Why VW abandoned head-start use of standard part in 2019 WTCR

TCR's control ECU requiring more work than expected prompted Volkswagen to abandon its early use of the part in the World Touring Car Cup a year before its universal introduction

Why VW abandoned head-start use of standard part in 2019 WTCR

All four of Sebastien Loeb Racing's Volkswagen Golf GTIs were fitted with the Magneti Marelli ECU for the start of the 2019 WTCR season, but Volkswagen took the decision to revert to its standard road car control unit for the third round of the season in Slovakia.

At that point, Rob Huff was the team's highest-placed driver in 13th while double World Rallycross champion Johan Kristoffersson, rookie Benjamin Leuchter and WTCR race winner Mehdi Bennani occupied three of the bottom four places in the points standings.

Volkswagen motorsport director Sven Smeets told Autosport the brand originally chose to run the part in the hope of having a head-start on its competitors when the standard ECU is fitted to all cars competing in TCR series next year.

"The ECUs we are driving today come from the standard car, they are standard ECUs, and we know also that we are not always in the optimised situation in every race," said Smeets.

"[The reason] we decided to go for the new ECU for next year is that we then had one year under the belt with the new ECU when it was introduced in racing for everybody.

"Unfortunately the timeframe was too short for the work that there was to do.

"If we would have had one month more before [the season opener at] Marrakech, then I think it would have been fine, and if we were able to do something during the races to bring it where it has to be, then that would have been also fine.

"But of course once the race season starts you can't just start changing mappings all the time."

All four WTCR Golfs were saddled with the maximum 60 kilograms of compensation weight for the Slovakia round for changing ECUs, a figure that was reduced to 30kg for the fourth meeting of the season at Zandvoort in May.

Leuchter and Kristoffersson scored the first Volkswagen podiums of the season that weekend by finishing second and third respectively in the reversed-grid race, while both won at the Nurburgring a month later.

Smeets said the decision to ditch the ECU was a "difficult situation because we knew we were not very far off" with its development.

"But the thing was we knew it was never going to be perfect, and then it's still very difficult [to make a call]," he added.

"The drivers also said, 'Yeah, maybe it's better to go back to what we know'.

"We know it's also not top, but we won some races last year with it, [and now] we have won some races this year with it."

shares
comments
The 'weapon' clash that turned a world title battle bitter

Previous article

The 'weapon' clash that turned a world title battle bitter

Next article

Macau WTCR: Rob Huff leads Andy Priaulx in Thursday practice

Macau WTCR: Rob Huff leads Andy Priaulx in Thursday practice
Load comments

About this article

Series WTCR
Drivers Weiron Tan
Author Jack Cozens
The tin-top champion who doesn't know the meaning of retirement Plus

The tin-top champion who doesn't know the meaning of retirement

The news is out that three-time World Touring Car champion Andy Priaulx is stepping down from full-time racing. But he's still got plenty of mileage left him in yet, and his son has much more

WTCR
Jun 16, 2020
The phoenix driver who is at peace with his defeats Plus

The phoenix driver who is at peace with his defeats

Esteban Guerrieri spent years trying to make it in single-seaters, and came closer than you'd think to making it to F1. Now he's forging a successful tin-top career, but it's his philosophical approach to defeat and personal growth that is truly impressive

WTCR
Jan 13, 2020
The surprise team orders twisting a world title battle Plus

The surprise team orders twisting a world title battle

Team orders in major touring car racing are nothing unusual with manufacturer honour at stake. But in the 2019 World Touring Cars title fight, one team is raising eyebrows with the choices it is making

WTCR
Nov 18, 2019
The 'weapon' clash that turned a world title battle bitter Plus

The 'weapon' clash that turned a world title battle bitter

Emotions ran high at Suzuka last weekend between two teams gunning for global tin-top bragging rights, and little has been done to cool those tensions since. While that's great news for WTCR, is there a danger of both outfits losing sight of their main aim?

WTCR
Nov 2, 2019
How WTCR's last real independent has stayed in play Plus

How WTCR's last real independent has stayed in play

The World Touring Car Cup has gone from strength to strength for 2019 - but one small team in particular is proving time and again that it merits a place alongside the series' big hitters

WTCR
Apr 23, 2019
The lessons World Touring Cars must heed from history Plus

The lessons World Touring Cars must heed from history

The WTCR has made a massive step up in quality ahead of its second season in its current format, but as manufacturers start to lock horns is it already in danger of repeating other great touring car series' mistakes?

WTCR
Apr 5, 2019
A world champion in waiting's tortuous path to recovery Plus

A world champion in waiting's tortuous path to recovery

Tiago Monteiro seemed destined to win the World Touring Car Championship last year, until a huge testing crash halted his charge. After early whispers of a swift racing return, he recounts his arduous (and incomplete) road to recovery

WTCR
Aug 9, 2018
Why a world championship made the ultimate sacrifice Plus

Why a world championship made the ultimate sacrifice

A rulebook scrapped with two-thirds of its planned existence remaining and the disintegration of a 'world championship' - yet everyone's a winner from one of modern motorsport's greatest acts of martyrdom

WTCR
Jan 9, 2018