DAMAGED TYRE DENIES KLENKE FIRST POINTS
Oschersleben, August 28th, 2005. Ford Team Hotfiel Sport driver Thomas Klenke narrowly missed out on the team's first ever drivers' points during a hugely encouraging display at the seventh round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship at Oschersleben. The 38-year-old German held seventh place at the wheel of his Ford Focus WTCC for most of the second race until a tyre deflated on lap 8, forcing him into the pits.
Klenke had started the first heat from tenth on the grid but lost two positions on the first lap. "I had too much wheelspin at the start and got hit from behind twice. After that, my steering was out of alignment. This meant I had effectively lost my chances of improving to eighth and I decided to avoid any dramas and bring the car home in one piece in 10th."
His team-mate Michael Funke started from 16th place in a similar Focus WTCC and made up four places to finish 12th. "I felt there was something wrong with my differential," he said. "I had a lot of wheelspin in right-hand corners." The mechanics identified a loose bolt on the steering rack which caused too much travel in the steering wheel, leaving the impression of severe wheelspin.
At the start of race 2, Klenke made a clear getaway and benefited from a few collisions around him. He improved to eighth spot on the opening lap and overtook the Seat of Rickard Rydell on lap 7, pulling away from the Swede easily until his tyre trouble.
"Earlier on in the race, I had to take avoiding action when driving with a bunch of cars. In doing so, I took a curb harder than I'd normally do. I'm afraid that caused the damage to my tyre or the rim," said Klenke. "It's a shame that I didn't have the luck to bring the car home and score our first ever drivers' points -- it would have made a nice birthday present for our team principal, Hans Hotfiel."
Funke drove a faultless race and improved to tenth. "I still felt a lot of wheelspin, which prevented me from pushing really hard. It would have been nice to end up in the points. But you have to be realistic -- our performance here was very encouraging nevertheless."
Hotfiel, who turned 43 today, said: "So near and yet so far. We could already see the first points coming our way -- but it was not to be. Quite naturally, we are disappointed by such a near miss. But you have to step back a little and look at the bigger picture. This race proved that we are indeed heading in the right direction. We showed what both the Focus and the team are capable of. We can leave Oschersleben with our heads held very high indeed. It was a good race for us, and it was a much needed encouragement."