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Event preview: WTCR title chasers turn street fighters in Macau

2019-11-08T01:14:21+01:00November 8th, 2019|2019, WTCR Race of Macau 2019|

From Super Suzuka to Mighty Macau, the race to win the 2019 WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO continues unabated from 14-17 November with the driver and team title battles wide open and hotly contested.

Esteban Guerrieri leads Norbert Michelisz on the #RoadToMalaysia – venue of the season super-finale next month – by six points. But with a maximum of 85 up for grabs on Macau’s ultra-demanding Circuito da Guia street track, a whole host of drivers are firmly in the title mix.

They include third-placed Thed Björk, the 2017 FIA World Touring Car champion, and his Cyan Racing Lynk & Co team-mate, the two-time Macau Guia Race winner Yvan Muller, regarded as the world’s most successful touring car driver.

Mikel Azcona, the top rookie in fifth overall for CUPRA-powered PWR Racing, and Guerrieri’s ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda-equipped team-mate Néstor Girolami remain firmly in contention for title glory. But while a second consecutive WTCR / OSCARO crown remains mathematically possible for Gabriele Tarquini, the Italian is prioritising helping BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse team-mate Michelisz to finish the season at the top of the table.  

Measuring 6.120-kilometres in length, the Circuito da Guia is loved and feared in equal measure. It blends tight turns and narrow blasts with long, wide-open straights and sweeping corners – plus gradient changes – to create arguably the most challenging and spectacular street circuits in existence.

Rob Huff, whose nine Macau wins are more than any other driver or rider, is braced for the huge challenge that awaits him and the other 31 drivers that will contest the famous Guia Race.

“Macau absolutely terrifies the life out of me,” said Huff, who drives a Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR for Sébastien Loeb Racing. “There is no room for error, but you want a bit more in every corner. But the difference where you are at and where you want a bit more is a trip to hospital! On every corner. And it’s as simple as that. When you start using the wing mirrors on the walls and you come out of every corner thinking ‘how on earth did I survive that corner’, you’re almost there, not quite, but you’re almost at the point, but then you have to go to another step. You hold your breath for two minutes, 30 seconds every lap.”

Touring car racing has been held in this Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China for more than half a century, with the famous Guia Race first run in 1972. Having welcomed back the WTCC in 2017 when Huff bagged a record ninth win, Macau hosted the thrilling seven-way inaugural WTCR / OSCARO season showdown in November 2018 when Tarquini beat Muller to the title by three points.

WTCR Race of Macau, which counts as the Suncity Group Guia Race, begins with free practice on Thursday 14 November followed by First and Second Qualifying on Friday 15 November. Race 1 takes place over eight laps from 14h55 local time on Saturday 16 November, with Race 2 and Race 3 scheduled for 08h45 and 11h25 on Sunday 17 November. While Race 2 is an eight-lap affair, Race 3 is run over 11 laps. Click here to view the timetable.

Local wildcards complete 32-car WTCR Race of Macau line-up
Six local drivers have been handed the chance to build their experience in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO. Billy Lo from Macau, who made his WTCR debut at his home event in 2018, will be joined by Hong Kong-based drivers James Tang, Kwai Wah Wong, Arthur Law and Terence Tse. These five are the wildcard racers nominated by Macau’s ASN, the Automobile General Association Macao-China (AAMC). Jim Ka To, who made his WTCR debut for all-season entrant KCMG’s offshoot KC Motorgroup at WTCR JVCKENWOOD Race of Japan last month, completes the wildcard list. Click to view the press release.

Huff goes for record-extending 10th Macau win wary of tough task
Rob Huff will be ‘terrified’ when he bids for a record-extending 10th victory on the streets of Macau. Huff has won the Macau Grand Prix’s legendary Guia Race nine times, an achievement that has crowned him the unofficial King of Macau, as no driver or rider has won in the event’s other categories on more occasions. Click to view the press release.

