Circuit de Pau-Ville revving up to host start of WTCR’s fifth all-action season
Iconic French track staging FIA World Touring Car racing for first time since 2009
WTCR races part of Pau Motors Festival also featuring FIA ETCR eTouring Car World Cup
Wide-open racing expected with 16 WTCR race winners lining up for glory push
Goodyear-equipped Audi, CUPRA, Honda, Hyundai and Lynk & Co TCR cars taking part
Driver line-up includes local wildcard racer Éric Cayrolle
The hotly anticipated fifth WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup season kicks off at Circuit de Pau-Ville next week (May 7-8) when WTCR Clean Fuels For All Race of France launches the 2022 chase for on-track glory.
Bringing FIA World Touring Car racing back to his iconic street track in southwest France has been more than 10 years in the making but its return comes at an exciting time for the WTCR with a driver line-up packed with race and title winners.
Indeed, all but one of the star drivers signed up for the full upcoming campaign is a race winner in the series with the entry list of established racers and upcoming talents sharing 62 WTCR race wins and nine FIA World Touring Car titles between them.
Furthermore, five brands, Audi, CUPRA, Honda, Hyundai and Lynk & Co, will be represented through their customer racing departments, while eight teams, all using Goodyear tyres and sustainable fuel from P1 Racing Fuels have signed up to pursue more FIA World Touring Car gold.
The WTCR is the pinnacle of customer touring car racing and sits at the top of the TCR category ladder. Evolving from the FIA World Touring Car Championship, the WTCR is administered by the FIA and promoted by Discovery Sports Events.
Two practice sessions, a three-stage qualifying including two elimination periods, plus two races are scheduled for Circuit de Pau-Ville with the main action broadcast live around the world. There’s a tweak to the race format for 2022 and more details are available below.
As well as coveted FIA world titles for drivers and teams, independent racers with no financial backing from a manufacturer are eligible for the WTCR Trophy. Meanwhile, a Balance of Performance formula helps to maintain a level playing field. Engine power is capped at 360bhp with speeds reaching 260kph.
The Goodyear #FollowTheLeader recognises the driver at the head of the standings after each qualifying session or race. They wear the Goodyear #FollowTheLeader jacket and carry the Goodyear #FollowTheLeader yellow windscreen strip on their car until such time that they no longer top the points classification.
WTCR RACE OF FRANCE ESSENTIALS
Rounds: 1 and 2 of 20
Date: May 7-8
Venue: Circuit de Pau-Ville
Location: ASAC Basco Bearnais, Palais D’Aragon, Bd D’Aragon, Pau F-64000, France
Track length: 2.760 kilometres
Race 1 distance: 30 minutes + 1 lap
Race 2 distance: 25 minutes + 1 lap
WTCR qualifying lap record: To be established
WTCR race lap record: To be established
Circuit de Pau-Ville in 100 words: FIA international-level racing returns to the streets of Pau for the first time since 2018 with the revival of the world-famous Grand Prix de Pau in southwest France. Having previously hosted the FIA World Touring Car Championship between 2007 and 2009, Circuit de Pau-Ville lies 20 kilometres east of Circuit Pau-Arnos, the setting of the inaugural WTCR Race of France in October 2021. Pau has been home to car racing of varying types since the 1930s with legends such as Jim Clark, Juan Manuel Fangio, Lewis Hamilton, Sébastien Loeb, Jackie Stewart taking victories on the challenging undulating layout over time.
