L&T Motorsport

WTCC 2017: The Runners and Riders

The entry list for the 2017 World Touring Car Championship has been released, and features 16 full time cars to battle it out to become a world champion. A new era of the WTCC could be about to begin with previous champions Citroen absent from the grid. Here is a look at the drivers and teams for this season.

Honda Racing Team JAS

The factory Honda team is back with Tiago Monteiro and Norbert Michelisz behind the wheel of the Castrol backed cars. The team also welcomes back Ryo Michigami who competed in a single round in 2016 driving the black Honda car. They are one of just two factory teams left in the WTCC and surely are favourites to take home the constructors title. Both Monteiro and Michelisz are favourites to take the driver’s crown, having pushed the Citroens hard last season.

Polestar Cyan Racing

The factory Honda team is back with Tiago Monteiro and Norbert Michelisz behind the wheel of the Castrol backed cars. The team also welcomes back Ryo Michigami who competed in a single round in 2016 driving the black Honda car. They are one of just two factory teams left in the WTCC and surely are favourites to take home the constructors title. Both Monteiro and Michelisz are favourites to take the driver’s crown, having pushed the Citroens hard last season.

Sebastien Loeb Racing

The privateer Citroen team returns with a trio of C-Elysees. They have retained Mehdi Bennani and Tom Chilton, who is also racing in the BTCC. Joining them is John Filippi from Campos. He showed flashes of pace in the Chevrolet Cruze, but was dogged by reliability. Hopefully his new car will give him the tools to shine. The SLR team was consistently knocking on the door of the factory Citroens, with Bennani won the WTCC Trophy last season and finished fifth overall. Chilton showed flashes of pace but lacked the consistency to run climb up the championship table.

Zengo Motorsport

The Hungarian Honda squad are back with an altered driver line up. Daniel Nagy will return for his second season, while Frenchman Aurelien Panis will join him for his first season. This is the first time that Zengo have ran an non-Hungarian driver in their team. The team has a reputation for helping young drivers on the world stage. They were responsible for Norbert Michelisz’ success and will hope to do the same for Nagy and Panis. Panis makes the switch to tin-tops after 4 years in single seaters. This isn’t the first time a driver has made the move, it will be interesting to see how he adapts to front wheel drive.

RC Motorsport

It isn’t often that the WTCC can welcome a new team, however in 2017 it happens. Formed out of the ashes of the Lada team, RC Motorsport has bought two of their Vestas used last season. There had been rumours of a privateer Lada team emerging, but few thought it would happen. The French team have confirmed just one driver so far, that of Yan Ehrlacher. The nephew of 4 time champion Yvan Muller will make his debut in the WTCC carrying the number 68. The same number his uncle used during his time at Citroen. With a mentor of Muller’s stature, and a race winning car, we can expect big things from the young Frenchman.

Munnich Motorsport

The story of the off season was Rob Huff’s departure from the Honda squad. He re-joins Munnich Motorsport behind the wheel of an ex-Citroen Sport C-Elysee. This move has made him a clear favourite for the 2017 title. Huff is also the only former champion confirmed for the 2017 season. Last season consistency was not on his side, preventing a high finish. He will need to ensure that his is consistently challenging at the front. Last time Huff drove for the Munnich team, he was wearing the number 1. He will seriously be hoping that he will be able to re-capture his title this season.

ROAL Motorsport

Tom Coronel continues his partnership with ROAL Motorsport. He will start his seventh season for the Italian team. He will continue to drive the RML built Chevrolet. Although the Chevy has proven to be one of the most under-developed cars on the grid, Coronel has proven it can be fast. His impressive performance in Morocco proved that the car still has pace. Even so, it is a car that is starting to disappear. Coronel is one of just two drivers to be behind the wheel of Chevrolet this season. Will the car still be able to play with the big boys?

Campos Racing

Campos will be the second team to field the Chevrolet Cruze. For this season, they have secured the services of Esteban Guerrieri, but only for half the season. The Argentine driver will compete in the first 4 rounds, as well as the round in Argentina. He is trying to stretch it to a full season, but nothing has been confirmed yet. Guerrieri is a bright prospect for the WTCC. He learnt his craft in the TC2000 series, like Jose Maria Lopez. He has also competed in the WTCC before. His single outing at the Argentinian round last season showed he is a huge talent. In a car that usually wouldn’t be near the front, he put the car on pole for the feature race, only to fail scrutineering. This probably shouldn’t be a surprise, he is a double Indy lights vice champion. The team is not present at the pre-season group test in Monza, so their pace is unknown.

So that is how the grid looks for the 2017 season. Hopefully more cars will join on a race by race basis, but a grid of 16 is a great starting point considering two manufactures have left the series. The season gets underway in Morocco on April 8th & 9th. As ever all the action will be broadcast live on Eurosport.

Words: @WA10Tom

Images: WTCC/Zengo Motorsport/Autosport

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