FIA WTCR RACE OF NETHERLANDS
Circuit Zandvoort, 19-21 May 2018
WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO, Rounds 10-12 of 30
SAND, FANS AND TARZAN: 100,000 EXPECTED FOR WTCR RACE OF NETHERLANDS AT SEASIDE ZANDVOORT
*It’s Tommy Time: home hero Coronel revs up for duel in the dunes
*Prince Bernhard van Oranje makes WTCR debut as wildcard
*Max Verstappen in action at Jumbo Racedagen
From the world’s toughest track to one of the world’s most famous turns, the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO is Zandvoort-bound this week (19-21 May) where the famous Tarzan corner awaits.
Immortalised by Gilles Villeneuve following his heroic overtaking manoeuvre on Alan Jones at the 1979 Dutch Grand Prix, Tarzan – Zandvoort’s first, cambered corner – is the place to pass and be passed. “You can go easily with three people side by side,” says Dutch WTCR racer Tom Coronel.
Coronel will be one of three home-grown drivers on the WTCR OSCARO grid with wildcards Prince Bernhard van Oranje and Michael Verhagen joining him for the seaside triple-header, which forms part of the Jumbo Racedagen bill featuring demo runs by the county’s Red Bull Formula One star, Max Verstappen.
While Verstappen’s every move will be cheered by the partisan fans, the all-action WTCR OSCARO races will captivate the 100,000 spectators expected for the three-day event, which takes place over the Whitsun bank holiday weekend, with seven winners from the nine rounds held so far.
Monday’s races are live on Eurosport, while Sunday’s race will be live at wtcr.oscaro.com and the FIA WTCR/OSCARO Facebook page depending on local availability and restrictions. The three races will decide who will scoop the TAG Heuer Most Valuable Driver (MVD) award for the racer landing the most points across the WTCR Race of Netherlands event.
Muller leads WTCR to Zandvoort
Yvan Muller will top the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO when the all-action series resumes at Zandvoort, located a short stroll from the North Sea. Muller, a record-breaking four-time World Touring Car champion, holds a 19-point advantage over erstwhile title pacesetter Gabriele Tarquini, who crashed twice at the Nürburgring Nordschleife last weekend. But while Tarquini suffered a weekend of woe, his fellow Hyundai i30 N TCR driver bagged a win and a third place in Germany on his first season back following his year-long retirement, while team-mate Thed Björk won Race 3. “It was not really our target to come back but for my team I did it and I can only be pleased of [the decision],” said the French legend. “We did two victories and two two pole positions, it was the perfect weekend for the team.” Björk’s success in Germany, meanwhile, has propelled the Swede to third in the table with Norbert Michelisz fourth and Yann Ehrlacher fifth. In the battle for the Teams’ title, YMR now tops BRC Racing Team with ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport third. Sébastien Loeb Racing and Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team complete the top five.
WTCRoyal: Prince Bernhard van Oranje is a wildcard…
Prince Bernhard van Oranje is one of two wildcards confirmed for WTCR Race of Netherlands. The Dutch royal family member is an experienced racer and owner of Circuit Zandvoort. The 48-year-old will drive a Bas Koeten Racing Audi RS 3 LMS. “It is unique to participate in a World Cup event against eight former world champions,” said Prince Bernhard van Oranje. “It’s ultra-close racing and we have live coverage on TV and web throughout the event. With more than 100,000 fans it’s going to be a unique experience.”
… and so is Verhagen
Dutch racer Michael Verhagen will get the chance to shine on a global stage when he contests his home round of the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO. Like fellow wildcard Prince Bernhard van Oranje, Verhagen will drive a Bas Koeten Racing Audi RS 3 LMS. Currently campaigning a BMW M4 in the Dutch Supercar Challenge series, Verhagen, 30, has experience of TCR machinery from the TCR Benelux and Germany competitions, including with Bas Koeten Racing at Zandvoort last season.
Volunteers celebrated at WTCR Race of Netherlands
The vital role carried out by volunteer officials will be celebrated at WTCR Race of Netherlands as part of FIA Volunteers Weekend, which showcases the essential work of those people who give up their time to ensure motorsport events around the world take place. WTCR drivers will acknowledge the volunteers by participating in a number of promotional activities, which will be mirrored at other FIA events over the weekend including Rally de Portugal and the Berlin E-Prix.
