Route To Marrakech
After a one-year break, the FIA WTCC returns to North Africa next week, for the 5th and 6th rounds that will take place at Marrakech.
This is the third visit of the World Championship to Morocco’s street circuit that has been recently renamed after His Highness the Heir to the Throne, Moulay El Hassan.
The unique charm of this historical city, the enthusiasm of the promoter and a demanding street circuit make the WTCC Race of Morocco a very special event in the championship.
Located just outside the walls of the ancient Red City, in the middle of the modern Agdal hotel district, the 4.5km circuit comprises two parallel straight lines, disrupted by fast and tricky chicanes and connected by a long left-handed corner and a slow hairpin.
On the occasion of the two previous WTCC events, Chevrolet won both races in 2009, with Rob Huff and Nicola Larini sharing victories in the Cruze 2.0L cars. In 2010 the races were plagued by incidents and safety car interventions: Gabriele Tarquini’s SEAT León TDi emerged victorious in the first race, while the second one was won by Andy Priaulx in a BMW 320si.
Bennani Targets More Home Victories
Morocco’s motorsport hero Mehdi Bennani, looks forward to his home event, in which he hopes to repeat the Yokohama Trophy victory he scored back in 2009 on his maiden WTCC appearance.
“I am delighted that WTCC returns to Marrakech. It is a great event, very well organized. For us is like having a Formula One Grand Prix!” said Bennani, who added: “The track looks easy because of its layout, but it’s not! There are a lot of chicanes and they are fast. If you do not handle them well, then you lose a lot of places on the following straight. With twenty drivers covered by only one second, the races will be close and tough."
After scoring his first point of the season last week at Valencia in his Proteam Racing BMW 320 TC, Bennani is confident for the races in Marrakech. “I won the Yokohama Trophy here in 2009, on my first WTCC race, and then I managed to win again in 2010. I hope I can fight again for victory this year. I wish to offer Moroccan fans the view of our national flag waving on the podium.”
Oriola Leads The Yokohama Trophy
Pepe Oriola and Stefano D’Aste have dominated the Yokohama Trophy so far. In both the first events, at Monza and Valencia, Oriola and D’Aste shared wins, with the Spanish teen-ager victorious in Race 1 and the Italian in Race 2.
Oriola leads the trophy standings with 31 points, three more than D’Aste, thanks to the bonus points awarded by pole position and fastest laps.
However, positions on top are very close, with Norbert Michelisz and Franz Engstler lying third and fourth with gaps of four and six points respectively.
And more drivers have proved they can compete for the podium. WTCC rookies Alex MacDowall and Alberto Cerqui had no luck in Spain after they being at the front in Italy.
Just the opposite of what happened to Mehdi Bennani, who is warming up in view of his home event at Marrakech, and Darryl O’Young, whose car caught fire at Monza. They both managed to score solid points at Valencia.
Compensation Weight Comes Into Force
The Compensation Weight system comes into force for the first time this season at Marrakech. The system determines the running weight of the cars on the basis of lap time calculation.
The bestlap times of the two fastest cars of each model in qualifying and the two best lap times of the two fastest cars of each model in both races are averaged.
The calculation is based on a three event rolling average, being applied after the first two events.
The compensation weight has been determined by the lap times set in Italy and Spain and the Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T was identified as the reference model, therefore it will receive the maximum compensation weight of 40 kg in addition.
The SEAT León WTCC and BMW 320 TC cars will be laden with 30 and 20 extra kilos respectively, while the SUNRED León 1.6T cars won’t have any compensation weight added as Marrakech will be only their second appearance in the current season. Both, the SEAT León TDi and Ford Focus cars will have 20kg deducted from their minimum weight.
Compensation weight Marrakech
+ 40 kg: Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T
+ 30 kg: SEAT León WTCC
+ 20 kg: BMW 320 TC
± 0 kg: SUNRED León 1.6T (+ 20 kg as per art 10 B)
- 20 kg: Ford Focus S2000 (+ 30 kg as per TCC decision), SEAT León TDi