The problem apparently came down to logistics. Although series organizers were able to get the cars and all their parts to the Port of Oakland to be taken to the circuit (formerly known as Infineon or Sears Point), the ship they had arranged to get the teams out of California and across the Pacific to Shanghai for the following race was canceled. After failing to find a suitable alternative, the organizers opted to nix the Sonoma race altogether.
Instead the circuis will sail from the next race in Argentina to straight to China for a replacement race at the Goldenport Park Circuit near Beijing, which the promoters of the local Chinese Touring Car Championship were able to put together instead. Of course with month-long gaps, it shouldn't prove much of a problem getting there, even by sea: the last race (at Spa) was held late in June, the next one (in Argentina) won't be until early August, and the new event (in Beijing) will follow in early October.
The replacement event will see three WTCC races held in China this season, joined by the Shanghai race to be held the following week and the Macau race that will close off the season (after Suzuka) in November. The question is, will American racing fans miss having a WTCC race here? Share your thoughts in Comments.
WTCC SWAPS SONOMA FOR BEIJING
The ninth meeting of the 2014 FIA World Touring Car Championship will take place at Beijing's Goldenport Motor Park, China on October 5.
The FIA World Motor Sport Council has ratified Eurosport Events' request to replace the WTCC Race of USA by a new event in China (*), due to logistics issues caused by the cancellation of the vessel that was scheduled to leave Oakland's harbour on September 17, transporting cars and parts to Shanghai. The next vessel, leaving on September 21, would not arrive at Shanghai until October 9, not allowing enough time for teams to prepare for the event on October 12.
WTCC logistic partner and Eurosport Events could not find a suitable sea freight solution.
François Ribeiro, director of operations Eurosport Events: "We had to face a logistic challenge and after consulting WTCC stake holders, we went through all possible scenarios, including date change or air freight, but we came to the conclusion that keeping Sonoma on schedule was not viable.Chinese Touring Car Championship promoter, our partner in China, has quickly reacted to change its CTCC schedule and put together an alternative event at Beijing, the week before Shanghai. This will not only allow WTCC to race in the two main provinces of China, and keep raising WTCC profile in the most important car market in the world, but will also simplify logistics and save budget for the teams."
Xia Qing, CTCC promoter commented: "CTCC and WTCC are matching well together to run join7 events. Beijing Goldenport is different from Shanghai International Circuit. It will offer Chinese motorsport fans compact and intense touring car races. It will also be interesting to see former CTCC driver, Ma Qing Hua, competing on his home soil with the top WTCC drivers. His first WTCC victory at Moscow has created significant amount of interest in China."
Steve Page, Sonoma Raceway President and General Manager commented: "We are sorry to miss the terrific on-track action that the WTCC has brought to Sonoma the last two years, but wish the best everyone involved with the series as they pursue this new schedule."
(*) subject to the ASN's approval