ETCC: Hockenheimring: Race one and two notes

WEATHER: Sunny and warm, with a breeze and a dry track. WINS FOR BMW, PODIUM FOR SEAT, NIGHTMARE FOR ALFA JÖRG AND DIRK MÜLLER TAKE CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD BMW had another fantastic weekend, winning two races and claiming five podium positions...

WEATHER: Sunny and warm, with a breeze and a dry track.

WINS FOR BMW, PODIUM FOR SEAT, NIGHTMARE FOR ALFA
JÖRG AND DIRK MÜLLER TAKE CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD

BMW had another fantastic weekend, winning two races and claiming five podium positions out of six. With these results, BMW Team Deutschland's drivers have jumped into the lead of the Drivers' Championship, with Jörg Müller two points ahead of Dirk Müller. In the Manufacturers' Championship, BMW has already a solid 31-point lead.

The first race was won by BMW Great Britain's Andy Priaulx, who flew away after overtaking BMW Team Italy-Spain's Antonio García. When the latter spun off, Dirk Müller and Jordi Gené inherited second and third places. Race 2 was a tough fight between García and the Müllers; the Spaniard led eight of the 11 laps before handing the lead to Jörg Müller for good.

SEAT Sport finally started reaping the fruits of their work. After Gené had claimed pole position on Saturday, he fought for the top positions in Race 1, and eventually came home third. It was SEAT's first podium of the season, but Frank Diefenbacher (5th) and Rickard Rydell (8th) also managed to finish in the points. In the second race Rydell was also on pole, and led for a few hundred meters. Once again, both he and Gené scored points.

The German meeting turned to a nightmare for Alfa Romeo, as the three AutoDelta cars eliminated each other in a collision during the first lap. Only Gabriele Tarquini was able to start in the second race, managing to score three points to take him into the title fight.

There was good news for Peugeot, with Jan Magnussen able to finish Race 1 in the top-ten, while Ford had a disappointing weekend with both RS-Line drivers Roland Asch and Sebastian Grunert eliminated in the first race. In the Independents Trophy, Oregon Team's Luca Rangoni claimed two impressive wins, the first for him this season.

These results remain provisional, pending engine checks on Tarquini's, Gené' s and D. Müller's cars.

RACE 1 REPORT

A collision eliminates the three works Alfas
On the grid, Asch's Ford Focus was demoted from 19th to 24th, due to an engine change. From the pole, Gené took a good start, but García and Priaulx did better and made the pace. Under braking for the Parabolika, a pile-up involved all the three AutoDelta cars of Farfus, Giovanardi and Tarquini, plus Mollekens's BMW. Both the Brazilian and the Belgian were out of the race, while Giovanardi and Tarquini rejoined (15th and 18th respectively). Harrison also retired after a clash with Rydell. Bartyan and Grunert went wide on the gravel and rejoined. García was leading, from Priaulx, Gené, D. Müller, Diefenbacher and J. Müller.

Priaulx steals the lead from García
The fight for the lead intensified, as Priaulx and García swapped positions three times in as many corners; finally the Briton prevailed and took the lead on lap 3. Giovanardi and Grunert retired, the former with transmission problems (consequence of the first lap pile-up), the latter having broken a wheel-hub in a clash with Ruokonen, who had to pit for repairs and lost one lap. On lap 5, J. Müller overtook Diefenbacher and moved up to fifth.

D'Aste and Rosenblad clash and retire
On lap 6, Gené tried to outbrake García, but he run wide; however soon afterwards García spun and dropped down, finding himself in a tough fight for the positions between sixth and tenth which also involved Rangoni, Tavano, Coronel and Rydell. Behind this group, Rosenblad, D'Aste and Magnussen were fighting for the 11th place. Tarquini retired when his engine 's temperature reached critical values. On lap 7, D. Müller stole second position from Gené; Asch pulled out due to a gravel piercing his oil radiator. On lap 8, D'Aste hit Rosenblad, and both retired. In the meantime, Priaulx created a gap.

Magnussen's Peugeot in the top-ten
Balzan and Zanardi had a close battle for 12th and 13th position, overtaking each other a few times. On lap 10, Ruokonen finally retired as a consequence of his early collision with Grunert. Rydell managed to pass Coronel on lap 9 and Tavano on lap 10, claiming the eighth position which was meaning pole position for the second race.

Priaulx scored his second win in a row, after Magny-Cours Race 2, from D. Müller and Genè, who gave SEAT its first podium of the season. J. Müller, Diefenbacher, Rangoni (first of the Independents), García and Rydell claimed the other positions in the points. On the final lap, Magnussen overtook Coronel and finished in the top-ten for the first time.

RACE 2 REPORT

Rydell's SEAT takes the lead at the start
Five cars were missing: the Alfa Romeos of Giovanardi and Farfus, the Fords of Grunert and Asch, the BMW of D'Aste. Tarquini and Harrison were placed at the back of the grid, having asked for neutralization of parc fermé between the two races.

Pole sitter on the reverse grid, Rydell made a good start and the lead, but he was outbraked by García during the first lap. J. Müller was leading the rest of the field, with Diefenbacher, D. Müller, Rangoni, Priaulx and Gené in his heels. Zanardi and Coronel were fighting for the ninth position.

BMW men take command of the race
On lap 2, Diefenbacher locked up his front wheels and run wide, damaging the rear bumper and losing two places. On lap 3, J. Müller took second position from Rydell; Balzan overtook Zanardi, moving up to tenth. On lap 4, D. Müller outbraked Rydell for third place, while Gené passed Rangoni for sixth. Diefenbacher spun off and retired with a broken suspension; Balzan also retired with a broken suspension. On lap 5, Rydell lost another place to Priaulx.

Priaulx retires from fourth position
On lap 6, Magnussen overtook Mollekens for the 11th position. Priaulx slowed down, his car damaged after a collision with Rangoni; he retired on the following lap. On lap 8, Gené overtook Rydell and moved up to fourth. The three leaders - García, J. Müller and D. Müller - were in a close fight. Tarquini overtook Coronel and Rangoni and broke into the points.

Tarquini scores three important points
On lap 9, García lost his lead and slipped down to third, having been passed by J. Müller first and by D. Müller soon afterwards. Tarquini was closing in on the SEATs, with Rangoni in tow. On lap 10, J. Müller and D. Müller risked to collide, and on the following lap, Dirk tried again, but Jörg shut the door. García took advantage from the situation, and muscled his way to a second place finish between Jörg and Dirk. Gené and Rydell were classified fourth and fifth, with Tarquini sixth. Rangoni (7th) won the Independents Trophy again, from Coronel, who scored the last point. Zanardi came home ninth, beating Mollekens by inches.

-fia/etcc-

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