Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing is ready to fight for the drivers’ championship lead this weekend at the famous Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. After taking the lead in the teams’ championship in Bahrain, they are now focused on securing the top spot in the drivers’ standings. With all three drivers having competed at the 7.004km circuit before; it could be any one of the Lukoil Craft-Bamboo drivers who takes the spoils in round three.
After a brilliant double podium weekend in Bahrain, Hugo Valente is focused on continuing his climb up the leader board by collecting more podium results at one of his favourite circuits. Valente showed great pace and consistency during his first visit to the Sakhir track, and now that he returns to a familiar circuit, the Frenchman should have an even greater shot at victory. He will have 10kg of success ballast to contend with in Belgium but given his past performances so far this season, Valente is looking like a podium contender and might even be able to take his first win of the season at Spa.
James Nash got his championship challenge well underway in Bahrain and is looking to add to that momentum this weekend by scoring some strong results that will help catapult him up the ladder. Currently sitting in P8 and with 18 points to claw back, Nash knows how important a haul of points in both races will be to his 2017 TCR season. With the qualifying session set to be even more competitive this weekend thanks to a larger entry list, nailing the car's setup early on will be vital so that Nash can concentrate on his qualifying times and get ahead of the competition. With no ballast to weigh him down and prior competitive experience in the SEAT Leon at Spa in 2016, Nash will be one to look out for.
Pepe Oriola is only seven points shy of the championship lead and he intends to close that gap with an improvement to his qualifying performance. Oriola struggled in Bahrain and recognizes the development he needs to make in Belgium to ensure that he can fight for the podium from the sharp end of the grid. Oriola will not have to deal with the 10kg ballast that he carried in Bahrain, which should prove helpful in his quest for the fastest flying lap. The Spaniard took to the podium at Spa in race two last year and he is motivated to build on that success this year on his way to the top of the drivers’ championship.
Spa-Francorchamps Schedule, GMT +2
Thursday, 4 May 2017
11:00 – 11:30: TCR Free Practice 1
16:00 – 16:30: Free Practice 2
Friday, 5 May 2017
13:05 – 13:40: Qualifying
17:25 – 17:55: Race 1
Saturday, 6 May 2017
11:35 – 12:05: Race 2
Richard Coleman, CEO of Craft-Bamboo Racing
“It is always a pleasure to return to Spa, as it is a brilliant track and one that we are familiar with. We have had good results here in the past and now that we have attained the lead in the teams’ championship our focus will be to claim the top spot in the drivers’ standings. Consistency will be key to this and we will be using our knowledge of the track to our advantage, although with a number of teams competing here last weekend, it will not be easy.”
Hugo Valente, #7
"I'm very excited to go to Spa, it's one of my favourite tracks along with Suzuka and the Nordschleife, so going back there will be awesome. I hope to keep our momentum going, we've finished on the podium during the last three races so the aim is to at least get another one this weekend. But I'm aware it will be tougher than usual, a lot of our main competitors have raced in the TCR Benelux in Spa last weekend and that's a big plus for them, not only in terms of track knowledge but also in terms of setup.They will have a big advantage from the start, so we will have to work twice as hard to catch them. There will also be more drivers on the grid, so, taking all that into consideration, the aim is to get into the top 10 in qualifying, once that's done anything can happen from there. This track offers a lot of overtaking spots and a lot of slipstream, so I expect very close racing during both races.”
James Nash, #54
“I am excited to be back at Spa. It's an amazing place and the weather is always a factor. It's not the best track for the SEAT and a lot of teams and drivers raced there last weekend. With all of this and more guest drivers we will have to work hard for some good results.”
Pepe Oriola, #74
“I am looking forward to racing at this amazing circuit, as last year we had some good results. We were fast in qualifying and we were able to take second in race one but it was hard to overtake in race two, so let’s try and get some good points in race one and qualifying. I need to improve my qualifying as my last races were a disaster but we will solve that this weekend and I am really focused on these two back-to-back race weekends.”
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The pursuit of the 2017 TCR International Series title would not be possible without the support of LUKOIL, SEAT Sport, Gravity, P1 Autocare, Orangebus, Stand 21 and Team Dynamics.