The opening rounds of the 2010 FIA World Touring Car Championship take place at the 3.7km Curitiba track in Brazil. The track, which held its first WTCC event in 2006, when Jordi Gene and Andy Priaulx claimed a win apiece, has held the season opener since 2007.
2007 saw the BMW Domination of both podiums, apart from a single Seat visit – and that was an Independent winner.
2008 and 2009 have seen the Seat Leon TDi's start to dominate at the track – the long straights benefitting their turbo against the normally aspired petrol cars, as well as the altitude helping them.
2010 sees a new points system introduced, so the top 10 score points – the winner will get a cool 25 points for beating everyone else… 2010, the year the title doesn't go to Macau?
Here at TCF, we decided to have a look at what to expect from this weekend's action – and what might cause a few talking points, but in a light hearted way.
So what are you, the avid WTCC/BTCC fan going to be looking for?
- A brace of multi coloured Chevrolet Lacetti's – former BTCC Team bamboo engineering have entered this year's WTCC with Brit Harry Vaulkhard and Canadian born, Hong Kong resident Darryl O'Young.
- The potential for a 7 car train – it's called the Seat Leon TDi express, heading to Station Pole Position.
- A Trio of Chevrolet Cruzes from RML – hopefully trying to derail the Seat Leon TDi express, and to make its safe arrival at Destination race finish.
- Andy Priaulx and Augusto Farfus Jnr at RBM in their BMW's. Will be looking to benefit from the TDi train being derailed, target being Destination Race wins.
- A whole load of new drivers and teams. Aim – destination Points.
During the races:
- First corner action, more than likely someone taking out someone else after trying the up the inside move. Could be Farfus, he's good at causing first corner incidents.
- Rob Huff in the gravel maybe. His luck at Curitiba doesn't actually exist; it doesn't get the required visa to visit South America.
- A TDi train. They'll make sure they're all together. May lose some cars due to driver inexperience.
- RML's Alain Menu and Yvan Muller wondering how to beat SR-Sport.
- The Independents taking advantage of the big guys playing and upsetting the odds.
- Rain. Well, it's there and it's got the cars and drivers wet already.
After the race weekend, before Marrakesh (or is it Puebla?)
- BMW moaning about the TDi's.
- Chevrolet moaning about the TDi's.
- SR-Sport moaning about their turbo pressure.
- The FIA creating some new regulations to make all concerned happy, but failing miserably.
So what will the race results be at 7.10pm GMT on Sunday, after the first two races have been raced?
- Gabriele Tarquini
- Tom Coronel
- Yvan Muller
- Andy Priaulx
- Rob Huff
- Yvan Muller
What have the drivers had to say about the forthcoming season?
Fans title favourite, Rob Huff: “We had a very strong second half to the 2009 season and a good winter’s test programme, so I’m going to Brazil with a lot of optimism. I like Curitiba – so there is no reason for it not to like me!” Bit like Valencia then Rob?
Triple Champion, Andy Priaulx: “Right from the word go we must take every opportunity to score points. The competition is at least as fierce as last year. I like Curitiba. The circuit requires a flowing driving style, and is technically demanding. What’s more, the atmosphere in Brazil is amazing.” Fierce Andy, when did a Lion join the grid?
Gung Ho Man, Augusto Farfus: “I am looking forward to my first race for BMW Team RBM. Everyone in the team is very ambitious. We are all doing everything in our power to achieve our joint goal. I have been made to feel very at home, and am convinced that we will be competitive right from the first race.” So Augusto, avoid Andy at the first corner… every first corner.
Yvan Muller – Chevrolet's masterstroke: “The time has come to start a new season and to make my debut at the wheel of a Chevrolet, so I am really keen to be in Curitiba! This will also be the first real opportunity to see where the competition stands. Personally, I am convinced that everybody has progressed, but we need to see how big a step forward has been made by each manufacturer.
“Although these questions are quite usual at this time of the year, my inner feeling is that it will be a very competitive and close championship, as in previous years. I think we should be OK in Curitiba, but much will depend on qualifying and also on how well we will play with slip streaming, always a crucial factor in Curitiba.” Yvan, just remember, you're in a Cruze this year – no TDi advantage.
Alain Menu: “My personal goal is to be on the podium in Curitiba, I think it’s an achievable goal. Last year we were second-fastest in Q1 there and Curitiba is a circuit I like, although changing weather conditions are sometime an issue. My biggest hope, though, is to be able to go unscathed through the first corner, contrarily to last year!
“In truth, my biggest wish for 2010 is to have more fair-play on the track and not live again what I had to endure in 2009, when in 12 out of 24 races I fell victim of other competitors.” Word of advice Alain, avoid spinning white cars… maybe with the name Farfus on them? Or maybe with a TDi engine?
Tiago Monteiro: “It is proven that experience is crucial in WTCC, The championship is very competitive and we often find 15 cars or so in the same second. The margin for error is minimal and the smallest mistake can cost you several positions. I did not secure points in the first two rounds in 2009 and it compromised my final rank in the drivers’ championship. This year, I want to score points as soon as the first races, this will be my main aim. Consistency is one of the keys to success in this championship.” Stating the obvious Tiago?
What about the WTCC debutants?
Bamboo engineering's Geordie, Harry Vaulkhard: “The field is very strong, but we want to race against the best so that is why we are here, I am mentally a lot stronger after the closed season and I'm looking forward to building a strong season, Brazil and Mexico will be a challenge but I am very keen to get points on the board from the off” Harry… it is the WTCC for a reason, it's for the World's best Touring Car Drivers.
Canadian born, Hong Kong Native Darryl O'Young: “Well it's in at the deep end, I have to get used to front wheel drive and learn the circuit but I'm testing some front wheel drive cars this week and spending time in the teams simulator, so I will be as prepared as can be. I can't wait to start racing in the WTCC and can't wait for the challenge.” So a bit like racing on Race On then the real track, Darryl?
This is the end of the Curitiba preview; keep an eye on The Checkered Flag over the weekend for the latest results and reports from Brazil. The TCF Office hope you have enjoyed our light hearted look at the Brazil round and that you enjoy following this year's WTCC with us.