New era takes shape
With a rulebook designed to promote corner-by-corner overtaking, a packed grid featuring four world champions and a host of national and international touring car title-winners, an abundance of young stars, three ex-Formula One drivers and seven customer racing brands, the stage is set for a thrilling spectacle at WTCR Race of Netherlands. In an intriguing twist, WTCR – the new name for the WTCC – gets three races per weekend, plus a second qualifying session. There’s also the ground-breaking TAG Heuer Most Valuable Driver award, which goes to the racer scoring the most points during a weekend and live Race 1 coverage on Facebook and at wtcr.oscaro.com, website of the WTCR Series Presenting Partner partner and the world’s leading online retailer of original automotive spare parts.
WHAT THE WTCR DRIVERS HAVE SAID ABOUT ZANDVOORT
This is what leading WTCR OSCARO drivers have had to say about Circuit Zandvoort, venue of WTCR Race of Netherlands.
Tom Coronel (Boutsen Ginion Racing): “It’s a very important and special weekend because there are so many motorsport fanatics in Holland at the moment with Max Verstappen so hot. It will be very good for our championship to be part of the Jumbo Racedagen but Zandvoort is also very good for racing, overtaking and different styles of lines. I’ve always seen good fights at this track, it’s an historical track, the elevation is there, there are high-speed corners and there’s Tarzan of course, the first corner, where you can go easily with three people side by side and that’s just one corner where this is possible. I was an instructor at the racing school and was driving there nearly every day. In every category I won races, Formula Ford, Opel Lotus, Formula 3, touring cars, GT cars, doesn’t matter I won races. It’s a pity they resurfaced the track because there was a much bigger chance of me having an advantage before when I knew every bump. Last year there was a new surface so there is a small question mark. But Zandvoort is the real focus for me this year and Honda Benelux will be doing a lot with the dealers.”
Denis Dupont (Audi Sport Team Comtoyou/RACB National Team driver): “It’s going to be very tight, always with hard racing and pretty exciting too. I have raced there two times so I know the track quite well. Once I won, the other time was not so good after a bad weekend. You can always expect some rain in Zandvoort because it comes easily and the weather always changes. I was there for the Jumbo Racedagen last year when Max Verstappen was also there. There was a massive amount of people, it was just crazy but really nice to race in front of such a big crowd. Being from Belgium, if I have to name a home race then it’s this one and it will the best moment to be there. We had a test at Zandvoort in March. It was only in the rain and it was cold also but it was good to get back to knowing the track again.”
Benjamin Lessennes (Boutsen Ginion Racing): “Zandvoort will be the only track this year that when I arrive there I will have a base [knowledge and set-up] because all the other tracks are and will be new to me. Of course this will be an advantage but we know the Honda was not always the fastest in the past there so we will have to work a lot although I am really confident. I’m happy going to Zandvoort because it’s a track I know but I like fast tracks and Zandvoort is not exactly a fast track. Because I know the track I have to be really focused and make no mistakes. It will be a hard job but there is no pressure. I am only 18 so first I am here to learn, do a good job and keep the car of Tiago Monteiro on track but also try to make the podium quickly.”
Gabriele Tarquini (BRC Racing Team): “I won there in the World Touring Car Championship in 2007 and the time before then was in 1985 when I raced in Formula 3000, my first time there. I remember the first corner, Tarzan, which is still the same but I know the rest of the track is not the same and I honestly have totally forgotten what I experienced in 2007. For the rhythm it’s good to be doing back-to-back races after Germany rather than stopping for a long time and going again, which can happen during the season. But because it’s close I still get the chance to go back to home in Italy, spend a few days with my family before coming back and starting again.”
All you need to know: Click here the event guide, timetable and other essential information
Who’s in it to win it? Click here to find out more about the WTCR drivers
WTCR explained? Click here to find out more
Standings: Click here to find out who is in front after the opening three races
For everything else… Go to the online WTCR Media Centre by clicking here
ZANDVOORT IN 100 WORDS
The most northerly venue on the 2018 calendar, the inclusion of Zandvoort on the WTCR roster for the Jumbo Racedagen featuring Max Verstappen, brings world touring racing back to The Netherlands for the first time since 2007. And the timing of the race couldn’t be more appropriate with 2018 marking the circuit’s 70th anniversary. Once home to the Dutch Grand Prix, Zandvoort’s motorsport roots go back to 1939 when a street race was organised in the seaside town. It was the catalyst needed for the mayor to invest in a permanent track, construction of which began following World War II.
WHO’S ON THE GRID?
