TITLE FIGHT GOES DOWN TO THE WIRE AT MACAU Three drivers are heading for the streets of Macau with a chance of claiming the inaugural FIA World Touring Car Championship (FIA WTCC) on November 20. Dirk MÃ¼ller, Andy Priaulx and...
TITLE FIGHT GOES DOWN TO THE WIRE AT MACAU
Three drivers are heading for the streets of Macau with a chance of claiming the inaugural FIA World Touring Car Championship (FIA WTCC) on November 20. Dirk Müller, Andy Priaulx and Fabrizio Giovanardi will arrive in South-East Asia for the Macau Guia tin-top classic separated by just five points, with a total of 20 up for grabs over the two races that make the series finale.
As the new FIA WTCC heads towards a thrilling climax on the 3.8-mile Guia circuit in Macau, the lead of the championship has again changed hands. BMW Team UK's Andy Priaulx, who carries the number 1 by virtue of winning last year's FIA European Touring Car Championship (FIA ETCC), headed the championship table by one point going into the penultimate race at Valencia on October 2. The Briton claimed a third and a fourth in the two Spanish races, but arch-rival Dirk Müller, who drives for the Schnitzer-run BMW Team Deutschland, outscored him by two points.
Fabrizio Giovanardi, who drives for the factory Alfa Romeo Racing Team, kept his hopes alive with second place in race two, to go with a sixth in race one. The multiple touring car champion will now arrive in Macau five points behind Müller.
Dirk Müller, who lost out to Priaulx in a thrilling FIA ETCC finale 12 months ago, said: "I'm happy to be back in the lead of the championship. Last year I went to the last round 12 points ahead and lost it, this time I am only one point ahead, but I am going to make it. The title could depend on which wall is eating which driver. I'm hoping the walls aren't hungry when I come along."
Andy Priaulx, who will be racing at Macau for the sixth time, said: "I may be behind, but I don't feel any pressure. I've already won a championship. This is the time of year that the aggressive and determined Andy Priaulx has to come out to play. I think I proved that in my battle with Dirk for third position in Valencia."
Fabrizio Giovanardi, who will be racing at Macau for the first time since 1988, said: "It was really hard to keep second place in race two at Valencia, but I didn't have any choice if I wanted to stay in with a chance of the title. If Andy and Dirk had passed me it would have been all over. I'm really happy to be in the fight to the end and I hope it doesn't take me too long to remember which way the track at Macau goes."
The battle for honours in the prestigious FIA WTCC LG-Guia Race of Macau - Presented by Sociedade de Jogos de Macau, S.A. isn't only about BMW and Alfa Romeo. SEAT, winners of race one last time out at Valencia with its new León model, Chevrolet, Ford and Honda are all doing battle in the FIA WTCC this year.
The Michelin Independents' Trophy for privateer teams also remains wide open. Double points are up for grabs in the two races that make up the Macau event. That means no fewer than five drivers are in with a mathematical chance of taking the title.
German Marc Hennerici, who races a BMW for the Wiechers-Sport team, has a healthy 15-point lead over Giuseppe Ciro. The Proteam BMW driver jumped three places in the championship table at Valencia with a pair of second places. A further two points behind in third place comes Macau regular Tom Coronel, who is driving a SEAT Toledo Cupra R for the British-based GR Asia team. BMW drivers Carl Rosenblad and Stefano D'Aste are, respectively, a further seven and nine points behind in fourth and fifth places.
The stage is set for a truly memorable FIA WTCC grand finale and Macau debut!