Argentina: the form book for Rio Hondo

A look at who is on form going into the Race of Argentina at the new Rio Hondo track
For the second time in 2013, the FIA WTCC will be in action at an all-new track as drivers get their first taste of the 13-turn, 2.986-mile (4.805km) Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo. The 'Race of Argentina' will be the first long distance 'fly-away' race, which will kick off the second half of the season.

Rio Hondo has been dubbed as a fast and open circuit thanks to the lack of camber and the track width, which should see plenty of action and overtaking opportunities. But who's set to take advantage of the level playing field that it presents the WTCC field?

Coming into this weekend's rounds, it's no surprise that RML's Yvan Muller has an ever-increasing and seemingly unstoppable lead in the championship en route to what would be a record-breaking fourth world title. He just needs to score solid points this weekend to draw another inexorably closer to that achievement, and on his current performance few are betting against him doing just that.

Fellow Chevrolet driver Michel Nykjaer is also very much in form going into the first non-European race of the year. The three-time winner in 2013 has a four point lead in the independents battle over bamboo engineering's James Nash, and a 22 point advantage over the Brit for second place in the outright championship.

One man looking for luck in Argentina is the 2009 champion Gabriele Tarquini. He and his JAS Castrol Honda Civic have been plagued with bad luck in the last couple of rounds, and the 51-year-old Italian really needs a couple of podiums to reenergise his campaign and put him back on top in the battle for third place in the championship, which is one of his targets for the season.

Independent driver Alex MacDowall also needs a stroke of luck this weekend having had a pointless last two events. That's dropped him down to tenth in the overall standings, and he has all but lost touch in the independents chase where he is now in third place and 34 points behind Nykjaer.

Not being involved in the championship battles mean that local hero Jose Maria Lopez can just focus on having fun in his début in the WTCC. He's racing for Weichers Sport in place of the team's regular driver Freddy Barth, who has a conflicting prior engagement for the weekend.

'Little Jo', as he's known to his home fans, will be looking to upset the apple cart by utilising his local knowledge of the circuit from this year's Argentine SC2000 race earlier last month. He's currently fifth in that championship, driving a semi works supported FIAT.

by Dexter Fielding

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
WTCC race of Austria at the Salzburgring. Tiago Monteiro (Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team) Photo Credit: Honda Europe/David Noels
Michel Vaillant - Alain Menu
Tom Chilton, Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen [Credit: XPB]
Gabriele Tarquini, Lada, Moscow [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]
Yvan Muller - Citroen Racing [credit: FIA WTCC Media]
Yvan Muller - Citroen Racing [credit: FIA WTCC Media]
Jose Maria Lopez - Citroen Racing [credit: FIA WTCC Media]
Jose Maria Lopez - Citroen Racing [credit: FIA WTCC Media]
Jose Maria Lopez - Citroen Racing [credit: FIA WTCC Media]
Jose Maria Lopez - Citroen Racing [credit: FIA WTCC Media]
Jose Maria Lopez - Citroen Racing
Jose Maria Lopez - Citroen Racing [credit: FIA WTCC]
Gabriele Tarquini - LADA Vesta TC1
Jose Maria Lopez - Citroen Racing C-Elysee   [pic credit: FIA WTCC media/Francois Flammand]
Jose Maria Lopez - Citroen Racing   [pic credit: FIA WTCC media/Alexandre Guillaumot]

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