Andy Priaulx (GBR) is the old and new World Touring Car Champion. At the FIA WTCC's season finale in Macau, the BMW Team UK driver added a fifth win to his tally in race one and finished fifth in the second round. With 73 points under his belt, he...
Andy Priaulx (GBR) is the old and new World Touring Car Champion. At the FIA WTCC's season finale in Macau, the BMW Team UK driver added a fifth win to his tally in race one and finished fifth in the second round. With 73 points under his belt, he secured his second consecutive world title.
Jorg Muller (GER) from BMW Team Germany was beaten by his brand-mate by just a single point. The 37-year-old won the final race of the season at the "Guia Circuit", following a sixth-place finish in the first round of the day. In the Manufacturers' Championship BMW has a 19-point lead over SEAT. With 254 points, the marquee also defended this championship title.
Priaulx made history at one of the world's most demanding tracks. He is the first touring car driver since Roberto Ravaglia (ITA), now Team Principal of BMW Team Italy-Spain, who succeeded in winning three FIA Touring Car Championship titles in a row. In 2004 he secured title glory in the European Touring Car Championship, last year he won the FIA WTCC.
Whenever a world title was up for grabs in touring car racing, it was carried away by a BMW driver. By winning both the Drivers' and the Manufacturers' Championship, the BMW 320si WTCC finished a truly successful maiden season in motorsports. The drivers of the BMW national teams scored a total of 11 wins out of 20 races with the car that was developed by BMW Motorsport on the basis of the road-going series car with the same name.
With a good start from pole in race one, Priaulx laid the foundation for his second triumph. He defended the lead and delivered a flawless performance over the course of the following laps. For the drivers further back in the field, however, the first lap was a more turbulent affair. Duncan Huisman (NLD) of BMW Team Italy-Spain kept out of all this turmoil by improving from fourth to second at the start. Jorg Muller who started from fifth on the grid, lost one place. His team-mate, Dirk Muller (GER), who prior to the final two races also had the chance to become World Champion, experienced a dose of bad luck: When approaching the renowned Lisboa bend, he was pushed by Fabrizio Giovanardi (ITA) and lost control of his car. With his car sideways, the 31-year-old blocked the track for a while, before continuing in the race. However, the best position he could achieve after this incident was 14th. This meant that Dirk Muller was out of the title fight.
The races of Alessandro Zanardi (ITA) from BMW Team Italy-Spain and Jan Magnussen (DEN), who was competing for BMW Team UK, were also spoiled by this situation. Magnussen was forced to return to the pits with a damaged car, while Zanardi was at least able to resume the race following a pit stop for repairs. The 40-year-old finished 23rd. At the top of the field, Priaulx dictated the pace and collected ten valuable points after nine racing laps. Huisman also completed a great race and took the chequered flag in second position.
With 69 points under his belt, Priaulx held a five-point lead over Augusto Farfus (BRA) and was seven points ahead of Jorg Muller in the title race at this point in time. Farfus and Jorg Muller had fought a tough duel for fifth place, with the German finally crossing the line in sixth place. This meant that the championship was to be decided in the very final race of the year.
Jorg Muller had to win race two in order to gain ground on Priaulx, and at the start he took the first crucial step towards victory. From third place he passed Peter Terting (GER) and Tom Coronel (NLD), thus taking the lead. However, Priaulx also improved by two positions and was already running in sixth when the safety car came out at the end of lap one. As was the the case in race one, a collision in the midfield hampered the progress of many BMW drivers. Huisman dropped back from seventh to 17th, while Magnussen was sent into yet another early retirement. Dirk Muller, on the other hand, improved from 14th to eighth. Zanardi leap-frogged the field from 21st to 11th. For Priaulx and Jorg Muller, however, it was more important that the third title contender, Farfus, had crashed on lap one and retired. Now it was obvious: The title fight had turned into a two-horse race. At the end of lap four, the safety car pulled off. Jorg Muller benefited from technical problems on Terting.s car at the re-start, as the SEAT with a misfire held up the rest of the field.
Consequently, Jorg Muller was quickly was to open up a gap over his rivals and secured the all-important victory. For Priaulx, sixth place would have been enough to win the title. But he did even better than that. Following Terting.s retirement he moved into fifth position and held this place until the end, thus scoring four points and keeping Jorg Muller at bay in the drivers. classification. Dirk Muller secured sixth place in the championship by coming eighth in race two. Zanardi finished ninth, Huisman brought home his damaged car home in 13th place.
"I was here to get important points for the Manufacturers' championship. Even if I had the chance to attack Andy in Race 1 I wouldn't have done it because I'm not stupid. He had a good chance of winning the title and I didn't. Instead I stayed behind him and managed to give him a slight gap. In Race 2 I got quite a good start. I had Andy behind me at the Mandarin Oriental bend and I didn't want to block him. I was then touched by others at Lisboa and the subsequent corners which bent my suspension and so I lost speed".
-credit: ROAL motorsport