Macau: BMW Sunday races report

BMW and Andy Priaulx successfully defend their WTCC titles in Macau. Andy Priaulx (GBR) of BMW Team UK claimed his third consecutive drivers' title in the FIA World Touring Car Championship. At Macau's "Guia Circuit", he secured a perfect...

BMW and Andy Priaulx successfully defend their WTCC titles in Macau.

Andy Priaulx (GBR) of BMW Team UK claimed his third consecutive drivers' title in the FIA World Touring Car Championship. At Macau's "Guia Circuit", he secured a perfect starting position by finishing eighth in the first race. In race two, he converted pole position into a dominant victory. Having 92 points under his belt, Priaulx relegated Yvan Muller (FRA/SEAT) to second place in the overall classification. In the Manufacturers' Championship, BMW also managed to score the "hat-trick" of world titles. Over the past 22 races, the brand accumulated a total of 255 points. Privateer Stefano d'Aste (ITA) of the Wiechers-Sport team won the Independents' Trophy, thus making it a "clean sweep" for BMW in the 2007 WTCC.

The season finale in the former Portuguese colony was a true thriller. While Priaulx was all smiles after his victory, the two BMW Team Germany drivers suffered their dose of bad luck. Augusto Farfus (BRA) was running in second place when he was bumped by Gabriele Tarquini (ITA/SEAT) on the final lap of race one. He crashed into the barriers and retired. Consequently, Farfus was out of the title fight before the start of race two. The 24-year-old finished his maiden WTCC season with BMW in fourth place overall with 71 points. Jorg Muller (GER) narrowly missed out on his chance to score at least four points in Macau which would have happened if he had been able to finish fifth in race two. However, like his team-mate earlier on, he was also taken out by another competitor on the final lap. Muller finished seventh in the Drivers' Championship, having scored 66 points.

In the first race of the day Priaulx paved the way for the successful title defence. He benefited from Muller's retirement on the final lap and the incident between Farfus and Tarquini. So he was able to improve from 12th position on the grid to a precious eighth place, which earned him pole position for the second round. At the start, Farfus had passed Tarquini and kept in touch with the two drivers in the lead, Muller and Alain Menu (SUI/Chevrolet). Following Muller's retirement, Farfus was on his way to celebrate his comeback in the fight for the crown. But all his hopes ended when Tarquini crashed into the rear of the Brazilan's BMW 320si WTCC. The two BMW Team Italy-Spain drivers, Alessandro Zanardi (ITA) and Felix Porteiro (ESP) finished 10th and 12th respectively. Muller crossed the line in 13th position, while Fredrik Ekblom (SWE) took 16th place for BMW Team UK. Menu emerged as the race winner.

Before race two it was already clear that either Priaulx or Thompson would become the 2007 World Champion as Muller was not able to start the race. But there was no doubt about Priaulx's determination to take both the victory and the title. He did an excellent start and kept the lead. After a few laps the 33-year-old had already built up a gap on Thompson, who had been able to improve from fourth to second place. Priaulx withstood the pressure, made no mistakes and crossed the line as winner for the third time this year, thus securing the fourth consecutive FIA touring car title. In 2004 he had topped the standings in the European Championship as well.

Further down the field turbulent things happened. When he tried avoiding another car, Zanardi found himself on the exit road in the "Lisboa" corner after the start. On lap 3 he retired due to a technical problem. His team-mate Porteiro was rewarded for a strong performance on his maiden Macau appearance by finishing seventh in race two. He ended the season in 12th place overall. Zanardi took 15th position in the final standings. In his third race weekend for BMW Team UK, Ekblom scored his first WTCC point by finishing ninth. Guest driver Colin Turkington (GBR/Team Aviva), who came eighth in a BMW 320si, was not eligible to score points for the championship. Muller, who caught up in an impressive drive from 12th to fifth, left Macau empty-handed following the accident just before the end of the race.

Reactions:

BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen: "This has certainly been the most competitive season we have experienced in the World Touring Car Championship to date. Never before had we been in such a difficult starting position. For the first time, we were not the favourites when travelling to Macau. We knew that something unexpected had to happen to enable us to win the championship. But Macau has always been very special. You have to push hard until the chequered flag comes out - and this was again the case today. We could not expect what happened during the races, but then our drivers seized the chance that was offered. Congratulations to Andy Priaulx, BMW Team UK and all our employees in Munich, who worked very hard for this success. Congratulations also go to our competitors, who didn't make it easy for us until the very final race."

Andy Priaulx (BMW Team UK): "I never give up. But I knew that something special was needed today. To win the championship you need some luck, but you also have to be there and grab it. This simply was my day. Thanks to BMW and everyone who supported me even after a difficult day like yesterday, we managed to bounce back in today's races. However, I would also like to say I feel sorry for Yvan Muller who had a fantastic season. On the other hand, I'm simply very happy just now."

Augusto Farfus (BMW Team Germany): "Quite obviously I'm very disappointed. After Yvan Muller's retirement I would have had the chance to play an important role in the title fight again. But then this unnecessary accident occurred. Congratulations to Andy. He was at the right place at the right time today."

Jorg Muller (BMW Team Germany): "I gave my best in race two to gain some ground, but it wasn't to be. If you are pushed off by another driver on the final lap, then this always comes as a disappointment. I'm happy that BMW was again able to claim all titles. I will launch another assault on the title in 2008."

-credit: bmw.de

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