Saturday May 7:
09h50-10h35: Free Practice 1 (Live on Facebook, YouTube, Eurosport Player)
14h50-15h20: Free Practice 2 (Live on Facebook, YouTube, Eurosport Player)
17h30-18h00: Qualifying Q1 (Live on Eurosport Player and other broadcasters around the world)*
18h05-18h20: Qualifying Q2 (Live on Eurosport Player and other broadcasters around the world)*
18h30-18h45: Qualifying Q3 (Live on Eurosport Player and other broadcasters around the world)*
*Commentary feed available at FIAWTCR.com, full broadcast details available HERE from next week
Sunday May 8:
13h10: Race 1 (30 minutes+1 lap) (Live on Eurosport Player and other broadcasters around the world)
13h50: Race 1 podium
17h10: Race 2 (25 minutes+1 lap) (Live on Eurosport Player and other broadcasters around the world)
17h45: Race 2 podium
WTCR Race of France winners
2021 (Circuit Pau-Arnos):
Race 1: Frédéric Vervisch (BEL) Comtoyou Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS
Race 2: 1 Jean-Karl Vernay (FRA) Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team, Hyundai Elantra N TCR
Kings of WTCR
2021: Yann Ehrlacher (FRA) Cyan Racing / Lynk & Co 03 TCR
2020: Yann Ehrlacher (FRA) Cyan Racing / Lynk & Co 03 TCR
2019: Norbert Michelisz (HUN) BRC Racing Team / Hyundai i30 N TCR
2018: Gabriele Tarquini (ITA) BRC Racing Team / Hyundai i30 N TCR
WTCR DRIVER LINE-UP 2022
ALL-INKL.COM MÜNNICH MOTORSPORT (Germany)
Car: Honda Civic Type R TCR
Drivers: #29 Néstor Girolami (Argentina), #86 Esteban Guerrieri (Argentina)
WTCR race wins: 15 (Girolami 5, Guerrieri 10)
BRC HYUNDAI N SQUADRA CORSE (Italy)
Car: Hyundai Elantra N TCR
Drivers: #5 Norbert Michelisz (Hungary), #96 Mikel Azcona (Spain)
WTCR race wins: 10 (Michelisz 7, Azcona 3)
COMTOYOU DHL TEAM AUDI SPORT (Belgium)
Car: Audi RS 3 LMS
Drivers: #17 Nathanaël Berthon (France), #33 Tom Coronel (Netherlands)
WTCR race wins: 2 (Berthon 1, Coronel 1)
COMTOYOU TEAM AUDI SPORT (Belgium)
Car: Audi RS 3 LMS
Drivers: #16 Gilles Magnus (Belgium), #25 Mehdi Bennani (Morocco)
WTCR race wins: 2 (Bennani 1, Magnus 1)
CYAN PERFORMANCE LYNK & CO (Sweden)
Car: Lynk & Co 03 TCR
Drivers: #11 Thed Björk (Sweden), #12 Santiago Urrutia (Uruguay), #55 Ma Qing Hua (China)
WTCR race wins: 12 (Björk 8, Ma 1, Urrutia 3)
CYAN RACING LYNK & CO (Sweden)
Car: Lynk & Co 03 TCR
Drivers: #68 Yann Ehrlacher (France), #100 Yvan Muller (France)
WTCR race wins: 15 (Ehrlaher 7, Muller 8)
LIQUI MOLY TEAM ENGSTLER (Germany)
Car: Honda Civic Type R TCR
Drivers: #9 Attila Tassi (Hungary), #18 Tiago Monteiro (Portugal)
WTCR race wins: 3 (Monteiro 2, Tassi 1)
ZENGŐ MOTORSPORT (Hungary)
Car: CUPRA Leon Competición
Drivers: #79 Rob Huff (Great Britain), #99 Dániel Nagy (Hungary)
WTCR race wins: 3 (Huff 3)
Total race wins: 62 (and counting)
WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup all-season entry list 2022
#5 Norbert Michelisz (HUN) BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse, Hyundai Elantra N TCR
#9 Attila Tasi (HUN) LIQUI MOLY Team Engstler, Honda Civic Type R TCR
#11 Thed Björk (SWE) Cyan Performance Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR
#12 Santiago Urrutia (URY) Cyan Performance Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR
#16 Gilles Magnus (BEL) Comtoyou Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS
#17 Nathanaël Berthon (FRA) Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS
#18 Tiago Monteiro (PRT) LIQUI MOLY Team Engstler, Honda Civic Type R TCR
#25 Mehdi Bennani (MAR) Comtoyou Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS
#29 Néstor Girolami (ARG) ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR
#33 Tom Coronel (NLD) Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS
#55 Ma Qing Hua (CHN) Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR
#68 Yann Ehrlacherr (FRA) Cyan Performance Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR
#79 Rob Huff (GBR) Zengő Motorsport, CUPRA Leon Competición
#86 Esteban Guerrieri (ARG) ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR
#96 Mikel Azcona (ESP) BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse, Hyundai Elantra N TCR
#99 Dániel Nagy (HUN) Zengő Motorsport, CUPRA Leon Competición
#100 Yvan Muller (FRA) Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR
France wildcard: #64 Éric Cayrolle (FRA) Elite motorsport by Comtoyou, Audi RS 3 LMS
As well as 16 race winners, 11 nationalities will be represented by the drivers with a further two represented by teams and two more by manufacturers to underline the WTCR’s global appeal. Entries from wildcard racers will also be accepted at each event. Although they won’t be eligible for overall scores, they can chase podium placings and WTCR Trophy points, providing they don’t receive financial backing from manufacturers.
