The legendary Nürburgring is the venue for this weekend’s third WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup event of the year, and Honda’s customer racing teams are aiming to strengthen their position in the championship after a strong start.
Following a one-two finish at the Hungaroring, ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport duo Yann Ehrlacher and Esteban Guerrieri are aiming high in what is the home race for their team at the circuit.
The pair spent a day last week re-familiarising themselves with its 25.7-km Nordschleife layout in Honda Civic Type R road cars, joined by team-mate James Thompson. All three are ready to challenge for more success in their Civic Type R TCRs race cars.
Both Yann – who lies second in the Drivers’ Championship – and Esteban qualified and finished inside the top 10 when World Touring Cars visited the Nürburgring last year while James – who finished seventh in Hungary – is a Nordschleife novice.
Boutsen Ginion Racing and Benjamin Lessennes also make their Nordschleife debut this week. They arrive on the back of finishing fifth in Hungary; the highest placing for team and driver in the WTCR.
Benjamin will use the advice given by his on-track mentor Tiago Monteiro to his advantage while team-mate Tom Coronel is a master of the ‘Green Hell’ and is in for a busy weekend as he also contests the Nürburgring 24 Hours, which shares the event bill with WTCR.
The Dutchman has a best World Touring Car finish of seventh to his name at the Nürburgring and is aiming for a big climb up the championship standings after his car sustained significant damage in all three Hungarian races thanks to contact from rival drivers.
The pair’s results in Hungary moved Boutsen up to sixth in the Teams’ points table – three spots behind Münnich.
Just as in Hungary, KC Motorgroup Ltd (KCMG) will field a wildcard entry at the Nürburgring with Kris Richard at the wheel.
Richard, 23, was a winner on the Nordschleife in the FIA European Touring Car Cup in 2016 on his way to taking that year’s title, and last year finished an impressive sixth at Losail in what was one of two World Touring Car appearances for the Swiss driver.
Yann Ehrlacher #68 : « The Nordschleife is the biggest challenge we face in WTCR. I have some race experience there from last year, but it’s still not easy to remember which way all the corners go because there are so many of them. Hungary was amazing for me and a great reward for the team, who have worked so hard to help me get up-to-speed with the Honda. Sometimes you have race weekends where you know you can go for wins and sometimes you just have to bank the points and move on. It will be interesting to see what kind of weekend this is for us. »
Esteban Guerrieri #86 : « The Nordschleife is the biggest challenge on the calendar. At nearly 26km, it’s very hard to remember every detail of all 150 corners, and the penalty for making even a small mistake can be enormous because the run-off areas are tiny and the speeds are so high. The first time I lapped the circuit I thought I was pushing as hard as possible; then I went 10 seconds faster on the next lap! Hungary proved we have good speed in medium-speed corners, but we won’t really know where we are in Germany until FP1. »
James Thompson #15 : « It’s pretty crazy to think that in over 25 years as a professional racing driver, I’ve never raced on the Nordschleife. I actually had my first experience of the circuit in a hire car last week on a track day and it’s just incredible. I’ve also driven it on a simulator, but nothing prepares you for the sheer scale of the climbs and drops. I know it might take a little time to play myself in at this track, but I’m looking forward to it. »
Benjamin Lessennes #63 : « Hungary was a breakthrough weekend for me and the team. We were competitive all weekend and proved we can do a good job at this level. Now we move on to the Nürburgring; the most difficult circuit in the world, and we have a big challenge to try and repeat the success. I’m quite familiar with the layout having driven it many times on computer games and simulators, but I’m sure it will feel totally different experiencing it for real for the first time. »
Tom Coronel #9 : « I love the Nürburgring. It’s the greatest track in the world and I always enjoy racing here. It’s been around for nearly 100 years and it has all the character of a classic circuit; it’s long, there’s very little run-off and any mistakes carry a big penalty. Experience counts double, and I’m planning to use mine to gain bit of advantage I can. Hungary proved that the Honda is a fast car and if we can have a weekend free from bad luck, I think we can score some good points. »
Kris Richard #94 : « I’m thrilled to be competing in the WTCR at the Nürburgring. It’s my target to be racing at the highest level of touring car racing and this is a great step in the right direction. It’s my favourite circuit because it’s such a huge challenge; it’s high-speed and remembering all the corners is a huge test for a driver. WTCR is an incredibly high level this year, but I’ve been a winner on the Nordschleife in ETCC and the new Honda is a strong car; as proven by its win in Hungary. I’m extremely excited. »