BMW claims one-two in Macau while missing out on world titles.
Macau, 22nd November 2009. The 2009 FIA World Touring Car Championship came to an end in Macau with another victory for BMW Team Germany's Augusto Farfus (BR). He won the 24th race of the year, which was red-flagged following a big accident. His team-mate, Jorg Muller (DE), came second, making it the seventh one- two for BMW this season. Muller and Farfus had also scored points in race one, which was won by Chevrolet's Robert Huff, by finishing seventh and eighth. Andy Priaulx (GB) of BMW Team UK and the two BMW Team Italy-Spain drivers, Alessandro Zanardi (IT) and Sergio Hernandez (ES), left the "Guia Circuit" empty- handed.
Despite the one-two, the BMW national teams were not able to take the championship titles away from SEAT in the final showdown. Gabriele Tarquini (IT) topped the drivers' classification with 127 points. Farfus came third behind Yvan Muller (FR) with 113 points, and was the best-placed BMW driver. The Brazilian set a record after celebrating six victories in the 2009 season. In the Manufacturers' Championship BMW missed out on the title by a mere three points. The BMW drivers notched up a total of 311 points over the course of the 24 races.
BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen said: "Congratulations to SEAT and Gabriele Tarquini on winning both championships. As expected the finale was dramatic, and this was somewhat symbolic of how the season had been for us. The first part of the year was especially difficult for us before we were able to close the gap. The outcome of the first race here in Macau was decided shortly after the start, when our rivals managed to get passed us. This lost Augusto Farfus his chance of winning the drivers' title. In the final race it was impossible to turn things around in the manufacturers' standing despite the BMW Team Germany one-two."
The start of race one didn't work out as planned for Priaulx or Farfus. Farfus dropped back from third to sixth. From second on the grid Priaulx's BMW 320si WTCC hit the wall on the right side of the track and he was forced to return to the pits with a heavily damaged front suspension and an open passenger door. Muller improved to fifth, while Zanardi and Hernandez emerged from the first corner in ninth and 11th. After passing his team-mate Muller on lap two, Farfus overtook Tiago Monteiro (PT/SEAT) for fourth six laps later. As the drivers' crown was already out of reach for Farfus because Tarquini was on his way to finish second, the BMW Team Germany pair let themselves drop back to seventh (Muller) and eighth (Farfus) shortly before the end, in order to secure front-row grid positions for race two. This increased BMW's chances in the manufacturers' ranks. Zanardi crossed the line in ninth, narrowly missing out on points, Hernandez took the chequered flag in tenth.
While race one had passed without major incidents apart from Priaulx's first-corner accident, spectacular crashes overshadowed proceedings in the second round of the day. On lap three Tom Boardman (GB/SEAT) hit the barriers and his car became airborne. Fortunately Priaulx managed to avoid his fellow Brit landing on top of him. On lap eight Zanardi missed a braking point, collided with Chevrolet's Nicola Larini (IT) and dropped back. The worst accident, however, happened moments later: BMW privateer Felix Porteiro (ES) crashed into the wall in the final corner and was hit by fellow BMW driver Franz Engstler (DE). To make things even worse, the stationary BMW 320si WTCC of Engstler was then hit by SEAT's Andre Couto (CN). Both Porteiro and Engstler were able to climb out of the cars on their own, but were sent to Macau hospital for medical checks. Following a long break the Race Director decided not to re-start the race.
Victory went to Farfus, who had successfully defended his lead at the start. Before the red flags came out, 0.801 seconds separated the 26-year-old and Muller, who finished runner-up for the fifth time this season. Zanardi was classified ninth, while Hernandez took 11th. Priaulx worked his way up from 24th to 13th.
Augusto Farfus (BMW Team Germany):
"It's nice to finish the season with another win. Six victories is good - but I would rather swap this with Gabriele Tarquini for the world title. Obviously we are all disappointed now as we were not able to turn things round in Macau. But we really did the best we could today. Congratulations to SEAT and Gabriele. A big thank you goes to my fellow BMW drivers and everyone else who supported me so well in the Drivers' Championship over the past races. It's sad that it didn't work out in the end."
Jorg Muller (BMW Team Germany):
"This was a good result to end the season on, although it's a shame that we can't take a title back home to Europe. But that's how it is in Macau: You cannot plan the outcome of the races on this circuit, and even if you have a great strategy you need some luck. We achieved the maximum today, but it just wasn't enough."
Andy Priaulx (BMW Team UK):
"There was just nowhere for me to go at the start of race one, and I was pushed in the barrier. In these close racing circumstances with a rolling start we have to expect this sort of thing to happen, but it was disappointing as I would have loved a good result here. The boys did a great job to repair the car to get me on the grid for race two. It was an eventful one as Tom Boardman went over the top of me. I have never seen that before. Congratulations to SEAT and Gabriele. He was really strong this year."
Alessandro Zanardi (BMW Team Italy-Spain):
"In the past I was seldom competitive here in Macau, but I managed to score points. This year it was the other way round. I felt really strong over the weekend. With a bit more luck I could have made it into the top-ten in qualifying. Who knows how the races would have gone then. Now I leave Macau empty-handed. I'm sorry for Nicola Larini. I made a mistake and then couldn't avoid him."
Sergio Hernandez (BMW Team Italy-Spain):
"For me personally the Macau races were quite positive. I was able to improve from one practice session to the next. During the races I was not far away from my fellow BMW national team drivers in terms of lap times. It's a pity I missed out on points though. Thanks a lot to BMW Team Italy-Spain. This has been a great year for me."