WTCC - 2014 season preview: Regulations, Loeb and Muller

Matt Neal looks at some of main talking points ahead of the start of the 2014 FIA World Touring Car Championship this weekend. The three-time BTCC champion will be commentating on British Eurosport’s exclusive live coverage from Marrakech.

WTCC - 2014 season preview: Regulations, Loeb and Muller

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France's Sebastien Loeb (Reuters)

What impact will the new TC1 regulations have on the championship?

For a start the cars will be much bigger and much squatter. You’ve got bigger wheels and tyres which result in a lot more physical grip and a lot more aerodynamics. This means the cars are lighter, the braking areas are going to be reduced and the cornering speed is going to be increased. Overall they’re going to be mega pieces of kit to drive.

I think for the spectacle of watching fast cars going round a circuit and fantastic engineering it’s going to be a step forward.

How quickly will rally legend Sébastien Loeb adapt to the championship?

He has two very good team-mates at Citroen in the shape of Yvan Muller and Jose Maria Lopez who are very confident in the touring car so he hasn’t set himself an easy task! But you don’t become nine-time World Rally champion for no reason.

I would be surprised if he’s giving the other two a hard time at race one in Marrakech but I don’t think it will take him long to get his head round it. With rallying you’re on your own and you’re optimising your equipment and optimising the fastest way of going around the circuit but touring car racing is pretty different. There are a lot more variables around you and other drivers to contend with. Sometimes to win a championship it’s how you take the hits and how you set your opponents up not just in front of you but behind you as well. Positioning your car is very important in WTCC; it’s not the classic racing line and he will have to do a lot of learning very quickly. How he performs will depend on the level of opposition Citroen has but obviously his key opposition is internally in his own team.

Will defending champion four-time winner Yvan Muller run away with it again?

I was talking to Alain Menu who is now racing in Britain and he reckons Yvan could have his hands full with his team-mate Jose Maria Lopez. It will be great to watch the politics unfold literally from race one because each of those three drivers are going to want to try and set their marker down quite early on. Yvan is definitely a fighter; he will have no qualms about rolling his sleeves up, whether that is externally or internally. So that will be really interesting to watch.

What can we expect from 2012 champion Rob Huff?

Rob Huff is going into James Thompson’s own back yard with Lada and it will be interesting to see how that one unfolds but I think Huffy is a class act and will do well. It will be great to see the sparring between those two.

British Eurosport HD will broadcast exclusive live coverage from every round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship. Qualifying is live this Saturday at 2pm, with race day coverage live from 4pm on Sunday.

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