Format changes and calendar for 2016 WTCC season outlined

The World Touring Car Championship has confirmed a revamp to its race-weekend format, while its 2016 calendar is still awaiting a venue for the season opener

Format changes and calendar for 2016 WTCC season outlined

The series will continue to host two races, but change from the current structure of a reversed-grid top 10 setting the grid for the second.

That partially-reversed grid moves to the opening race in 2016, with the initial order set by times in the second phase of qualifying.

The third and final part of qualifying will then set the grid for the second race, to be the designated 'main race'.

"We never found it easy to explain to fans, media and guests the Race 1/Race 2 concept, with the pole man not starting on the front row for the last race of the weekend," WTCC promoter Francois Ribeiro said.

"Together with the FIA, manufacturers, teams and drivers, we took the collective decision to simplify the race format.

"The objective is to increase the spectacle and make the structure of the weekend easier to explain by ensuring we leave the best to last, which is the case with the vast majority of sports.

"At the same time, it was very important to keep the reverse grid format for what is now the opening race."

The series' new cycling-style team trial, MAC3, was rubber-stamped by the FIA World Motor Sport Council.

12 DATES, 11 VENUES ON '16 CALENDAR

The WMSC also approved a 12-date 2016 WTCC schedule, up one on this year, without a venue attached to the first event.

As expected, the series will visit the same countries and largely the same tracks, however the Russian round is set to become the season opener on March 20, at Sochi rather than Moscow Raceway.

In the other changes, Argentina moves from March to August - pending final promoter agreements - while the Slovakiaring round comes forward from June to April.

"The intention is for the calendar to have 12 events but the agreement with the potential new venue is not there yet," Ribeiro said.

"Providing all elements of the deal fall into place we hope to announce the final calendar with 12 weekends prior to the Christmas break.

"Otherwise, we have kept the same venues in a number of key markets that provide the challenge and prestige we crave, plus the variety."

2016 WORLD TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP CALENDAR
March 20 TBC
April 3 Paul Ricard, France
April 17 Slovakia Ring, Slovakia
April 24 Hungaroring, Hungary
May 8 Marrakech, Morocco
May 28 Nurburgring Nordschleife, Germany
June 12 Vila Real, Portugal
August 7 Autodromo Termas de Rio Hondo, Argentina
September 4 Motegi, Japan
September 25 Shanghai International Circuit, China
November 6 Buriram, Thailand
November 27 Losail International Circuit, Qatar

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