Termas de Rio Hondo [Argentina] – Thursday 1 August 2013: Following a five-week break since the European season reached its finale in Porto, the FIA World Touring Car Championship returns this weekend for the series’ inaugural Race of Argentina for Rounds 15 & 16.

Yvan Muller, RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6 T
Yvan Muller, RML Chevrolet Cruze 1.6 T

Photo by: XPB Images

Located 1400km North West of Buenos Aires, the Autodromo Termas de Rio Hondo racetrack is nestled within the thermal hotspots of Santiago del Estero.

Perhaps one of the lesser known circuits on the international calendar, the recently rebuilt 4.8km race track is quickly forging an impressive motorsport CV with the FIA WTCC becoming a welcome addition to local championships TC2000, Formula Renault and Turismo Carretera.

Redesigned by Italian Jarno Zaffelli, the track has also recently received FIM homologation, adding the prestigious MotoGP to its 2014 line up.

As in Moscow earlier this year, the team arrive at the circuit with limited knowledge but remain optimistic in the Cruze’s good form.

Yvan Muller: “This weekend is the first time any of us will see the Rio Hondo circuit – which will be both exciting and educational! I am not expecting an easy weekend. We have very limited running before qualifying so we need to learn very quickly and fully utilise the test and practice sessions to perfect set up.

According to the data we have the circuit profile is hard on tyres, so we must manage them as best we can, even with our handicap weight of 40kg against some of our competitors. As usual we will do our best and our target is very much to come away still leading the championship.”

Tom Chilton: “I think this is going to be quite an exciting track for us – it looks very fast and there are several high camber corners to add to the mix, which means it can be very unforgiving on tyres. It’s a little too early to say how I think we’ll fare here, but I am looking forward to seeing how the Cruze handles out there. We’ve got a mix of high speed, long corners and slower, tighter sections so I expect some good racing and great entertainment for the fans.

I hope we can put on a great show for them.” Ron Hartvelt, WTCC Project Manager: “This is the second time this year that we’ve competed at a new venue and we’re all very much looking forward to exploring Argentina and entertaining the crowds. It’s always a pleasure to visit new countries and showcase what the WTCC is all about.

“But of course with a new circuit comes limited data, so the Friday test session will be crucial in understanding how the car performs. We’ve every confidence in the car and the team and I am sure Yvan and Tom can open their long-haul accounts with some strong results, adding to the huge successes already achieved in Europe.”

WTCC