November 29, 2021

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FIA World Touring Car racing heading for a homecoming in Adria







29.10.2021: WTCR RACE OF ITALY
Adria International Raceway
November 5-7th, 2021





The race to win the 2021 WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup enters a crucial phase in Italy next week when Adria International Raceway hosts the penultimate event of the


WTCR RACE OF ITALY
Adria International Raceway
November 5-7th, 2021

The race to win the 2021 WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup enters a crucial phase in Italy next week when Adria International Raceway hosts the penultimate event of the action-packed season.

Like Autodrom Most and Circuit Pau-Arnos before, Adria’s expanded 3.745-kilometre layout is new to the WTCR. And while several drivers sampled the longer lap during pre-season testing, none have done so in competition.

This exciting unknown quantity will make Free Practice 1 and 2 on Saturday November 6 more crucial than normal as drivers and their teams work to finalise a pacesetting set-up ahead of the three-stage Qualifying that afternoon.

Known as the home of FIA World Touring Car racing having hosted the inaugural FIA World Touring Car Championship round in 1987, the FIA Touring Car World Cup in 1993 and the rebirth of the WTCC in 2005, Italy makes its first WTCR appearance in 2021. The category’s homecoming is therefore eagerly anticipated, particularly by home hero Gabriele Tarquini, the first King of WTCR in 2018 and a racing legend.

“It’s great to have this race in Italy, I have a lot of fans following me, especially in the last part of my career and Italy is my country, I love Italy,” said the BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse driver.  “In 2017 [the last time there was a WTCC event in Italy] I wasn’t there because I missed most of that season and it’s a long time ago since my last race in Italy.”

One of 10 drivers to win a WTCR round in 2021, Tarquini is set to be joined on the Adria grid by another Italian, Nicola Baldan, the winner of the Campionato Italiano Turismo title in 2017. Like Tarquini, Tarqet Competition-run Baldan competes in a Goodyear-equipped Hyundai Elantra N TCR. Having contested WTCR Race of Hungary in August as a wildcard, Baldan fills one of his team’s all-season entries, which means he’ll be eligible for outright and WTCR Trophy points and won’t have to carry the additional 10 kilograms of compensation weight.

WTCR Race of Italy is also an important event for BRC Racing Team. It’s based in Cherasco in the Cuneo province in the northwest of the country and is behind the BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse entries of Tarquini and Norbert Michelisz, who succeeded Tarquini as the King of WTCR in 2019 and won Race 2 at WTCR Race of Czech Republic earlier this month.

The WTCR’s Italian connection doesn’t end with BRC either. Target Competition, an all-season WTCR entrant for the first time this season, operates from premises in Andrian close to Bolzano in northern Italy. Meanwhile, the Honda Civic Type R TCRs used by the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport and ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport teams are built by JAS Motorsport close to Milan.

 While Münnich drivers Néstor Girolami, Tiago Monteiro and Attila Tassi have won WTCR races in 2021, perennial title contender Esteban Guerrieri has yet to finish first this season. Having fought his way back into contention during the events in Czech Republic and France, Guerrieri starts WTCR Race of Italy 22 points behind Goodyear #FollowTheLeader Yann Ehrlacher and ready to pounce should the Frenchman falter. However, as the reigning King of WTCR, the 25-year-old Cyan Racing Lynk & Co star rarely does so.

After bagging his second win of 2021 at WTCR Race of France, Italian-speaking Frenchman Jean-Karl Vernay (Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team) is 16 points behind Ehrlacher and on a high following his home victory earlier this month. Vernay’s team-mate Luca Engstler also starts WTCR Race of Italy on the up following on from his seventh TCR category title when he secured the ADAC TCR Germany crown last weekend.

Like Vernay, Frédéric Vervisch headed home to his native Belgium from WTCR Race of France as a double 2021 winner, one of only two drivers to have achieved such a feat this season, such has been the wide-open nature of current title battle.

