Magny-Cours: Round two preview

ACTION STARTS TOMORROW IN MAGNY-COURS The FIA World Touring Car Championship field is ready to hit the track tomorrow morning at 9.00 AM for the first of two 30-minute practice sessions on the 4.4-km circuit of Nevers Magny-Cours. This moment...

ACTION STARTS TOMORROW IN MAGNY-COURS

The FIA World Touring Car Championship field is ready to hit the track tomorrow morning at 9.00 AM for the first of two 30-minute practice sessions on the 4.4-km circuit of Nevers Magny-Cours. This moment will mark the beginning of the second meeting of the season, that is going to reach its climax on Sunday afternoon with the two back-to-back 12-lap races counting as third and fourth rounds of the championship.

Weather forecasts for the weekend predict a clear sky and warm temperatures.

CYCLING ACE VIRENQUE TO VISIT MAGNY-COURS

French cycling champion Richard Virenque will be the patron of the FIA World Touring Car Championship's second meeting in Magny-Cours.

Virenque, who retired from active sport at the end of 2004 after a successful career, will visit the FIA WTCC paddock on Sunday. He will join the drivers for the traditional autograph session (10.30 AM in the paddock) and then complete a couple of laps of the racetrack at the wheel of a Chevrolet Lacetti road car. Like downhill racer Kristian Ghedina in Monza, he will also wave the chequered flag at the end of the first race.

Richard Virenque was born in Casablanca, Morocco, 35 years ago. He turned professional in 1991, and soon established himself as the best climber of his times. In his 14-year career as a pro, he collected a total of 46 victories and finished the Tour the France wearing the Polka dot Jersey of "King of the Mountains" for a record seven times. His best overall results in the French classic race were third in 1994 and second in 1997. Other major achievements in his career were overall wins in the Tour of Piedmont (1996) and the Paris-Tours (2001). He also claimed a podium finish (third) in the 1994 Road Racing World Championship in Agrigento.

CHEVROLET DEALERS DISCOVER THE FIA WTCC AND THE NEW MATIZ

Chevrolet France chose the FIA WTCC event in Magny-Cours to organise the Dealer Convention for the launch of the new Matiz, which will be introduced to more than 200 guests tomorrow evening at the Château de la verrerie Oizon in Aubigny sur Nère. The event will be hosted by Bock Yong Choi (President Chevrolet France), Nick Reilly (CEO GM Daewoo Auto & Technology) and Erhard L. Spranger (Executive in Charge Chevrolet Europe).

On Sunday the guests will move to the racetrack, where they will meet the Chevrolet team, compete in a race with Chevrolet Lacetti RC model cars, visit the pits and finally take place on the grandstands to attend the two FIA WTCC races.

FORD HAPPY WITH TEST AT THE NÜRBURGRING

Team Ford Hotfiel Sport staged a one-day test at the Nurburgring on Monday. After having measured the car's precise centre of gravity on the rig in the Ford plant at Lommel, Belgium, the team had spent three days of testing on an airfield in Cochstedt. Then they moved to the Nurburgring where Thomas Jager and Thomas Klenke were supposed to share the wheel in four 50-minute sessions. However, heavy rain prevented any serious testing during the first two sessions and the fourth session had to be cancelled by the circuit organisers.

Despite this, Technical Director Bernd Meyer was satisfied with the shortened test: "In the only session we could fully exploit, we managed to reproduce 50 per cent of what we found out at Cochstedt. We have significantly reduced the turn-in oversteer." Jager confirmed: "You can feel the reactions of the rear axle a lot better now. The roadholding changed quite a bit and you now feel the limit approaching, which gives you a lot more confidence."

FLASH NEWS

KARTING: The first edition of the FIA WTCC "The Pen and the Helmet" Karting Contest will take place tomorrow at 6.30 PM on the Magny-Cours karting track. Teams formed of one driver and one journalist will compete in a 40-minute endurance race. MAKELA: GR Asia's Valle Makela has entered the Italian Superturismo Championship. Besides his FIA WTCC campaign, the Finnish driver will take also part in all the remaining rounds valid for the Italian series at the wheel of his SEAT Toledo Cupra car.

THEY SAID: QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Dirk Muller, commenting the 45-kg handicap weight he has onboard: "You have to adapt your driving style as the car handles differently. It's more difficult accelerating out of the corners, you have to select different braking points and set-up has to be adjusted accordingly. But as I have achieved good results in the past with weight handicaps, I remain optimistic."

<pre> OFFICIAL FIGURES Drivers who have passed scrutineering: 33 Represented countries: 12 Represented Manufacturers: 6

FIA WTCC TIMETABLE MAGNY-COURS, 30th April and 1st May

Saturday    09.00 09.30 Free practice             Sunday    09.25 09.40   Warm-up
            12.30 13.00 Free practice                       15.10         Race 1
            15.15 15.45 Qualifying                          16.15         Race 2

-fia-

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About this article
Series WTCC
Drivers Dirk Müller , Thomas Jäger , Valle Makela , Thomas Klenke , Richard Virenque