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WTCC

FIA WTCC Austria, Salzburg 19-20 May 2012

YVAN MULLER JOINS CITROËN RACING FOR WTCC 2014

_NZS2453Citroën Racing has recruited Yvan Muller as part of its World Touring Car Championship team. The French driver, a three-time world champion, will drive one of the Citroën C-Elysée WTCC cars that will be used in the competition from 2014.

Yvan Muller is a highly-respected figure in the world of WTCC, having won the title three times (in 2008, 2010 and 2011) and broken every record going, from race wins, to points scored, to number of pole positions and number of laps spent in the lead. The 2013 season has confirmed his supremacy and he could clinch his fourth championship crown at the upcoming Sonoma meeting (7-8 September).

A consistently excellent performer and painstaking in his car development work, Yvan, a native of France’s Alsace region, is an ideal choice for Citroën Racing’s 2014 team. “Throughout its history, be it in cross-country rallies or WRC, Citroën Racing has always sought to recruit the best drivers,” notes Yves Matton, Managing Director of Citroën Racing. “We have set ambitious goals for our new challenge in WTCC, and the arrival of a driver as experienced as Yvan will help us to make rapid progress. He has shown this season that he is at the peak of his powers and that his thirst for wins has never been greater. He will also be an excellent point of reference for Sébastien Loeb. The two men are from the same region and have known each other for a long time. Their mutual respect will create a natural cohesion within the team.”

Having worked with five manufacturers during his touring car career, Yvan Muller is feeling highly motivated by this new challenge: “It will be a real honour to represent Citroën Racing from 2014. As a rally fan, I have always followed Citroën and Seb’s victorious seasons in WRC with interest. It’s fantastic that a brand with such a terrific record is getting involved in a category where it still has everything to learn. This isn’t the first time I have joined a team that doesn’t have a lot of experience in the discipline it is racing in. It’s nice to be able to go beyond my role as a driver by offering the benefit of my knowledge and making an active contribution to building a successful team.”

Yvan Muller’s contract commits him to the team for the next two seasons. After driving the Citroën C-Elysée WTCC for the first time at the Val de Vienne circuit, he will take part in the testing programme that will take place in the lead-up to the 2014 World Championship.

YVAN MULLER: “A GENERATION OF LIGHTER, MORE POWERFUL, MORE EFFICIENT CARS”

What were your first impressions of Citroën Racing?
“First of all, I found them very professional, but that wasn’t surprising given the record of the rally team. Over the course of my career, I have raced for Italian, German, Spanish and British teams, and it has been a long time since I’ve worked with French people. They have a different way of thinking and working (I’m not saying it’s better or worse than any other way!) and I need to learn Citroën Racing’s working methods. I also need to get used to speaking my mother tongue again, as I’ve realised that I sometimes have trouble finding the right technical terms in French! It’s all very recent, but I already feel at ease with Citroën.”

You have an impressive record in WTCC. What are the secrets of your success in this category?
“It’s simple: you have to perform well and finish every race with as many points as possible! That said, the discipline is a lot more complicated than it seems. The main difficulty stems from the two-race meeting format. With the reverse-grid system, the driver who is on pole for the first race starts from tenth position in the second race. When you are back in the chasing pack, you need to know how to avoid the traps set by the other drivers if you are to get back to the front. That’s probably why the experienced drivers tend to monopolise the top places.”

The skill of the driver also seems to be very important…
“Unlike most track cars, the WTCCs are front-wheel drives. That means that the front tyres wear down quickly, as they are used both for steering and for drive force. The driver has to adapt accordingly to manage the wear of his tyres throughout the race. I think that the 2014 regulations will be more lenient in this regard, though.”

You have now driven the Citroën C-Elysée WTCC. What was it like to drive?
“Compared to what I’ve experienced in recent seasons, the car is lighter, more powerful and more efficient in terms of aerodynamics. It also has wider tyres and bigger brakes. In short, everything is better and this new generation will be a lot faster than the current car. It’s still a touring car, with life made a little bit easier for the driver. My first impressions are that the Citroën C-Elysée WTCC is a good base to work from and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the development sessions.”

