BMW revs up for the start of the World Touring Car Championship. Impressive BMW driving quintet competes for points. Munich, 27th February 2007. There are now less than two weeks until the 2007 season of the FIA World Touring Car Championship...
BMW revs up for the start of the World Touring Car Championship.
Impressive BMW driving quintet competes for points.
Munich, 27th February 2007. There are now less than two weeks until the 2007 season of the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) kicks off with two races in Curitiba, Brazil. When the "Autódromo Internacional" becomes the venue for World Championship point chasers for the first time this year on 11th March, it will also mark the start of the next chase to catch BMW and Andy Priaulx (GBR). Just like last year, the BMW Team UK driver starts the season as defending champion, and BMW is hoping to making it three wins in a row in the Manufacturers' Championship.
Priaulx will once again be wearing the colours of BMW Team UK as well as the RBM team, and has again been given the car number 1. Thanks to his incredible winning run, which has seen him claim the European Championship title 2004 as well as championship honours in the WTCC 2005 and 2006, Priaulx has already secured his place in the history books. The 32-year-old still has plenty of ambition, however. Come the end of the 2007 season, he wants once again to be ahead of the field in his BMW 320si WTCC in the Drivers' Championship.
There is tough and highly motivated competition from within the ranks, and they will be trying to make life difficult for the two-time World Champion. BMW Team Germany and the Schnitzer Motorsport crew have put their faith for the sixth year in a row in the services of Jörg Müller (GER). After losing out to Priaulx by just one point last year, Müller's BMW 320si WTCC will get car number 2 at the start of the WTCC in Curitiba. In Augusto Farfus (BRA, car number 3), he has a new team-mate to watch out for. Farfus however is far from a new face in the WTCC: in 2006, he was the only driver - besides Priaulx and Müller - still in with a title shout before the final race in Macau. He ultimately finished third in the drivers' classification.
The BMW Team Italy-Spain drivers, who have their headquarters at ROAL Motorsport in Italia, also comprise an old head and a young gun: Alessandro Zanardi (ITA, car number 4) is now competing in his fourth complete racing season, after losing both his legs in an accident in 2001. The 40-year-old already has two WTCC race wins under his belt. Félix Porteiro (ESP, car number 5) completes the BMW national teams' driving quintet. He has moved to the highest Touring Car class from the GP2 series, where he won a pole position and five points in 2006.
Thanks to a comprehensive programme of test drives - including Vallelunga (ITA), Adria (ITA), Zandvoort (NLD), Jerez (ESP) and Valencia (ESP) - the BMW national teams will be ideally prepared for the start of the season. The cars will now be loaded into freight containers and transported to Brazil by plane. Several members of the team will also be arriving early in South America to get the pit facilities organised at the 3.695-kilometre track and take receipt of the equipment.
Fitness and team building in Munich.
While the WTCC races three and four don't get underway in Zandvoort until 6th May, the BMW national team drivers won't be relaxing after the season opener. Instead, from 18th to 23rd March, the five drivers will be in Munich for a fitness and team building week. Here, the drivers can expect a medical check-up and plenty of training in the BMW Backup Center. The drivers will also be able to look over the BMW Motorsport engineers and mechanics' shoulders and have a personal input into the work on the cars. While the drivers' courage is tested on the high rope course at Aschheim, as the week progresses they also receive handy tips on maintaining and improving their physical fitness. There are also seminars on psychological training and nutrition on the agenda. As a memorable send-off, a very special kind of race is planned: Priaulx, Müller, Farfus and Porteiro will have to climb the 22 floors of BMW HQ in Munich, the so-called "Four cylinders".
BMW Motorsport lines up at VLN start with BMW Z4 M Coupé.
Immediately after this event, Priaulx and Müller will head to the legendary Nürburgring-Norschleife. There both BMW Motorsport works drivers will put the BMW Z4 M Coupé through its paces in test drives and proper racing conditions at the BFGoodrich Long Distance Championship on 24th March, as well as the series' season start, the 4-hour race on 31st March. These two appearances at "The Green Hell" will provide plenty of data from a race situation. These will mark the end of the development of the BMW Z4 M Coupé. BMW Motorsport is not planning to make any more starts with the new car.
Over the last few months, BMW engineers have been using the no-holds-barred BMW Z4 M Coupé series model as a basis for creating a motor racing version, which can be purchased by customer teams as a race kit. The source of the Coupé's power is a 400bhp .2-litre inline six cylinder engine. Even before the development work was finally completed, private teams had already enjoyed great success with the first two-seater that BMW Motorsport offered to its customers: It was in such a car that Team Duller Motorsport won the 24-hour race at Silverstone in 2006 and also clinched the long distance race in Dubai at the start of the year.
At the Nordschleife, the BMW Z4 M Coupé will be looked after jointly by engineers from Schnitzer and BMW Motorsport. The crew under team principal Charly Lamm (Freilassing) knows how to secure success on perhaps the most demanding race track in the world: At the 24 hour races in 2004 and 2005, Team BMW Motorsport took double victory here in the BMW M3 GTR. In total, BMW has enjoyed 18 outright wins at this event.