Morocco: Yokohama preview

NEW CIRCUIT, NEW CHALLENGES FOR YOKOHAMA Teams and drivers in the 2009 FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) face a completely new challenge next week, when the series visits North Africa for the very first time. In a breakthrough move onto...

NEW CIRCUIT, NEW CHALLENGES FOR YOKOHAMA

Teams and drivers in the 2009 FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) face a completely new challenge next week, when the series visits North Africa for the very first time. In a breakthrough move onto the African continent, the third event will be taking place in Marrakech, Morocco, on 1-3 May.

Played out on a brand-new inner-city street circuit with 14 turns and a tight final hairpin, the Race of Morocco will be the first international car race in the country since the 1958 Casablanca Grand Prix.

One of the biggest issues facing teams will be the unyielding Saharan heat, with an air temperature that's tough on cars and drivers, and a track temperature that pushes the performance of the Yokohama ADVAN race tyres. However, Yokohama is confident that experience from other rounds and championships will ensure that the ADVANs are more than up to the task of 45 minutes of wheel-to-wheel racing.

Despite the incredible forces placed on the tyres at a street circuit like Marrakech, and having no data or information until the WTCC hits African shores, Yokohama Motorsport Technical Department Manager Susumu Watanabe is already certain that the ADVAN will perform.

"Marrakech is a virtual unknown for everyone attending; we know the layout of the circuit, but little else. However, new circuits and surfaces are traditionally low-grip. Oils in the asphalt rise to the surface when it is first laid, creating a greasy, slippery racing line that takes time to settle in. We're expecting the ambient temperature to be similar to that of the first round at Curitiba, and there are several long straights that cool the tyres.

"The ADVAN race tyre works over a very wide temperature range, offering good grip from around 65DEGC, all the way to temperatures in excess of 120DEGC. Typically, 100-110 degrees is the operating window of a touring car tyre, even at a circuit like Marrakech, so I don't expect the ADVANs to be challenged.

"We are very conscious of spotting issues with tyres before they occur, and as the ADVAN is specifically designed to work in a wide range of conditions, it's suited to a track like this."

The third round of the WTCC will be broadcast live on Eurosport International and Asia-Pacific. Live coverage begins with Race 1 at 15:00 (CET) on Sunday 3 May, and Race 2 follows at 16:15 (CET).

Marrakech track facts
Circuit length: 4,624 metres
Number of turns: 14
Race distance: 50.86 kilometres

-credit: yokohama

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Series WTCC