Q&A: Jonathan Ashman - EXCLUSIVE.
Jonathan, what are your thoughts on the calendar?

Jonathan Ashman:
It really goes along with what we have been planning for a long time, to gently, gently make the series more global. Certainly the original plan was to slowly expand it and Japan is somewhere we wanted to go for a long time because we keep getting interest from the Japanese manufacturers – but no-one has committed yet. Yokohama were keen to go to Japan and with their help, it is on the calendar which is the most significant addition.
And Mexico is there as well...

We've been to Meixco before at Puebla but we had some problems there. Although it was a fantastic track for touring car racing and we got an enormous number of spectators, there were problems with the track surface so there are other possibilities. It hasn't been nailed down as to which of two tracks we are going to but certainly we will be back in mexico as the manufacturers regard it as a key market and almost all of them want to be there.
Can you reveal which two circuits they are?

Either Mexico City or Monterey, but even in Monterey there are two actual possibilities. The promoter makes the choice where we go as it is a commercial matter similar to Formula 1. The original Monterey doesn't exist anymore and there is a different track, so we need to work with the FIA to homologate the track and ensure it is safe. The Mexican people are coming to Brands Hatch for a meeting this weekend so we should know where we stand more.
Valencia and Brands Hatch may swap dates? How likely is that?

Very likely. This calendar is quite an early version and it is much more likely that we will go to Brands Hatch earlier in the year as that would suit in both cases.
There is an increase to twelve events this year from eleven. Is that increase likely to continue or will you try and keep the calendar to that level?

All along we have said twelve would be the absolute maximum, although of course there may be changes within the twelve. We don't want to go to more.
How might you incorporate more events? Would you do similar to Portugal where you will rotate the venue and maybe rotate countries as they plan to do in the WRC?

The choice of venue is very much a promoters choice, as the relationship between the promoter and the FIA is much the same as in Formula 1. In F1, Mr. Ecclestone has the right to choose the events and where they go, the FIA's responsibility is on circuit safety. So the FIA can veto a circuit and say it isn't safe, but it can't put another circuit in – it is down to the promoter to do what is right. In the case of World Touring Cars, the promoter works closely with the manufacturer so it is where the manufacturers want to be and where will work commercially because at the end of the day it has to do that as well.
Are there other countries it the frame that might join the calendar?

There are always countries asking so it will never be a fixed matter. In France for example, we have moved and in Portugal they wanted to alternate between Porto and Estoril – it wasn't from our side. Contracts are normally for three years but things will always evolve. However I don't see it going above twelve events. There is a matter of balance within Europe and outside and we only tend to go outside if it is economically viable for the teams and the Market is right so they get a lot of assistance when we do it. For example when we go to Japan, it is very much courtesy of Yokohama who will cover a lot of the transportation costs – otherwise it would be hard for the teams.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Jorg Muller and Luca Rangoni lead at the start of race two in Valencia [Pic credit: FIA WTCC]
James Thompson leads at the start of race one in Spain and Tarquini and Monteiro tangle [Pic credit: FIA WTCC]
Alain Menu
Michel Vaillant - Alain Menu
John Filippi - Sebastien Loeb Racing
Ryo Michigami, Honda Racing Team JAS [Credit: WTCC]
Rob Huff - Munnich Motorsport Citroen C-Elysee
Medhi Bennani, Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen, WTCC [Credit: WTCC media]
Nestor Girolami, Polestar Cyan Racing Volvo, WTCC [Credit: WTCC]
Tom Chilton, Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen [Credit: XPB]
Tom Coronel, Roal Chevrolet [Credit: WTCC media]
Gabriele Tarquini, Lada, Moscow [Credit: WTCC media]
Nicky Catsburg, Lada, WTCC [Credit: WTCC media]
Nicky Catsburg, Lada, WTCC [Credit: WTCC media]
Jose Maria Lopez, Citroen, [Credit: WTCC media]
Jose Maria Lopez - Citroen Racing [credit: Florent Gooden / DPP]
Jose Maria Lopez, Citroen, [Credit: WTCC media]
Rob Huff - Castrol Honda Civic

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