Vervisch’s fellow Comtoyou Team Audi Sport driver Gilles Magnus has also won in 2021. But following tough weekends in Czech Republic and France, the FIA WTCR Junior Driver Title leader is planning a “complete reset” ahead of the Adria weekend as he bids to get his overall title challenge back on track aboard his second-generation Audi RS 3 LMS. Nathanäel Berthon and Tom Coronel compete under the Comtoyou DHL Team Audi Sport banner and have WTCR race-winning pedigree.

As well as proving tough for Magnus, the WTCR Race of France weekend offered poor reward for the Zengő Motorsport quintet of Mikel Azcona, Bence Boldizs, Jordi Gené and Rob Huff who all fought unsuccessfully to score top results at Circuit Pau-Arnos in their CUPRA Leon Competición. They are all capable of bouncing back in Adria.

The WTCR’s first visit to France provided better return for Ehrlacher’s Lynk & Co-powered Cyan team-mates Thed Björk, Yvan Muller and Santiago Urrutia who all finished on the podium.


WHAT HAPPENED AT WTCR RACE OF FRANCE?

*Vernay beats pole-sitting fellow Frenchman Muller to Race 2 glory for second win of 2021

*His victory narrows gap to Goodyear #FollowTheLeader Ehrlacher in WTCR title chase to 16 points

*Urrutia joins Cyan team-mate Muller on Race 2 podium on Lynk & Co’s fifth anniversary

*Vervisch unstoppable in Race 1 for Comtoyou Team Audi Sport to become first double 2021 winner

*Björk and Tarquini complete Race 1 podium with four customer racing brands in top four

*Engstler is twice the top FIA WTCR Junior Driver, Coronel claims a WTCR Trophy double

*TAG Heuer Best Lap Trophy goes to Vervisch following Race 2 charge

*Challenging venue new to WTCR also hosts PURE ETCR all-electric touring car series title decider

WTCR 2021 OVERVIEW

Representing 12 countries, the 2021 WTCR line-up features six FIA world title winners − including current King of WTCR Yann Ehrlacher − plus seven drivers 25 or under.

All drivers count on sustainable biofuel from P1 Racing Fuels and tyres from Goodyear. Along with a Balance of Performance and a compensation weight formula, their use helps to create a level playing field. Meanwhile, significant cost-control measures help maintain strong grid numbers and allow privateer teams with limited technical support from manufacturers to fight at the front.

The 2021 season is set to comprise eight weekends with practice, qualifying and two races timetabled at each event. All events enjoy extensive live global broadcasting.

As well as the FIA Drivers’ and Teams’ titles, the FIA WTCR Junior Driver Title is for the best racer 24 or under at the start of 2021 with no WTCC/WTCR experience prior to 2019. Independent racers competing without direct manufacturer funding are eligible for the WTCR Trophy, while the TAG Heuer Best Lap Trophy and TAG Heuer Most Valuable Driver accolade are awarded at each event.

The Goodyear #FollowTheLeader recognises the driver at the head of the title standings after each qualifying session or race. They are presented with the Goodyear #FollowTheLeader blue jacket and carry the Goodyear #FollowTheLeader yellow windscreen strip on their car until such time that they no longer top the points classification. Yann Ehrlacher starts WTCR Race of Italy as the Goodyear #FollowTheLeader ahead of Jean-Karl Vernay and Esteban Guerrieri.

WHAT’S NEW FOR 2021?

*There will be double-headers only in 2021 with two rather than three races at each event

*New cars from Audi (second-generation Audi RS 3 LMS) and Hyundai (Elantra N TCR) join the grid

*P1 Racing Fuels is WTCR’s Official Fuel Supplier with drivers powered by a bespoke fuel featuring 15 per cent renewable components

*Jordi Gené is a WTCR newcomer, while Rob Huff and Frédéric Vervisch are back having missed out on the action in 2020

*Adria, Estoril, Most, Pau-Arnos and Sochi are new venues for 2021, while Czech Republic, France Italy and Russia host the WTCR for the first time

*The Rookie driver award is redefined and renamed as the FIA Junior Driver Title

*WTCR promoter Discovery Sports Events (previously Eurosport Events) holds the FIA’s Three Star Environmental Accreditation following a rigorous auditing process in line with the motorsport world governing body’s Environmental Certification Framework.

 Richard Rodgers, photos FIA WTCR

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