WTCC’s new ‘joker’ lap format gets more support
José María López and Yvan Muller, who between them have claimed seven WTCC titles, are the latest drivers to back the FIA World Touring Car Championship’s planned ‘joker’ lap format for 2017.
The FIA World Rallycross Championship-inspired initiative is being introduced to spice up the action at street tracks such as a Marrakech and Vila Real, with drivers required to take an additional assigned route on one lap of both the Opening Race and Main Race, once the three-lap mark has been reached. By adopting different strategies, the drivers will ensure the outcome of the races will be much harder to predict, therefore raising the spectacle for fans.
Earlier this month World RX champion Mattias Ekström praised WTCC promoter Eurosport Events for bringing ‘joker’ laps to an FIA circuit racing championship for the first time, while López believes the format can attract new fans to the sport.
“We know sometimes fans want more, more fights, they want to see interesting races, that's what it's all about,” said the three-time WTCC title winner. “We have these things, these changes, different things, and we need to go through and experiment a little bit - and see if the fans like it, if the constructors like it. We want motor racing to keep growing and bringing new fans to the races.”
Muller, who has partnered López at Citroën Racing for the past three seasons and has previously lifted the WTCC crown on four occasions, added: “It's like the MAC3 [team time trial] – everyone said 'ah, it's a crazy thing' and so on but it's something new. And when it's new and it shows something different, it's always a good thing. When [WTCC promoter] François Ribeiro talked about it two or three years ago, many people thought 'oh, he's crazy' - but maybe in three years' time we'll find it very normal.
"We have to try new things, to bring new positive and attractive things for motor racing. It can be a good idea.”
Marrakech hosts the season-opening WTCC Race of Morocco from 7-9 April.