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WTCC confirms Russian race as France secures season opener

Russia will remain part of the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) schedule after the Moscow Raceway circuit was included on an amended calendar for the 2016 season.

The motor racing series’ 2016 calendar has been voted on by the International Automobile Federation’s (FIA) Touring Car Commission with Russia added to the provisional list of events already approved by the FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) during its meeting in Paris on December 2. The amended WTCC schedule for 2016 will now be submitted for WMSC approval.

Moscow Raceway has retained its place with the WTCC having reportedly been keen to shift its Russian event to Sochi, whose circuit hosts Formula One’s annual Russian race at the Olympic Park for the 2014 winter Games.

Including Russia on what will remain a 24-race, 12-weekend schedule for the second year running has resulted in a change of dates for the Race of Portugal, which will now take place from June 24-26, two weeks later than originally scheduled. Race of Russia will occupy the June 10-12 slot at Moscow Raceway.

The calendar adjustment will ensure Race of Portugal in Vila Real retains its status as the final event of the European season prior to the summer break. By scheduling the Race of Russia in June, the Race of France will become the championship’s new curtain raiser with Circuit Paul Ricard hosting the action from April 1-3.

François Ribeiro, head of WTCC promoter Eurosport Events, said: “It has always been our intention to preserve Russia’s presence on the WTCC calendar and we are very pleased to have reached agreement with Moscow Raceway for this to happen. The venue always delivers excellent WTCC races and its close proximity to the Russian capital provides a number of promotional opportunities and I expect this event to run at a much larger scale than previous editions.”

The updated 2016 calendar specifies that the WTCC’s races in Argentina (Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo) on August 5-7 and Thailand (Chang International Circuit) on November 4-6 are subject to final agreement with local promoters.