The WTCC is set to drop to four European rounds from the 2017 season, with an additional event in China planned in order to satisfy strong manufacturer interest in the Chinese automobile market.
The series has just five European countries included on its current calendar - Hungary, Germany, Slovakia, France and Portugal - with one set to be replaced by a newly-constructed Chinese FIA Grade 2 circuit, potentially in Wuhan.
“I will have to do one less European round because I really want to do two events in China,” said series promoter Francois Ribeiro.
“Whatever manufacturer you talk to, it’s such a big market. Would you say that because Europe has 300 million people and the three biggest cities in China have 300 million people, [it is equal] to do one event in Europe to activate the manufacturers’ network?
"I think given the size of the Chinese market, two events is normal.”
The WTCC featured two events in mainland China last year, not counting the Special Administrative Region of Macau, with the Beijing Goldenport Circuit joining Shanghai on the calendar as a late stand-in for the cancelled round at Sonoma Raceway in the USA.
But the small, much-maligned circuit would not be the type of track on Ribeiro’s radar for a second Chinese event.
“That circuit has nowhere near the level of infrastructure we need, but there are new circuits under construction in China, which are Grade 2," he said.
“One of them would be very good for us, Wuhan. Logistically speaking it’s not so far from Shanghai, just along the Yangtze river. It’s a huge population area and a handful of the car manufacturers in the world have factories there.
"Honda have factories there, Volkswagen has a factory there, [Citroen parent company] PSA, Kia and Hyundai and I think Ford also have factories there, so it would make sense to bring the WTCC there.
“But we have to wait for those circuits to be finished and homologated. I don’t know if they’ll be ready for 2016, but for sure they’ll be finished before the end of 2016 so we can include them on the calendar for 2017.”
Neil Hudson / TouringCarTimes