Bahrain calling as Honda drivers resume WTCR campaign
Honda’s WTCR - FIA World Touring Car Cup drivers and customer racing teams resume their 2022 campaigns this week as the series heads to the Bahrain International Circuit.
The visit to Bahrain marks the WTCR's first trip to the Middle East and, following a three-month break, also represents the first part of a busy end to the season - with the finale taking place a fortnight later in Saudi Arabia.
Bahrain’s 5.412-kilometre circuit will become the 22nd track to host the WTCR, which will be part of a double-header weekend alongside the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Nestor Girolami heads into the final two rounds of the season as the best-placed of the Honda Racing drivers. He remains very much in title contention in second in the standings, 35 points from the summit with 130 still on offer.
The Argentinian is enjoying his most competitive season in the WTCR to date and has two wins and three pole positions, both of which he is looking to add to in Bahrain.
Like Nestor, team-mate Esteban Guerrieri will be racing in Bahrain for the first time - but he can call on success from a previous visit to the Middle East.
Esteban was the winner of the final FIA World Touring Car Championship race in 2017, when he took a commanding win from pole position at the Lusail circuit in Qatar at the wheel of the Honda Civic WTCC.
That marked his first win as a Honda Racing driver, a tally he's since added 10 more successes to with the Honda Civic Type R TCR in the WTCR - making him the most successful driver in the series' history.
The ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport team both drivers race for heads to Bahrain following a successful trip to the Middle East, too, with team owner Rene Munnich taking two TCR class victories with the Civic Type R TCR at the first round of the Gulf Procar season at Dubai Autodrome last weekend.
Both of LIQUI MOLY Team Engstler's drivers will have previous experience of the track to draw from when they head to Bahrain.
Attila Tassi, who took LIQUI MOLY Team Engstler's first WTCR podium as a Honda customer in Vila Real in July, is the only driver in this weekend's field to have raced a TCR car at Bahrain.
He took a best finish of eighth at the circuit as part of his run to the runner-up spot in the TCR International Series in 2017 in a previous-generation Civic Type R TCR.
Tiago Monteiro meanwhile contested two grands prix at the circuit, recording the first top-10 finish of his Formula 1 career there in 2005.
The Portuguese racer took his best finish of 2022 last time out at Anneau du Rhin in August, and is looking to build on that at the final two rounds of the season.
The Bahrain weekend will be held over three days, with both free practice sessions taking place on Thursday, qualifying and Race One on Friday, and Race Two being staged on Saturday.