ZANARDI ON THE PODIUM AT CURITIBA Curitiba (Brazil), 02nd July 2006. At the FIA World Touring Car Championship's(WTCC) first appearance in South America, Andy Priaulx (GBR) of BMW Team UK secured his fourth win of the season. The reigning World...
ZANARDI ON THE PODIUM AT CURITIBA
Curitiba (Brazil), 02nd July 2006. At the FIA World Touring Car Championship's(WTCC) first appearance in South America, Andy Priaulx (GBR) of BMW Team UK secured his fourth win of the season. The reigning World Champion won the second race at the "Autodromo Internacional de Curitiba". Behind Priaulx and Alfa Romeo driver Gianni Morbidelli (ITA) it was BMW Team Italy-Spain's Alessandro Zanardi (ITA) who achieved his first podium finish this year. The 39-year-old started race one from last on the grid following a mistake in qualifying. However, he delivered an impressive revival and was rewarded with third place. Victory in the first round of the day was claimed by Jordi Gene (ESP) ahead of Peter Terting (GER) and Augusto Farfus (BRA).
The Brazilian motorsport enthusiasts witnessed a turbulent start to the first race. As early as lap one, the safety car had to come out, after Maurizio Ceresoli (ITA) and local hero Lucas Molo (BRA) both crashed. At this time, Jorg Muller had fought his way up to ninth, and BMW Team Italy-Spain driver Duncan Huisman (NLD) was running in tenth. The best start, however, was executed by Zanardi who leap-frogged from 26th to 15th. Dirk Muller (GER) suffered a dose of bad luck at the very beginning of the race. Running 14th, the BMW Team Germany driver's car was hit in the back and pushed into the gravel in turn six. Consequently he was relegated to the back of the field and finished 20th.
Priaulx defended his seventh position at the start, but had to let Morbidelli pass on lap four, following the safety car phase. He defended eighth place and thus pole position for race two until the end of the race. Huisman was on his way to securing tenth, when he suffered a technical problem in his rear axle and was forced to reduce his speed, thus losing one position. Zanardi benefited by this and crossed the line in tenth place, following some spectacular overtaking manoeuvres.
The second round turned out to be a thriller. The safety car had to neutralize the field twice. Due to some more accidents and a lot of debris on the track, race control decided to red-flag the race shortly before the end. Priaulx was able to keep out of the tough-fought duels in midfield and controlled the speed from the front. He succeeded in building up a gap after each safety car phase. Further back down the field, Zanardi was involved in a lot of action. From tenth place on the grid he gained one position and eventually took third place from James Thompson (GBR) on lap nine. Towards the end of the race, he was in a position to launch an attack on second-placed Morbidelli, but was stopped by the red flag. For the first time in his WTCC career, Zanardi set the fastest lap of the race, posting a time of 1:26.069.
Huisman failed to make it into the top eight in his WTCC comeback. After he had collided with Gabriele Tarquini (ITA) on lap five, he fell back and finally finished 16th.
Alessandro Zanardi (BMW Team Italy-Spain):
"Yesterday was a bad day for me. BMW Team Italy-Spain gave me a great car, and I felt that a top-five grid position could have been possible. But then I threw it away before the end of my first lap. Again, I want to apologize to my team for that. What happened in the races was unbelievable. I drove aggressively, but my car had not a single scratch. To finish tenth and then third is just great. The races were very interesting for me, to say the least".