Oschersleben: BMW Motorsport preview

Home event in Oschersleben: BMW aims to extend championship lead. Munich, 22nd August 2005. The FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) is stopping off in Germany for races 13 and 14 of the season. The battle for the World Championship title...

Home event in Oschersleben: BMW aims to extend championship lead.

Munich, 22nd August 2005. The FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) is stopping off in Germany for races 13 and 14 of the season. The battle for the World Championship title enters its next round in the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben. The situation ahead of the two races on this 3.667-kilometre circuit could hardly be more exciting.

Dirk Müller (GER) of BMW Team Deutschland travels to Oschersleben as leader of the championship rankings. However, his lead over his closest rival, Alfa Romeo driver Fabrizio Giovanardi (ITA), amounts to just four points. Next in line is the reigning European Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx (GBR), driving for BMW Team UK and waiting for his chance to close the gap to his rivals. BMW leads the Manufacturers' Championship with 159 points, putting it just ahead of Alfa Romeo (155) prior to the Oschersleben races.

Local hero Dirk Müller can't wait to hit the track before the crowds of German motor racing fans. "I'm really looking forward to competing in Germany in the WTCC," says the 29-year-old. "Races in your home country are always something very special. You meet a lot of friends and acquaintances, and that gives you an added incentive." Along with Priaulx and Giovanardi, Dirk Müller will be lining up with the maximum weight handicap of 60 kilograms. Antonio Garcia (ESP) of BMW Team Italy-Spain will also have an extra 40 kilos on board his BMW 320i. BMW Team Deutschland driver Jörg Müller (GER) and Garcia's team-mate Alessandro Zanardi (ITA) will enjoy the advantage of racing without additional weights.

After the racing circuit in Puebla, the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben is the shortest track on the WTCC calendar. Its mix of sweeping turns and long straights poses a challenge to the drivers. On the high-speed sections a powerful engine is of the essence. Statistics show that the circuit suits the rear-wheel-drive BMW 320i. Six races of the European Touring Car Championship were held at Oschersleben between 2002 and 2004, and on five occasions a BMW driver took the top podium place.

Two of these successes were claimed by the current World Championship leader Dirk Müller, who won both FIA ETCC races three years ago. "Essentially I'm very fond of the circuit," he says. "However, the 60 kilos extra weight won't make things easy for me. But my immediate rivals are in the same position. Oschersleben only has a few passing opportunities, which is why a good grid position is important. I hope to benefit from the reverse starting order in the second race."

For the first time, the German ZDF channel will also be broadcasting the two FIA WTCC races live alongside Eurosport. ZDF will be reporting on the WTCC in a ZDF SPORTextra from 15.05 hrs CET. The first race starts on Sunday at 15.15 hrs CET.

-bmw-

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Series WTCC
Drivers Fabrizio Giovanardi , Antonio Garcia , Dirk Müller , Jorg Muller