The paddock is where teams, race organisers and race officials set up home on a World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) race weekend. Normally located next to the track and pit lane, it’s where teams prepare their cars for the weekend, host their hospitality, and arrange media sessions. For fans with passes, the paddock is a perfect opportunity to get behind the scenes and look out for their favourite drivers and personalities.
Having been adopted by dozens of regional and national championships in its infant years, TCR cars have become a firm fixture in international racing. The highest profile championship, the TCR International Series, paved the way for the all-new WTCR, FIA World Touring Car Cup, established in 2018.
Featuring some of the world’s most demanding racetracks, the WTCR features privateer, customer teams with machinery representing a number of top motor manufacturers – including Hyundai! The i30 N TCR proved a formidable force in the series, with customer teams securing the drivers’ and titles’ honours, setting the foundations for another competitive year in 2019.
The pit lane is located adjacent to the track to allow easy entry and exit for all participating race cars. Competitors use the pit lane to gain direct access to their garages, where mechanics carry out work on the car. It’s not compulsory to make a pit stop in WTCR, but if a driver has been involved in an incident they may have to come in for repairs. During all sessions, the pit lane must be kept clear of personnel for safety reasons
The World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) was established in 2018, succeeding the World Touring Car Championship. WTCR adopted TCR technical regulations – a change from TC1 regulations – to become highest class of competition for TCR racing. Every event features two qualifying sessions and three races. Teams and drivers compete for a world cup, so there is no direct manufacturer involvement.
A touring car is a four or five-door production vehicle, powered by a two-litre turbocharged engine. Based on the road-going model, the bodywork and suspension tend to remain as production spec, with modifications made to the brakes and aerodynamics to make the car compliant with TCR regulations. Success ballasts are added to the three best performing cars from the previous event, and all cars are subject to Balance of Performance (BoP) adjustments.
All WTCR (World Touring Car Cup) cars must adhere to strict FIA and TCR technical regulations. A team of FIA technical officials carries out thorough checks of competing vehicles before, during and after each event. If a car doesn’t pass these checks, the driver and team could be handed penalties or even face disqualification.
Balance of Performance (BoP) is a system used to level the playing field between the cars to make the racing more competitive. The same BoP rules apply across WTCR and all TCR series. The FIA and TCR technical departments define the parameters at the start of the season for competitors and can make adjustments to the weight of a car, engine performance level and apply any technical restrictions it deems necessary.
Drivers have five opportunities to score points in a World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) race weekend. The top five fastest drivers in the qualifying sessions gain extra points ranging from 5 to 1, with 25-20-16-13-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 awarded to the top fifteen finishers in each race.
Located next to the pit lane, the garage is a busy area where mechanics carry out work on the car, change tyres and maybe even take a sneaky look at the competition. Special guests of the team can also be found in the garage keeping a close eye on all the action.
Practice makes perfect as they say. Free Practice sessions are an ideal opportunity for teams and drivers to learn the track and test out qualifying and race settings – particularly important for rookie drivers and new tracks! There are two Free Practice sessions each World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) race weekend.
Qualifying is a crucial element of WTCR and determines the order in which drivers start a race. There are two sessions per race weekend: the first session decides Race 1 in a 30-minute (40 for street circuits) qualifying heat; the second session is divided into three parts and determines Race 3, with points awarded for the fastest five drivers. Race 2 is a reverse grid of the top ten in the second qualifying session.
After the qualifying sessions and races, competitors must bring their cars into the restricted parc ferme area – literally meaning ‘closed park’ in French. Here, the cars are scrutineered by the stewards. Only race organisers and stewards have access to this area. No work is permitted on the cars by mechanics and team personnel in parc ferme without the express permission of the officials.
The tin-top action is most exciting in race mode. Cars battle side-by-side up and down the field, ensuring close racing on every single lap until the chequered flag. There are three races in every WTCR round, with the number of laps differing each time. Those all-important world cup points awarded to the top ten finishers of each race.
The grid is the formation in which cars will start a race. In World Touring Car Cup (WTCR), cars line up two per each row. The grid positions are determined in qualifying, but they can change if a penalty or disqualification is applied. For fans lucky enough to be in possession of a grid walk pass, it’s an unrivaled opportunity to witness those last-minute preparations before the start of a race.
Reverse grids are notorious in touring car races. They can increase the on-track entertainment by mixing up the starting order. In World Touring Car Cup (WTCR), only the top ten fastest cars are reversed for the second race of the weekend. It’s a great opportunity for teams and drivers to demonstrate they are capable of battling their way through the field to claim podiums and victories.
Flags are used to signal specific instructions to drivers. A yellow flag is waved to warn drivers to slow down because of an incident or obstruction. A red flag halts a session because of an incident or poor weather. The green flag signals the start of the race, or an obstruction cleared. The chequered flag is shown at the end of the race. It’s imperative that competitors follow the instruction given to ensure safety while racing.
One of the most important members of the team. Race Engineers work with the driver to set up the car for qualifying and race sessions. They feed back data to ensure the driver can improve next time out, identify and iron out any issues that arise on the car and make crucial strategy calls.
Mechanics prepare the car in the garage for each session in a race weekend, often up against tight deadlines. To add to the pressure, teams are only permitted to have 10 people work across both cars at any one time. Only team members issued with an orange armband are permitted to touch the car, so teams have to decide how best to deploy their resources.
The first position on the grid, known as pole position, is usually reserved for the driver who has set the fastest lap in qualifying, with the exception of reversed grids. A strong qualifying gives a driver the best possible start on race day, offering a clear run to the first corner with minimal need to overtake rivals – provided a driver has had a good start.
All WTCR (World Touring Car Cup) teams receive their tyres from the sole supplier to the series. Dry and wet weather tyres are made available to the teams, with a limitation on how many can be used at each event. Teams are responsible for ensuring the tyres fit properly and do not infringe technical regulations.
A lap is a single, complete rotation of a track. Most circuit-based races are measured by the number of laps drivers must complete before the race is declared to be finished. In qualifying, drivers compete to set the fastest lap time to win the coveted pole position. A lap record is the fastest time ever to be set at a track.
The World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) competes on a variety of tracks. These are normally tarmac, but surfaces vary event-to-event based on circuit organisers, use and wear. Street circuits often mix public and race-ready surfaced track. Different tracks pose different challenges to teams and drivers, including speed, elevation, corner angles and run off areas.
A safety car is used to limit track speeds and control the pace of the field, usually brought out for an incident or obstructions on track. Competitors must remain behind the safety car and cannot overtake the pace car or rivals. Safety car periods can certainly spice up the racing as it allows the pack to close up. When the safety car period ends, drivers battle to get the best start and use it as a prime opportunity to make up positions.
A wild card entry allows a competitor to make a one-off appearance in a series. It’s a great opportunity for local stars to compete in front of a home crowd, or drivers from other motorsport categories to test and prove their versatility. In the FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR), two wild card entries per event are available for local drivers.
A joker lap requires a competitor to take an alternative route during the race. The Race of Portugal, held at the Circuito Internacional de Vila Real, is the only World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) round to feature a joker lap. All drivers must complete the detour once but earliest after three laps of action. It’s imperative to make the right strategy call – time it perfectly, and the driver gains places, but the wrong call could spell disaster…