2009 FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) Countdown to the season finale The road to Macau: a review of the 2009 World Touring Car Championship. Munich, 11th November 2009. The drivers in the BMW national teams already have 22 races ...
2009 FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC)
Countdown to the season finale
The road to Macau: a review of the 2009 World Touring Car Championship.
Munich, 11th November 2009. The drivers in the BMW national teams already have 22 races behind them in the 2009 FIA World Touring Car Championship. The title will be decided on 22nd November when the legendary "Guia Circuit" in Macau (CN) hosts the final two races of the season. In the Manufacturers' Championship BMW ranks second with 286 points, just three points behind SEAT, and is hoping to claim its fourth title since 2005. BMW Team Germany's Augusto Farfus (BR) travels to the showdown in the former Portuguese colony with 102 World Championship points to his name, ready to pounce from third place behind the two SEAT drivers Gabriele Tarquini (IT/115) and Yvan Muller (FR/113) in the drivers' classification.
Join us as we look back at the 2009 season in which BMW drivers have so far celebrated nine victories and provided numerous highlights.
The year did not start according to plan in Curitiba (BR) for the BMW national teams. Local hero Farfus took fifth in the opening race, followed by sixth on a wet track in race two. His team-mate Jorg Muller (DE) was the man of the hour in the second race. He cut through the field in his BMW 320si WTCC from 21st to finish in fifth. Sergio Hernandez (ES) from BMW Team Italy-Spain and BMW Team UK driver Andy Priaulx (GB) also scored points. However, SEAT dominated proceedings at the "Autodromo Internacional de Curitiba" to occupy the top four places in both races.
The disappointment in Brazil was followed by a surprising success in Puebla (MX), a venue that had always proven a difficult terrain for BMW in previous years. This time, however, Farfus claimed pole position and finished runner-up in the third race of the season. Priaulx joined him on the podium in third place. The three-time world champion went one better in race two, while Farfus finished in fourth place. Muller, Hernandez and his team-mate Alessandro Zanardi (IT) also picked up World Championship points. SEAT once again claimed both victories.
Only the two BMW Team Germany drivers left the WTCC inaugural event in Marrakech (MA) with points in the bag. Muller finished eighth and fourth, while Farfus was sixth in race two. BMW privateer Franz Engstler (DE) finished seventh to get noticed in the sixth race of the season. After the race BMW Team Germany launched a protest on behalf of the BMW national teams against the four SEAT Leon TDI cars that started the race. The aim of this protest was to clarify the technical regulations regarding the maximum turbo boost pressure permitted for turbo diesel engines. SEAT driver Tiago Monteiro (PT) was subsequently disqualified.
The BMW national teams got back in the fast lane at the start of the European season. Farfus crossed the finish line as runner-up in both the races in Pau (FR), closing to within six points of Yvan Muller in the Drivers' Championship. Jorg Muller finished third in race one to join the Brazilian on the podium. Priaulx ended both races in fourth, while Hernandez and Zanardi each scored four World Championship points. Engstler had a terrifying moment in race two: leading the race, the BMW privateer was unable to avoid the safety-car, which had pulled out of the pit lane directly onto the racing line. Fortunately, all those involved walked away from the crash unharmed.
BMW celebrated its first success of the season at the "Circuit de la Comunitat" in Valencia: Farfus took the chequered flag at the end of the tenth race of the year as winner. Muller finished runner-up to complete the first BMW one-two since Brno in 2008. The remaining BMW drivers also added to their points' tallies in the second race of the day: Priaulx was fourth, while Zanardi and Hernandez followed in fifth and sixth respectively. In the first race of the day Hernandez had finished eighth to claim pole position for race two. Yvan Muller clinched victory with Farfus, Priaulx and Muller occupying places four to six.
Brno, Czech Republic.
2009 saw BMW Team Italy-Spain continue its successful run at the "Automotodrom Brno". Zanardi and Hernandez were triumphant in races 11 and 12. Roberto Ravaglia's (IT) team had also scored victories in the Czech Republic in 2007 and 2008. Jorg Muller joined Zanardi on the podium having finished runner-up in the first race. He then came seventh in race two to add to his tally. Priaulx had to settle for eighth place in the second race. Following a collision with Priaulx at the start of race one, pole-sitter Farfus failed to score any points.
Farfus marked the return of Porto's "Circuito da Boavista" to the race calendar with his second victory of the year. In the World Touring Car Championship's 100th race since 2005, the Brazilian started from pole and held on for victory having finished eighth in race one. Priaulx, the only man to have competed in every race in the spectacular series, and Muller also picked up points in seventh and eighth respectively. Hernandez was forced into the wall by a rival at the start of the first race. The Spaniard suffered a bruised ankle.
Brands Hatch, Great Britain.
As in Porto, Farfus converted the pole position awarded for eighth place in race one into a victory in the second race at Brands Hatch (GB). BMW celebrated its third one- two of the season thanks to a second place for Muller. Priaulx finished third in race one to ensure that BMW drivers were represented on the podium after both races.
BMW is traditionally on sparkling form at its home event, and the same was the case in Oschersleben (DE) this year: Farfus moved into second place in the Drivers' Championship with victory in the 18th race of the season. This was already his fourth triumph this year and the 13th of his WTCC career. He was followed over the line by Priaulx, who had claimed his first victory of 2009 in race one. Priaulx won from 14th place on the grid, making him the first driver in the history of the World Touring Car Championship to clinch victory having started from outside the top ten. Jorg Muller, who had started from 23rd on the grid, and Hernandez also picked up points in race two. In the Drivers' World Championship Farfus' 90 points put him just one point behind Tarquini.
As expected, the BMW national teams experienced two difficult races as the WTCC bid farewell to Europe at the classic "Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari" in Imola (IT). The highlights were two fourth places for Zanardi at his home race. Farfus, who scored only one point after a collision in the first race, lost ground in the fight for the World Championship title. Hernandez finished seventh in race one to secure a top- eight finish.
The BMW national teams needed two strong races in Okayama (JP) in order to keep the title race exciting going into the finale in Macau - and they achieved this goal in style. Priaulx and Farfus gave victories eight and nine to BMW by winning rounds 21 and 22. Priaulx won on a wet track in the first race, and was followed by Muller in second. In the second race of the day the BMW 320si WTCC was once again the car to beat in the rain. Farfus converted the pole position into his fifth win of the season, while Priaulx finished runner-up. BMW thus celebrated its sixth one-two of the year. These results made one thing clear: both World Championship titles would only be decided in Macau.