BMW ends first half of season with WTCC debut in Estoril. Munich, 7th July 2008. The BMW national teams are highly motivated for their trip to the "Circuito do Estoril" in Portugal, where the first half of the FIA World Touring Car Championship...
BMW ends first half of season with WTCC debut in Estoril.
Munich, 7th July 2008. The BMW national teams are highly motivated for their trip to the "Circuito do Estoril" in Portugal, where the first half of the FIA World Touring Car Championship season draws to a close this weekend. In Brno (CZ) the five BMW drivers were recently able to post their best points total of the season so far, closing the gap on the leaders at the top of the Manufacturers' Championship. Alessandro Zanardi (IT) from BMW Team Italy-Spain had particular reason to celebrate after a victory followed by second place in the second race.
However, this strong performance means the 41-year-old must now start with the highest handicap weight of all the BMW drivers in Estoril. Zanardi will load his car with an additional 48 kilograms. His team-mate Felix Porteiro (ES) and Augusto Farfus (BR) of BMW Team Germany will only be slightly lighter, with ballasts of 47 and 42 kilograms respectively. World Champion Andy Priaulx (GB) is looking to boost the points total for BMW Team UK after a disappointing weekend in Brno by his standards. He starts the two races with 34 kilograms of extra weight, while Farfus' team-mate Jorg Muller (DE) must add 31 kilograms to his car.
Andy Priaulx (BMW Team UK): "The circuit in Estoril is interesting. The proximity to the coast makes it so special. The area reminds me of my home in Guernsey. There too I enjoy being by the sea. I didn't have a good weekend in Brno, but will certainly not give up, and will go on the attack again in Portugal."
Jorg Muller (BMW Team Germany): "For me, it will primarily be a question of qualifying near the front in Estoril. As we proved in Brno, our performance in the race itself is up to scratch. I like the circuit, and was able to pick up a victory in the European Championship there in 2002. I want to take advantage of my relatively light car to make up ground again."
Augusto Farfus (BMW Team Germany): "Over the last four races I have consistently picked up points and considerably improved my position in the World Championship. Hopefully it will continue in the vein in Estoril. The circuit is challenging and includes all kinds of turns. The tight hairpins should be particularly interesting."
Felix Porteiro (BMW Team Italy-Spain): "I made my race debut for BMW Team Italy-Spain in the 2006 European Touring Car Cup at Estoril. I also won my first race in Formula 3 there and tasted victory in the Renault World Series, so I like the circuit. I am looking forward to seeing what I can achieve there in a touring car with the experience I have gained from 32 races."
Alessandro Zanardi (BMW Team Italy-Spain): "I am very pleased that Estoril is on the race calendar. I really like this circuit. It is supposedly not too difficult to overtake there. This means that the fans are guaranteed to see a lot of action. I also really like the surroundings and the city."
History and Background:
Alongside Okayama (JP) and Imola (IT), Estoril is one of three debutants on the 2008 World Touring Car Championship calendar. The "Circuito do Estoril" hosted the Portuguese Formula One Grand Prix from 1984 to 1996. Nigel Mansell (GB) and Alain Prost (FR) were the most successful Formula One drivers on the circuit, each claiming three victories.
In both 2002 and 2003, two races in the European Touring Car Championship took place in Estoril. Jorg Muller, in his BMW 320i, took the checkered flag in the second race in 2002. At the 2006 European Touring Car Cup, Felix Porteiro finished the first race in third place, just ahead of team-mate Alessandro Zanardi who finished fourth.
Last weekend Augusto Farfus and Andy Priaulx again had the pleasure of driving one of the BMW Sauber F1 Team's Formula One cars. At the BMW Sauber F1 Team Pit Lane Park, they thrilled British racing fans in Manchester (GB) with spectacular manoeuvres and "donuts".
Four left- and nine right-handers await the BMW national teams at the 4.140- kilometre circuit, which was built in 1972. One key point is the tight Variant chicane. The drivers reach their top speeds at the end of the start-finish straight, which is almost a kilometre long. To prevent their rivals getting into their slipstream, the drivers must perfectly master the preceding "Parabolica".
Persistent, strong gusts of wind make it a real challenge to find a perfect set-up for the car. The wind comes in off the nearby Atlantic, and then picks up more speed as it is channelled through the hills surrounding the circuit. The drivers must concentrate fully in order to avoid being pushed off the racing line.
The "Casino Estoril" is one of the largest in Europe, and the oldest in Portugal. It lies close to the city beach of Tamariz , which, on a weekend, attracts many residents from the Portuguese capital Lisbon, which is just 25 kilometres away. Estoril has a population of about 20,000. The nearby town of Cascais plays an important role in Portugal's glorious seafaring history: when Lisbon's explorers travelled to distant shores, they cast a final glance at Cascais before setting sail the Atlantic Ocean at the Tejo estuary. Similarly, Cascais was the first town on Portuguese mainland that they saw when they returned.
The two WTCC races each cover 13 laps - a total distance of 53.82 kilometres. The first race gets underway at 13:20hrs local time on Sunday, while race two begins at 17:20hrs. Both races are televised on Eurosport, and can also be seen online on the official BMW Motorsport website at www.bmw-motorsport.com. The drivers hit the track as early as Friday, when a thirty-minute test session begins at 15:00hrs.