WTCR FIA Touring Car Cup resumes this weekend at the Race of Portugal in Vila Real, with the Joker Lap to spice up the action.
A circuit oozing history and intrigue, racing has been held on the hillside roads of Vila Real since 1931. Safety and financial factors meant races were held on an irregular basis until the WTCC’s arrival in 2015 provided stability and Vila Real’s first world championship-level race meeting: the 4.7km layout now used is a challenging blend of turns, climbs and descents. While a handful of chicanes were installed for safety reasons, the spectacle remains unaltered with speeds nearing 230km/h on the final downhill section.
Inspired by the FIA World Rallycross Championship, the Joker Lap brought an extra dimension to the WTCC Race of Portugal in 2017. Designed to further spice up the action providing additional overtaking opportunities, the Joker Lap concept requires the WTCR OSCARO drivers to take an alternative route in all three races, although not before the third lap: it will lead to different strategies that might change during the course of the 3 races.
The Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team driver Jean-Karl Vernay won the WTCR Race of Netherlands at Zandvoort and then triumphed in the TCR Europe/Benelux event at Spa-Francorchamps. Despite the Frenchman being a Vila Real rookie, he comes with a strong pedigree racing on street tracks and is full of confidence following recent success:
“It’s always better to spend more time in the car, continue discovering the car, continue improving the car, continue discovering myself with Audi. I watched a lot of videos and I made the lap record in Macau in F3 when I was a rookie so I can adapt myself quickly. For sure we’re going to have a good car.”
WTCR 2018 Race of Portugal (GMT +1)
Circuit: Vila Real
Length: 4.785 m
Saturday, June 23rd:
09:00-09:30 – Free Practice 1
11:00-11:30 – Free Practice 2
12:30-13:10 – Qualifying 1
16:00 – Race 1 (11 laps)
Sunday, June 24th:
09:00-10:00 – Qualifying 2 (Top-five shootout)
15:45 – Race 2 (11 laps)
17:10 – Race 3 (13 laps)