World Touring Car champions: Thed Björk, Rob Huff, Yvan Muller, Gabriele Tarquini
WTCC Trophy winners: Mehdi Bennani, Tom Coronel, Norbert Michelisz
WTCC race winners: Yann Ehrlacher, Esteban Guerrieri, Gianni Morbidelli, Pepe Oriola
British Touring Car champions: Fabrizio Giovanardi, Gordon Shedden, James Thompson
TCR title winners: Aurélien Comte, Benjamin Lessennes, Jean-Karl Vernay
Young racing hopefuls: Denis Dupont, John Filippi, Mato Homola, Norbert Nagy, Aurélien Panis, Zsolt Szabó
International racers: Nathanaël Berthon, Frédéric Vervisch
Wildcards: Prince Bernhard van Oranje, Michael Verhagen
FIVE TO WATCH
1 Tom Coronel: The hugely popular, hugely charismatic Dutchman will be hoping for a big haul of points at his home race having endured a challenging start to his WTCR campaign in his DHL-backed Honda.
2 Frédéric Vervisch: With points – and podiums – now in the bag following a strong WTCR Race of Germany weekend on the back of a difficult opening sequence of races, Dutch-speaking Belgian Vervisch heads to Zandvoort on a high for Audi Sport Team Comtoyou.
3 Benjamin Lessennes: His fourth place in Race 3 at the Nürburgring Nordschleife, a track he’d never driven on previously, underlined his potential. And while learning is key for the 18-year-old, Zandvoort is the only venue on the calendar where he’s raced at previously, so expect big things.
4 Norbert Michelisz: Several top drivers lost ground in the WTCR OSCARO title race in Germany last time out. Norbert Michelisz was one of them and he will be keen to make amends at Zandvoort where he was a winner in TCR Benelux in 2016.
5 Gordon Shedden: Frustrated by his time penalty in Germany, the three-time British Touring Car champion will be eager to put on a strong showing for Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team at a venue where he tested back in March.
WEEKEND FORMAT EXPLAINED
In a major change to the previous WTCC race weekend format, each WTCR event will consist of three races – an increase from the previous two plus an additional qualifying session. The points allocation has been changed as follows:
WTCR RACE OF NETHERLANDS IN NUMBERS
7: There have been seven different winners from the opening nine races, while WTCR OSCARO drivers share seven world titles between them.
5: Of the WTCR Race of Netherlands line-up, five were in action at Zandvoort when it staged its one and only FIA World Touring Car Championship event in 2007. They were Tom Coronel, Rob Huff, Yvan Muller, Gabriele Tarquini and James Thompson.
11: Eleven different nationalities will be represented at WTCR Race of Netherlands.
24: All-season drivers will be permitted to use 24 Yokohama tyres at WTCR Race of Netherlands.
1m45.925s: Italian Giacomo Altoè holds the race lap record in a TCR car at Zandvoort. Driving a Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR, the Italian set his mark last October.
1: The first race on the permanent Zandvoort layout took place on 7 August 1948, almost a decade on from the town’s inaugural street racing event.
2: Zandvoort’s layout from 1948-1989 featured 19 turns over a 4.252-kilometre lap. The current layout has six corners less but a longer 4.307-kilometre lap.
3: Apart from 1972, Zandvoort was a permanent fixture on the Formula One calendar from 1958 until 1985 when Niki Lauda won from P10 on the grid, the Austrian’s final grand prix victory.
4: The Marlboro Masters of Formula 3 was one of Zandvoort’s big success stories from 1991 onwards with Lewis Hamilton (2005) and Max Verstappen (2014) among the notable winners.
5: Zandvoort’s one and only World Touring Car Championship race in 2007 ended in wins for Alain Menu and Gabriele Tarquini and coincided with Tiago Monteiro’s debut in the series.
WHERE TO WATCH THE WTCR
In a significant move First Qualifying and Race 1 will be live on Facebook in most countries, plus at wtcr.oscaro.com in Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and USA. Eurosport will broadcast live coverage of Second Qualifying, Race 2 and Race 3, plus highlights of First Qualifying and Race 1. All qualifying sessions and races will be available on Eurosport Player. Live coverage will also be broadcast on Fox Sports (Latin America), J SPORTS (Japan), M4 Sport (Hungary), OSN (Middle East and North Africa) and 2M in Morocco. QIE Live – one of China’s largest live sports streaming platforms with one million active daily users – will stream all remaining WTCR OSCARO events as they happen with the coverage including bespoke content designed to appeal to fans who have yet to experience the exciting on-track action from the WTCR. RTL 7 in The Netherlands will broadcast extensive highlights.