Touring Car Racing World Tour

Preview Kumho FIA TCR WT Marrakesh

BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse continues its pursuit of more Kumho FIA TCR World Tour success in Morocco this week (May 3-4)

BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse continues its pursuit of more Kumho FIA TCR World Tour success in Morocco this week (May 3-4)

After Norbert Michelisz and Néstor Girolami claimed a victory apiece at Autodromo Vallelunga earlier this month (April 20-21), Circuit Moulay El Hassan is the next destination for BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse and its trio of new-look Elantra N TCR cars.

With Mikel Azcona also forming part of the Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing-supported driver line-up, BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse is well equipped to run at the front on the semi-permanent track in Marrakesh’s Agdal district. But an intense challenge is in store, which is amplified by the series rules requiring competing cars to run with compensation weight according to the points scored during the previous race weekend, rather than qualifying times as per the 2023 regulations.

Now measuring 1.980 kilometres in length compared to the 2.971-kilometre layout used previously, the ultra-compact, wall-lined circuit features several tight turns, meaning there’s no time for drivers to relax and certainly no margin for error.

While it’s a tough track to master, the North African venue holds great memories for BRC Racing Team and Hyundai Motorsport. It was there in April 2018 that Gabriele Tarquini, driving a BRC-run Hyundai i30 N TCR, won not only the inaugural WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup race, but also triumphed in the third race of the weekend to start what transpired to be a title-winning season in style.

BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse’s success in the Kumho FIA TCR World Tour season opener was achieved with the 2024 version of the Elantra N TCR. It reflects the latest facelift applied to the road-going Elantra N, which was launched in September 2023 and offers the benefit of improved front aerodynamics. The three Elantra N TCR cars sport the N Motorsport colours worn by the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid in the FIA World Rally Championship.

Hyundai Motorsport Circuit Racing Project Manager Julien Moncet said: “Marrakesh will be more difficult than Vallelunga because of the compensation weight. Norbi will have 40 kilos extra, Mikel 30, but Néstor will have zero so it will be very interesting. The track is very short so maybe it will be the best place to have the compensation weight. But after winning everything in Vallelunga we want to continue this momentum. With only seven rounds it’s very good to be in the lead of the championship so early in the season because there will be no space for mistakes this year. If you have a problem in one race it will have huge consequences, so now we are in the lead, the others have to chase us and it’s always easier to manage when you are in front. Of course, we expect our rivals will push, but it’s been a brilliant start to the season for Hyundai Motorsport and the new-look Elantra N TCR. We will keep working hard in the hope it will continue in Marrakesh.”

Driver Notes: #196 Mikel Azcona (ESP), Hyundai Elantra N TCR

  • Spaniard started the 2024 season with two fighting fourth place finishes at Vallelunga
  • He scored his first WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup podium in Marrakesh in 2019

Azcona said: “In Morocco I’m expecting another successful weekend full of points in the pocket with our Hyundai Elantra N TCR. But it’s going to be more difficult than Vallelunga because I will have 30 kilos of compensation weight, which is not going to be easy. Marrakesh is a track where you have very hard braking, slow corners and big acceleration and the weight is affecting everything quite a lot. That’s why from the morning after Vallelunga we have been working on the set-up and how to compensate for the extra weight. But it’s a track I like. I had my first ever podium position in WTCR there in 2019 so and I have very good memories. I’ve made some simulator laps just to refresh my mind because it was five years ago since I last drove there. Qualifying will be a key point of the weekend because there are not many chances to overtake around the track, so we need to focus on that. There’s no space for mistakes in Marrakesh but I am confident we can have a good weekend.”

Driver Notes: #105 Norbert Michelisz (HUN), Hyundai Elantra N TCR

  • Began his Kumho FIA TCR World Tour title defence with victory at Vallelunga last time out
  • Hungarian’s experience of racing TCR cars in Marrakesh dates back to 2018

Michelisz said: “Marrakesh won’t be an easy weekend based on the fact I will have to carry the maximum amount of compensation weight, and it is a circuit where this is hurting a lot because we have a lot of braking points and a lot of points where there is strong acceleration. In the end that’s how it is but I still believe we have a good car in our Hyundai Elantra N TCR and a very strong base, so the target has to be to score a lot of points. Although we are leading after Vallelunga, it would be a big mistake to focus on the standings after the first event because every year they change back and forth. The important thing is not to leave points on the table, so if we are in a position to score a lot of points, then we need to go for that as our strategy.”

Driver Notes: #129 Néstor Girolami (ARG), Hyundai Elantra N TCR

  • Argentinian began his career as a Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing driver with victory at Vallelunga
  • His liking of street tracks and a lighter car will make him a strong contender for more wins

Girolami said: “Marrakesh is a track where I have been twice, in 2017 and 2019, and I have very good feelings. I like Marrakesh, the city and the atmosphere and I like street circuits a lot. I will have the lighter car in our team so it’s a good chance for me to close the gap in the championship and score some good points. We have done some practicing on the simulator and we have worked hard with the team on the set-up of our Hyundai Elantra N TCR. We are confident, the car is feeling really good, and I was happy to start the year with a victory because this has given me extra confidence going to Marrakesh. Always on a street circuit you have to take it easy because the track is changing so much in terms of grip. We can expect the track to be very ‘green’ during the first Free Practice compared to Qualifying 1. You need to consider that before making any set-up changes. It’s also more important than any other track to get a good qualifying because the overtaking is really challenging as always with a street circuit.”

Weekend at a Glance

  • The first Free Practice at Marrakesh is timetabled from 10:00-10:30 on Friday May 3, followed by Free Practice 2 at 13:00-13:30.
  • Qualifying takes place later on Friday with Qualifying 1 running from 16:00-16:20 and Qualifying 2 scheduled from 16:25-16:35.
  • The race action follows on Saturday May 4, with Race 1 due to start at 11:30 for a maximum of 32 laps. Race 2 is due to cover the same distance and is scheduled to begin at 15:30.
  • The Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing drivers are among 15 entered for the Marrakesh weekend, the second of seven Kumho FIA TCR World Tour events in 2024.

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