Do you remember when you first met Sébastien Loeb?
“Yes, it was in the late nineties, at an Andros Trophy race in the Vosges. We belonged to the same club and our President came to introduce me to the ‘rising star’. I followed his rise and today I can only admire what he has done in his career. He has been world champion nine times! That is some achievement. My own stats are good, but nowhere near as good as what Seb has achieved.”

It is rare to have two drivers with such well-stocked trophy cabinets in the same team. How do you see this partnership working?
“I’m sure it will work very well. We are big boys with little left to prove and we know what working for a manufacturer is all about. You have to think about the brand above all else, and that’s what I’ve always done. Obviously, I would prefer to end up on top of the podium, but the main goal is for the team to win. Solidarity between teammates is one of the keys to success.”

YVAN MULLER IN BRIEF

− Born 16/08/1969 in Altkirch (France)
− Racing début: 1979 (karting)
− Website: www.yvanmuller.com

Main titles:
− 1986 : European Karting Champion
− 1992 : UK F2 Champion (F3000)
− 1995 : French Super Touring Car Champion (BMW)
− 1995-2006 : 10 consecutive Andros Trophy titles
− 2003 : UK BTCC Champion (Vauxhall)
− 2008 : World Touring Car Champion (Seat)
− 2010 : World Touring Car Champion (Chevrolet)
− 2011 : World Touring Car Champion (Chevrolet)

WRC

SEBASTIEN LOEB HAS RESPONDED TO JARI-MATTI LATVALA’S THREAT BY WINNING STAGE FIVE OF RALLYE DE FRANCE ALSACE.

The French driver was 6.3s quicker than Latvala – the winner of the previous stage – on the repeat of the Hohlandsbourg-Firstplan test to pull 13.8s clear in the chase for glory on round 11 of the FIA World Rally Championship.

“The road was okay, more dry than in the morning,” said Citroen ace Loeb, who is running on hard-compound Michelin tyres like the bulk of his rivals. “There was a bit more mud on the road in some places but we had good information from the gravel crew so we know where it is. Jari-Matti is going very fast so we have to push.”

Ford pilot Latvala said he lost time going off the road and running through a ditch: “We went wide on a left-hander where there was gravel on the road. I tried to get the line and stay away from the cuts but I went out into a ditch for quite a while.”

Petter Solberg said he was more confident behind the wheel of his Fiesta. He completed the stage 3.4s slower than Loeb. Mikko Hirvonen was 3.9s slower than Loeb and frustrated after reporting several corner marking posts had moved following the pre-event reconnaissance. Mads Ostberg, meanwhile, said the set-up of his Fiesta was too low to the ground, which resulted in a loss of time.

Thierry Neuville has dropped from fourth to sixth following a spin in his Citroen. Solberg climbs from sixth to fourth while Dani Sordo continues to hold fifth overall in his MINI, despite saying he wasn’t happy with the handling of his car.

 

 

 

Formula One

DRIVER QUOTES ON THE JAPANESE GRAND PRIX

Mark Webber:  “I’m looking forward to the Japanese Grand Prix as it’s an opportunity to get a top result again on a track I enjoy driving on. Qualifying has not been as strong for us recently and we know this has to be improved. We are focusing on that and, once that’s better, we can make a strong push towards being better positioned at the end of Grands Prix. The Suzuka Circuit has an incredible combination of corners. You have to be very accurate and rhythm is very important. It’s a good challenge for the drivers.”

Sebastian Vettel: “I love the Suzuka circuit. In short, it has the most amazing corners and brilliant fans, I really like coming here. In 2011 the country experienced unbelievable difficulties, so it was extremely important to try and give them some enjoyment and to show our support for their suffering. I wish I had won in 2011, it was my third Formula One race on my favourite track and it still bothers me a bit that I took my world title with a third place. The track itself is huge and almost every metre of it is special.”

Pastor Maldonado: I’m really looking forward to getting to Japan this week. I think everyone in the paddock looks forward to this race, as the fans in Japan are some of the best in the world and give us all such a warm welcome. I also enjoy the track as it’s one of the historic circuits in Formula One. There is a good combination of high speed corners and we run close to the maximum amount of downforce. It’s a great challenge as a driver.

