World Touring Car Championship drivers want Vila Real changes

Controversial chicanes at the revived Vila Real street circuit will be revised at the request of the World Touring Car Championship drivers, but not in time for Sunday's races

World Touring Car Championship drivers want Vila Real changes

AUTOSPORT understands that concerns were raised at the drivers' briefing on Thursday, and that FIA race director Miroslav Bartos assured the drivers that the configuration of the chicanes would change if the WTCC returns.

But it will not be possible to make changes ahead of the races because the mounting hardpoints for the barriers and kerbs are concreted into the ground.

"There are two tight chicanes, one ridiculously tight," 2012 world champion Rob Huff told AUTOSPORT.

"It's a shame because I think the circuit would be better without them.

"Apart from that it's a fantastic track - fast, flowing, exciting, and a real challenge, but the trouble is every lap you come almost to a stop."

Vila Real WTCC qualifying: Tactical Citroen secures both poles

The WTCC's visit is the first time Vila Real has hosted a world championship event, although the city has a rich motor racing history.

Racing began in Vila Real in 1931 and the circuit's original configuration incorporated two level crossings and two bridges, straddling the valley of the River Corgo.

The circuit hosted prestigious international sportscar and Formula 3 events until the 1970s, but racing underwent a hiatus after a fatal accident in 1991.

Although armco barriers now define the track's borders rather than stone walls, the dramatic elevation changes and daunting proliferation of fast, blind corners remain.

VIDEO: ONBOARD LAP OF VILA REAL WITH TOM CORONEL

Reigning WTCC champion Jose Maria Lopez told AUTOSPORT ahead of the event that he would be treating the track with "utmost respect".

With very little run-off available, and road boundaries lined with houses and gardens, pre-event simulations led the FIA to err on the side of caution in specifying the slow chicanes before faster sections.

In practice, Turn 13 has proved slower than expected, with speeds dropping as low as 41km/h (26mph) in first gear.

The Chevrolets are particularly affected because to save weight they draw energy for the power steering from the engine rather than an electric motor, and at low revs there is insufficient power to go from lock to lock with full assistance.

Several drivers also reported that the mid-corner camber change caused by the crown of the road destabilises their cars.

"I understand why they've done it, because those are two dangerous points," Huff's Lada team-mate Nicky Catsburg told AUTOSPORT.

"But I think they've overdone it - in my opinion you could have half of the chicane there and it would be OK."

Follow the first race of the Vila Real WTCC weekend as it happens with AUTOSPORT Race Centre Live from 11.45am UK time on Sunday

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