CURITIBA HOSTS THE OPENING ROUND
The start of the 2009 FIA World Touring Car Championship is just one week away.
The series' fifth season will get underway again at the Autodromo Internacional de Curitiba, Brazil.
This is the fourth time the 3.7 km circuit hosts the WTCC. The championship visited Curitiba for the first time in July 2006; a crowd of 34,000 attended the races that were won by Jordi Gene (SEAT Leon) and Andy Priaulx (BMW 320si).
From 2007 the Brazilian event was moved to March and given the honour to open the season. BMW Team Germany fellow drivers Jorg Muller and Augusto Farfus shared victories and the attendance was even larger, with 45,000 spectators.
Last year SEAT won both races with Yvan Muller and Gabriele Tarquini, again the attendance totalled to 45,000.
WTCC ENTRY LIST RELEASED BY THE FIA
The FIA released the official list of the 2009 full season entries to the 2009 FIA World Touring Car Championship that will start next week with the WTCC Race of Brazil at Curitiba.
Twenty-six cars are listed, with drivers coming from fourteen different countries.
Twenty-four of these competitors will take part in the first two events of the season at Cuririba and Puebla (Mexico) against last year's twenty-one (see the event's entry list attached).
A third petrol-powered SEAT Leon run by SUNRED Engineering is due to join from the third race meeting in Marrakech. Winners of the SEAT Eurocup rounds and local drivers will take the wheel during the season. The entry of the Honda Accord has not to been finalized yet.
WTCC FOR CHARITY IN CURITIBA
For the third consecutive year the WTCC Race of Brazil will give an aid to the starving people of Brazil. Together KSO (championship promoter), HSBC (partner of the event), and the City Hall of Curitiba, repeated the initiative of offering free tickets to the public in exchange for two kilograms of food.
Fans wishing to attend the races on Sunday may collect their tickets by delivering the food to 14 different collection points scattered over the city, or at the racetrack on Sunday morning.
The food collected will be donated to the charity society Instituto Pro-Cidadania de Curitiba, which will distribute it to those in need. In 2007 this humanitarian initiative resulted in the collection of 24 tonnes of food, that became 52 last year.
ZANARDI SWITCHED TO SEQUENTIAL
Alessandro Zanardi will become BMW's first works driver to use a sequential gearbox.
The Italian decided to switch from the 5-speed "H" pattern gearbox to a 6-speed Xtrack after testing it during the winter. This will make his own car 30 kilos heavier than the other BMWs because of the handicap provided by the Technical Regulations.
"In spite of the weight, the car is well balanced and lap times are already close compared to the old gearbox that sometimes made my life harder. One good example is the Melco hairpin at Macau, where BMW drivers use the clutch to get around quicker. I cannot use the clutch pedal and have a lot of other things to do with my hand controls, and this cost me three or four tenths in that corner only. With the sequential gearbox this issue will be solved," said Zanardi.
ADDITIONAL POINTS FOR THE INDEPENDENTS
Eight full-season competitors have been admitted to Independents' Trophy that will award a 384,000-euro prize money. Among them are former champions Tom Coronel and Stefano D'Aste, as well as double WTCC race winner Felix Porteiro.
The point scale for the Trophy remains unchanged, with double points awarded in the final meeting at Macau. However, one additional point will be allocated for setting the Independents' pole position and the races' fastest lap at each event.
And furthermore, Independent drivers who will manage to finish races in the top-eight of the overall results, will be rewarded by three extra points per each WTCC point scored (i.e.: an Independent who classifies third overall will score 18 points for the Trophy).
WTCC'S REVAMPED WEBSITE IS ON LINE
At the eve of the fifth season the WTCC's website was officially launched today in its revamped version.
The www.fiawtcc.com webpage has been extensively modified to adopt a modern look and to offer quicker and more exhaustive information, thus it will continue to be the reference source for media, teams and fans.
The standard services (news, results and photo gallery) have been implemented, made more accessible and easier to use. The video section has been completely renovated and will feature soon a WTCC video player.
Special emphasis has been put on the drivers', team's and cars' file that provide a great deal of information and the possibility to download high resolution pictures.
Among the new resources is the possibility to convert the hours of the race meeting in the user's local time and to download the Stewards decisions, the official Newsletter and the Media Guide, all in PDF format.
COUNTDOWN: - 9 DAYS to the 2009 FIA WTCC Race of Brazil - 7th / 8th March, in Curitiba