Bruno Senna: I’m really looking forward to the Japanese Grand Prix. It’s one of my favourite tracks of the season andit’s very fast and flowing but quite narrow compared to some of the other circuits we visit. It feels amazingly quick and is one of the biggest challenges as a driver. It is similar to Spa-Francorchamps so it’s a real drivers’ track. You can get variable weather in Japan ranging from warm and sunny to rain that stops qualifying. It’s always exciting though and we have a good potential to be strong there.
Heikki Kovalainen: “I stayed in Singapore for a couple of days after the race before heading back to Europe to spend a couple of days at home and then do a session in the simulator before going to Japan.

“Suzuka is one of the races everybody looks forward to and I’m no different. It’s a proper track, exactly the sort of circuit you want to drive F1 cars on as it has everything – high speed corners where you can really feel the downforce working, medium speed sections where it’s all about car balance and some of the most passionate fans in the world.
 
“For me the best bit of the track is in sector one, from T1 to T7. You go into T1 and T2 at high speed and if you’re not fully committed you can lose a lot of time right at the start of the lap. Out of T2 the track is positively cambered and you can really lean on the car as you go into T3. From there, right through to T7 if the car is well balanced the whole section seems to flow. It’s a great feeling when you get it right, but get it wrong and you lose a lot of time.”
 
Vitaly Petrov: “Japan’s one of my favourite places to race, in fact it’s one of my favourite countries to visit whether we’re racing or not! At home I eat Japanese food quite often and the fact it has great food and really cool fans makes it a great place to go as an F1 driver.
 
“The fans really are incredible. The stands are packed throughout the whole weekend, even on Thursdays when we’re not on track, and they’re so polite, almost a bit scared of asking for autographs or photos, but you can tell how much F1 means to them and it’s always cool when they give us presents or things they’ve made for us.
 
“On track Suzuka is obviously a cool track to race on. The first sector is a good challenge in the car and for the engineers, to make sure we have a well balanced car. The second sector is also pretty quick and then you’re into S3 and heading towards 130R. A lot of people talk about that being a major corner, and it looks pretty good on TV when you see the cars flat out through there, but in the cockpit it’s really not that much of a challenge. Despite that you need to be flat through there as the chicane afterwards is one of the few overtaking spots, so if you lose time through 130R you’re going to come under pressure from cars behind right at the end of the lap.”

Pedro de la Rosa: “Suzuka is a beautiful and spectacular circuit; I would say it’s my favourite track. It’s very quick, you hardly touch the brake, and we’ll be able to make a better evaluation of the difference between the new floor and the old one. It has inclinations, quick, flowing corners and it’s a very long lap. It’s a circuit for aerodynamics and horsepower where the best cars stand out. I’ve got great memories of it because my first victories in Formula 3 and Formula 3000 came there and it’s one of the tracks which has brought me most luck in my career because by winning there the doors to Formula 1 opened. I hope to also have a good performance next weekend”.

Narain Karthikeyan: “I’m really looking forward to Japan after not being able to finish in Singapore. Suzuka is a very fluid and challenging track. From a physical point of view it’s also tough as it’s very quick. It’s a circuit that I love and one I have fond memories of. I think we’ll take a step forward with the car with regards to Singapore and we’ll be able to better evaluate how the new floor works. We’ve been pretty fast in the last few races but we’ve been missing a bit of luck. But we have to continue working to maintain this positive momentum through to the end of the season”.

 

Grand Am Series

 

CHAMPIONS CROWNED AT LIME ROCK PARK…

While the setting for the Championship Weekend at Lime Rock Park may be bucolic, the hills today reverberated with the sounds of intense action from the 13th and final race of the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series.   The yellow flag was in regular use as, right out of pit row, the race started under a full course caution after the #70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 went off the course in turn one during the last parade lap.  A stop and go pace followed for much of the first half of the race – a second full-course yellow for a multi-car accident was shortly followed by a wreck between Andrew Davis (Bogart, Ga.) in the #59 Brumos Racing Porsche and Paul Dalla Lana (Toronto, Canada) in the #94 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 at the entrance to the esses .  And, just over an hour into the race, the #70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8, driven by Jonathan Bomarito (Monterey, Calif.), was again off track.   As the race neared its conclusion, it seemed the drivers were finally in their comfort zones.

In the DP class, with the championship title still on the line, the race win was taken by Ricky Taylor (Apopka, Fla.) and co-driver Max Angelelli (Monaco) in the #10 SunTrust Racing Corvette DP.   It was their third victory of the season as well as their third victory in three races at Lime Rock Park. 

