Alessandro Zanardi most successful BMW driver at home event in Imola. Imola, 20th September 2009. The BMW national teams experienced two difficult rounds of the FIA World Touring Car Championship in Imola (IT). BMW Team Italy- Spain's Alessandro...
Alessandro Zanardi most successful BMW driver at home event in Imola.
Imola, 20th September 2009. The BMW national teams experienced two difficult rounds of the FIA World Touring Car Championship in Imola (IT). BMW Team Italy- Spain's Alessandro Zanardi (IT) produced the highlight by finishing fourth in both races. BMW Team Germany driver, Augusto Farfus (BR), however, lost ground in the fight for the drivers' title.
Zanardi's team-mate, Sergio Hernandez (ES,) came seventh in the first round, collecting two championship points. Farfus faced a fight back in race two, after being involved in a collision at the start of the first race. From 22nd on the grid he worked his way up to eighth, scoring just one point at the "Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari". Neither his team-mate Jorg Muller (DE), nor Andy Priaulx (GB) of BMW Team UK was able to improve their points' tallies during the final WTCC weekend on European soil. SEAT's Gabriele Tarquini (IT) and Yvan Muller (FR) took the two victories.
Farfus now has 91 points to his name in the drivers' standings, but dropped back to third. The gap to championship leader, Tarquini, is 18 points, with four more overseas races to come in Okayama (JP) and Macau (CN). In the manufacturers' classification, BMW remains in second with 250 points, with the gap to SEAT being 21 points.
Accidents in the "Variante Tamburello" shortly after the start meant an early disappointment in race one for both BMW Team Germany drivers. The back of Muller's BMW 320si WTCC was hit by Chevrolet's Nicola Larini (IT). He then had to avoid the car of Tiago Monteiro (PT/SEAT), who had spun and was stranded in the middle of the track pointing the wrong direction. During all this action he collided with another competitor and was forced into the pits for repairs. Farfus suffered a similar fate and had to pit with a broken rear suspension.
Among the drivers who benefited from the carnage at the start was Zanardi, who rocketed from 12th to fourth. The 42-year-old put in a flawless performance and finally crossed the line 1.457 seconds behind the front runners. Hernandez and Priaulx were part of an exciting five-way fight for eighth. As Alain Menu (CH/Chevrolet) and BMW privateer, Stefano D'Aste (IT), lost positions after fighting each other, Hernandez moved up to seventh while Priaulx took eighth. At the re-start on the penultimate lap, following a safety-car period, however, Priaulx's hopes of pole-position for race two were destroyed. After a collision with Menu the rear bumper of his car was damaged and went over the exhaust. He lost power and then with the bodywork rubbing on the left rear tyre its temperature shot up to 160 degrees. Priaulx lost grip, went through the grass twice and finally took the chequered flag in 15th.
Hernandez started race two from a promising second on the grid but was unable to fight with the front runners for very long. On lap two he lost his rhythm and dropped to sixth. Following a collision with Jordi Gene (ES/SEAT), the Spaniard even dropped further down the field and ultimately finished 11th. His team-mate, however, experienced a better race: At the start Zanardi improved from fifth to third, but was then passed by Tarquini on lap three. For the remainder of the race, the local hero put Menu under pressure. But he couldn't get by and crossed the line in fourth, adding five more points to his tally.
>From less promising grid positions, Priaulx, Muller and Farfus went into the second round of the weekend. After 11 laps Farfus was the only driver in this trio to score a championship point. He finished eighth, while Priaulx and Muller came ninth and 15th respectively.
Alessandro Zanardi (BMW Team Italy-Spain):
"I'm proud to be the most successful BMW driver here in Italy. My car was great, and I made no mistakes in the two races. Still I'm a bit disappointed, as we were strong enough to score an even better result. But on this track the advantage of the turbo- diesel cars is just incredible. When Gabriele Tarquini passed me on the straight, I think I saw the true performance of the car for the first time ever. I had a good exit to the corner and should have been in a good position to defend my position. But he was in front of me by the time we crossed the start-finish line."
Augusto Farfus (BMW Team Germany):
"We knew it would be tough for us in Imola. However, I had planned to have a better result. My rivals in the title fight collected plenty of points. That's why the accident in race one really hurt my hopes. But I won't give up. There are four more races to go with 40 points up for grabs. Today's point I dedicate to my team, who repaired my car so quickly during race one."
Andy Priaulx (BMW Team UK):
"It was not brilliant for us and was a lot of hard work. It could have been great, but we needed a bit of luck and it was not on our side. I have to just make sure I do my best in the remaining four rounds so I can be as high up as possible in the championship."
Jorg Muller (BMW Team Germany):
"This has been a weekend to forget. Nicola Larini hit me very hard in race one. Then I was in the middle of the turmoil and my car suffered further damage. The crew did a brilliant job, so I was able to rejoin the first race. However, from 20th on the grid I wasn't able to make it to the top ten in race two."
Sergio Hernandez (BMW Team Italy-Spain):
"The first race was okay. I wanted to get a good grid position for the second one. And that's exactly what I did by finishing seventh. But then it didn't work out as planned. In the opening stage of the race I lost several places. When I found my rhythm again, I collided with Jordi Gene. This was a normal race incident."