BMW announces 2006 driver line-up

One World Champion, four challengers: BMW launches its driver line-up for the 2006 World Touring Car Championship. Munich/Genf 27th February 2006. On 2nd April, the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) kicks off its new season at Monza.

One World Champion, four challengers: BMW launches its driver line-up for the 2006 World Touring Car Championship.

Munich/Genf 27th February 2006. On 2nd April, the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) kicks off its new season at Monza. Following last year's triumph, when BMW Team UK driver Andy Priaulx (GBR) clinched the first World Touring Car Championship title since 1987, the BMW national teams are keen to make their marks on the 2006 series. The ten events, held all over the world, will be contested by five drivers who are determined to defend both the Drivers' and the Manufacturers' Championships for BMW.

"In 2005, we won everything there was to win in WTCC," says BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen. "Obviously it's our goal to repeat these achievements with our BMW 320si, entered for the 2006 season, which is a newly developed car. With our driver line-up and the new car we should be well-prepared for the tasks ahead of us. Furthermore, I'm convinced that in 2006 the series is going to consolidate its position as the most significant touring car championship."

In 2006, the WTCC will be contested by three BMW national teams, with all of them using the BMW 320si. The car is based on the 3 Series special edition of the same name, which is available in a limited quantity of 2 600 cars. For the BMW Motorsport engineers, the car represented a great basis for the development of the impressive racing version. The BMW 320si WTCC is powered by a 4-cylinder engine delivering 275bhp. In past decades, its predecessor, the BMW 320i, secured numerous international championship titles.

Andy Priaulx, the reigning champion, enters the 2006 season as the 'hunted one'. Following his win in the 2004 European Touring Car Championship, the 31-year-old secured the crown in the 2005 WTCC season. However, his BMW rivals are keen to prevent Priaulx and his RBM Team from winning the third consecutive title. BMW Team Germany - Schnitzer Motorsport once again, relies on the BMW works drivers Dirk Müller (GER) and Jörg Müller (GER). It's the fifth consecutive year that the experienced pairing will race for BMW as a team. In 2005, Dirk Müller was involved in a battle with Priaulx, while Jörg Müller succeeded in winning three championship rounds. Now, the pairing is determined to make another championship assault.

BMW Team Italy-Spain driver Alessandro Zanardi (ITA), who claimed his maiden WTCC win at Oschersleben last year, is to contest the 2006 season with a new team-mate: Marcel Costa (ESP) will race the second BMW 320si entered by Team Principal Roberto Ravaglia's ROAL Motorsport. "I'm really looking forward to supporting the BMW effort to defend the Manufacturers' Championship," says the 27-year-old, who won the 2002 Spanish Formula 3 Championship. "I have been keenly following the 2005 WTCC season. It's a fantastic grid and the races are truly hard-fought. It will be vital for me to learn as fast as possible. I just can't wait for the season to kick-off."

"I'm looking forward to co-operating with Marcel," adds Zanardi. "The new BMW 320si should offer us the opportunity to battle it out at the front end of the field this year. The great moments of 2005 are history, now we're fully focused on experiencing a successful 2006 season." Prior to the 2006 Winter Olympics, the Italian was honoured with the opportunity to carry the Olympic Torch in his native Padua.

-bmw-

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