“I was sitting there at the beginning of the race and I was hoping for a podium, to be honest,” said Taylor explaining that as soon as he saw Angelelli’s speed on the restart at the beginning, he knew they had a car that could possibly win the race.  “When the yellow came out I was a bit nervous, but in hindsight I was lucky because it made us a bit safer on fuel and got us less laps on the tires.”  The final yellow gave Taylor a chance to collect himself:  “I’ve never been one to take a deep breath, and I needed it.  I was shaking, I was a mess.  It definitely helped me a lot.  The car dropped off dramatically the last five laps and that yellow might have given me that extra buffer, especially since it’s a four-lap yellow here instead of a three-lap yellow and that gave me a little of a buffer as far as tire wear goes.”  

Richard Westbrook (London, England) had turned three pole position starts in the #90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Corvette DP into wins earlier in the season – at Barber Motorsports Park, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca – but was unable to make it happen for a fourth time.  “It was a very tough race,” said Westbrook who shares the #90 driving with Antonio Garcia (Madrid, Spain).   “A good advert for GRAND-AM again; it was a really good DP race.  Everyone on a different strategy, but everyone had the same problem when they were on the end of the life of the tires.  It was very difficult and there was a big drop off in lap times.  It made for interesting racing.  There was quite a bit of overtaking.  Considering its Lime Rock, it’s very difficult to overtake.  Congrats to the Sun Trust crew.  I thought they drove really well today and deserved it.  I’m really happy to just get podium.  We’ve either won or not finished this year, so it’s nice to get a good solid haul of points.” 

Finishing third with the 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP was Jon Fogarty (Bend, Ore.) and Alex Gurney (Irvine, Calif.).  “It was tough going without a win this season, but it wasn’t for lack of effort on the Gainsco guy’s part,” said Fogarty.  “It was a quite a strong end to the year.  We had good pace, and we did run up front, just never quite put everything together, which is exactly what you have to do.  You’ve got to be perfect to win one of these; the competition is tough.  It’s not like the wins are easy to come by.”

GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series points leaders Memo Rojas (Mexico City, Mexico) and Scott Pruett (Auburn, Calif.) driving the #01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley, finished seventh overall in DP to claim their third consecutive series title, and their fourth in five years (2008, ’10, ’11 and ’12).  Pruett also marks another milestone with the finish – securing his fifth DP championship – and setting a new GRAND-AM record.  GT teammates Emil Assentato and (Locust Valley, N.Y.) and Jeff Segal (Miami, Fla.), co-drivers of the #69 AIM Autosport Ferrari 458, who secured their GT class championship three weeks ago at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, will celebrate with Rojas and Pruett in Manhattan on Monday, October 1, when all four will be presented with Rolex Daytona Chronographs during the Rolex Champions Banquet presented by SunTrust at Gotham Hall. 

In the GT class, after leading for close to two hours of the race, Andy Lally (Northport, N.Y.), at the wheel of the #44 Magnus Racing Porsche GT3 Cup car, was overtaken by the #57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R driven by Robin Liddell (England) with three laps remaining.  Building from the pole start of co-driver John Edwards (Cincinnati, Ohio), Liddell went on to win the class and earn the team it’s third victory of the year, having won previously at Watkins Glen and Montreal. 

“I had limited dry running yesterday [during practice] and so to be honest I didn’t really feel in good control of the race and the car for most of the race,” said Liddell.  “But towards the end it just turned into a big fight and we knew Lally was probably a bit short on fuel.  We didn’t really know how much they could do so we just tried to keep the pressure on him and see if we could force him to run out of fuel or make a mistake.  Fortunately that’s what happened at the end.  It was a tough race.  I felt mentally not really on top of the whole thing, but as the race progressed I got more into it.  In the end we were able to get a good rhythm.  We had a slow first pit stop which lost us a lot of track position, but as the race unfolded and we got back on sync with the strategy we were able to work our way back up.  From second through sixth in the championship everyone was close on points and we really felt that pressure coming into this race, knowing that if we had a slip up we could easily end up sixth in the championship.  The car performed very well all season and the guys have done a superb job, been absolutely faultless.  I’ve been with these guys five years now and this year they’ve really excelled in their performance of preparing the car and executing in the pits.”

