The eighth round of the World Touring Car Championship takes place this weekend with the Race of Germany at Oschersleben.
The circuit located near Magdeburg in the north of the country has hosted the series every year since its inception in 2005, and has historically favoured the BMWs, racing on home soil. The Bavarian manufacturer has won 10 of the 12 races there to date.
However, with no factory involvement from BMW this year and none of the independent 320TC drivers having won a race yet this year, the likelihood of another BMW win this time round is slim.
The focus of attention will certainly be on the inter-team championship battle between Chevrolet drivers Rob Huff and Yvan Muller.
Muller dealt Huff a major blow at the Briton's home round at Donington Park, claiming a double victory and reducing Huff's advantage in the standings from 29 to 15 points. Muller is determined to continue to cut the gap in Germany, despite Oschersleben not being one of his favourite tracks.
“I had mixed results in Oschersleben in the past, it is not one of top circuits in my personal list, but I am determined to do well,” he said. “The track is very technical, for sure, one which is quite stressful for the tyres, especially when the weather is warm, and one which is quite favourable to rear wheel drive cars. Things are going better for me in the championship and I am committed to continue this progression trend.”
Huff meanwhile is eager to return to winning ways on a track that, unlike his teammate, he enjoys.
“Oschersleben is one my favourite circuits, I really enjoy driving there, so I look forward to being in Germany,” he said. “I always get a good pace there and I think the Cruze will be particularly quick this year. A lot of drivers say they struggle to find a good balance for the car in Oschersleben, but together with my engineer, Duncan Laycock, we have been quite successful in finding the right compromise in the past, and I hope it will work this time too. A nice result in Germany would be great to put our title bid on the right track again!”
The team's third driver Alain Menu slipped further behind the title race at Donington as Muller and Huff took first and second in both races. He will hope to repeat his victory at Oschersleben from last year.
“Oschersleben will be a crucial moment in the season for me, I really need to make very good results if I want to stay in contention for the title,” he said.“So, my objective will be simple: the pole for Race 1 and the best possible position on the grid for Race 2. Then, I think I would be in a position to repeat last year's win.”
In the BMW camp, Franz Engstler will hope for a strong result in the Yokohama Trophy at his home track, fresh from leading the second race at Donington and finishing on the podium. Stefano D'Aste returns to the seat of the Wiechers-Sport BMW after missing the races at Donington, while Ibrahim Okyay returns to the series in his normally-aspirated 320si after previously taking part at Monza.
The actions gets underway with two free practice sessions on Saturday ahead of qualifying in the afternoon. The two races take place at 10:20 and 14:05 BST, or 11:20 and 15:05 local time.