LADA Sport Lukoil drivers, James Thompson, Rob Huff and Mikhail Kozlovskiy speak about the changes on WTCC sporting regulations for the incoming 2014 season.
RACE – The rolling start has been dropped and both races will have a standing start.
Thompson: “I was never a fan of the rolling start for a couple of reasons. The close proximity to the car in front at the start means you can seldom see the lights change. If you aren’t on the first row of the grid, you have to predict the start from the cars around you. This has the added danger of bunching the field more closely as it arrives at the first corner.”
Huff: “Traditionally, touring cars have always had standing starts and the rolling start idea was coined to equalize the BMWs’ strength off the line. Standing starts are much more exciting because they’re harder to do. It’s quite difficult getting touring cars off the line without wheelspin, so it puts more emphasis on the driver to do the job well and maintain or gain positions on the opening lap.”
Kozlovskiy: “From the driver’s point of view, the rolling start is easier and I think we can expect more interesting situations away from standing starts and during the opening laps of the race.”
QUALIFY – The qualifying session will be split in three parts, with the addition of Q3 in which the best five drivers of Q2 will be allowed one timed lap to fight for pole position.
Thompson: “It’s a positive step. Qualification was spoilt by the fact that the best lap times for most of the midfield runners were often achieved by slipstreaming other cars. This is tricky if you are a one-car team and those with five cars have been able to dominate qualifying in the past due to organised slipstreaming strategies. I’ll be delighted to see everybody running alone during the ‘top-five shootout’. The added advantage is that TV will be able to focus in on each driver as they complete flying laps.”
Huff: “Q3 will really add to the show. There will only be five cars on the track and there will be something going on the entire time. Again, it puts even more emphasis on the driver and doing one-lap shootouts – a ‘super pole’ – will add to the excitement of the new WTCC era.”
Kozlovskiy: “I don’t think it’s a big change, because drivers push hard in each session. But you have to mind the new tyre strategy. The drivers allowed to Q3 will have an extra set of tyres, so there won’t be room for mistakes in Q1 and Q2.”