ON VICE-WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Battle For Second To Produce Biggest Fight Of Race
The 2008 World Touring Car Championship will be reaching its climax at next weekend’s final races at the former Portuguese colony of Macau, China. As has been the case every year, the traditional Grand Prix – run for the 55th time this year – will decide on who will be the new World Champion, although this year only two drivers are still in a position to claim the top honour.
Even more than the fight for the world title, the battle for the runner-up spot will grab everybody’s attention, with four drivers – amongst whom Rob Huff – capable of achieving that goal. An extra unknown is added to the debates by the fact that for the first time all irregular WTCC participants will have to run with the maximum ballast of 70 kilograms. Thus almost half of the 30 starters will be running heavy cars, which means that the fight for position will be tough in the middle of the field. But with some of the regular contenders – like Chevrolet’s Alain Menu and Nicola Larini – running light, the Macau races could also produce some of the most exciting racing of the season.
With Rob Huff looking to secure the vice-world championship, Alain Menu looking at repeating his last year’s win and Nicola Larini trying to score that elusive first win, one thing is for sure: the Chevrolet Lacetti will most likely finish its last WTCC race on a high.
Rob Huff: “My target will be to try to finish second in the World Championship, for which I have a more than mathematical chance. Gabriele (Tarquini) is 13 points ahead of me, which is a lot but at the same time not much at all. Just look at the race in Japan where he didn’t score any points. Especially at Macau it’s very easy to turn from a potential race winner into an also-ran in the space of a single corner. Qualifying will decide a big part of the race result, but also any accidents and offs. Here, as in Japan, there is little or no time for repairs in between the races, so any damage in race 1 will also affect you in race 2, more so than in the European rounds. But regardless of what’s at stake, Macau is just a fantastic track for all of us drivers. I don’t know anyone out there who doesn’t like racing at Macau.”
Alain Menu: “Macau has always been good to me, therefore my objective will to be to win one of the races. But as always in Macau, qualifying will decide half of the race outcome, as might do the infamous Lisboa corner.”Nicola Larini: “Like Alain, my ambition will be to try and finally win that first race. Some cars might have the advantage under acceleration in the slower parts of the track, but maybe our lower weight can compensate for that on the long straights from R-bend to Lisboa. It would in any case be fantastic to win for the first time in Macau, which has always been, and still is, the Monaco of touring car racing.”
Manabu Orido: “Obviously, I’m happy to race in Macau again. I finished in second there in 2001, so the place has great memories for me. This year, the battle for the mid-field should be quite interesting in qualifying. Macau is always a bit of a lottery, as is well known, so maybe number 80 might bring me some luck in China. ”
MACAU RACE SCHEDULE (Local time = CET +7 hours)
Thursday, 13th November 2008
12.20-12.50 (05.20-05.50 CET) Testing
Friday, 14th November 2008
08.45-09.15 (01.45-02.15 CET) Free Practice 1 12.15-12.45 (05.15-05.45 CET) Free Practice 2 15.50-16.35 (08.50-09.35 CET) Qualifying
Sunday, 16th November 2008
07.50-08.05 (00.50-01.05 CET) Warm up 12.05-12.30 (05.05-05.30 CET) Race 1 (9 laps = 55.800kms) (Rolling start) 13.25-13.50 (06.25-06.50 CET) Race 2 (9 laps = 55.800kms) (Standing start)
DRIVERS POINTS STANDINGS AFTER RACE 22 OF 24
1. Y Muller (SEAT), 100 points; 2. G Tarquini (SEAT), 86; 3. R Huff (Chevrolet), 73; 4. R Rydell (SEAT), 72; 5. A Priaulx (BMW), 67;...10. N Larini (Chevrolet), 48; 11. A Menu (Chevrolet), 44;...
MANUFACTURERS POINTS STANDINGS AFTER RACE 22 OF 24
1. SEAT, 304 points; 2. BMW, 251; 3. Chevrolet, 211; 4. Honda, 55.