Finishing second in the #51 APR Motorsport Audi R8 was South African native Dion von Moltke (Coral Gables, Fla.) and co-driver Jim Norman (Tampa, Fla.), for their first podium finish of the season.  Third was Alessandro Balzan (Rovigo, Italy), in his second series appearance, driving the #63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 with Johannes van Overbeek (San Francisco, Calif.).  The podium finish also earned Ferrari the GT manufacturer’s championship.

 Photo By: Rolex / Stephan Cooper

Formula One

Grand Prix of America at Port Imperial Joins FIA Formula One World Championship First Race June 16, 2013

The inaugural Grand Prix of America at Port Imperial is set to join the FIA Formula One World Championship on June 16, 2013. The date was announced by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) as part of a 20-race schedule in 19 countries on five continents.

The Grand Prix of America will run on a 3.2-mile street circuit between Weehawken and West New York, N.J., with the New York City skyline as a backdrop. It will be the first Formula One race held in the New Jersey / New York area in the 63-year history of the world championship. Fans will be treated to three days of action, June 14 to 16, including Formula One practice and qualifying sessions, support series races and Sunday’s Formula One race.

“I am proud that years of hard work have brought us to this point and we look forward to bringing world-class Formula One racing to New Jersey,” race promoter and executive director Leo Hindery, Jr. said.

“The support we have had from elected officials like New Jersey Governor Christie and the mayors of Weehawken and West New York, a committed property developer and a great management team has been incredible. They have stuck by us through this process and we owe them our thanks. The Grand Prix of America will be a special and historic race for New Jersey and New York, for the drivers and, most importantly, for the dedicated fans of Formula One racing.”

Hindery has a long history in motorsport as a driver and executive. He won his class in the 2005 24 Heures du Mans (24 Hours of Le Mans). He is also the founding chairman and former CEO of The YES Network, the largest and most successful regional sports network in the United States and the television home of the New York Yankees. He currently serves as managing partner of InterMedia Partners, LP, a media industry private equity fund headquartered in New York City.

“I became a racer very late in my life,” Hindery said. “But if you’re committed, passionate and have a great team of people behind you, you’re on the road to success.

“Formula One’s president and chief executive officer, Bernie Ecclestone, has set the highest possible standards for the drivers and their teams, fans, sponsors, and the region we call home. We won’t be satisfied until those standards are met.”

The world’s top drivers will pilot the fastest, most high-tech race cars in the world on the streets of New Jersey when the Grand Prix of America at Port Imperial joins the FIA Formula One World Championship. The inaugural race is planned for June 16, 2013, on the 3.2-mile street circuit in Weehawken and West New York, N.J., against the backdrop of the New York City skyline.

WTCC

MULLER AND HUFF ON EQUAL POINTS AFTER USA… WTCC drivers treated American fans to a breathtaking show on the occasion of the championship’s first visit to Sonoma and the United States.

Both races were eventful. Yvan Muller and Rob Huff shared the victory honours and their results also made the fight for the world championship as hot as ever. The two Chevrolet drivers are now on equal points with only six races to go.
It is easy to predict that the battle will go to the wire at Macau once again.
If Huff was the happiest man in the paddock for having matched Muller’s point tally on top of the Drivers’ Championship, Norbert Michelisz too had reasons to rejoice. The young Hungarian was a pain in the neck for the Chevrolet cars in both races and eventually claimed two podium results and stretched his leadership in the Yokohama Trophy.
Gabriele Tarquini and Alain Menu tried their best and never gave up. However, their hopes of achieving great results vanished when they collided at the start of the first race. The Italian had the consolation of a podium in Race 2, while the Swiss saw his hopes of staying in contention for the title fight seriously jeopardized.
Among those who contributed to entertain the Californian fans a few deserve to be mentioned: Tom Coronel completed two great recoveries from twentieth on the grids to eight and fifth; Alex MacDowall chased the top drivers in both races; Tiago Monteiro finished twice in the points on his last appearance with Sunred before switching to Honda; Tom Boardman scored points in both races; Franz Engstler lulled into the dream of winning Race 2 before Muller brusquely woke him up…
The championship takes a one month break, while cars and parts are being shipped to Japan. Rounds 19 and 20 will take place at Suzuka on October 21.