Imola: Series pre-race notes

THE WTCC OPENS UP IMOLA AGAIN The curtain is about raise on Imola's renovated Autodromo Enzo and Dino Ferrari. This weekend's FIA World Touring Car Championship meeting will mark the reopening of the glorious racetrack after a two-year closure...

THE WTCC OPENS UP IMOLA AGAIN

The curtain is about raise on Imola's renovated Autodromo Enzo and Dino Ferrari. This weekend's FIA World Touring Car Championship meeting will mark the reopening of the glorious racetrack after a two-year closure due to extensive renovation works.

The old building that hosted garages, race control and media centre was demolished and replaced by a brand new one. The racetrack itself was subjected to a number of changes.

The Variante Bassa has been erased and replaced by a fast right-handed corner, while the run-off areas in some other bends - like the Piratella - have been enlarged.

This resulted in the FIA issuing a 1T degree homologation that makes the circuit eligible to host all kind of international races except a Formula One Grand Prix, plus Formula One test sessions.

The FIA Touring Car Championship has visited Imola twice before. In 2004, Gabriele Tarquini won both the European Touring Car Championship races in his Alfa Romeo 156. The year after, on the WTCC first appearance on this track, Alfa Romeo's Fabrizio Giovanardi and BMW's Dirk Muller shared victories.

ART CAR FOR MENU IN IMOLA

For this weekend's races at Imola, Alain Menu will drive the Chevrolet Lacetti "art car". Menu's black-and-gold one-off race car sports the winning design of the pan-European "Young, Creative, Chevrolet" competition which Chevrolet ran in cooperation with design schools in different countries. Winner Adi Sumi from Slovenia was present at RML's UK workshops last week to watch the regular two-tone blue Chevrolet being turned into a moving work of art and will be present in Imola to see his work in action.

"Considering how competitive we were at Oschersleben with more ballast, I can only be optimistic for Imola. My aim therefore is to have two good races and hopefully finish on the podium. That would be great, particularly as my car will be the art car. I'm always in for something a bit out of the ordinary and the Chevrolet design competition was a great initiative to help create interest in the WTCC from quarters not necessarily familiar with racing," said Menu.

FOUR DRIVERS COME FROM JAPAN

A four-driver Japanese patrol will join the FIA WTCC for the season's final. The addition of a race meeting at Okayama - on October 26th - has aroused huge interest in the Country of the Rising Sun.

N.technology-Honda and Chevrolet were the first to announce their plans to line up additional cars for Japanese drivers. Yukinori Taniguchi will join N.technology for the events in Monza and Okayama, while Manabu Orido will drive the fourth Chevrolet Lacetti in the same two events plus the championship's finale in Macau.

Recently two other drivers have announced participation in their home race at Okayama: Takayuki Aoki and Masaki Kano.

Following a deal between Japan-based Endless Racing and Wiechers-Sport, Aoki will take the wheel of the German team's BMW 320si, while Kano will drive for Liqui Moly Team Engstler with which he clinched the 2007 Asian Touring Car Championship crown.

The Japanese drivers presented their plans to the national press last week in Okayama.

TEST SESSION FOR WTCC TOMORROW

Tomorrow afternoon the FIA WTCC competitors will have their first impression of the changes to the Imola racetrack during a 30-minute test session.

The session, which was authorized by the FIA Touring Car Bureau, will take place from 15.00 to 15.30.

-credit: fiawtcc.com

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