Published on March 6th, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
WTCC 2015 Season Starts In Argentina This Weekend
Argentina hosts the opening round of this year’s FIA World Touring Car Championship this weekend, and reigning champion José María López is the hot favourite to maintain or even increase his 75% victory ratio at his home circuit, on the calendar for the third time. Now hosting the opening round of the WTCC in the middle of Argentina’s summer, rather than its traditional spot mid-season where cooler temperatures (of a fairly tropical 25 degrees) have been prevalent, the temperatures should be well past 30 degrees this Sunday.
The pressure of his home crowd didn’t seem to faze the 31-year-old in either of his previous two appearances at Termas, first in the unfavoured BMW 320 TC of Wiechers-Sport, and then last year in the all-conquering Citroën C-Elysée WTCC, where he took a pair of victories. His team-mates Yvan Muller and Sébastien Loeb will probably expect to be following López at home and hoping to just get the race which favours the reigning champion out of the way, but they’re also very likely to pounce at any sign of weekness at a race where all the local attention will be on ‘Pechito’.
Sébastien Loeb, still racing in the #9 Citroën C-Elysée WTCC, bearing the number which refers to his total of World Rally titles, added:
Although Citroën are expected to be the reference point after a strong 2014 season, there are high hopes that the other two manufacturers in the championship, Honda and Lada, will have closed the gap on the French marque this year and be able to put up more of a fight, with the circuit having been a strong one for Honda in 2013, and with Lada scoring their first podium result last season when Rob Huff finished second in the Lada Granta, which has now been replaced with the promising new Lada Vesta for this season.
Honda in the meantime have done the most testing of anyone during the off season, and are expected to have significantly reduced the gap to Citroën, focussing on performance and one the main bugbears of last season, reliability.
Gabriele Tarquini, who will arrive at Termas straight from Geneva where he’s helped launch Honda’s new Civic Type-R model, is also looking forward to the season. Just turned 53, and with Franz Engstler moving on to the TCR International Series, 2009 champion Tarquini will now be the oldest driver in the field for 2015.
No – Driver – Nat – Team – Car
2 – Gabriele Tarquini – ITA – Honda Racing Team JAS – Honda Civic WTCC
3 – Tom Chilton* – GBR – ROAL Motorsport – Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1
4 – Tom Coronel* – NED – ROAL Motorsport – Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1
5 – Norbert Michelisz* – HUN – Zengő Motorsport – Honda Civic WTCC
7 – Hugo Valente* – FRA – Campos Racing – Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1
9 – Sébastien Loeb – FRA – Citroën Total WTCC – Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
11 – Gregoire Demoustier* – FRA – Craft-Bamboo – Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1
12 – Rob Huff – GBR – Lada Sport Rosneft – Lada Vesta WTCC
15 – James Thompson – GBR – Lada Sport Rosneft – Lada Vesta WTCC
18 – Tiago Monteiro – POR – Honda Racing Team JAS – Honda Civic WTCC
19 – Rickard Rydell – SWE – Nika International – Honda Civic WTCC
25 – Mehdi Bennani* – MOR – Sébastien Loeb Racing – Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
26 – Stefano D’Aste* – ITA – Münnich Motorsport – Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1
27 – John Filippi* – FRA – Campos Racing – Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1
33 – Ma Qing Hua – CHN – Citroën Total WTCC – Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
37 – José María López – ARG – Citroën Total WTCC – Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
68 – Yvan Muller – FRA – Citroën Total WTCC – Citroën C-Elysée WTCC
98 – Dusan Borkovic* – SRB – Proteam Racing – Honda Civic WTCC
* Driver eligible for the Yokohama Independents’ Trophy
Friday 6th March
10:00 – Testing
Saturday 7th March
08:45 – Free Practice 1
11:00 – Free Practice 2
15:00 – Qualifying
Sunday 8th March
15:15 – Race 1 (13 Laps)
16:30 – Race 2 (13 Laps)
All times Argentina Time (ART)