After a two-week gap WTCC takes the BMW national teams to Pau. Munich, 26th May 2008. This weekend, the BMW national team drivers contest the first street races of the FIA World Touring Car championship season. The "Circuit de Pau Ville" in...
After a two-week gap WTCC takes the BMW national teams to Pau.
Munich, 26th May 2008. This weekend, the BMW national team drivers contest the first street races of the FIA World Touring Car championship season. The "Circuit de Pau Ville" in France will be the venue of this year's second European WTCC event. The first two rounds on European soil were held last week at Valencia (ES). Just a fortnight after the Pau races, the season will continue in Brno (CZ).
In the second of three events staged within four weeks, BMW Team Germany driver, Jorg Muller (DE), takes the highest handicap weight on board his car. Having finished fifth and fourth in Spain, the German is sixth in the championship and will be handicapped by 35 kilograms. BMW Team UK's Andy Priaulx (GB), currently fifth in the drivers' ranking, will have to cope with 27 extra kilos. The success weights for BMW Team Italy-Spain driver, Felix Porteiro (ES), and Muller's team-mate, Augusto Farfus (BR), are obviously lower: nine and three kilograms respectively. Alessandro Zanardi (IT) goes into the races for BMW Team Italy-Spain without any ballast.
Andy Priaulx (BMW Team UK):
"Considering our results in the previous events, I hope we shall be able to turn the tables in Pau. And I'm confident, as I shall travel to France with clearly less handicap weight on board my car than I had last year. Overtaking in Pau is really difficult. Therefore, a good grid position is particularly important there."
Jorg Muller (BMW Team Germany):
"For me, last year's races in Pau didn't run as well as I had hoped they would. However, I still love this track - as I do every street circuit. On top of that, I won the Formula 3000 round held there in 1996. In several of the corners on this circuit you have to drive over extremely high curbs. That's a peculiarity you hardly find on any other street track."
Augusto Farfus (BMW Team Germany):
"This circuit definitely is one of my favourite venues. It's like a mini version of Monaco's Formula One circuit. Pau also gives you the feeling you are staying at a very special location. Having made it to the podium last year - despite rolling the car in qualifying - was a unique experience."
Felix Porteiro (BMW Team Italy-Spain):
"In Pau last year I drove in my maiden WTCC race on a street circuit - and made it into the points at my first attempt. In the second race I was even in reach of a podium finish. After my disappointing home races in Spain, I'm quite happy with the rather short break between the two events."
Alessandro Zanardi (BMW Team Italy-Spain):
"The second race in Pau last year was fun. From the back of the grid I managed to improve lap by lap. However, I finished in the thankless ninth position. The same as on all street circuits, overtaking is difficult in France. But there are some sections of the track where it's worth having a try."
History and Background:
Last year, Augusto Farfus won the afternoon round in Pau, thus celebrating his second win of the season. Andy Priaulx finished runner-up. In the morning race, Felix Porteiro was the best-placed BMW national team driver. He crossed the line in fifth, with Priaulx following right behind. In qualifying, Farfus caused the Schnitzer Motorsport crew a lot of work by rolling his BMW 320si WTCC spectacularly. Consequently, the team was particularly delighted with his triumph.
On the weekend prior to the French WTCC event, BMW Team Germany aces Farfus and Muller contested the Nurburgring 24-Hour race. The pairing shared the wheel of a BMW 320d entered by Schubert Motorsport with Fredrik Ekblom (SE) and Stian Sørlie (NO) and finished 13th overall. In the S1 category, the quartet claimed victory.
Motor racing venues as steeped in history as the "Circuit de Pau Ville" are rare. The inaugural race on the narrow streets was held back in 1901. In 1930 Pau was the venue for the very first "Grand Prix" in the history of the sport. Up to this point in time the label "GP" was used only for horse races. Since then, the "Grand Prix de Pau" has become an institution on the motorsport scene in France. In 2008 it will be held for the 68th time, while for the second time the World Touring Car Championship will be the main event.
From 1950 to 1963, Pau was also the venue for Formula One races. However, these races did not count as World Championship rounds. Still, the record book for the events looks like a "Who's Who" of motor racing in those days: among the winners on the track, that today is 2.760 kilometres long, were the likes of Juan Manuel Fangio, Alberto Ascari, Jack Brabham and Jim Clark.
Until 1984 Pau was a regular venue for the European Formula 2 Championship that was replaced by Formula 3000 from 1985. Henceforth, mainly up-and-coming young racing drivers took up the challenge represented by the demanding street circuit. Jorg Muller succeeded in shining there at the wheel of a Formula 3000 single-seater. In 1996 Pau was the venue for the second round of the season, and when the 72-lap race was over Kenny Brack (SE), who went on to win the Indianapolis 500, was the only driver who hadn't been lapped by the German. At the end of the day, Muller crossed the finish line with a 5.275-second lead over the Swede - and at the end of the season won the championship title.
Pau has some 80,000 inhabitants and is - after Bordeaux - the second biggest city in the Aquitaine region. Due to its closeness to the Pyrenees, it has been a regular venue for legs of the "Tour de France". Sixty times the most famous cycle race in the world has crossed the city.
Both WTCC rounds will be 19-lap races, a distance of 52.44 kilometres each. The first round will start on Sunday at 12:05hrs CEST (11:05hrs BST). Round two gets underway at 15:50hrs CEST. The two races are both covered live by Eurosport on TV and the official BMW Motorsport Website, at www.bmw-motorsport.com, online. On Saturday from 17:00hrs, the BMW national team drivers will be available for group interviews with the media in the BMW Hospitality.