Bad luck for BMW at WTCC debut at Brands Hatch. Brands Hatch (Great Britain), 21st May 2006. The BMW national teams experienced two difficult FIA World Touring Car Championship races at the Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit. Local hero Andy...
Bad luck for BMW at WTCC debut at Brands Hatch.
Brands Hatch (Great Britain), 21st May 2006. The BMW national teams experienced two difficult FIA World Touring Car Championship races at the Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit. Local hero Andy Priaulx (GBR) of BMW Team UK and BMW Team Germany's Dirk Muller (GER) scored a total of five championship points. The other BMW drivers left the classic race venue empty-handed. Yvan Muller (FRA) claimed victory in the first race, Alain Menu (SUI) was on the highest step of the podium after the second race.
"This has been a disappointing race weekend for us," said BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen, who followed both race from the pit lane. "Obviously we had less grip than our competitors in the wet. That was also the reason for Andy's off-track moment in the second race which cost him a possible race win. We are now set to return to the top at our home event at Oschersleben - and we want to regain the championship lead there."
On a wet track, Priaulx and Dirk Muller fought a fascinating duel for eighth position in race one. When the red lights went off, Dirk Muller got past Priaulx. However, the reigning World Champion remained in the rear mirrors of his brand-mate on the following laps and passed him on lap 11 at the end of the start-finish straight, thus securing pole position for race two. From their poor grid positions, the other BMW national team drivers fought their way back up through the field. Alessandro Zanardi (ITA) of BMW Team Italy-Spain improved from 17th to 10th position, his team-mate, Marcel Costa (ESP), worked up from 19th to 11th place. BMW Team Germany's Jorg Muller (GER) delivered a strong performance after starting from 20th on the grid. On lap 10, however, he was forced to enter the pits following a collision with Augusto Farfus jr. (BRA), who he had just overtaken for 12th position. In the repair break between the two races, the Schnitzer crew changed the rear axle of his BMW 320si WTCC.
Before the start of the second race, conditions worsened again, with heavy rain showers soaking the track. The race started in a turbulent manner: First, Priaulx defended his lead, then, an accident for Robert Huff (GBR) brought the safety car into play. At the re-start at the beginning of lap six, Priaulx's hopes for a race win in front of his home crowd suffered a decisive blow, when he lost control of the car in the Paddock Hill corner and went through the gravel. He made it back onto the track, but the lead had gone to Menu.
Dirk Muller took the chequered flag in sixth position. The drivers of BMW Team Italy- Spain both were on their way to scoring championship points. At the end of the day, however, they were not rewarded for their strong performances. While running in seventh place, Costa spun off the track on lap 10 and retired. Two laps later, Zanardi lost his eighth position to Priaulx. Following the repair work on his car, Jorg Muller struggled with the balance of his BMW in race two. On lap six he headed back into the pits and retired as well.