Three years after its last visit, the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup is heading back to northern Portugal for two races on the streets of Vila Real from July 1-3. This is some of what you need to know.
*A street circuit oozing history and intrigue, racing has taken place on Vila Real’s demanding hillside roads since 1931, when Gaspar Sameiro and Ercilio Barbosa conquered the original 7.150-kilometre course in a Ford Model A.
*Safety and financial factors meant races were held on an irregular basis until the FIA World Touring Car Championship’s arrival in 2015 provided stability and Vila Real’s first world-level event.
*The 4.790-kilometre layout now used is a challenging blend of fast turns, climbs and descents. While a handful of chicanes were installed for safety reasons, the spectacle remains unaltered with speeds exceeding 200kph on the final downhill section.
*History was made in Vila Real in 2017 when a 'joker' lap used during an FIA-sanctioned circuit race of the first time.
*Mikel Azcona, Thed Björk, Norbert Michelisz, Tiago Monteiro and Yvan Muller have all won on the streets of Vila Real since the WTCR made its first visit in 2018. Michelisz and Monteiro were also winners in the town during the FIA World Touring Car Championship era when Mehdi Bennani, Tom Coronel and Ma Qing Hua triumphed.
*Race 2 at Vila Real will be the WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup’s 100th race after the series began on the streets in Marrakech, Morocco in 2018.
*Several changes have been made to the rules since the WTCR’s last visit to Vila Real in July 2019.
*There is now one three-stage qualifying for two races rather than the previous three. Race 1 is the standard grid race with Race 2 now the partially-reversed counter.
*Race distances have been changed for 2022 with Race 1 scheduled for 30 minutes + 1 lap and Race 2 for 25 minutes + 1 lap.
*The allocation of points has also been adjusted for this season with more points on offer in Qualifying and Race 1.
*Since the WTCR’s last visit to Vila Real in 2019, Norbert Michelisz (once) and Yann Ehrlacher (twice) have taken the Drivers’ titles during that time, while Esteban Guerrieri is WTCR’s most successful driver in terms of race wins with the Honda-powered racer triumphing 10 times for ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport.
*Twelve drivers won WTCR races during a wide-open 2021 season with all five customer racing brands winning more than once.
*Eleven nationalities are represented by the drivers this season with a further two represented by teams and two more by manufacturers to underline the WTCR’s global appeal.
*Of the 17 all-season racers, only one driver, Dániel Nagy, has yet to take a WTCR race victory although he has finished second on one occasion and led at WTCR Race of Spain last weekend.
*The Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition as the Official Safety Car of the WTCR for a third season. Richard Veldwisch from The Netherlands is on driving duty at WTCR Race of Portugal.
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