BMW celebrates a win at Imola while Zanardi also delights his home crowd. Imola (Italy), 29th May 2005. The BMW national teams had travelled to Imola for races seven and eight of the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) without nurturing...
BMW celebrates a win at Imola while Zanardi also delights his home crowd.
Imola (Italy), 29th May 2005. The BMW national teams had travelled to Imola for races seven and eight of the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) without nurturing any great hopes. As in Silverstone a fortnight go, the BMW drivers had to line up with a weight handicap of 20 kilograms compared to their front-wheel-drive rivals. But after the races at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, a victory by Dirk Muller (GER) of BMW Team Deutschland and four podium places add another good overall result to the tally.
Driving in temperatures around 30 degrees Celsius, Antonio Garcia (ESP) for BMW Team Italy-Spain managed to finish as runner-up in the first race behind Fabrizio Giovanardi (Alfa Romeo). Third-placed finisher Dirk Muller joined him on the podium. The reigning European Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx (GBR) of BMW Team UK came fourth, while Garcia's team-mate, local hero Alessandro Zanardi (ITA), crossed the line in eighth place to capture a World Championship point. BMW Team Deutschland driver Jorg Muller (GER) finished in 27th place following an accident.
After the second race, Dirk Muller climbed to the very top of the podium to celebrate his second victory of the season. Behind him in second and third places were Priaulx and Giovanardi. Zanardi, who had started from pole, remained in third place for much of the race before being bumped off the track by Augusto Farfus jr. (Alfa Romeo) on the final lap. He eventually crossed the line in sixth place. Even so, for Zanardi it was the best result of his touring car career. Garcia finished ninth, while Jorg Muller worked his way from the back of the field into twelfth place.
With that, both Dirk Muller and BMW managed to defend their lead in the Drivers' and Manufacturers' championships. With 47 points, Dirk Muller is now six points ahead of Priaulx. In third place is Alfa driver Gabriele Tarquini. In the Manufacturers' standings, BMW now has a tally of 113 points. Alfa Romeo is in second place with 100, followed by SEAT (75). Both wins in the Independents' Trophy at Imola went to Alessandro Balzan (SEAT). Nevertheless, Marc Hennerici (Mayen) managed to retain his lead among the privateer drivers in his BMW 320i.
Dirk Muller (BMW Team Deutschland): "I'm absolutely over the moon. In between the two races, the team made some very good changes to the car. I have to thank them for that. The car was driving much better in the second race, which made it possible for me to win. Our perfect starts were definitely a crucial factor. In both races I managed to gain several positions right off the grid. I'm delighted to be able to take these 15 World Championship points home with me as we weren't really banking on it under the difficult circumstances here in Imola. Now I'm looking forward to the races in Mexico."
Alessandro Zanardi (BMW Team Italy-Spain): "Today we have seen that our car is competitive. My team has been working hard towards this in recent months. Towards the end of the race I began having problems with the brakes, and my tyres were no longer in the best condition. It's a pity I lost my podium place in the second race only four turns before the finish. Augusto Farfus was fighting tooth and nail to try and get past me. This ended up in a collision. Now neither of us is on the podium. Nevertheless, we have to continue on from this successful weekend."
Weather Sunny, 30 degrees Celsius
Start After Peter Terting's SEAT has to have its engine replaced, Dirk Muller, Jorg Muller and Zanardi each gain a position on the grid. Garcia gets off to a good start and snatches the lead from Giovanardi. Priaulx similarly enjoys a perfect start, advancing from fifth to second. Dirk Muller is in fourth place and Zanardi in eighth.
Lap 1 In the first turn Jorg Muller is touched by James Thompson (Alfa Romeo) and skids into the gravel. Following a tyre replacement in the pits, he rejoins the race at the back of the field. Giovanardi passes Priaulx, who is now lying in third place.
Lap 2 Garcia is forced to let Giovanardi past in a car that is lighter by a full 30 kilograms.
Lap 7 Sascha Ploderl (Ford) hits the crash barrier at high speed as he enters the start/finish straight. Fortunately he emerges unscathed from his completely wrecked car.
Lap 10 Dirk Muller whittles the gap to Priaulx down to 0.437 seconds.
Finish Giovanardi wins ahead of Garcia, Priaulx and Dirk Muller. Zanardi finishes eighth to take a World Championship point and secures pole position for the second race. Jorg Muller crosses the start/finish line in 27th place. Following repair work to the rear suspension of his BMW 320i, he has to start the second race from the pit lane.
Weather Sunny, 30 degrees Celsius
Start Zanardi manages to defend his leading position on the grid. The other drivers of the BMW national teams also get away well from the grid for the second race: Dirk Muller moves from fifth into second place, with Priaulx behind him. Garcia is in fifth place while Jorg Muller is chasing the field from the pit lane.
Lap 3 Dirk Muller sweeps past Zanardi to take the lead.
Lap 4. Zanardi has to concede a place to Priaulx as well, who now sets off in chase of Dirk Muller. Garcia briefly comes off the track after a close encounter with Giovanardi and loses four places.
Lap 10 Zanardi has managed to keep his pursuer Farfus at bay for a long time, but the Brazilian is now snapping at the heels of BMW Team Italy-Spain's driver.
Lap 11 On the final lap Zanardi is pushed off the track by Farfus, causing the Italian to drop back into sixth place.
Finish Shortly before the finish Priaulx puts Dirk Muller under pressure again, but fails to get past the German. Dirk Muller wins ahead of his British fellow BMW driver. Zanardi is sixth and Garcia crosses the line in ninth place. Jorg Muller's recovery exercise ends in twelfth place.