2017 FIA WTCC about to get underway

Key Takeaways

  • WTCC will be touring ten countries on four continents in 2017
  • The DHL Pole Position Award will once again be an important part of every WTCC race weekend
  • Rule changes: Joker lap and new point system

Marrakech is to host the start of the new FIA World Touring Car Championship. In 2017 the drivers will compete in ten race weekends on four continents with several new venues on the itinerary. DHL has been the Official Logistics Partner of the WTCC since 2010 and is responsible for the “race behind the race".

Throughout the year, DHL works closely with WTCC, devising a tightly organized logistics calendar. Details are planned a year in advance to ensure that both the cars themselves and the teams’ extensive equipment and infrastructure all arrive in the right place at the right time, and in immaculate condition.

Ocean freight is a major part of the solution provided for the events outside of Europe. In addition, DHL-managed logistics duties include handling of garage and paddock equipment, freight storage, customs clearance and express shipments for FIA WTCC Management. 200 tons of equipment are transported between each race weekend. A total distance of 62,500 kilometers is to be covered by sea, road and air.

Before the cars line up for the first time this weekend in Marrakech, we look at the dates and key facts for the 2017 WTCC season.

DHL Pole Position Award

The DHL Pole Position Award will once again be an important part of every WTCC race weekend in 2017. The driver who secures the most qualifying best times during the season will win the DHL Pole Position Award. In the past two years, this prestigious title has gone to José María López.

“Qualifying is the most decisive step before a race,” says the three-time world champion. “With this award, DHL has highlighted that selecting the right strategies, preparing thoroughly and delivering a strong performance in qualifying can give you a clear advantage over the competition and put you closer to the podium before the main racing action has started.”

Ten race weekends on four continents

The race calendar for the WTCC season 2017 has changed significantly compared to last year. Only seven of the eleven host venues from 2016 remain on the calendar, namely Marrakech, Budapest, the Nürburgring-Nordschleife, Vila Real, Termas de Rio Hondo, Motegi and Doha. Monza and Macau are making a comeback, and there is a newcomer in the shape of the Ningbo International Circuit in China. The WTCC will thus be touring ten countries on four continents.

Calendar for the 2017 WTCC season:

  • WTCC Race of Morocco (Circuit Moulay El Hassan), 07 - 09 April
  • WTCC Race of Italy (Autodromo Nazionale Monza), 28 - 30 April
  • WTCC Race of Hungary (Hungaroring), 12 - 14 May
  • WTCC Race of Germany (Nürburgring Nordschleife), 25 - 27 May
  • WTCC Race of Portugal (Circuito Internacional de Vila Real), 23 - 25 June
  • WTCC Race of Argentina (Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo), 04 - 06 August
  • WTCC Race of China (Ningbo International Circuit), 13 - 15 October
  • WTCC Race of Japan (Twin Ring Motegi), 27 – 29 October
  • WTCC Race of Macau (Macau), 17 - 19 November
  • WTCC Race of Qatar (Losail), 30 November – 1 December

DHL brand ambassador Tom Coronel in the line-up

Tom Coronel will again be racing for ROAL Motorsport in 2017 and, in his role as brand ambassador, will sport the DHL livery on his Chevrolet Cruze. The Dutchman is about to embark on his seventh season as a member of the team run by former WTCC champion Roberto Ravaglia. Last season, Coronel won both the season opener in Marrakech and the race at Vila Real. He also finished as runner-up at Termas de Río Hondo.

Meanwhile, three-time champion José Maria Lopez, record world championship winner Yvan Muller and veteran Gabriele Tarquini are no longer in the running. This gives the opportunity for new drivers to get their names up in lights. Tom Chilton, Norbert Michelisz, Tiago Monteiro, and Nick Catsburg all see themselves as contenders for the 2017 WTCC title. And in Aurelien Panis, the son of ex-Formula 1 driver Olivier Panis, the series has added yet another celebrity name.

As in previous seasons, the grid for the World Touring Car Championship will consist of Chevrolets, Citroens, Hondas, Ladas and Volvos, but only two of these will be fielded by works teams, namely Honda and Volvo. Both Citroen and Lada have ended their factory involvement, which is why the vehicles of both brands will only be entered privately. The Chevrolet Cruze is also the preserve of the privateers.

Teams and drivers contesting the 2017 WTCC

  • Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team: Tiago Monteiro / Norbert Michelisz
  • Honda Racing Team J.A.S.: Ryo Michigami
  • Zengő Motorsports: Aurelien Panis
  • Polestar Cyan Racing: Nestor Girolami / Thed Björk / Nicky Catsburg
  • ROAL MOTORSPORT: Tom Coronel
  • CAMPOS RACING: Esteban Guerrieri
  • Sébastien Loeb Racing: Mehdi Bennani / Tom Chilton / John Filippi
  • Münnich Motorsport: Robert Huff

Rule changes: Joker lap and new point system

Joker lap on street circuits: In Marrakesh and Vila Real, drivers and teams have a WTCC novelty to contend with. For the first time, so-called “joker laps” are being introduced, similar to the principle pioneered in the Rallycross World Championship. The drivers are required to take an alternative route around the circuit at least once during the race. This gives more scope for strategy.

New points system: The second race of a WTCC event will be extended by two laps in 2017 (with the exception of the Nürburgring-Nordschleife weekend). Accordingly, the scoring system is also changing. From now on, more points will be awarded for the main race. The distribution of points for the Top Ten finishers is 30-23-19-16-13-10-7-4-2-1.

Changes to WTCC MAC3: Following the demise of the Citroen and Lada works teams, they will no longer compete in the Manufacturers Against the Clock. Stepping up to take their place is Volvo. More points are to be awarded in this competition, the winner scoring twelve instead of ten points; second place is still worth eight.

New schedule: In 2017, the WTCC program will no longer include a test session on Fridays. Instead, Saturday’s free practice sessions are extended from 30 to 45 minutes. This means that fans can look forward to a more concentrated experience of racing action over the two days.

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