WTCC Race of France - 01-03/04/2016
Circuit Paul Ricard blends the old with the new in spectacular fashion. Built in 1969 and rebuilt 30 years later as a high-specification testing venue, the track’s motorsport heritage is well documented with Formula One visiting 14 times between 1971 and 1990. Since 2014, the circuit has been home to WTCC Race of France and remains ever popular thanks to its location close to the French Riviera and the country’s second city, Marseille. The FIA European Touring Car Cup and FIA European Formula 3 Championship top the support bill in 2016 when the event moves forward from June to April.
1: Circuit Paul Ricard gets its name from the man who made it all possible, the pastis magnate Paul Ricard.
2: Nigel Mansell still holds the lap record on the shorter Club Circuit at Paul Ricard, the layout used by the WTCC. The Briton set a time of 1m04.402s in a Ferrari 641 at the 1990 French Grand Prix.
3: Citroën has enjoyed an unbroken sequence of wins at Paul Ricard with Sébastien Loeb and José María López taking a win apiece in 2014 and 2015.
4: The WTCC is not the only championship promoted by Eurosport Events to visit Paul Ricard. The FIA European Touring Car is a venue regular.
5: Circuit Paul Ricard is located near the cliff-top village of Le Castellet in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, while Nearby Marseille is France’s oldest city, having been founded some 2600 years ago.
FLASHBACK 2015 (26-28 JUNE)
Sébastien Loeb took full advantage of his first WTCC pole to claim his maiden race one victory during a World Touring Car Championship weekend with a dominant performance in the opening JVC KENWOOD WTCC Race of France at Circuit Paul Ricard. The flying Frenchman beat his more experienced Citroën team-mates Yvan Muller and José María López by more than six seconds for his third victory of 2015. However, the nine-time world rally champion was unable to make it two wins from two when he damaged his C-Elysée WTCC colliding with a tyre barrier on lap three of race two and was forced to retire for the first time this season. Nevertheless, Citroën was still able to celebrate victory after López charged through from eighth to win the reverse grid second race to extend what had been a dwindling title advantage following race one. While Loeb claimed a lights-to-flag victory despite a slightly hesitant start, Ma Qing Hua completed a Citroën top-four behind Muller and López as Tom Chilton grabbed the Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy prize in fifth in his privateer Chevrolet. Norbert Michelisz edged fellow Honda driver Tiago Monteiro for sixth with Gabriele Tarquini eighth and Mehdi Bennani passing LADA pilot Jaap van Lagen for ninth. Bennani started the 16-lap reverse grid second race from pole only for a jumped-start to earn the Moroccan a drive-through penalty and allow Michelisz to move in front. But the Hungarian had no answer to the flying López, who charged through from eighth on the grid to overtake with two laps remaining for his fifth win of the year. However, his progress up the order wasn’t without incident: a collision with Monteiro in their battle for second behind Michelisz led to Monteiro’s retirement and briefly dropped López behind Ma before the Argentine began his successful recovery drive. Ma completed the podium with Muller fourth, Tarquini fifth and Hugo Valente sixth. Rickard Rydell celebrated WTCC start number 100 in P10 with Bennani ninth.Official Website
Name: Circuit Paul Ricard
Location: RDN8 2760 Route des Hauts du Camp, 83330 Le Castellet, France
Length: 3.841 kilometres
Lap record (qualifying): Sébastien Loeb (Citroën C-Elysée), 1m29.245s (154.90kph), 27/06/15
Lap record (race): José María López (Citroën C-Elysée), 1m31.148s (151.70kph), 28/06/15
WTCC RACE OF FRANCE WINNERS
2015: Race 1: Sébastien Loeb (Citroën C-Elysée); Race 2: José María López (Citroën C-Elysée)
2014: R1: Yvan Muller (Citroën C-Elysée); R2: José María López (Citroën C-Elysée)
2009: R1: Rob Huff (Chevrolet Cruze); R2: Alain Menu (Chevrolet Cruze)
2008: R1: Augusto Farfus (BMW 320); R2: Andy Priaulx (BMW 320)
2007: R1: Alain Menu (Chevrolet Cruze); R2: Augusto Farfus (BMW 320)
2006: R1: Dirk Müller (BMW 320); R2: Andy Priaulx (BMW 320)
2005: R1: Jorg Müller (BMW 320); R2: Jorg Müller (BMW 320)
WTCC RACE OF FRANCE VENUES
2014-Present: Circuit Paul Ricard
2007-2009: Circuit de Pau
2005-2006: Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours