With less than one week to go until the Losail International Circuit hosts FIA WTCC DHL Race of Qatar, Mehdi Bennani has revealed why it feels like a second ‘home’ event.The Moroccan, who became the first Arabic driver to win an FIA world championship motor race when he won at WTCC Race of China in 2014, will head to the Middle East as the WTCC Trophy winner for 2016following another impressive season driving a Sébastien Loeb Racing Citroën C-Elysée WTCC.
He said: “For sure Morocco and Qatar are very close, the people are very close because there are a lot of partnerships between both countries. And when I race in Qatar it’s really like Marrakech so I hope to have a fantastic race. It could be a bit more special now I am already world champion. And I think I will be even stronger because I will have nothing to lose and nothing to win and in the end it could good so I will do my best to do two strong races and get some good points overall because I need to think about this overall championship. I hope to score more points to be close to the top six or top five.” Bennani is sixth in the WTCC Drivers’ standings with 176 points but could end up a career-high third in the table if results go his way in Qatar.
Honda WTCC hopes rise as weight falls
Honda’s hopes of a victorious end to the 2016 FIA World Touring Car Championship have been handed a huge boost with confirmation that the five Civic WTCCs will run with 30 kilograms of compensation weight at WTCC DHL Race of Qatar next week. It’s half the amount carried by the Japanese machines during the last event in China and 50 kilograms less than the extra load that will be fitted to Citroën’s pacesetting C-Elysée WTCC in the Middle East. While the Citroëns have run with the maximum permitted 80 kilograms all season, the amount of success ballast in the Hondas has fluctuated throughout the campaign. Apart from the opening two events of the season in France and Slovakia, when they ran with zero additional weight, not since Russia in early June have the the Hondas run at 30 kilograms. As at WTCC Race of China, the trio of factory LADA Vestas and pair of Volvo S60 Polestar TC1s will run without compensation weight at the Losail International Circuit. Drivers of the Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1 will also benefit from running at the 1100-kilogram minimum base weight in Qatar. The compensation weight system is designed to equalise performance in the WTCC through a lap time difference in seconds calculation based on average lap times from the previous three race weekends.
Huff: Like the WTCC, Qatar night race works
The inclusion of the Qatar night race in the FIA World Touring Car Championship is just one of the secrets of the WTCC’s ongoing success, according to the category’s most experienced driver, Rob Huff. Former world champion Huff, who heads to next week’s season finale in the Middle East locked in a five-way fight for third place in the drivers’ standings, has 269 WTCC starts to his name and will extend that record at the Losail International Circuit. “Qatar fits very well with the World Touring Car Championship,” said the factory Honda racer. “For me one of the best things about this championship having been here since the day it was born is that no two years have
been the same. There is always the introduction of new tracks, new qualifying schemes, new ways of doing the races with the reverse grids and so on. I love the fact that we have the control to do a night race here, a street race there, we’re going to change this or that around. That’s partly why after 12 years the WTCC is alive and why races like Qatar work.”
Monteiro not giving up on second in the WTCC
Tiago Monteiro believes he can cancel out Yvan Muller’s 31-point advantage and snatch second place from the Frenchman in the final FIA World Touring Car Championship standings. Portuguese Honda driver Monteiro lost vital ground to Muller during an off-form visit to China last time out. While Muller scored 33 points between the two races in Shanghai in his factory Citroën, Monteiro bagged just five, leaving him with serious ground to make up when the 2016 season concludes in Qatar. “I’ve lost quite a lot of points in the battle for P2 in the championship, but I’m not going to give up,” Monteiro said following the Main Race in China. While second place is
Monteiro’s target in the Middle East, he will also be keeping an eye on fellow factory Honda drivers Norbert Michelisz and Rob Huff, who are 14 and 24 points behind Monteiro respectively.
Busy times for WTCC racer Catsburg
Nicky Catsburg is set for a busy week. The highly-rated Dutchman has been selected by BMW to race a factory-blessed M6 GT3 in the FIA GT World Cup event in Macau this weekend and will then fly to Qatar to race for LADA Sport Rosneft in the FIA World Touring Car Championship season finale. “I’m very happy and lucky to be racing there,” said Catsburg.
Thursday 24 November
16h00-16h30: Free Practice 1
21h00-21h30: Free Practice 2
Friday 25 November
14h30-14h50: Qualifying Q1
14h55-15h05: Qualifying Q2
From 15h10: Qualifying Q3
15h30-16h00: WTCC MAC3
21h20-21h50: Opening Race (12 laps
22h35-23h05: Main Race (13 laps)
Free Entrance at the Grandstand and Paddock. VIP ticket 1.200 QR for both days.
More info at http://www.circuitlosail.com/
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