BMW plans to reduce points' backlog in British WTCC races.
Munich, 21st July 2008. With two rounds being contested at the Brands Hatch Circuit, the FIA World Touring Car Championship this weekend moves into the second half of its current season. For the BMW national teams the event provides an opportunity to reduce their points' gaps to the leaders of the Drivers' and Manufacturers' Championships respectively. That such an exercise is possible was recently proven by BMW Team UK's Andy Priaulx (GB) in Estoril (PT). There the triple world champion was able to claw back nine points on leader Gabriele Tarquini to move up to fourth in the classification, having reduced his deficit to just 15 points.
However, the result means Priaulx will be handicapped by the addition of 53 kilograms of ballast for his home event - more than any other BMW driver. Felix Porteiro (ES), driving for BMW Team Italy-Spain, will carry 28 kilograms, as will BMW Team Germany's Jorg Muller (DE). His team-mate, Augusto Farfus (BR), will start with 27 kilograms of ballast, while Alessandro Zanardi (IT) - team-mate to Porteiro at BMW Team Italy-Spain - escapes relatively lightly with 18 kilograms. BMW and Priaulx will, though, provide a special attraction: on both Saturday and Sunday the reigning champion will do demonstration laps in a BMW Sauber F1 Team car.
Andy Priaulx (BMW Team UK):
"A home track is very important as you have your own fans there. Brands is special as it is challenging but fun to drive on. Last year winning there was one of the most special moments of my career. I cannot wait to drive there at the wheel of an F1 car. I will be as thrilled as the fans, and the noise passing the pit straight will be fantastic."
Jorg Muller (BMW Team Germany):
"At Brands Hatch things can only get better for me. In 2006 I retired there twice, although last year I was at least able to score some points. I only hope I will be in a position to demonstrate the full potential of the BMW 320si WTCC. So much more would have been possible in Estoril had a little bit of luck been travelling with me."
Augusto Farfus (BMW Team Germany):
"Basically, at Brands Hatch my season will start anew. I have put the disappointing weekend I suffered at Estoril behind me, and am aiming to consistently score points as I did at Pau and Brno. In terms of the championship, I am certainly not where I would like to be, but there are still 12 races remaining - and I never ever give up."
Felix Porteiro (BMW Team Italy-Spain):
"I am satisfied with the way things have developed. Nineteen points from the last four races is a fitting reward for all the hard work the team has put in. I also feel confident about Brands Hatch, as I managed to score a podium place there last year."
Alessandro Zanardi (BMW Team Italy-Spain):
"Although I left Estoril empty-handed, I managed to take away a lot of positives from Portugal. Even with a lot of ballast we were fast. I am looking forward to Brands Hatch, where we should be able to have good results. The circuit is a lot of fun."
History and Background:
During 2005 season when the World Touring Car Championship made a comeback, Silverstone hosted both British legs of the series. Local hero Andy Priaulx was forced to retire due to tyre damage, with the 33-year-old also being denied victory the following year when Brands Hatch made its debut on the WTCC calendar: he lost the lead after sliding off the track at Paddock Hill in wet conditions. Last year's race, though, ended in an emotional victory: Priaulx celebrated his first touring car win at Brands Hatch, with Felix Porteiro's second place in the second race rounding off BMW's perfect day. Guest driver Colin Turkington (GB), too, made it on to the podium in third place, at the wheel of a private BMW 320si.
The event does not, though, mark Priaulx's first appearance in a BMW Sauber F1 Team Formula One car, with the Guernsey-born driver having regularly thrilled visitors to the BMW Sauber F1 Team Pit Lane Park with his spectacular manoeuvres. Brands Hatch will, however, represent Priaulx's first opportunity of driving the BMW Sauber F1 Team's car on a full length circuit in front of a race crowd. Where the Pit Lane Park's exhibition track measures 110 metres, a 3.703- kilometre circuit awaits him.
Brands Hatch has hosted motor racing since 1926, with the first events catering for motorcycles on an anti-clockwise circuit. In the 1950s the circuit was laid with tarmac, and the direction of travel reversed.
The Grand Prix circuit, as used for both WTCC rounds, was inaugurated in 1959. Between 1964 and 1986 this flowing yet challenging circuit, which follows the natural contours of the area, hosted 12 British Grands Prix. Two further Formula One two races were run as European Grands Prix. Niki Lauda (AT) scored three Grand Prix victories, making him Brands Hatch's most successful Formula One driver, followed by Nigel Mansell (GB) with two victories.
Brands Hatch is in Fawkham, near Dartford in the English county of Kent. Dartford is the administrative centre for this area, which is home to approximately 58,000 inhabitants.
Two of Dartford's sons have achieved worldwide fame: Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger (GB) and guitarist Keith Richards (GB) were born in the town, and later started their musical careers there.
The WTCC heats will be contested over 14 laps each, totalling 51.84 kilometres per race. The first race is scheduled to start at 12:05hrs local time on Sunday, with race two getting underway at 13:20hrs BST. Both races will be televised by Eurosport International, with BMW Motorsport's official website (www.bmw-motorsport.com) streaming the event live on the internet.