FROM THE NÜRBURGRING TO THE HUNGARORING
Just a few days after their triumphant weekend in Marrakech, the Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs are returning to action in an entirely different setting!
– On Tuesday, the drivers will be hard at work on the Nürburgring Nordschleife track, in a test day to prepare them for the German round of the FIA WTCC on 14-16 May.
– The Citroën Total team will then head to the Hungaroring to contest the third meeting of the season.
– The four official Citroën drivers are currently sitting atop the World Drivers’ Championship, with José María López leading the way, ahead of Sébastien Loeb, Yvan Muller and Ma Qing Hua.
After a long interlude to give them time to transport all their gear across the Atlantic from Argentina to Morocco, the FIA World Touring Car Championship teams are about to embark upon a three-month tour of Europe, with trips to Hungary, Germany, Russia, Slovakia, France and Portugal following in quick succession, offering the competitors little respite until mid-July.
On their way from Versailles to Budapest, the Citroën Racing team will make a quick detour to the Eifel mountains to take part in a day of collective testing at the Nürburgring. Next Tuesday, all the WTCC drivers will be doing their best to get to grips with the ‘Gesamstrecke’, a circuit that includes all but a few chicanes of F1’s legendary Nordschleife. They will negotiate 170 ‘official’ turns on a 25.947 km track… all in a little under 9 minutes.
For Citroën Racing’s engineers, it will be a particularly important day. “More than anything, it’s a meeting that has required a lot of preparation from the drivers,” explains Xavier Mestelan, Citroën Racing’s Technical Director. “A few months ago, they went and did a few laps of the Nordschleife in mass-produced cars. They then carried on the process of memorising the track on our simulator. Now, we’re going to be able to put all that into practice. It’s hard to sum up a circuit like that in just a few words, but we already know that we’ll have to have our cars sitting rather higher than usual because of the bumpy surface. It’s not a rally, but we’ll have to complet ely review our setup in terms of suspension and aerodynamics. The circuit also poses a major challenge for the engine, with one long straight which requires the cars to maintain top speed for almost 40 seconds.”
Unlike at traditional test sessions, where each day a new driver takes his turn in a car dedicated to development, Sébastien Loeb, José María López, Ma Qing Hua and Yvan Muller will be using the same Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs they race in. The technical team will therefore be able to compare the data acquired to work towards the best possible setup. “The length of the circuit will force us to change our approach,” Xavier Mestelan continues. “On a 26 km track, we obviously won’t be able to work bend-by-bend as we normally do. We’ll have to divide the circuit into sections and find the best compromises we can. The cars will have to be easy to drive, but also precise in their hand ling due to the various hidden turns.