From the BMW Sauber F1 Team's perspective, Switzerland is far from neutral territory but actually home from home. Around 500 guests from around the world celebrated the successes of the 2006 season at the BMW Motorsport Party held in Flims Laax.
The Flimx Laax Falera ski resort unfurls some 150 kilometres southeast of Zurich. Its highest point is the Vorab glacier at 3,018 metres above sea level. These soaring heights bring with them the guarantee of snow, and the timing of the party between the end of the racing season and Christmas made for a very relaxed atmosphere.
Formula One drivers Nick Heidfeld, Robert Kubica and Sebastian Vettel, along with the recently crowned World Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx and his fellow BMW contesters of the WTCC, Duncan Huisman, Jan Magnussen, Dirk Müller, Jörg Müller and Alessandro Zanardi, entertained the Swiss with sporting contests such as guessing different sorts of cheese and cocoa-stirring races. After this the squad of drivers presented the local specialities to the public with Hans-Joachim Stuck acting as host.
In the evening, tribute was paid to the various successes of the BMW drivers in the 2006 season, but not only those of the works drivers. It is a tradition at this closing event of the season to turn the spotlight on men and women who have competed in sporty BMW models on a private basis. The BMW Sports Trophy has been presented for four decades now and, as of this season, is worth a quarter of a million euros.
One woman, one diesel - Claudia Hürtgen takes the Sports Trophy.
Claudia Hürtgen has claimed a historic triumph: for the first time in the history of the BMW Sports Trophy, a woman has secured the prize - in a diesel-powered race car, moreover. Driving a BMW 120d, the 35-year-old from Aachen took a class win in the German Long-Distance Championship on the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife. She also competed in the Belgian Procar Series and the Dubai and Nürburgring 24 Hours. The sum total of her achievements amounted to 624.3 points in the Sports Trophy's coefficient system and earned her a cheque to the value of 35,000 euros.
The BMW Sports Trophy was called into being in the early 1960s. The pot of prize money for privateer BMW drivers competing in various classes around the world has now grown to a quarter of a million euros.
Second place (25,000 euros) also went to a German: Marc Hennerici (24, Mayen) collected a tally of 504.3 points as the Junior Champion in the Long-Distance Championship and in races in the Procar Series, the WTCC and the 24-hour marathon in the Eifel. Like Hürtgen, Hennerici was at the wheel of a BMW 120d, while also driving a BMW E46 320i in some competitions.
Picking up bronze was US-American Will Turner (38, Amesbury/USA) after winning the GrandAm Cup. With his triumph in this series and successes in the Speed World Challenge, he accumulated 470.6 Sports Trophy points and was rewarded with 20,000 euros.
The list of honoured privateer drivers swelled from the traditional 20 to 25 for the first time. "It reflects the expanded product range in our customer sports programme," commented BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen. "The BMW 120d and Z4 M Coupé models lined up on the racing grid for the first time. The attractiveness of our products drew more applications for the Sports Trophy in 2006 than ever before. Their performance along with the enthusiastic commitment of the drivers and teams secured triumphs around the globe."
Special trophies which did not come with any prize money were also won by Markus Moufang (43, Nidda Ober-Schmitten) as the winner of the "HJS Diesel Masters" and ski star Kristian Ghedina as the fastest man on snow and asphalt.
-credit: bmw sauber