TEAM FORD HOTFIEL SPORT FIELDS NEW DRIVER FOR FINAL FIA WTCC ROUND IN MACAU COLOGNE, November 11th, 2005. After a break of seven weeks, Team Ford Hotfiel Sport returns to action in the FIA World Touring Car Championship next weekend when the ...
TEAM FORD HOTFIEL SPORT FIELDS NEW DRIVER FOR FINAL FIA WTCC ROUND IN MACAU
COLOGNE, November 11th, 2005. After a break of seven weeks, Team Ford Hotfiel Sport returns to action in the FIA World Touring Car Championship next weekend when the championship reaches it's final stage in Macau, the former Portuguese colony in the south of China. The German team enters two Ford Focus RS WTCC but fields a new driver with Patrick Bernhardt replacing Thomas Klenke for the last weekend of the season.
The Streets of China-Town
Thirty-four-year-old Bernhardt, who lives in Magdeburg, Germany, and works as CEO of the "Motopark Academy" racing school at the Oschersleben race track, has been Hotfiel's test driver throughout 2005."Patrick Bernhardt has been to Macau before -- in his Formula Three days," recalls team principal Hans Hotfiel. "Since we, as a team, have never been to that track, we have to rely on as much outside experience as possible. Both the circuit and the environment are very tough. We hope Patrick can give us a strong helping hand."
Team-mate Michael Funkehas already contested two touring car races on the spectacular street circuit. "The track is split up into two different parts. There's a downtown part with a lot of corners where our Ford should be especially good -- and there are two exceptionally long straights," says Funke. "The track is also incredibly bumpy, with the nature of the bumps differing vastly from those on other circuits. They are shorter and a lot rougher. Since Macau is a street course, the car has to cope with drainage hoses and covers as well as bumps like the ones you experience in front of traffic lights."
Funke and Bernhardt tested at Oschersleben last week. "We tried a different anti-roll bar at the rear which provided a lot more stability," remembers Funke. "The new part paid off especially in the faster sections -- which should be good for Macau."
LOTTERY IN GAMBLER'S PARADISE
The track is famous for its narrow turns, which are notorious for multi-car pile-ups and subsequent traffic jams. "You need a good starting position to make sure you don't get involved in the inevitable accidents," says Hotfiel. "Our drivers will have to work together very well to achieve that."
Funke added: "The grip level changes a lot and reaches it's peak only in the closing stages of qualifying. Qualifying will turn out quite a hectic affair. But if you manage to stay clear of any trouble in the races, you'll almost automatically earn a place inside the top 10 because there will be a lot of incidents and retirements."