ALEX ZANARDI CLAIMS HIS FIRST VICTORY WHILE PRIAULX CLOSES IN TO ONE POINT BEHIND DIRK
BMW had a great day on their home racetrack. Not only did the German cars win both races at Oschersleben, but they also finished 1-2-3 in the second one. These results, together with Alfa Romeo's blackest day, also meant that two BMW drivers Dirk Muller and Andy Priaulx are pulling away in the Drivers' Championship. The two of them, who fought for the title until the final race in last year's FIA European Touring Car Championship, are separated by only one point. However, despite being scoreless today, Alfa Romeo's leading man Fabrizio Giovanardi remains within striking distance, 12 points from the lead.
But the hero of the seventh meeting of the season was definitely Alessandro Zanardi, who managed to claim his first win since he joined the FIA Touring Car Championship two years ago. In Oschersleben which, ironically, is the closest circuit to the Lausitz Eurospeedway, where Zanardi lost his legs five years ago, the BMW Team Italy-Spain driver dominated the second race from lights to flag, resisting the assaults of his fellow BMW colleague Jorg Muller. After the chequered flag, Alex resumed his own winning ritual from the Formula Cart years, wheelspinning his car in a cloud of smoke before the crowded grandstands.
SEAT, Ford and Chevrolet also had reasons to rejoyce. The Spanish Manufacturer claimed another podium result with Rickard Rydell, who climbed up to sixth in the Drivers' Championship, while Jordi Gene showed the potential of the Leon, finishing twice in the points while on the new cars' first appearance.
On their home track, the Ford Focus cars were competitive than ever before, with both drivers being able to fight for top ten positions, and Thomas Klenke losing a comfortable 7th place in Race 2 because of a puncture. In any case the six points scored in the Manufacturers' Championship were a nice birthday present for team principal Hans Hotfiel. As for Chevrolet, Alain Menu managed to score again, after a tough battle with Zanardi's team mate Antonio Garcia.
RACE 1 PENALTY FOR THOMPSON WIN FOR PRIAULX
Andy Priaulx claimed his first win of the season. At the start the Briton overtook Farfus, which left only James Thompson's Alfa Romeo ahead of him. Unusually, Thompson had incurred a drive through penalty before the start of the race because his car was still on air-jacks when the three minute board was shown. This was not a team mistake, an electric cable of a tyre-warmer got stuck. It was in lap six that Thompson pulled into the pits and handed the lead to the eventual race winner.
Rickard Rydell crossed the line 2nd after holding off the BMW Muller duo for seven laps. Overall, it was a great race for SEAT. Terting claimed 5th, Ortelli finished an impressive 6th on his FIA WTCC debut and Gene took 7th position in the new Leon. Alfa Romeo certainly did not have the same fortune as none of their drivers scored points in the drivers' championship. Their best result came from Farfus who took 9th. Giovanardi was hit by Cirò in lap 1, which caused the Alfa Romeo to spin and re-join last. Despite visiting the pits and continuing for a while, he did not finish the race. Tarquini went wide at a corner on lap 5 and rejoined 12th. After being overtaken by Funke on lap 12, he eventually finished 13th.
Jorg Muller was the final podium occupier. He had a fantastic start as his BMW leapt from 11th to 5th coming into the first corner. In the latter part of the race Jorg had 2nd place in his sights but couldn't find an opportunity to pass Rydell. Dirk Muller finished behind his team-mate in 4th.
Ford had their best results so far as Thomas Klenke finished a great 10th and Funke 12th, meaning 4 points in the Manufacturers' Championship for the Blue Oval. Alain Menu headed a struggling Chevrolet team by passing the chequered flag 11th while Larini and Huff were 17th and 23rd respectively. Eric Helary did not finish for Peugeot as he stopped on the track during lap 10. Adrianol De Micheli was the victor of the Independent category and 15th overall in his Honda, the first success for the Italian driver.
RACE 2 ZANARDI LEAD A BMW 1-2-3
Alessandro Zanardi claimed a spectacular win in the FIA WTCC the first for him and his BMW Team Italy-Spain. He started from pole due to the reverse grid and he drove a solid race to ensure he was the victor. It was in fact a BMW 1-2-3 as Jorg Muller and Andy Priaulx made their second podium appearance of the day. The set of three were very close and Jorg was sitting 2nd on the last lap when he made a nail-biting challenge on Zanardi but went wide and rejoined 3rd. This promoted Priaulx which now means he is just one point behind Dirk Muller in the driver's championship.
At the start Ortelli was hit by fellow SEAT driver Terting and both went off the track. The former continued to finish 15th while the latter pitted and did not re-join. In an attempt to avoid this incident, De Micheli and Hennerici crashed and re-joined towards the back of the field. On lap 2 Giovanardi's misfortune continued as he collided with Rosenblad and crashed into the barriers.
The race was extremely tight over the next few laps with the top 11 drivers crossing the line within 4 seconds. Among the pack were Rydell and Tarquini who were battling for 7th place. On lap 5 contact was made and the Alfa Romeo was forced wide losing five positions in the process and eventually finishing 14th. The SEAT Sport man managed to hold on to 7th while his team-mate Gene had a brilliant 4th place finish in the new Leon after being third for ten laps. A fight for the final point position was being contested by Garcia and Menu with the Chevrolet eventually crossing the line ahead of the BMW. All the Chevrolet drivers had better results than in Race 1 as Larini and Huff achieved 11th and 12th.
Ford Hotfiel Sport's Thomas Klenke was having a great race and made it up to 7th position overtaking Rydell, until on lap 10 he had problems and had to pit. He returned and passed the chequered flag 20th. However, all was not lost as Funke claimed another 10th position for the team.