Exciting new FIA WTCC schedule for 2015

Twenty-four races over 12 weekends

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By Olivier Ferret

3 December 2014 - 21:42
Exciting new FIA WTCC schedule for (...)

 Legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife to challenge WTCC stars
 Four new countries and season-closing night race planned for Qatar
 Twenty-four races over 12 weekends between March and November

The FIA World Touring Car Championship has just got even better with the announcement of an exciting revamped schedule of events for 2015, which was approved at the meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Doha, Qatar, today.

Consisting of 12 rounds from March to November, the calendar includes visits to four new territories not featured in 2014 as part of a continuous process of widening the WTCC’s global appeal and increasing television coverage opportunities.

And in a WTCC first, the 2015 season will conclude with a night race in Qatar, while the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife in Germany, a new addition for next year, will give the WTCC stars the chance to race on the demanding 25-kilometre track dubbed theGrüne Hölle(or Green Hell) due to the challenge it poses.

Early homecoming for WTCC champion López

In keeping with previous WTCC tradition, the 2015 season will kick off in South America from 6/8 March with Termas de Río Hondo in Argentina hosting the opening action and providing a chance for José María López to race in front of his home fans as the reigning world champion. Thousands are expected to flock to the track in the Santiago del Estero province. And to assist the WTCC teams with their pre-season preparations, arrangements are being made to fly cars and equipment to Argentina before they are sea-freighted back to Africa where the championship will resume on the streets of Marrakech in Morocco.

Bennani out to shine in Morocco

Local ace Mehdi Bennani will become the centre of the attention when the WTCC visits his native Morocco for a sixth time. Having claimed his maiden WTCC victory in 2014, Bennani will be aiming to thrill his home fans on the unique street circuit in out-of-town Marrackech from 17-19 April.

Michelisz Hungary for WTCC success

From the streets of Marrakech to the streets of Budapest in Hungary with a parade through the capital city on Friday 1 May forming a spectacular prelude to two races at the Hungaroring from 1/3 May. Home hero Norbert Michelisz, fourth in the 2014 WTCC standings, will be the star attraction among the throngs of spectators.

Back to Germany and welcome to the Nordschleife

A fortnight later (15/16 May) the WTCC heroes will be braced for perhaps the biggest challenge of the season with two three-lap races on the iconic Nürburgring Nordschleife in Germany’s picturesque Eifel Mountains ahead of the circuit’s famous 24-hour race. WTCC promoter Eurosport Events will join forces with Wige Media and bring its expertise in live broadcasting of motorsport events in demanding environments, adding new techniques to film and broadcast on such a specific track.

WTCC General Manager François Ribeiro said: “Bringing the WTCC back to Germany required something unique and there isn’t a better scenario than racing on the Nordschleife as part of the 24H Nürburgring weekend. The collaboration with the ADAC Nord-Rhein and the local organisers has personified a true partnership with each side bringing its expertise to the benefit of the spectators, TV viewers and partners. Our TV production will include new features such as a relay plane, allowing the helicopters to fly as low as needed to create great images in an incredible environment. The Nürburgring WTCC round is the new challenge we wanted the teams and the drivers to face.”

To Russia with LADA

The annual visit to the Moscow Raceway in Russia provides the perfect opportunity for LADA to demonstrate its WTCC capabilities in front of Russian fans. The manufacturer is unleashing a new WTCC challenger for the 2015 season and its participation on home soil from 5-7 June will be keenly anticipated.

WTCC experience for Slovakian students

On the way back from Russia, the WTCC will stop off in Slovakia from 19-21 June. And Friday will be student day as part of a special collaboration with the country’s Ministry of Education and the WTCC that will result in the championship opening its doors to students and offering them a unique opportunity to discover the vast diversity of jobs available within the automotive industry in the country producing the highest number of cars per capita in Europe.

Loeb and Muller to star for Citroën in France

Two French motorsport legends, Sébastien Loeb and Yvan Muller, will be out in force when the WTCC heads to Paul Ricard in the beautiful Côte d’Azur from 26-28 June. Loeb, a nine-time world rally champion and Muller, a multiple WTCC title winner, will race for French make Citroën, which captured the WTCC manufacturers’ crown at the first time of asking in 2014 as well as guiding José María López to the drivers’ award.

Portugal is the Real deal

Vila Real in northern Portugal has a history of hosting international motor racing dating back to 1931 and a new agreement brokered by the President of the local ASN will bring the WTCC to the city for the next three years after it proved to be no longer possible to return to Porto. The fast and undulating venue will present the drivers with a huge test when the action takes place from 10-12 July.

Same passion, potential different venue in Japan

Following a summer break, when a boat carrying the WTCC cars and equipment sets sail for Asia, the 2015 WTCC season is set to resume in Japan from 11-13 September with negotiations underway between Eurosport Events and the WTCC’s Japanese partner, Mobilityland, to switch the WTCC Race of Japan from Suzuka to Motegi, which will provide an opportunity to showcase the series closer to the bustling capital, Tokyo, when Honda’s WTCC star drivers will be the focus for the enthusiastic spectators.

China touring car spectacular planned

Shanghai will be the setting for a major touring car event with the WTCC and Chinese Touring Car Championship sharing the billing from 25-27 September. This will be the WTCC’s sole visit to China in 2015 with Macau not featuring on the schedule for the first time since the WTCC began in 2005.

“As much as the Macau Grand Prix has helped the WTCC to get a first taste of racing in Asia, we now have a solid broadcast base in the region and a presence in China, Japan and now Thailand [see below],” said François Ribeiro. “We take this opportunity to thank the Macau Grand Prix organisers for having hosted us since 2005. The WTCC has matured over its 10 years of existence and we have therefore decided to look for new alternatives in a new region that can open up new markets, better TV schedules and be closer to our home base allowing the material to return quicker to Europe.”

New territories for WTCC

The WTCC will include a round in Thailand for the first time when the state-of-the-art Buriram circuit hosts the thrilling on-track action from 30 October-1 November as the teams begin their journeys home to their bases in Europe. Thailand offers a growing population and automotive industry with a number of car manufacturers operating production plants in the country.

The WTCC gets night vision

A WTCC first will bring the curtain down on the 2015 season when the Losail International Circuit in Qatar stages the championship’s inaugural night race, which will provide another format twist and another new challenge for the WTCC teams and drivers. And with the event from 20-22 November marking the final round of the year, the night-time start will be more appealing for television networks around the world.

FIA WTCC 2015: calendar at a glance

Round 1: WTCC Race of Argentina (Termas de Río Hondo), 6-8 March
Round 2: WTCC Race of Morocco (Moulay El Hassan), 17-19 April
Round 3: WTCC Race of Hungary (Hungaroring), 1-3 May
Round 4: WTCC Race of Germany (N’ring Nordschleife), 15-16 May
Round 5: WTCC Race of Russia (Moscow Raceway), 5-7 June
Round 6: WTCC Race of Slovakia (Slovakia Ring), 19-21 June
Round 7: WTCC Race of France (Paul Ricard), 26-28 June
Round 8: WTCC Race of Portugal (Vila Real), 10-12 July
Round 9: WTCC Race of Japan (circuit TBC), 11-13 September
Round 10: WTCC Race of China (Shanghai), 25-27 September
Round 11: WTCC Race of Thailand (Buriram), 30 October-1 November
Round 12: WTCC Race of Qatar (Losail), 20-22 November

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