Showdown in Macau: Three BMW drivers fight for the WTCC title Munich, 14th November 2006. This weekend, the FIA World Touring Car Championship stages its season finale at the "Guia Circuit" in Macau (CHN). Three drivers of the BMW national teams...
Showdown in Macau: Three BMW drivers fight for the WTCC title
Munich, 14th November 2006. This weekend, the FIA World Touring Car Championship stages its season finale at the "Guia Circuit" in Macau (CHN). Three drivers of the BMW national teams have the chance to win the drivers' title in rounds 19 and 20 of the series. Furthermore, BMW (221 points) is leading SEAT in the Manufacturers' Championship prior to the races at the former Portuguese colony by ten points.
An impressive total of nine drivers still can be the 2006 World Champion. Defending champion, Andy Priaulx (GBR) of BMW Team UK, is currently ranked second in the drivers' classification, having 59 points under his belt. For the season finale, the 32- year-old gets a team-mate: Jan Magnussen (DEN) will support BMW in the title fight at the wheel of the BMW 320si WTCC.
The two BMW Team Germany drivers, Jorg Muller (GER) and Dirk Muller (GER), are also hoping to emerge as the 2006 champion. Jorg Muller is on equal points with Priaulx and holds third position in the championship. Dirk Muller is set to leap to the front and make up the seven-point gap to championship leader, Augusto Farfus (BRA). BMW Team Italy-Spain's Alesandro Zanardi (ITA) and Duncan Huisman (NLD) also want to score a good result in Macau, thus aiding BMW to win the title.
Andy Priaulx (BMW Team UK):
"I cannot say it too often: I love Macau. It's a very special circuit, and driving there is good fun. I just like everything about this track. This place is a buzz. The many casinos make for a unique atmosphere. Imagine racing in downtown Las Vegas-- On the one hand, it will be crucial to have a good qualifying. In the races, you need to be self-confident and highly focussed. Of course it will be an advantage to be rather light in Macau. Nevertheless, I expect an exciting finale."
Jorg Muller (BMW Team Germany):
"I have got a special relationship with Macau. I was able to win the Fomula 3 race as well as the touring car event. For the 2006 WTCC final, I will have 75 kilograms of ballast onboard my car. But I don't care about this. Over the course of the season, we saw many drivers winning on a high handicap weight. I know the track well and feel comfortable there. Therefore, I'm really confident for the two races."
Dirk Muller (BMW Team Germany):
"I'm looking forward to the races in Macau. The circuit is another tremendous challenge at the end of the WTCC season. Everybody is well-advised not to take this track lightly. It's important to race very maturely there. So many drivers can still be champion. That's why the excitement will be extremely high. Therefore, it will be even more important this year to have some luck on your side, if you want to be at the top of the pack. Macau has always turbulent races to offer."
Alessandro Zanardi (BMW Team Italy-Spain):
"Last year I experienced that everything is possible in Macau. Following a really difficult qualifying, I started race one from 24th position. Over the course of two races, however, I managed to benefit from the many incidents on the track, thus gaining ground. Finally, I was able to finish the second race in fourth place, which was a satisfying end of the season. I'm highly motivated to do this again in 2006. It's my goal to score many points for BMW in the final races of the season, in order to bring the Manufacturers' Championship home."
Duncan Huisman (BMW Team Italy-Spain):
"Macau is the most exciting track in the world. For me it's a mixture of Monaco and the infamous Nurburgring-Nordschleife. We reach the highest top-speeds of the season there - and on the other hand, overtaking is prohibited in the extremely slow Melco hairpin. That's unique. I have won in Macau four times. So it's not necessary to mention that I like this circuit. The crucial corner is Lisboa. There have been some accidents in 2005 as well. It will be all about keeping out of all the turmoil - although that's hardly possible in Macau."
Jan Magnussen (BMW Team UK):
"I can hardly wait to return to Macau. I'm curious, if the circuit is as interesting in a touring car as it was at the wheel of a Formula 3 racer back in 1994. I know how it feels to take part in an exciting finale. In the 2006 Danish Touring Car Championship I had a tough but fair fight with my rival for the title. Unfortunately, I didn't win. But now I'm even more determined to deliver a strong performance for BMW this weekend."
