Okayama: BMW preview

BMW national teams aim to close points gap in Japan. Munich, 26th October 2009. The 2009 FIA World Touring Car Championship is approaching the finish line. This weekend sees the BMW national teams contest rounds 21 and 22 in Okayama (JP), with...

BMW national teams aim to close points gap in Japan.

Munich, 26th October 2009. The 2009 FIA World Touring Car Championship is approaching the finish line. This weekend sees the BMW national teams contest rounds 21 and 22 in Okayama (JP), with the final two races being hosted three weeks later by the Guia Circuit in Macau (CN).

In order to take the fight to the last round, the BMW drivers need strong results in Japan. BMW Team Germany's Augusto Farfus (BR) lies third in the drivers' classification with 91 points, a deficit of 18 points on championship leader Gabriele Tarquini (IT/SEAT).In the Manufacturers' Championship BMW has 250 points, 21 less than SEAT.

Also on the weekend's programme are races for the new Asian Le Mans Series, which makes its debut at Okayama. The BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team has entered a BMW M3 GT2 for both three-hour races. Tommy Milner (US) and Dirk Muller (DE), who have experience of the car from American Le Mans Series events, will be at the wheel of the GT sports car. In addition, Formula BMW Pacific will stage its 13th and 14th rounds of the season in Japan, completing the strong line-up for BMW this weekend.

Andy Priaulx (BMW Team UK):

"The fans in Japan certainly appreciate touring car racing, which creates a very special atmosphere. Last year a fan even painted his BMW M3 in our BMW Team UK colours, which was impressive. That weekend was a lot of fun."

Jorg Muller (BMW Team Germany):

"I certainly enjoyed the first race in Okayama in 2008. Unfortunately my rain tyres went off, which meant I had to let Rickard Rydell through. However, the podium place was a consolation. The fans in Japan are unique. I really enjoy the friendliness of the people in Japan."

Augusto Farfus (BMW Team Germany):

"The hospitality which we enjoyed last year in Okayama was fantastic. Now that the fans know our championship they will hopefully be even more enthusiastic. Obviously for me this is an important weekend. I have nothing to lose, so will be in full attack mode."

Alessandro Zanardi (BMW Team Italy-Spain):

"Were it not for the track's very slippery surface, then I would probably love it. I like to brake late, then let the car roll into the corner and use understeer to calm the car down. However, in Okayama that does not work well. Despite this I am hoping for a good result in order to justify the long journey. Last weekend I scored my maiden hand bike win at the Venice Marathon. It would be nice to keep this positive trend."

Sergio Hernandez (BMW Team Italy-Spain):

"I will always remember Okayama because it was there that I stood on a podium for the first time in my WTCC career - and hopefully not for the last time. As a driver it is possible to concentrate fully on the race as there is nothing around the circuit to distract us. The circuit is varied and offers all types of corners."

Dirk Muller (BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team):

"I'm really looking forward to our appearance with the BMW M3 GT2 in the Asian Le Mans Series. The field in the GT2 category looks strong - so it will be far from easy to win. BMW has a very high presence in Okayama this year. I will keep my fingers crossed for my fellow BMW drivers in the WTCC and look forward to watching the Formula BMW Pacific youngsters in action. This promises to be a great weekend."

History and background:

Last year Okayama made its debut on the World Touring Car Championship calendar, with four BMW drivers making it to the podium: Jorg Muller finished the first race, held on a wet track, in second place, followed closely by Andy Priaulx; on a drying surface, Augusto Farfus amassed eight points in the second race with second place, while Sergio Hernandez took third.

The "Okayama International Circuit" is named after the Japanese region of the same name. The city of Okayama is situated sixty kilometres to the south, with the circuit actually falling within Mimasaka, which was only founded in 2005 after the amalgamation of numerous communities.

The race track was built in 1992 as the "Tanaka International Circuit Aida". It changed hands in 2003, with the renaming following on 1st May 2004. Beside the WTCC, the 3.703-kilometre circuit hosts Japanese Formula 3 as well as various national sports and touring car championships.

Last year's WTCC races were the first official FIA events at the OIC for 13 years. In 1994 and 1995 the circuit hosted two Formula One Grands Prix. Both Pacific Grand Prix races were won by Michael Schumacher (DE).

Dirk Muller and Andy Priaulx experienced the BMW M3 GT2 on 17th October, scoring a podium place in only the new car's second race in Europe. The BMW works drivers finished second in the ninth round of the VLN Endurance Championship at the Nurburgring-Nordschleife.

Both WTCC rounds will be contested over 14 laps, equating to a distance of 51.84 kilometres. On Sunday the first race starts at 13:55hrs local time (04:55hrs GMT), with the second getting underway at 16:05hrs (07:05hrs GMT).

On Saturday at 17:50hrs the full line-up of BMW national team drivers will be available for interviews in the BMW Suite situated on the first floor of the pit building.

-credit: bmw

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About this article
Series WTCC
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Andy Priaulx , Dirk Müller , Jorg Muller , Augusto Farfus , Sergio Hernandez , Rickard Rydell , Tommy Milner