Round three of the WTCC sees a return to the Hungaroring for two action packed races. The home of fan favourite Norbert Michelisz, the venue usually produces great racing, large crowds, and unpredictable weather. It is also the home race for Zengo Motorsport and Daniel Nagy. Zengo helped to bring Michelisz into the WTCC and into the factory Honda spot. The team has a history of helping young Hungarian talent. However, things could be difficult for the Honda squads this weekend.
After the two weekends at Monza and Marrakech, the WTCC’s success ballast kicks in. Calculated by average laps, the closely matched Hondas and Volvos will carry an extra 80kg for the next two weekends. The Citroens were due to only carry 50kg, however a last minute change saw that upped to 60kg. Even though the Chevrolets have shown pace and won a race, they will run on their base weight as will the two Ladas. The idea of this is to prevent a single manufacture from running away with the championship. Even so, the Volvos and Hondas will be carrying the weight going into one of the hardest overtaking circuits on the calendar.
This could help the SLR Citroens, as last year they managed to score a 1-2 in the opening race. With Mehdi Bennani leading home Tom Chilton. All while carrying the maximum weight. Granted, the victory came in changeable conditions and by a very good strategy call by the privateer team. Weather is something that could be a big factor in this years races, as forecasts show that practice and qualifying could be wet while both races could be run in the dry. This means there is a good chance that the teams won’t see any dry running, until they head out to the grid for the opening race on Sunday.
While Hungary might be Norbert Michelisz’ home, all eyes will be on points leader Tiago Monteiro. The Portugese man holds a 15 point advantage over Volvo’s Thed Bjork. Both drivers have taken a victory in a feature race, however Monterio’s double podium in Monza helped secure the points lead. Bjork holds a 20 point advantage over third place Nicky Catsburg who is just 4 points infront of Michelisz. Early favourite Rob Huff will be looking to make amends for a tough start to his campaign. The Briton sits 6th, equal on points with Tom Chilton who won the opening race in Monza last time out.
The Hungaroring has traditionally favoured the Citroens, the twisting nature of the circuit suiting their chassis. The French cars have only been beaten once in 6 races around the ring. However, this season could be different. So far 4 different drivers, in 4 different cars have won the first 4 races. Home boy Michelisz will be looking to make it 5 winners from 5 races, but he will have competition for that title. Rob Huff will be out to secure his 29th victory, which will put him joint second overall, level with Jose Maria Lopez. Huff could also match Lopez for all time fastest laps, if he can secure that honor in both of this weekends races.
Another driver looking to make an impression will be Kevin Gleason. The American made his debut in the WTCC at Monza, driving the second RC Motorsport Lada managing to score points in the opening race. Ryo Michigami will be looking to put some more miles on his Civic’s clock, as he has only finished a single race this season. On the other hand, Esteban Guerrieri will be looking to build on his race winning performance in Morocco as he comes to the half way point of his partial campaign.
So the stage is set for another action packed weekend for the world touring cars. The action starts on Saturday with practice and qualifying for the two races. The opening 12 lap race will set off at 12:35 local time with the 15 lap feature race due to start at 13:45. All of the action will be broadcast on Eurosport over the course of the weekend.
Compensation Weights for Hungary
Volvo S60 TC1 – 1,180kg (+80kg)
Honda Civic WTCC – 1,180kg (+80kg)
Citroen C-Elysee WTCC – 1,160kg (+60kg)
Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 – 1,100kg
Lada Vesta WTCC – 1,100kg