WTCR FORMAT REFRESHER
Same Qualifying format but allocation of points tweaked
The three-phase Qualifying (Q1, Q2, Q3) elimination format remains unchanged but how points are awarded is all-new for 2022.
From this year, the fastest five drivers in Qualifying, regardless of at which point they set their best lap or whether they progress to Q3 or not, will be rewarded with points on a 10-8-6-4-2 scale.
The change will encourage drivers to push for fast lap times in each phase of Qualifying and avoid the temptation to adopt a strategic approach by trying to secure 10th place in Q2, which comes with pole position for the partially-reversed-grid race.
Race 1 is the big one, Race 2 the partially-reversed one
Previously the partially-reversed-grid race, drivers in Race 1 will line up for action according to the combined Qualifying results and compete for 30 minutes plus one lap (35 minutes plus one lap on street circuits in the event of the safety car being deployed). The top seven finishers will get more points than previously with drivers scoring as follows:
1st = 30 points; 2nd = 23; 3rd = 19; 4th = 16; 5th = 14; 6th = 12; 7th = 10; 8th = 8; 9th = 7; 10th = 6; 11th = 5; 12th = 4; 13th = 3; 14th = 2; 15th = 1
Race 2 becomes the partially-reversed-grid race with fans entertained for 25 minutes plus one lap (or 30 minutes plus one lap if there’s a safety car intervention on a street track). Points will be scored as follows:
1st = 25 points; 2nd = 20; 3rd = 16; 4th = 13; 5th = 11; 6th = 10; 7th = 9; 8th = 8; 9th = 7; 10th = 6; 11th = 5; 12th = 4; 13th = 3; 14th = 2; 15th = 1
How grids are formed reminder
The Race 1 starting grid will be determined by the final results of Q3 (positions 1-5) and Q2 (positions 6-12) for the top 12 grid positions. The results from Q1 will decide the remainder of the Race 1 grid.
For Race 2, grid positions 1-10 will be occupied by the first 10 cars according to the final combined qualifying results but in reverse order. Positions 11 and 12 will be occupied by the cars from Q2 that are not in reverse order. The remainder of the grid will be decided by the results of Q1 from positions 13 downwards.
Race lengths increased and timed in minutes, not measured in kilometres
Race 1 will run for 30 minutes plus one lap with Race 2 running for 25 minutes plus one lap. For street races, should the safety car be deployed, Race 1 will be automatically extended to 35 minutes plus one lap, with Race 2 increased to 30 minutes plus one lap. The aim is to lengthen the duration of each race by two laps to provide competitors with more valuable track time.
Repair Time extended
The opportunity for refuelling, repairs and set-up changes between races has been extended to a minimum of 60 minutes from the previous 20. The increase will give teams more opportunity to repair damage from Race 1 in a less intense manner or switch to a set-up that might enhance car performance for Race 2 and increase the chance of winning.
With more time to ready cars for the weekend’s second race, drivers will be more inclined to push harder in Race 1, with better racing the underlying objective.
Compensation Weight rules revised
The Compensation Weight rules have been revised and simplified for 2022. All cars will carry zero kilograms of Compensation Weight at the first event of the season. For the second event the Compensation Weight for each model will be based on the best Qualifying time set during the previous event. From the third event the Compensation Weight will be based on the best Qualifying time set during either of the previous two events, rather than an average of the best two lap times out of three events, which was the case in 2021. It will mean the Compensation Weight will be quicker to update and therefore more responsive.
In addition, the maximum Compensation Weight has been reduced from 60 to 40 kilograms to avoid significant contrasting performances from race to race and therefore make the performance levels of each brand even closer. The same Compensation Weight principles apply to race-by-race entries.