Istanbul: Team Ford Hotfiel Sport preview

TEAM FORD HOTFIEL SPORT HOPES FOR ANOTHER GOOD WEEKEND IN TURKEY Cologne, September 9th, 2005. Team Ford Hotfiel Sport travels to the unknown shore of Turkey on the wave of a very encouraging FIA World Touring Car Championship round in ...

TEAM FORD HOTFIEL SPORT HOPES FOR ANOTHER GOOD WEEKEND IN TURKEY

Cologne, September 9th, 2005. Team Ford Hotfiel Sport travels to the unknown shore of Turkey on the wave of a very encouraging FIA World Touring Car Championship round in Oschersleben, Germany, last month. Michael Funke topped the time sheets in both Free Practice sessions in his Ford Focus WTCC, while Thomas Klenke only missed out on his first-ever points in the drivers' championship because of a deflated tyre.

Team principal Hans Hotfiel is confident. "I'm sure we can continue our improvement in performance in Istanbul, too," he said. "The track doesn't suit our cars as well as Oschersleben did -- or the forthcoming Valencia circuit will -- but we should nevertheless be able to build up on what we started in Oschersleben."

HOT TURKEY

The Otodrom Istanbul Speed Park is a new venue for the FIA WTCC and was only opened in August. The circuit is located on the outskirts of the Arabian part of the city and is separated from the city centre by a huge bridge crossing the Bosphorus. So far, the only event staged at the venue was the Formula One Grand Prix.

Technical Director Bernd Meyer said: "This could work in our favour. For the second time this season, we are starting on level terms with all the others as far as track knowledge and experience are concerned. Because of our experience in the German domestic championship, we knew Oschersleben as well as the other teams and drivers knew it from their previous races in the old FIA ETCC. Now we arrive at a circuit which is an unknown quantity to everybody."

With temperatures of up to 40C, a long and very fast track with a lot of uphill sections and quite a few fast corners, drivers and teams will be tested to the maximum during the first ever WTCC race in Arabia. "We ordered a very detailed circuit map in order to get an accurate insight into how wide the track is, how steep the climbs and falls are and how the turns have to be driven," explains Hotfiel.

Meyer adds: "According to the map, top speeds should be around 230 kph at the quickest part of the circuit. The most important task in our preparation was to define the gear ratios we will use. Since the longest ratio would be good for speeds in excess of 240 kph, we needed to take a long, hard look into which gears would be best for this circuit."

PLAY-STATION FOR GROWN-UPS

The drivers use different approaches on how to prepare for the journey into the unknown. "I've got a computer game which features the Turkey track as an add-on," reveals Klenke. "In this game, you can even drive in a virtual version of my Ford Focus RS WTCC. I felt right at home immediately! The game is a very good preparation because you get an accurate first impression of the track "

Funke relied on TV. "I've watched every practice session and, of course, the race itself when Formula One was in Turkey. You learn a lot about the nature of the track by studying the onboards carefully."

Klenke is positive: "There are a lot of fast turns which should suit our suspension very well. Some corners even reminded me of the 'Triple' in Oschersleben, where our car was one the fastest." Funke adds: "We will be looking for a solid midfield position again."

SHIP TO SHORE

Getting to the World Touring Car Championship's newest circuit is hard work for the truck drivers. All the trucks have to be in Triest, Italy, on Monday morning, where they will board a ferry for a two-day trip across the Adriatic Sea and the Black Sea.

While the race cars are en route,, Klenke and Funke will conduct further tests in Oschersleben before flying out to Istanbul. "We completed our third car in order to be able to practice starts and work hard on how to make the most out of a new set of tyres," says Meyer. "That's what we will be focussing on in the days leading up to the Turkey event. We bought 20 fresh tyres just for this purpose."

-tfhs-

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About this article
Series WTCC
Drivers Thomas Klenke , Michael Funke