WTCC with two rounds in China?
Soon after the Citroen officials announced the possibility of withdrawing from the World Touring Car Championship or the World Rally Championship from 2017 onwards, the reaction from the WTCC was fast.
Francois Ribeiro, Eurosport Events COO, said that another event in China could be added to the calendar instead of one race in Europe. Only five European countries – Hungary, Slovakia, Germany, France and Portugal – are the hosts of the WTCC races and it seems like one of them will be losing the opportunity to organize a racing event.
“I will have to do one less European round because I really want to do two events in China as that is such a big market for every manufacturer. Given the size of Chinese market, two events are there looking normal,” said Ribeiro.
And though the lack of quality circuits with proper infrastructure in China could be a problem, Ribeiro is pretty sure that the problem could be solved soon.
“There are new FIA Grade 2 circuits under construction in China and one of them (Wuhan) could be logistically perfect for us as it is not so far from Shanghai, It’s an area with a large population and many manufacturers, like Volkswagen, Honda or Kia, have factories there. I would not be surprised if the locals are directly or indirectly are involved in the industry. That’s why it makes sense to take the WTCC race there,” concludes Ribeiro.
While it does indeed make sense, it is also quite clear that keeping Citroen in the championship is one of WTCC’s most important tasks for the future. The French manufacturer has been absolutely dominant in the last two seasons and losing it could affect the championship badly, leaving WTCC with only three manufacturers – Honda, Chevrolet and Lada.
There were some indications about some interest of the manufacturers to enter the WTCC, but everything is still far from materialising and that’s why keeping Citroen in the championship and making it happy with two races in China looks like strengthening the foundations of the WTCC, even though Citroen has been present in the championship only for a season and a half.
Maybe we can say that losing a race in Europe is cheaper than losing the series’ leading manufacturer…?