WTCR 2020: where and when
The 2020 WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup fires into life at the Circuit Moulay El Hassan in Marrakech, Morocco, in a little more than 90 days from now. Check out the season guide below.
Rounds 1-3: WTCR Race of Morocco (Circuit Moulay El Hassan, Marrakech)
Date: 3-5 April 2020 Length: 2.971 kilometres
Transformed from street circuit to semi-permanent race track for 2016, Circuit Moulay El Hassan is located in the heart of Marrakech’s bustling hotel district. Built to FIA Grade II safety standards, the layout is the work of Hermann Tilke’s renowned architecture agency and offers impressive views of the Atlas Mountains and Marrakech city wall. But with a compact lap of 2.971 kilometres (down from 4.545km previously) and a sprinkling of tight, wall-lined turns, there is no time for WTCR drivers to take in the scenery, which was certainly the case when Marrakech hosted the inaugural WTCR event in April 2018.
Rounds 4-6: WTCR Race of Hungary (Hungaroring)*
Date: 24-26 April 2020 Length: 4.381 kilometres
Located less than 20 kilometres northeast of Budapest, the Hungaroring is famed for hosting the first Formula One grand prix behind the old Iron Curtain in 1986. Ever-present on the F1 calendar since, the Hungaroring has also become a popular venue for World Touring Car racing, particularly since the emergence of Norbert Michelisz as a local hero and especially following his pole-to-flag victory in 2015. Resurfaced for 2016 with re-profiled kerbing to boot, the track blends tight turns and fast sweeps while its valley location makes for an initial descent before a climb back up to the high-speed Turn 4.
Rounds 7-9: WTCR Race of Germany (Nürburgring Nordschleife)
Date: 20-23 May 2020 Length: 25.378 kilometres
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 Niki Lauda’s near-fatal 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 sharing the wins. Guerrieri was a winner again in 2019 along Johan Kristoffersson and home hero Benjamin Leuchter.
Rounds 10-12: WTCR Race of Slovakia (Slovakia Ring)*
Date: 5-7 June 2020 Length: 5.922 kilometres
Opened in 2010 and located 40 kilometres east of the capital Bratislava, Slovakia Ring hosted the FIA World Touring Car Championship five times from 2012. Its challenging nature, speed variations, elevations and array of corner configurations makes it popular among drivers and fans with tens of thousands attending each season. Described by inaugural WTCR champion Gabriele Tarquini as “one of the best tracks in Europe”, the 200kph Turn 2 right-hander requires serious commitment. Néstor Girolami, Frédéric Vervisch and Ma Qing Hua were the winners in 2019. As in 2018, the event features action from the FIA European Truck Racing Championship.
Rounds 13-15: WTCR Race of Portugal (Circuito Internacional de Vila Real)
Date: 19-21 June 2020 Length: 4.785 kilometres
A street circuit oozing history and intrigue, racing has taken place on Vila Real’s demanding hillside roads since 1931, when Gaspar Sameiro and Ercilio Barbosa conquered the original 7.150-kilometre course in a Ford Model A. Safety and financial factors meant races were held on an irregular basis until the WTCC’s arrival in 2015 provided stability and Vila Real’s first world championship-level event. The 4.785-kilometre layout now used is a challenging blend of fast turns, climbs and descents. While a handful of chicanes were installed for safety reasons, the spectacle remains unaltered with speeds exceeding 200kph on the final downhill section.
Rounds 16-18: WTCR Race of Spain (MotorLand Aragón)
Date: 3-5 July 2020 Length: 5.345 kilometres
MotorLand Aragón, close to Alcañiz in the north east of the country, will host the inaugural WTCR Race of Spain in 2020. Despite huge enthusiasm for the city-based Circuito Guadalope from 1965, growing safety requirements and difficulties staging top-level events meant time was called on racing through the streets in 2003, which led to the MotorLand Aragón project being conceived. Former F1 driver Pedro de la Rosa collaborated with renowned circuit designer Hermann Tilke on the track layout, which was inaugurated in September 2009 and has staged the Gran Premio de Aragón de MotoGP since 2010, regularly attracting 100,000 fans.
Rounds 19-21: WTCR Race of China (Ningbo International Speedpark)
Date: 4-6 September 2020 Length: 4.010 kilometres
Located in Chunxiao in the rapidly-expanding Beilun coastal development near Ningbo – a major port and industrial city with a population of more than seven million – in Zhejiang province, the track opened in time for WTCC Race of China in October 2017 following more than a year of construction work at a cost of 950-million CNY (122 million euros). Around 500 people were involved in turning what was a disused quarry into a state-of-the-art venue, which is built to FIA and FIM Grade 2 standards. It runs in an anti-clockwise direction, is between 12-18 metres in width and features 21 turns.
Rounds 22-24: WTCR Race of South Korea (Inje Speedium circuit)
Date: 16-18 October 2020 Length: 3.908 kilometres
Penned by Alan Wilson, the same architect behind Ningbo International Speedpark, the 21-corner Inje Speedium is the venue of the first WTCR Race of South Korea. The track was completed in 2013 following a three-year build and includes several elevation changes, high- and low-speed corners, plus impressive facilities such as an on-site hotel and apartment complex. Located in South Korea’s Kangwon-do region, Inje Speedium is 160 kilometres north east of the capital Seoul. Built to FIA Grade 2 standards, it hosted a round of the TCR Korea Touring Car Series in 2018. Eventual champion Charlie Kang won the first race.
Rounds 25-27: WTCR Race of Macau (Circuito da Guia)
Date: 19-22 November 2020 Length: 6.120 kilometres
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 races have been run 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.
Rounds 28-30: WTCR Race of Malaysia (Sepang International Circuit)
Date: 10-13 December 2020 Length: 5.543 kilometres
Home of the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix from 1999-2017, the Sepang International Circuit hosts the 2019 WTCR / OSCARO super-finale as part of the Races of Malaysia double-header with the FIM Endurance World Championship for motorbikes. The event will run to a unique format with all three races taking place on the same day in late afternoon, at dusk and at night under floodlights. Sepang’s 5.543-kilometre lap features two long straights to aid overtaking, plus a variety of medium and high-speed corners. And with the track untried by the bulk of the drivers an exciting spectacle is in store.
*Part of a combined event with the FIA European Truck Racing Championship