Curitiba: BMW Motorsport preview

First half of the FIA WTCC season ends in Curitiba. Munich, 26th June 2006. This weekend, the first overseas event of the 2006 FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) is scheduled. The BMW national teams travel to the "Autodromo Internacional...

First half of the FIA WTCC season ends in Curitiba.

Munich, 26th June 2006. This weekend, the first overseas event of the 2006 FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) is scheduled. The BMW national teams travel to the "Autodromo Internacional de Curitiba" for rounds nine and ten of the series. Brazilian motorsport fans can look forward to the next chapter of an extremely exciting season: Only five points separate BMW Team UK's Andy Priaulx (GBR), who is leading the drivers' classification with 33 points, from Jorg Muller (GER) of BMW Team Germany in seventh position. Dirk Muller (GER), also driving for BMW Team Germany, is currently third in the championship, only one point behind Priaulx.

Following the successful race weekend for BMW in Oschersleben, where Priaulx and Jorg Muller were able to celebrate one race victory each and Dirk Muller collected a total of 14 points, the trio is now forced to enter the South American races with a lot of additional weight. Dirk Muller is required to take 70 kilograms of ballast on board his BMW 320si WTCC, Priaulx enters with a handicap of 65 kilograms. Jorg Muller will compete at the 3.695 kilometre track with an additional weight of 60 kilograms.

Duncan Huisman (NLD) celebrates his race debut for BMW Team Italy-Spain in Curitiba. He is replacing Marcel Costa (ESP) until the end of the season. Huisman will compete in both races with 20 kilograms of basic additional weight. He completed countless test kilometres last week and is hoping to be able to record a good result when he returns to WTCC action. Last year the experienced driver entered the Macau WTCC rounds for BMW Team Holland and managed to secure victory in the last race of the season. His team-mate Alessandro Zanardi (ITA) is also set to return to the points scoring positions in Brazil.

Duncan Huisman (BMW Team Italy-Spain):
"I completed my first test with BMW Team Italy-Spain in Budapest. I know Schnitzer Motorsport and RBM from the past, and I can rightfully say that Roberto Ravaglia's team is working at the same high level. The BMW 320si is a fantastic car. It feels much more like a race car than its predecessor, with which I compete in the Swedish Touring Car Championship. Curitiba is the perfect venue to enter the World Championship halfway through the season. I am not very experienced with the new car, but at least the track is new for all of the drivers. Obviously it would be great to be able to collect points straight away."

Alessandro Zanardi (BMW Team Italy-Spain):
"Although I have been active in various motor racing series for quite a long time, I have never competed in a race in Curitiba before. Of course you take a very close look at the track photos to prepare for the race. But you have to drive at the circuit before you can say if you like it or not. I am excited to see if the fans will be just as enthusiastic as they were in Puebla in 2005. It isn't important for me where I compete. To win a World Championship point is just as much fun in Curitiba as it is on a traditional European race track."

History and background:

The "Autodromo Internacional de Curitiba" celebrates its debut as host of an official FIA World Championship race. The event in Brazil is, at the same time, the first stop of the WTCC in South America. This year, the drivers of the BMW national teams will travel "across the pond" for a second time: On 30th July, two races are held in Puebla (MEX), which hosted a FIA race last year already.

Already on 4th June, the team's equipment started its long journey to Brazil in Oschersleben. Following the eighth race of the season, 27 containers carrying 24 cars, 200 tons of spare parts and 1,500 tyres were transported to Hamburg, where the cargo went on board the "NYK Espirito" to voyage across the Atlantic ocean. Nearly two weeks later, the precious freight entered the harbour of Paranagua. Here, trucks transported the equipment over the last 100 kilometre stretch of the journey to the race track.

Curitiba, the capital of the Brazilian state of Parana, has 1.6 million inhabitants and is located 340 kilometres from São Paulo. There the BMW Sauber F1 Team will compete in the Formula One season finale on 22nd October.

The city was founded in 1693 by Portuguese colonialists and received its name in 1721. "Curii Tiba" stems from the Tupi language and means "many pine trees". Originally the region was covered with pine tree forests before the beginning of the industrialisation. In the meantime Curitiba is, once again, one of the greenest cities in Brazil - each inhabitant enjoys approx. 50sqm of green space per head.

Of all the major cities in Brazil, Curitiba is the most progressive. The first federal university of Brazil was founded here as early as 1913. To match the quickly increasing population numbers in the second half of the 20th century, Curitiba enforced a sustainable and ecological city planning scheme, as well as the expansion of the transportation system. In 1996, the city was named the "most innovative city in the world".

Construction of the race track began in 1965 and was completed two years later. The fist highlight here was the city race "Cidade de Curitiba", as well as the "100 Miles of Piraquara". The mid 1990's saw the track undergo extensive remodelling, during which an infield was added to the oval section. Nowadays, it is among the most modern race tracks in the country. Since 2000, the "Centro de Excelência em Automobilismo" is part of the facility, which, among other things, includes a karting track for Brazilian racing talents.

The track consists of seven right-hand corners, four left-handers and five straights, the longest of which is 980 metres long. The maximum width of the track is 15 metres. 2.550 kilometres of the overall length of 3,695 kilometres run through the former oval.

Both WTCC races are held over a distance of 14 laps, which amounts to a total distance of 51.73 kilometres. The first race will commence on Sunday at 12:05hrs local time, race two starts at 13:15hrs. On Friday, a 30-minute test session is scheduled for the drivers to be able to become acquainted with the track.

-bmw-

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About this article
Series WTCC
Drivers Andy Priaulx , Dirk Müller , Jorg Muller , Marcel Costa , Duncan Huisman , Roberto Ravaglia
Teams Sauber