As rumoured during the off season, a joker lap has been introduced for the Vila Real street circuit. The concept comes from rallycross, where it is proven to spice up the racing. The Joker lap is usually slower than a regular lap, and has to be taken once during each race.
In this case, the joker lap will begin a turn 26, just before the final straight. The regular lap will sweep right into an open bus stop style chicane. The joker lap will dive left into an extremely tight chicane before opening out onto the start finish line. The tighter joker lap is predicted to be 2 seconds slower than a regular lap. The drivers will be forced to take the slower route once every race, with the first opportunity being on lap 3
This will provide plenty of strategy ideas over the 11 and 13 lap races due to take place. The WTCC field will be allowed to practice the new lap during free practice on Saturday. It’s addition has been welcomed by most involved. “The ‘joker’ lap concept works very well in rallycross, and I’m certain it will bring an extra dimension to the WTCC street race in Vila Real,” Said promoter Francios Ribeiro. ” It will open up strategies for each WTCC driver, and might even change the course of the race”. He also went into the safety aspects of running the concept. “Of course we never compromise on safety so we have worked very closely with our colleagues at the FIA and with the authorities in Vila Real to put in place a route that matches our requirements but also conforms to all the rigorous safety standards”.
Local driver Tiago Monteiro was also in favour of the new configuration.“It’s great to try new ideas, new options to spice up the show. When you are in pole position you don’t really want the ‘joker’ lap because you don’t want to lose your lead. But if you are not on pole position then there is a new opportunity to overtake”. The WTCC has introduced some radical concepts in the last few seasons, including the MAC3 time trail.
The new joker lap is still subject to an FIA track inspection before the event. The WTCC will be in action in Portugal on June 24th & 25th. All the action will be broadcast live on British Eurosport.