FIA WTCC Showdown on Cards as Guia Race Celebrates 40th Anniversary
Sponsored by “SJM” for the seventh consecutive year, the two final rounds of the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) season will be held on the famous Guia Circuit. In keeping with tradition, the FIA WTCC will again reach its climax around the streets of Macau, and all signs are pointing to a championship battle that could go down to the wire. The FIA WTCC – Guia Race of Macau – Presented by “SJM” also marks the 40th running of Macau’s Guia Race, a race which, for four decades, the world’s leading touring car drivers have all wanted to win.
The fight for the 2011 FIA WTCC title has been entirely contained within the garage walls of the Chevrolet team, which has been the dominant force of the season. But while one badge has been claiming most of the spoils, the battle for the drivers’ honours has not been any less fierce.
Robert Huff (Rob) established himself as the man to beat during the opening races, and six wins from the opening 12 races suggested that the Englishman was on his way to his first-ever world championship crown. But team-mate and reigning champion Yvan Muller is never a man to be ruled out, and a remarkable run of five wins from six starts between Donington and Valencia allowed him to vault past Huff in the points.
Huff remains within striking range though, and provided that he can keep it that way during the coming rounds at Suzuka in Japan and Shanghai, the scene is set for another Macau showdown.
Also a threat is veteran Alain Menu, who can match his Chevy team-mates for pace but has not had luck on his side this year. Nevertheless, he is currently third in the championship standings and has every chance of playing a major part in the Macau weekend.
Seasoned SEAT team SUNRED returns with a strong line-up spearheaded by 2009 world champion Gabriele Tarquini and former Formula 1 and Champ Car racer Tiago Monteiro. The team has regularly run six cars during the season, although there will be some added interest for local fans with the addition of Macau racer André Couto. The 34-year-old has plenty of experience around the Guia Circuit – he’s a former winner of the Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix (2000) and managed a best result of seventh in the 2006 FIA WTCC race at the wheel of a SEAT.
As always, there will be some strong BMW teams in the mix, starting with ROAL Motorsport. Formerly the works BMW Italy-Spain team, ROAL is now running fan favourite Tom Coronel, who has quickly established himself as one of the fastest non-Chevrolet drivers in the field this year. If there is an opportunity for an upset, you can bet that the Dutchman will be one of those looking to cause it.
Current Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy points leader, Dane Kristian Poulsen will be hoping to continue his strong season at the wheel of the Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW, along with rising Hungarian star Norbert Michelisz, who has been making waves in his distinctive orange and black Zengö Denson Team entry.
Hong Kong driver Darryl O’Young will be hoping for a strong finish to what has been a solid season in the bamboo-engineering Chevrolet, and if you’re looking for a dark horse, then it’s worth keeping an eye on what Robert Dahlgren can do with the new Volvo C30.
Joining Couto from Macau are Felipe De Souza in a Corsa Motorsport Chevrolet Lacetti and Jo Merszei who partners Hong Kong-born 2010 Asian Touring Car Series winner Charles Kaki Ng, Franz Engstler and Poulsen at Liqui Moly Team Engstler. Hong Kong’s Marchy Lee is entered for Macau in a DeTeam KK Motorsport BMW.
After a season so full of twists, it’s only fitting that the challenging Macau layout be the place where matters are settled once and for all. Virtually every driver in the field will tell you that it is their favourite circuit – and from November 17-20, you’ll see who will be the World Champion.