of my favourite tracks in the world. It goes through small villages, up and down, big elevation changes, very high speed with different types of asphalt as well. It’s an insanely big challenge. The atmosphere is amazing with so many fans and the circuit has so much history, a place where I would like to be racing for many years to come. Because the lap is so long it’s impossible to get the perfect lap without mistakes.”

Tiago Monteiro (Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team): “It is the most challenging track we go to and probably the most challenging track in the world. It’s definitely a demanding track, special, different to anything else we do. We change our mindset, we change the car a lot, everything is different. It’s only three laps but it’s very intense. I’m going to do as I’ve been doing at every race weekend – start from scratch and do the best possible. Again, qualifying will be important there. We have improved in so many areas, also our top speeds are much better as we saw in Monza. We are confident. It’s not going to be an easy challenge but we’ll try to be strong.”

Tom Coronel (ROAL Motorsport): “It’s the hardest track ever, 100 per cent sure. There’s no track like the Nordschleife. Of course you have Macau but the Nordschleife is longer so if you make a mistake you have to wait a long time for your next chance. You go to any race track in the world and you get excited but when you go to the Nordschleife you don’t just get excited, you get overwhelmed. It’s completely crazy. There’s always fear. But there should be fear in motor racing when there’s high speed. But it’s different for the Nordschleife. I respect the track and that’s how you have to play it. If you don’t respect the Nordschleife, you don’t get the results.”

Yann Ehrlacher (RC Motorsport): “I drove a Mijet race car for two laps during the VLN test day and I was there a few weeks ago with my road car just to discover the track. I can’t say I can’t wait to drive on the Nordschleife because the driver who says they really enjoy the Nordschleife is not going fast enough. It’s impossible, it’s going to be a big challenge for the young drivers like me, Aurélien [Panis] and Dániel [Nagy] because it’s a hard track and and a mistake is a crash. I thought I was knowing the track perfectly before going there because I have been playing it since I was a kid on PlayStation, playing on Gran Turismo and I was doing this everyday after school and I know the track by heart. But it’s not the same in real life.”

José María López ruled the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife by winning both encounters. The Citroën driver charged through from ninth on the grid to claim the Opening Race laurels before converting his DHL pole position into victory number five of 2016 by winning the Main Race. Tiago Monteiro had been leading the Opening Race in his Honda only for a spectacular crash to put him out nearing the end of the final lap. Yvan Muller was also eliminated in the incident, although both drivers were given the all-clear following medical checks. Tom Chilton was a double winner in the WTCC Trophy and second and third overall in the two action-packed races. The Sébastien Loeb Racing privateer also landed the TAG Heuer Best Lap Trophy – and a TAG Heuer watch – for his 8m47.586s charge around the 25.378-kilometre track. Norbert Michelisz was twice in the top three for Honda, while the works Polestar and LADA squads also scored.

Niki Lauda was the first driver to achieve a sub-seven-minute lap of the Nordschleife when he qualified his Ferrari for the 1975 German Grand Prix in 6m58.60s. Ironically, the following year it was Lauda who made calls to boycott the grand prix on safety grounds. The race went ahead and the Austrian reigning world champion suffered life-threatening injuries after crashing his Ferrari coming out of the left-hand kink before Bergwerk. The badly burned Lauda famously returned to action six weeks later at the Italian Grand Prix. That accident, which partly inspired the making of the hit movie Rush, meant the 1976 Grand Prix was the last to be held on the Nordschleife.

Germany returned to the WTCC calendar in 2015 following a four-year absence. However, gone was relatively-tame-in-comparison Oschersleben, in its place came the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife, complete with its daunting 25.378-kilometre lap, 64 heart-stopping corners and changeable Eifel mountains weather. Supporting the famous ADAC Zurich 24h Rennen, the event produced two dramatic contests with Yvan Muller beating race-one winner José María López to race-two glory by 0.173s. López was a double winner in the 2016 return when drivers from the FIA European Touring Car Cup joined their WTCC counterparts on track for the two three-lap encounters, albeit from a split grid.

Nürburgring Nordschleife

Location: Otto-Flimm-Straße, 53520 Nürburg, Germany
Website: www.24hrennen.de  
Length: 25.378 kilometres
Opening Race distance: 3 laps (76.134km)
Main Race distance: 3 laps (76.134km)
Lap record (qualifying): José María López (Citroën C-Elysée) 8m35.541s (177.21kph), 27/05/16
Lap record (race): José María López (Citroën C-Elysée), 8m40.688s (175.40kph), 16/05/15
WTCC appearances: Two (WTCC Race of Germany took place at Oschersleben from 2005-11)
Time zone: GMT +2 hours
Sunrise/sunset: 05h28/21h29 (27 May)
Average temperature: 9-16°C (May)
Nearest airport: Köln Bonn (97 kilometres)

Opening Race and Main Race: José María López (Citroën C-Elysée)

2015: Race 1: José María López (Citroën C-Elysée); Race 2: Yvan Muller (Citroën C-Elysée)
2011: R1: Yvan Muller (Chevrolet Cruze); R2: Franz Engstler (BMW 320)
2010: R1: Alain Menu (Chevrolet Cruze); R2: Andy Priaulx (BMW 320)
2009: R1: Andy Priaulx (BMW 320); R2: Augusto Farfus (BMW 320)
2008: R1: Augusto Farfus (BMW 320); R2: Félix Porteiro (BMW 320)
2007: R1: Yvan Muller (SEAT León); R2: Augusto Farfus (BMW 320)
2006: R1: Andy Priaulx (BMW 320); R2: Jörg Muller (BMW 320)
2005: R1: Andy Priaulx (BMW 320); R2: Alex Zanardi (BMW 320)

The original Nordschleife opened in 1927 and was combined with the Südschleife at a length of 28.265 kilometres to hold the Eifelrennen events for bikes and cars.

