5 reasons not to miss… The Race of Portugal

After a month off, the WTCR Oscaro is back for the fifth round of the championship. And it is in the north of Portugal that round five is taking place. From June 22nd to June 24th,  27 drivers will battle it out on the second street circuit of the season, the 4.785 km Circuito Internacional de Vila Real. Here are the five things not to miss before Race of Portugal.

The uncle and the nephew

If you follow the WTCR Oscaro, you are probably aware of this story: 21-year old Yann Ehrlacher, son of Yvan Muller’s (48) sister, and therefore nephew of the four time world touring car champion.

You, when you play against your uncle, it’s on a video game, with cards or in the garden, at most. But them, no. They are fighting it out in a FIA World Championship. The uncle and the nephew are the ones realizing an exceptional start to the world championship, occupying the top two spots of the championship. The youngest, in his Honda Civic already has 146 points on the table, while the second, in his Hyundai i30 N TCR has nine less. No doubt, Yvan must have given some advice to Yann, but surely didn’t imagine his disciple get to this level in his second season at the top level. Watch out uncle Yvan… If it continues like this, the student will pass the master.

The joker lap

A first in world touring car history. Last year, on this very circuit, a new element made its debut: The joker lap. An alternative route at turn 26 that each driver has to use at least once a race (not before the third lap). This “joker lap” consists of going round a roundabout by the left side, instead of the normal route over the right side. This adds roughly two seconds to your lap, favouring overtaking, a complicated endeavor on this circuit (even if Rob Huff managed a whopping eleven overtakes in a single race in 2017). The joker lap accentuates the difficulties of a already complex urban circuit. “You can put Vila Real together with Macau and the Nordschleife in the group of the most difficult circuits” underlines Yann Ehrlacher, leader of the WTCR Oscaro. With 27 drivers on the grid, it seems promising!

The Vila Real spirit

Thousands of spectators in the streets, songs to the glory of local hero Tiago Monteiro, flares… A football stadium? No, the Vila Real circuit and the many fans in the stands around it.

In this city in northern Douro an extraordinary atmosphere reigns. Here, racing is part of the culture. The Vila Real circuit is one of the oldest street circuits in the world. It hosted its first race in 1931, 87 years ago. As for the WTCC (now WTCR Oscaro), it made its first visit to Vila Real in 2015. The 2018 edition will then mark the four anniversary of world touring cars on the Portugese circuit.

Halftime

It’s time to look back on the first half of the season for the drivers. Fifth round of the WTCR Oscaro. The Race of Portugal marks the end of the first part of the season. At the moment, All-Inkl.com Münnich Motorsport, and Yvan Muller Racing reunites the best starters of the season, with the two teams has 261 points each. The Hungarian Zengo Motorsport team (7 points) and the Belgians from Comtoyou Racing (28 points) are the last ones on the table. As for the drivers, only six driver are yet to put points on the board this season: Denis Dupont, Mato Homola, Norbert Nagy, Gianni Morbidelli, Fabrizio Giovannardi et Tiago Monteiro (who is yet to compete this season). Is one of them finally going to unblock their counter at the end of the first part of the championship? The answers can be found starting Saturday 23rd of June, starting at 13h15 with Qualifying 1, and Race 1 at 16h45, on wtcr.oscaro.com.

Symbolic

Everything started here. In 2015. On the Vila Real circuit, the common history between Oscaro and the World Touring Car Championship started. Since then, they haven’t quit each other. Today, the world leader in online auto parts is the title sponsor of the WTCR Oscaro. Among the drivers participating, three are Team Oscaro members. John Filippi and Pepe Oriola for Team Oscaro by Campos Racing, and the local star, still recovering from his accident last year, Tiago Monteiro at Boutsen Ginion Racing. In three years, a lot has happened, and it’s only the beginning.

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