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Race preview: World's toughest track up next for #WTCR2019SUPERGRID

2019-06-14T09:48:01+02:00June 14th, 2019|2019, WTCR Race of Germany 2019|

The #WTCR2019SUPERGRID will take on the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife from 20-22 June as the world’s toughest track gears up to host WTCR Race of Germany.

Measuring 25.378 kilometres in length and with a target lap time of just under nine minutes, the Nürburgring Nordschleife remains the ultimate test of car and driver.

Opening for business back in 1927 and a German Grand Prix regular until 1976, the Nürburgring Nordschleife is an all-action motorsport rollercoaster like no other.

Located in the Eifel Mountains, the circuit is packed with climbs, dips, jumps and 64 heart-stopping turns – plus a straight that’s more than two kilometres long. These elements, combined with changeable weather, will provide a fearsome challenge to the 27 drivers, 14 teams and seven car brands chasing success in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO.

Twelve races, six winners and a tightly-poised title race
Six drivers have won races in 2019, while all seven customer racing brands have celebrated podium visits to underline another wide-open WTCR / OSCARO season. Esteban Guerrieri will start WTCR Race of Germany with an 11-point advantage over Thed Björk with Néstor Girolami, Norbert Michelisz, Mikel Azcona and Yvan Muller among those firmly in contention. Click here to view the provisional 2019 standings.

Born in Argentina, made even better in Germany
Two drivers from Argentina, Esteban Guerrieri and Néstor Girolami, have been creating a stir in 2019. Both have won races, and both have taken their turn to lead the standings with Guerrieri currently on top after 12 rounds. As well as being compatriots, the pair are close friends and team-mates too, lining up for the Germany-based ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport team, which has made an impressive start to the season with its brace of Honda Civics, leading the entrants’ standings to boot. Guerrieri triumphed at the Nordschleife last season to join an illustrious list of Argentine winners at the venue that’s led by the great Juan Manuel Fangio.

Simulators and YouTube all part of a Nordschleife rookie’s balanced diet
Mikel Azcona, Kevin Ceccon and Attila Tassi are the three Nordschleife racing novices on the #WTCR2019SUPERGRID. To begin the process of learning the demanding track, they have spent time on simulators and watching onboard footage on YouTube.

Leuchter hoping home knowledge will bring WTCR success
Ask home hero Benjamin Leuchter how many times he’s lapped the Nürburgring Nordschleife and he’ll tell you 1000. But that was in 2013 and he stopped counting after reaching the milestone.  Since then, the 31-year-old has added to that total quite considerably while racing in the VLN endurance series, and as a test and development driver and ambassador for Volkswagen, which is powering his maiden season in WTCR / OSCARO. Ahead of his home event, Leuchter discusses his earliest Nordschleife memories, his winning debut at the track and the prospect of success for the SLR Volkswagen team. Click here for the full Q&A.

Monteiro continues to prove impossible is possible with 24-hour entry
Tiago Monteiro will continue to underline his hero status after accepting one of motorsport’s toughest challenges: an entry in the Nürburgring 24 Hours. Less than eight months after he returned to racing following 415 days spent recovering from serious head and neck injuries sustained in a testing crash, Monteiro has been confirmed as part of the four-strong Team Honda ADAC Sachsen line-up in a Honda Civic Type R TCR. And to further prove his super-human qualities, Monteiro’s participation in the gruelling twice-round-the-clock event will be in addition to the three races that make up WTCR Race of Germany, which he will contest in a KCMG Civic Type R TCR. Monteiro’s fellow WTCR / OSCARO racers Nicky Catsburg, Tom Coronel, Augusto Farfus and Frédéric Vervisch are also taking part in the ADAC TOTAL 24h-Rennen.

Finn Buri secures Nürburgring Nordschleife WTCR wildcard entry
Antti Buri will have his sights set on the top 10 when he makes his debut in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO at the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife. Driving an Audi RS 3 LMS for the new AS Motorsport team that he’s helped to establish, Buri becomes the first driver from Finland to race in WTCR. And having won in the highly-competitive ADAC TCR Germany, the ex-single-seater racer is ready for his next challenge. Click here for more.

Welcome to the #WTCR2019SUPERGRID
The #WTCR2019SUPERGRID celebrates the fact that of the 26 all-season racers, seven have won 14 FIA world titles, while the others have shared 29 major championships between them.

Gabriele Tarquini, who began his world title defence with the Race 2 win at the season-opening WTCR AFRIQUIA Race of Morocco, carries the number 1 on his BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse i30 N TCR. The hugely-experienced Tarquini took his second victory of 2019 when he beat team-mate and home hero Norbert Michelisz in the third race in Hungary.

After missing out on the inaugural WTCR / OSCARO crown by three points in a seven-way title decider in Macau last November, four-time world champion Yvan Muller is back in a Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 03 TCR developed by Geely Group Motorsport from China. He broke his WTCR / OSCARO podium duck at the Hungaroring but is still chasing his first 2019 win.

Thed Björk partners Muller at Cyan and started his bid for a second FIA world crown by giving Lynk & Co an historic victory in Morocco. After the Hungary and Slovakia weekends proved frustrating in comparison, the Swede hit back in style with a win double in The Netherlands.

Rob Huff (SLR VW Motorsport Golf GTI TCR), the 2012 FIA World Touring Car champion, is one of 12 of the 15 winners from 2018 returning in 2019. After a challenging start to the season, the Briton came close to a Race 2 podium in Slovakia and showed more form at Zandvoort.

BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team’s Augusto Farfus, ex-FIA World Rallycross ace Johan Kristoffersson (SLR Volkswagen) and Andy Priaulx (Cyan Performance Lynk & Co) are all world title winners and new to WTCR in 2019, with Kristoffersson now a podium finisher following his Zandvoort exploits.

Winner of Race 1 in Marrakech, Esteban Guerrieri (ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR), topped the standings after Race 1 in Hungary only for his challenge to unravel when broken steering caused his Race 3 crash. He made amends with a fighting second place in Race 2 at the Slovakia Ring and retook top spot in the title table by winning Race 2 at Zandvoort.

Jean-Karl Vernay (Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport) had high hopes of his first 2019 win in Hungary when he lined up on the reverse-grid Race 2 pole. But a clutch issue meant a sluggish start resulting in the Frenchman settling for second ahead of impressive newcomer Daniel Haglöf (PWR Racing).

Vernay’s team-mate Gordon Shedden and Comtoyou Racing pair Niels Langeveld and Frédéric Vervisch complete the Audi-powered attack with Vervisch winning in Slovakia, the result of an impressive charge from ninth on the grid by the Belgian. In his first season in WTCR / OSCARO, Langeveld is making progress and upping his pace at every turn.

A number of exciting young guns are aiming to challenge the established order in 2019. They include Mikel Azcona, who has graduated to WTCR as the TCR Europe champion to race a PWR-run CUPRA, and his close rival in recent seasons, Attila Tassi, the 19-year-old Honda-powered KCMG driver. Neither have raced at theNürburgring Nordschleife before, however.

Kevin Ceccon, another Nordschleife rookie for Team Mulsanne and Yann Ehrlacher (Cyan Performance Lynk & Co) are already winners in WTCR, but at 25 and 22 respectively, they remain among a list of talented youngsters that also includes Aurélien Panis, who has switched to CUPRA power for 2019 with Comtoyou Team DHL CUPRA Racing. Ex-single-seater racer Ceccon scored a podium brace in Slovakia, while Ehrlacher led at Zandvoort last time out.

Tom Coronel partners Panis at Comtoyou and has considerable Nordschleife experience to count on. Fellow Dutchman Nicky Catsburg (BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team) is new to WTCR in 2019 having won in the World Touring Car Championship in the past. Benjamin Leuchter has a strong reputation from TCR Germany and played a key role in the development of the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR. He’s the established Nordschleife expert in the pack.

ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s Néstor Girolami, another series newcomer for this year, is also a WTCC race winner and topped the title standings after claiming his third WTCR / OSCARO victory in Slovakia. Having become the first Chinese to score WTCR points last season, Ma Qinghua made more history as the first Chinese driver to win a WTCR / OSCARO race when he triumphed in Race 3 at the Slovakia Ring in his Team Mulsanne Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

Tiago Monteiro starts his first full season since serious head and neck injuries ended his hopes of winning the WTCC title in 2017. The Portuguese, a Formula One podium finisher in the past, joins Hong Kong-based KCMG to race a Honda Civic Type R TCR. Monteiro’s former team-mate, Norbert Michelisz, is another title contender for BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse.

All you need to know about WTCR Race of Germany

THE CHALLENGE
Germany’s WTCR host venue offers a challenge like no other with its daunting 25.378-kilometre lap, 64 heart-stopping corners and changeable Eifel mountains weather. Opening for business in 1927 and a German Grand Prix regular until the late Niki Lauda’s accident in 1976, the Nürburgring Nordschleife joined the FIA World Touring Car Championship schedule from 2015-2017 as part of the ADAC Zurich 24h Rennen weekend. The WTCR took over in 2018 and delivered even more action with Yvan Muller, Esteban Guerrieri and Thed Björk winning. Former DTM champion René Rast took part as a wildcard and was fast but out of luck.

THE ESSENTIALS
Rounds: 13-15
Venue: Nürburgring Nordschleife
Date: 20-22 June
Location: Otto-Flimm-Straße, 53520 Nürburg, Germany
Length: 25.378 kilometres
Time zone: CET
Race 1 distance: 3 laps (76.134 kilometres)
Race 2 distance: 3 laps (76.134 kilometres)
Race 3 distance: 3 laps (76.134 kilometres)
WTCR qualifying lap record:
Thed Björk (Hyundai i30 N TCR), 8m55.085s (170.7kph), 11/05/18
WTCR race lap record:
Frédéric Vervisch (Audi RS 3 LMS), 8m59.076s (169.4kph), 12/05/18

Provisional key timings:
Wednesday 19 June:
Adenauer Racing Day autograph session (Adenau): 16h15-17h00
Thursday 20 June:
Free Practice 1: 11h30-12h10
Free Practice 2: 12h30-13h10
First Qualifying: 15h30-16h10
First Qualifying DHL Media Zone (WTCR / OSCARO paddock): 16h15
Second Qualifying: 19h30-20h10*
Second Qualifying DHL Media Zone (WTCR / OSCARO paddock): 20h15
*In a change to the usual format, Second Qualifying takes place over 40 minutes with no Q1, Q2, Q3 elimination phases)
Friday 21 June:
Race 1 (3 laps): 17h30-18h05
Race 1 podium: 18h10 (estimated)
Race 1 press conference (Media Centre): 18h20 (approx.)
Saturday 22 June:
Race 2 (3 laps): 11h00-11h35
Race 2 podium: 11h40 (estimated)
Race 3 (3 laps): 12h20-12h55
Race 3 podium: 13h00 (estimated)
Race 2/3 press conference (Media Centre): 13h10 (approx.)

ALL-SEASON ENTRY LIST
1 BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Gabriele Tarquini (ITA) Hyundai i30 N TCR
5 BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse Norbert Michelisz (HUN) Hyundai i30 N TCR
8 BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team Augusto Farfus (BRA) 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 TCR
33 SLR Volkswagen Benjamin Leuchter (DEU) Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR
37 PWR Racing Daniel Haglöf (SWE) CUPRA 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 TCR
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

Wildcard entry
13 AS Motorsport Antti Buri (FIN) Audi RS 3 LMS