ON THE EVE OF THE FINAL BATTLE
The final rounds of the 2009 FIA World Touring Car Championship will take place tomorrow - Sunday - at 12.05 and 13.25 local time.
The two 9-lap races will decide the fights for both the Drivers' and the Manufacturers' World titles.
In the Drivers' Championship SEAT Sport's Gabriele Tarquini leads from his team-mate and reigning champion Yvan Muller by 2 points. BMW Team Germany's Augusto Farfus is the only other competitor still in contention and lies 13 points behind Tarquini with 20 to be awarded. In the Manufacturers' Championship, SEAT leads BMW by 3 points with 36 still at stake.
Farfus will start the first race from third on the grid, with Tarquini and Muller in seventh and eighth respectively.
Today was a day off for WTCC as the racing programme was dedicated to the Motorcycling Grand Prix and the Formula 3 qualification race.
However, it was a full working day for the crews of SEAT Sport and Chevrolet who were trying to repair the cars of Tarquini, Muller and Alain Menu that were seriously damaged in yesterday's qualifying.
TARQUINI AND MULLER FIT TO RACE
Yvan Muller and Gabriele Tarquini have been declared fit to take part in tomorrow's championship-deciding races. Both the SEAT sport drivers were involved in a severe crash in qualifying on Friday. After tests at a local hospital and a night's rest the pair were seen by the FIA doctors Jean-Jacques Isserman and Jacques Tropenat this afternoon and given the all clear.
Gabriele Tarquini stated: "Physically I feel a bit stiff but fortunately we have had one day to recover so I hope that tomorrow I wake up a little bit better than now. I was optimistic for another pole but ended up in the hospital so you know never know. I couldn't have avoided the accident. It was the track conditions and Yvan stopped just after the cloud of cement dust and I couldn't avoid him. I was on full throttle and hit him at 130kph. The car was destroyed so I thought it was impossible to make the races but the mechanics said not to worry and they repaired it."
Yvan Muller said: "I am able to race, I feel well but for some muscular pains. I fold but I don't break. There was doubt about my car but the team did a fantastic job. It was a lot of hours of work but they did it. I'm a bit disappointed because my lap time before the crash was fast but probably too fast! Macau is impossible to predict so I don't like to guess what might happen tomorrow. I don't like to gamble!"
SEAT TEAM WORKED AT NIGHT ON THE CARS
The SEAT Sport team crew worked most of the night to repair Tarquini's and Muller's cars. They finished at 2.00 on Saturday morning, and after some sleep they came back to the track to fix the last details. "Gabriele's car was not so bad. It was a head-on impact and we are used to it. On the other hand, Yvan's car had suffered more substantial damage, especially at the rear. We had to take out the roll cage to repair the chassis. But in the end both cars are like new now," SEAT Sport technical director Benoit Bagur explained.
The team also changed the engine on Tarquini's car, however the Italian driver will not be penalised because of art. 74 of the Sporting Regulations, that allows engine changes in case of massive accidents.
NO RACES FOR THOMPSON AND D'ASTE
After Kirill Ladygin who destroyed his car during Friday's free practice, the WTCC field has lost another two cars: Stefano D'Aste's BMW and James Thompson's LADA that were damaged beyond repair in the qualifying session after the Briton crashed into D'Aste's stationary car.
Thompson would have not raced anyway as he is currently forced to use crutches having suffered from bruises to his feet.
"I want to thank the medical staff, because they were very efficient and professional. And I also wish to thank Stefano D'Aste, who stayed with me all the time. I appreciated it a lot especially because after the crash I momentarily lost my sight. Having Stefano with me when I was transported to the hospital was very reassuring," said Thompson.