Streets of Marrakech next up for Honda Racing team Sweden

May 22, 2015

marocco2Streets of Marrakech next up for Honda Racing team Sweden

Having scored in both races of last month’s curtain-raiser in Argentina, Honda Racing team Sweden and Rickard Rydell now face a set of entirely different challenges as the FIA World Touring Car Championship hits the streets of Marrakech for round two of the season this weekend.

The WTCC’s visit to Morocco marks the first of two street events on the 2015 calendar, the second being staged at Portugal’s Vila Real circuit in July. The 4.6 km Circuit Moulay El Hassan is laid out on roads in the Agdal district of southern Marrakech, and primarily features a mix of long straights and quick chicanes – with the layout allowing for an average lap speed of close to 160 km/h.

Supporting the Honda Racing team Sweden bid in Morocco will be a delegation of Swedish Honda dealers, all of whom have qualified for a weekend at the track through a national sales competition.

As always in the WTCC, both of Sunday’s two races are broadcast LIVE by Eurosport.

FAST FACTS – ROUND 2
WTCC Race of Morocco Circuit Moulay El Hassan

· With the exception of 2011, Marrakech has been a regular fixture on the WTCC calendar since 2009. The WTCC’s arrival in Morocco spelled the return of international motor racing to the country following a 51-year absence, dating back to the 1958 Moroccan Grand Prix – won by Stirling Moss – in Casablanca.

· Rickard Rydell has raced at Marrakech once before, taking part in the inaugural event in 2009. After crashing out of the opening heat, he was unable to take the start in race two.

· Morocco holds a special place in Honda Racing team Sweden’s DNA; in 2013, the Circuit Moulay El Hassan was the site of a maiden WTCC win for project co-initiator NIKA Racing. The giant-killing triumph came courtesy of Denmark’s Michel Nykjær.

· Mehdi Bennani, competing for Citroën, is the only Moroccan driver on the 2015 WTCC grid.

Circuit Data
Lap length: 4.624 km
Race distance: 2 ×14 laps

Lap Records
Race: José María López (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC), 1m43.704s (157.776 kph), 13/04/2014
Qualifying: Sébastien Loeb (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC), 1m43.706s (157.770 kph), 12/04/2014

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
After 1/12 rounds

1: José María López (Argentina/Citroën), 48 p.
2: Sébastien Loeb (France/Citroën), 43 p.
3: Tiago Monteiro (Portugal/Honda), 28 p.
10: Rickard Rydell (Sweden/Honda), 3 p.

TEAM QUOTES

Rickard Rydell (driver)

“I’ve driven at Marrakech once before, and it’s certainly a street circuit with its very own characteristics. There are some really fast chicanes, long straights and tight corners, which make for entertaining races. There is always a lot going on, particularly at the start. Our main challenge remains the fact that we’ve done a lot less testing than our rivals, but we’ve got three 30-minute practice sessions before qualifying this weekend and we will take everything we can out of those. We learned a lot in Argentina, and we will be aiming to do the same in Marrakech.”

Nicklas Karlsson (team principal)

“Marrakech is a very special event for us. Our victory there two years ago not only marked the international breakthrough for our organisation, it also effectively laid the platform on which we built the entire Honda Racing team Sweden project.

“Things are obviously different this time around, however, and we head to Morocco with very much the same cautious optimism we carried into the season-opener. For logistic reasons, we are unable to conduct any testing before we’re back to Europe in early May, so we basically pick up where we left off in Argentina. We view Marrakech as another opportunity to learn about the car, with the aim of reducing the gap primarily to the works Hondas. I am also happy to welcome the board of our partner Cricket, and our group of dealers from Honda Sweden, to the track this weekend.”

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