Macau success fundamental to where I am today, says Priaulx
Andy Priaulx starts WTCR Race of Macau hoping that former glories can provide the impetus he needs to kick-start his, at times, “really frustrating” first season in WTCR / OSCARO. Back in 2005, Priaulx arrived in Macau on the cusp of winning the FIA World Touring Car Championship. He duly delivered, going on to make it a hat-trick of WTCC titles with BMW, including an against-the-odds triumph in 2007. Click to view the press release.

Dahlgren gets WTCR reward with PWR for home title triumph
Robert Dahlgren will make his WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO debut at WTCR Race of Macau as his reward for winning TCR Scandinavia this season. Dahlgren takes over the PWR Racing-run CUPRA TCR campaigned so far in 2019 by team co-founder Daniel Haglöf in a move that’s also designed to bolster Mikel Azcona’s title challenge. Azcona is fifth in the points and top rookie in his first WTCR / OSCARO season for PWR Racing and will be able to count on Dahlgren’s experience and knowledge of the Circuito da Guia, which dates back to 2011 when the Swede topped the first qualifying session. Click to view the press release.

Twenty-four races, 12 winners and a tightly-poised WTCR title tussle
Twelve drivers have won races in 2019, while all seven customer racing brands have celebrated race victories to underline another hugely competitive WTCR / OSCARO season. Click here to view the provisional 2019 standings.

All you need to know about WTCR Race of Macau

THE ESSENTIALS
Rounds: 25-27 of 30
Venue: Circuito da Guia, Macau
Date: 14-17 November 2019
Location: 207 Avenue da Amiazade, Edif. do Grande Premio, Macau
Length: 6.120 kilometres
Time zone: GMT +8 hours
Race 1 distance: 8 laps (43.960 kilometres)
Race 2 distance: 8 laps (48.960 kilometres)
Race 3 distance: 11 laps (67.320 kilometres)

WTCR qualifying lap record:
Rob Huff (Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR), 2m29.040s (147.80kph), 16/11/18
WTCR race lap record:
Rob Huff (Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR), 2m31.038s (145.80kph), 17/11/18

THE CHALLENGE
Macau’s 6.120-kilometre Circuito da Guia blends twisty turns and narrow blasts with long, wide-open straights and sweeping corners – plus gradient changes – to create one of the most challenging and spectacular street circuits on the planet. Touring car racing has been held in this Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China for more than half a century, with the famous Guia Race first run in 1972. Having welcomed back the WTCC in 2017 when Rob Huff bagged a record ninth win, Macau hosted the thrilling seven-way inaugural WTCR season showdown in November 2018 when Gabriele Tarquini took the title.

FROM BEHIND THE WHEEL WITH ROB HUFFF
“Macau absolutely terrifies the life out of me. There is no room for error, but you want a bit more in every corner. But the difference where you are at and where you want a bit more is a trip to hospital. On every corner. And it’s as simple as that. You can’t teach someone to do what I do in Macau. It comes down to a little bit of whether you’ve got it or haven’t got it and that comes down to being a racing driver. Everyone in WTCR has got it, no doubt, but when you start using the wing mirrors on the walls and you come out of every corner thinking ‘how on earth did I survive that corner’, you’re almost there, not quite, but you’re almost at the point, but then you have to go to another step. You hold your breath for two minutes, 30 seconds every lap.”

FIVE MACAU FACTS
1: The first race on Macau’s streets took place in 1954 with the inaugural Guia Race held for the first time in 1972.
2: With nine wins, no driver or rider has won in Macau on more occasions than Rob Huff, who claimed his first Guia Race win in 2008. Huff also holds the Guia Race lap record, a 2m27.009s set in 2014 in a LADA Granta.
3: The Circuito da Guia measures seven metres in width at its most narrow point but 14 metres at its widest point.
4: Chinese and Portuguese are the official languages of Macau, a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
5: Of the 26 drivers racing at Macau with all-season status six are Circuito da Guia rookies. They are Mikel Azcona, Luca Engstler, Johan Kristoffersson, Niels Langeveld, Benjamin Leuchter and Attila Tassi.

