The FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) is retuning to the twisty turns and wide-open straight roads of the Guia Circuit in Macau, two years since the series was replaced by the TCR racing series.
Though the WTCC has now returned back to Guia, the series has not developed much in the past two years, with several manufacturers abandoning the series (at least as factory teams) and others paying little attention to major developments due to scarcity of competition and other reasons.
After two years away, the WTCC promises to return to Macau to “restore the famous Guia Race to its former glory,” although it seems there is not much glory left in the series itself, and it only gained a new life with the introduction of the new Volvo Polestar team that has “put a little salt on a barely warm soup.”
Previously hosting the “Grand Finale” and the closing event of the WTCC season, Macau will now hold the penultimate weekend of the campaign, which will close in the hot sands of Qatar in a race under the moonlight.
Interestingly enough, the Championship this year had an unexpected twist when Portugal’s Tiago Monteiro from the Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team suffered a high speed accident during a routine test run in Barcelona on September 6, where he was leading the championship at the time.
Monteiro had to be extracted from the car, and after observation by several specialists in the hospital, he was advised to skip the China and Japan rounds until he achieves full recovery.
Although he has accepted the physicians’ recommendations and started his recovery, Monteiro has been ruled out of the Macau round as well.
Similar to the Japanese round of the WTCC, the team has already announced that Monteiro will be replaced by Argentinian race driver Esteban Guerrieri.
Monteiro has lost the championship lead, due to not racing because of his injury, and fell to the fourth position behind new leader Thed Björk from Volvo, Honda teammate Norbert Michelisz and Volvo’s Nicky Catsburg.
With four races left (2 in Macau and 2 in Qatar) and a maximum of 120 points up for grabs, Michelisz trails Polestar Cyan Racing’s Björk by 16.5 points and Catsburg is just 2.5 points behind Michelisz.
Theoretically speaking, the chances of winning the championship are still wide-open and possible for the first nine classified, although success is more likely for the first six, adding Tom Chilton and Mehdi Bennani, respectively, to the list behind Monteiro.
Macau itself can be a tricky place to race and small mistakes can result in big damage, which means that anything is possible and the races are expected to be contested to the last tenth of second.
Another point of interest in the return of the WTCC series is the possibility of well- known racer Rob Huff possibly extending his own record of wins in Macau to nine.
Huff will be driving a Citroën C-Elysée from ALL- INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport.
Another Macau expert that will be returning to the WTCC field is veteran racer Tom Coronel, who is definitely able to put his track experience to use and attain a good result on the street circuit.
Participating out of the championship results will be a few local racers. Macau’s Mak Ka Lok is one of them and he will be driving a third Lada Vesta from RC Motorsport, an entry that was initially supposed to be used by Macau’s Filipe de Souza. However, due to the regulations that prevent drivers from taking part in two different events during the Macau Grand Prix weekend, de Souza’s focus for 2017 is the CTM Macau Touring Car Cup.
As for Hong Kong, Po Wah Wong and Clerebold Chan will be aboard two Chevrolet Cruzes and will be the representatives of Hong Kong in this race. They will both be racing under Campos Racing Team colors.