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WTCC confirms Nordschleife race for 2015

Photo by fotopitiWorld Touring Car Championship boss François Riberio has confirmed that the series will race on the Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit in 2015 at a special press conference held ahead of this weekend’s 24 Hour Race around the German circuit.

The WTCC will thus race around the ‘Green Hell’ in 2015 in the first of a three-year deal to run until 2017. It marks the return of the WTCC to Germany for the first time since 2011 and the first WTCC race at the Nürburgring since the series’ original inception in 1987 – although even then the race was ‘only’ held on the Grand Prix circuit.

WTCC teams will likely not use pit-lane facilities at the circuit, but will rather be housed in temporary tents in a non-permanent paddock as they have previously done at street circuits such as Pau.

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In addition, whilst the exact race format is yet to be confirmed, it is likely that a single race will be held over a one-hour period for 120 km. The proposed format contrasts markedly with the championship’s current 2 x 60 km race distances.

It marks the return of an FIA World Championship race to the circuit for the first time in more than 30 years, after the World Sports Car Championship last raced there in 1983.

Other touring car championships to have raced on the Nordschleife include the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters, although the German series’ last race at the 154-corner, 20.81 kilometre circuit was in 1993.

Eurosport Events’ COO Ribeiro, who runs the championship, admits that the series’ sporting regulations have had to be modified to allow the event to take place, including a mandatory pit stop.

“The race at the Nordschleife will definitely be a highlight of the season,” said Ribeiro. “To tackle this monument of car racing history, we asked FIA to revise the sporting regulations for that event. The idea is to hold one single 120km race, with one pit stop.

“The details of this particular format will be worked out between FIA, Eurosport Events and teams before the next FIA Touring Car Commission. Then a proposal will be submitted for approval to the FIA World Motor Sport Council.

“WTCC drivers are all excited about this idea: the new TC1 cars on the Nordschleife crowded with 250,000 spectators, combined with a first class TV production on which Eurosport Events will mix all its expertise from WTCC and ERC live filming. It will be the event all drivers want to win, and a good show on TV.”

Ribeiro added that the circuit fits in perfectly with the championship ethos of being about ‘real cars’ racing with relevance to the automotive industry – since many road cars are also tested on the famous Nordschleife.

“With its 25 kilometres and 85 turns, the Nordschleife is probably – together with Le Mans – the most challenging racetrack in the world,” added Ribeiro. “This iconic place is also a daily unique test ground for automotive industry to test any new performance cars against the clock. Since WTCC is all about ‘real cars, real racing’, I think this event will become a hype for car manufacturers involved in the championship.”

DMSB president Hans-Joachim Stuck, who raced on the Nordschleife in his DTM days, added: “I’m truly delighted with the fact that the World Touring Car Championship – one of the FIA’s top series – is going to return to Germany, next year. I just can’t wait to find out how the WTCC drivers will fare in their battle for World Championship points on my favourite racetrack – the incredibly beautiful but also extremely demanding Nürburgring Nordschleife.”

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