2: Following on from the grands prix of the late 1920s, the 1931 German GP was held solely on the Nordschleife over a lap distance of 22.8 kilometres. Achille Varzi won in a Bugatti T51.
3: The adjacent Nürburgring Grand Prix track was opened in 1984 and also combines with the Nordschleife to hold the annual ADAC Zurich 24h Rennen, or the Nürburgring 24 Hours.
4: Germany shares borders with nine other countries – Denmark, Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
5: Germany is Europe’s second largest beer consumer – Germans drank 2.55 billion gallons of beer in 2012 – while there are more than 1200 breweries producing over 5000 brands of beer.

National Press Officer:
Michael Kramp, media@24h-rennen.de, +49 221 95743484

Media Accreditation Centre location: Hotel Döttinger Höhe on B258 (approximately three kilometres from the start/finish straight) Opening times: 10h00-19h00, Wednesday 24 May; 07h00-20h00, Thursday 25 May; 07h00-19h00, Friday 26 May; 07h00-18h00, Saturday 27 May; 08h00-13h00, Sunday 28 May 

Media Centre location: Second floor of the TÜV Tower in the paddock of the grand prix circuit next to the start/finish straight Media Centre opening times: 10h00-07h00, Wednesday 24 May; 07h00-01h00, Thursday 25 May; 07h00-23h00, Friday 26 May; 07h00-00h00, Saturday 27 May; 00h00-20h00, Sunday 28 May


Wednesday 24 May 16h00-17h00: Adenauer Racing Day, including onstage appearances by WTCC drivers and autograph session (Adenau town) Thursday 25 May 10h00-10h15: Driver photo (featuring Nicky Catsburg, Tiago Monteiro and Tom Chilton, Old Paddock area); 14h30-15h15: Driver photo (featuring Mehdi Bennani, Tom Coronel, Rob Huff and selected ETCC drivers, Nürburg Castle) Friday 26 May: 10h20-10h40: Ring Rookies photo (featuring Yann Ehrlacher, Néstor Girolami, Esteban Guerrieri and Aurélien Panis, Ring Boulevard); 14h00 (approx.): Post-qualifying/WTCC MAC3 press conference (Media Centre) Saturday 27 May: 13h25: Podiums; 13h35 (approx.): Post-race press conference (Media Centre)


Thursday 25 May 11h30-12h30: Testing; 18h50-19h50: Free Practice 1 Friday 26 May 08h15-09h15: Free Practice 2; 12h45-13h25 Qualifying; 13h45-14h05 WTCC MAC3 Saturday 27 May 11h20: Opening Race (3 laps); 12h45: Main Race (3 laps)

Timings/activities above provisional and subject to change. Additional activities may be arranged.

The new online Media Centre is a one-stop-shop for media professionals covering the WTCC. The site contains a press release archive, downloadable press kit, event guides, Q&As, high-resolution rights-free images, driver profiles, statistics, results, track maps, logos, accreditation details and much more. Visit http://media.fiawtcc.com for details.


# Team Driver (Nationality) Car
3 Sébastien Loeb Racing Tom Chilton (GBR) T Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 
5 Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team Norbert Michelisz (HUN) Honda Civic WTCC
8 Zengo Motorsport Aurélien Panis (FRA) T Honda Civic WTCC
9 ROAL Motorsport Tom Coronel (NLD) T Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1
12 ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Rob Huff (GBR) T Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 
18 Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team Tiago Monteiro (PRT) Honda Civic WTCC
24 RC Motorsport Kevin Gleason (USA) T LADA Vesta WTCC
25 Sébastien Loeb Racing Mehdi Bennani (MAR) T Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 
27 Sébastien Loeb Racing John Filippi (FRA) T Citroën C-Elysée WTCC 
34 Honda Racing Team JAS Ryo Michigami (JPN) Honda Civic WTCC
61 Polestar Cyan Racing Néstor Girolami (ARG) Volvo S60 Polestar
62 Polestar Cyan Racing Thed Björk (SWE) Volvo S60 Polestar
63 Polestar Cyan Racing Nicky Catsburg (NLD) Volvo S60 Polestar
68 RC Motorsport Yann Ehrlacher (FRA) T LADA Vesta WTCC
86 Campos Racing Esteban Guerrieri (ARG) T Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1
99 Zengo Motorsport Dániel Nagy (HUN) T Honda Civic WTCC

(T = Indicates WTCC Trophy contender)

Drivers (after 6/20):
1 Monteiro 123; 2 Catsburg 85; 3 Chilton 81; 4 Björk 77; 5 Bennani 73; etc.

Manufacturers (after 6/20): 1 Volvo Polestar 294; 2 Honda 282
WTCC Trophy (after 6/20): 1 Chilton 44; 2 Huff 40; 3 Bennani 39; 4 Guerrieri 38; 5 Coronel 26; etc.
WTCC Teams (after 6/20): 1 SLR 56; 2 Campos 40; 3 Münnich 36; 4 ROAL 32; 5 RC 25; etc.
All-time race wins (top 5): Y Muller 48; López 29; Huff 28; Menu 23; Tarquini 22
All-time pole positions (top 5): Y Muller 29; López 21; Tarquini 17; Menu 15; Huff 12; Farfus 11
All-time fastest laps (top 5): Y Muller 38; López 29; Huff 28; Tarquini 24; Menu 20
All-time laps led (top 5): Y Muller 571; Huff 345; López 301; Menu 297; Tarquini 295

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