PROVISIONAL KEY TIMINGS*

Wednesday 13 November
Macau Grand Prix media event: 13h00-16h00 (Institute for Tourism Studies)
Thursday 14 November
Free Practice 1: 09h00-09h45
Free Practice 2: 13h40-14h10
Friday 15 November
First Qualifying: 08h50-09h30
First Qualifying DHL Media Zone (paddock): 09h30-09h40 (estimated)
First Qualifying press conference (Media Centre): 09h45-10h00 (estimated)
Second Qualifying Q1: 13h35-14h05
Second Qualifying Q2: 14h10-14h25
Second Qualifying Q3: 14h35 (first car starts top five DHL Pole Position shootout)
Second Qualifying DHL Media Zone (paddock): 1435-15h00 (estimated)
Second Qualifying press conference (Media Centre): 15h05-15h20 (estimated)
Saturday 16 November
Race 1: 14h55 (8 laps)
Race 1 podium: 15h30 (estimated)
Race 1 press conference (Media Centre): 15h40 (estimated)
Sunday 17 November
Race 2: 08h45 (8 laps)
Race 2 podium: 09h20 (estimated)
Race 2 press conference (Media Centre): 09h30 (estimated)
Race 3: 11h25 (11 laps)
Race 3 podium: 12h05 (estimated)
Race 3 press conference (Media Centre): 12h15 (estimated)
*All timings are local (GMT +8 hours) and subject to change

ALL-SEASON ENTRY LIST (all drivers use Yokohama tyres as standard)
1 BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Gabriele Tarquini (ITA) Hyundai i30 N TCR
2 PWR Racing Robert Dahlgren (SWE) CUPRA TCR
5 BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Norbert Michelisz (HUN) Hyundai i30 N TCR
6 BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team Luca Engstler (DEU) Hyundai i30 N TCR
9 KCMG Attila Tassi (HUN) Honda Civic Type R TCR
10 Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Niels Langeveld (NLD) Audi RS 3 LMS
11 Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Thed Björk (SWE) Lynk & Co 03 TCR
12 SLR VW Motorsport Rob Huff (GBR) Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR
14 SLR Volkswagen Johan Kristoffersson (SWE) Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR
18 KCMG Tiago Monteiro (PRT) Honda Civic Type R TCR
21 Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing Aurélien Panis (FRA) CUPRA TCR
22 Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Frédéric Vervisch (BEL) Audi RS 3 LMS
25 SLR VW Motorsport Mehdi Bennani (MAR) Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR
29 ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Néstor Girolami (ARG) Honda Civic Type R TCR
31 Team Mulsanne Kevin Ceccon (ITA) Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR by Romeo Ferraris
33 SLR Volkswagen Benjamin Leuchter (DEU) Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR
50 Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing Tom Coronel (NLD) CUPRA TCR
52 Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport Gordon Shedden (GBR) Audi RS 3 LMS
55 Team Mulsanne Ma Qinghua (CHN) Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR
 by Romeo Ferraris
68 Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Yann Ehrlacher (FRA) Lynk & Co 03 TCR
69 Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport Jean-Karl Vernay (FRA) Audi RS 3 LMS
86 ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Esteban Guerrieri (ARG) Honda Civic Type R TCR
88 BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team Nicky Catsburg (NLD) Hyundai i30 N TCR
96 PWR Racing Mikel Azcona (ESP) CUPRA TCR
100 Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Yvan Muller (FRA) Lynk & Co 03 TCR
111 Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Andy Priaulx (GBR) Lynk & Co 03 TCR

WTCR JVCKENWOOD Race of Japan wildcards
19 KC Motorgroup Jim Ka To (HKG) Honda Civic Type R TCR
36 Tian Shi Zuver Team Billy Lo (MAC) Audi RS 3 LMS
59 Son Veng Racing Team Wong Kwai Wah (HKG) Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR
97 Team TRC Terence Tse (HKG) Honda Civic Type R TCR
98 Team TRC James Tang (HKG) Honda Civic Type R TCR
99 Team TRC Arthur Law (HKG) Honda Civic Type R TCR