History and background:
Since 2001, a BMW driver has always succeeded in claiming victory at the famous Macau's "Guia Race". Between 2001 and 2003, Duncan Huisman scored three consecutive wins at the wheel of a Carly Motors BMW 320i. In 2004, it was Jorg Muller who celebrated victory for his BMW Team Germany, thus making himself a double Macau winner, after winning in the Formula 3 race in 1993. Last year, Huisman claimed victory in the 20th and final WTCC round. No other driver can look back at such a successful tally in Macau as the 35-year-old. Andy Priaulx finished second in each of the two 2006 races, thus winning the title.
Nine drivers are in the position to become the 2006 World Champion. WTCC leader Augusto Farfus has 60 points to his tally. Ninth-placed Peter Terting (GER) is 12 points behind. 20 points are up for grabs in the two Chinese rounds. Farfus is also the heaviest among the title aspirants, carrying 80 kilograms of ballast. Runner-up in this ranking is Jorg Muller, who will take 75 kilograms onboard his BMW 320si WTCC. Andy Priaulx is contesting the Macau rounds with a handicap weight of 45 kilograms, Dirk Muller is taking 35 kilograms with him.
Macau will also see the appearance of a BMW Sauber F1 Team member this year: Sebastian Vettel (GER). The team's test and reserve driver fights for victory in the 53rd Macau Grand Prix. He will contest his second Formula 3 world final at the wheel of a Team Carlin Dallara-Honda.
"Macau is one of the best and most challenging circuits in the world" an ecstatic Sebastian says. "Because of this the race generates enormous attention and is one of the most important ones for a young driver. Many who have been successful there made it into Formula One. Last year I finished third in Macau behind a guy called Robert Kubica. If you go to this race for the second time you want to win it. Therefore the goal is clear. However, in Macau you always need a little luck as well."
Prior to his Formula One debut with the BMW Sauber F1 Team, Robert Kubica (POL) took part in the prestigious Formula 3 race three times and finished as runner- up in 2004 and 2005. He says: "Macau is my favourite race track off the Formula One calendar, and it is a very difficult and challenging track. This is simply because it is a street circuit, and I like these tracks the most. Everything is very special as you drive Formula 3 there with really low downforce because there are the long straights and then you have to manage to be quick through the corners, which are really challenging. The corners are always changing, especially in the mountain. I have raced there for three years, unfortunately for the last two years always coming second. Anyway I have good memories."
Motorsport in Macau has a long tradition: This year will see the 53rd running of the legendary Formula 3 race. The WTCC's season finale is just one of the many highlights in the event's programme. Among other things, the 40th Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix will also be staged this weekend.
Macau consists of a peninsula and two more islands, which are connected via bridges. The majority of its 500,000 inhabitants live on the bigger peninsula. Macau comprises a space of 25.4 square kilometres. The official languages spoken in Macau are Chinese and Portuguese.
The final qualifying session of the season will be of utmost importance, as the twisty circuit doesn't offer too many overtaking opportunities. Last year, Andy Priaulx was the fastest driver and claimed pole position. In 2:31.712 minutes he set a new lap record for touring cars in Macau, thus laying the foundation stone for his title victory.
In 1516, the Portuguese landed in Macau and gradually extended the small fishing village to be the centre of their presence in Asia. The sovereignty, however, remained with the Chinese. In 1849, the Portuguese colonists tried to gain full control over Macau, some small fights with the Chinese followed. Only in 1887, the Mandschu government granted the Portuguese the right for a permanent occupation. In 1999, Portugal returned the sovereignty back to China.
The two WTCC rounds will both be 9-lap races, representing a total distance of 55.053 kilometres per race. Race one will start on Sunday at 11:05hrs local time (3:05hrs CET), the lights go off for race two at 12:15hrs (4:15hrs CET).
-credit: bmw motorsport