The FIA World Touring Car Championship concludes in Qatar this weekend (November 28th and 29th) with the series’ maiden night race. The round at the Losail International Circuit also marks the championship’s first visit to the Middle East.
By claiming his ninth victory of the campaign in Thailand earlier this month, Citroën driver José María López won back-to-back WTCC drivers championship crowns. Another triumph in Qatar would equal his record of 10 wins in one season set last year.
“Sometimes you need to put more pressure on yourself to get a bit more,” said López. “I am a little more relaxed now I have won the title but I don’t race for the records, I race to enjoy in a fantastic team with fantastic team-mates. It’s a new race for us and will be very interesting. I have seen the track from the MotoGP races and it looks nice. Hopefully we’ll have a great weekend and a fantastic fight once again.”
Francois Ribeiro, head of Eurosport Events, the parent body that organises the WTCC, said that Qatar was an easy choice to make because of its history with night races.
“For such a small country what the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) is doing for motorsport is incredible – both for two and four wheels. I trust QMMF and Nasser Khalifa al-Attiyah, and when he gave me the word that he will do a world class event for WTCC, I had no hesitation in choosing Qatar,” said Ribeiro yesterday.
“The timing of the race along with the added novelty of it being held at night made Qatar the perfect choice for the season-ender,” said Ribeiro. “Qatar has been a pioneer when it comes to night races. Their first MotoGP night race was in 2004. That was four years before F1 conducted their first night race and 10 years before Abu Dhabi. So it was natural for us to go with Qatar for the first night race for WTCC.
“The recent weather conditions will make the races even more interesting, said the WTCC chief. “Maybe we have been lucky with the rain. It is unusual in Qatar. It reminds me exactly of the conditions that we had in Motegi. There was heavy rain a few days before the race. There was no grip and it was one of the best races we have seen so far and I think that’s what we will see in Qatar. The racing won’t be easy but it will be spectacular. The spectators here will see a lot of similarity to MotoGP. It will be sprint races, no pit stops, no strategy and lots of overtaking. The race won’t be won in the pits or because of a tyre change. It will purely depend on the aggressiveness of the drivers.”