Farfus finishes second twice in Pau - Muller also on the podium for BMW. Pau, 17th May 2009. BMW Team Germany's Augusto Farfus (BR) emerged as the most successful BMW driver in rounds seven and eight of the FIA World Touring Car Championship. He...
Farfus finishes second twice in Pau - Muller also on the podium for BMW.
Pau, 17th May 2009. BMW Team Germany's Augusto Farfus (BR) emerged as the most successful BMW driver in rounds seven and eight of the FIA World Touring Car Championship. He finished second in both races. His team-mate Jorg Muller (DE) joined him on the podium after race one by finishing third, while Chevrolet driver Robert Huff (GB) claimed victory. Alain Menu (CH, Chevrolet) took the win in race two, while Huff came home third. However, Farfus and Muller weren't the only ones to score points for BMW: BMW Team UK's Andy Priaulx (GB) finished both races in fourth. BMW Team Italy-Spain also added points to its tally. Sergio Hernandez (ES) came fifth in race one, Alessandro Zanardi (IT) achieved the same feat in the second race of the day.
In the Drivers' Championship, Farfus now has 39 points to his name and successfully reduced the gap to the leader, Yvan Muller (FR), to six points. In the manufacturers' classification, BMW increased its points tally to 91, 16 points behind leaders SEAT.
Before the start of race one, the actual starting grid remained uncertain for a long while. At the post qualifying technical inspection of the data from all the cars, several of them, including the BMW 320si WTCC's of Andy Priaulx and Sergio Hernandez, were found to exceed the maximum permitted revs. This over revving of the 8,500rpm mark only occurred when the drivers were down shifting. In what was considered a surprising decision, the FIA Stewards of the Meeting judged these over revs to be in breach of the regulations. The BMW national teams decided not to appeal this decision. However, they believe it is not in the spirit of the sport, especially as over revving during down shifting has been accepted in all motorsport championships around the world for many years.
The cars concerned had their times disallowed from the second part of qualifying. Therefore Priaulx started from fifth instead of pole position for race one, Farfus moved up to the front. At the start he successfully defended his lead. On lap 2, however, Farfus' car lost momentum in turn 3 after sliding on some oil. This gave Huff, who had passed Muller for second at the start, the chance to grab the lead. Up to the chequered flag, Farfus put the leader under pressure, but didn't manage to pass him on this tight street circuit. Muller kept third until the very end, thus making it the first time this year that both BMW Team Germany drivers have been on the podium.
Priaulx, however, launched two successful attacks. On lap 3 he regained fifth place, which he had lost at the start. Nine laps later, the triple world champion also overtook Menu, finally crossing the line in fourth. Hernandez followed in fifth, thanks to several inspired overtaking manoeuvres that helped him to improve from his tenth grid position. Zanardi was also eyeing a top eight finish. But on lap 5 he was forced to retire after making a mistake and hitting the wall.
The start of the second race was a chaotic affair. In the first corner, Priaulx and Muller collided. The latter had to pit with a broken front suspension. Priaulx was able to continue in fifth. Farfus benefited from this incident and improved from seventh to fourth. Zanardi performed the best start of the BMW squad, gaining no less than nine places from 20th. Hernandez was on his way up and ran in fourth, when a collision with Felix Porteiro (ES) destroyed his hopes for a podium finish.
Following all these incidents the safety-car was deployed, resulting in a dangerous situation. The race leader, BMW privateer driver Franz Engstler (DE), was unable to avoid the safety-car when it drove out of the pits and straight onto the racing line in front of him. All those involved walked away from this accident without a scratch, but Engstler's race was over. The race was suspended and re-started after a lengthy break. Farfus and Priaulx both got past Porteiro on lap 6 and put some pressure on the Chevrolet drivers ahead of them. Farfus never managed to take the lead from Menu, nor could Priaulx pass Huff for third. By finishing second and fourth, the pairing reproduced their race one results. Zanardi's drive up the field came to an end in fifth, after he had overtaken another six cars.
Augusto Farfus (BMW Team Germany):
"In the first race I got on some oil in turn 3, which made me lose momentum. So Robert Huff was able to pass me. Afterwards I waited for him to make a mistake. But that never came. It was exactly the same in race two, this time behind Alain Menu. I'm happy for the team. Again we leave Pau with a lot of points in the bag."
Jorg Muller (BMW Team Germany):
"It was great to be back on the podium! At this circuit it's just impossible to overtake, unless the driver in front of you makes a mistake. Augusto didn't do me this favour in race one. It's a pity I didn't have the chance to add some points to my tally following the early accident in race two."
Andy Priaulx (BMW Team UK):
"I am not sure how to describe my weekend. Ten points is a good haul when you consider the last race in Marrakech. However, it could have been so much better if I had not lost my pole. Although the reason for the race being stopped was not good at all, I was relieved as I would have had to pit with my puncture."
Sergio Hernandez (BMW Team Italy-Spain):
"The first race went just great. I managed to gain many positions and clocked the fastest race lap for the first time in my career. Who knows where I could have finished in race two? But then Felix Porteiro put an end to my hopes. That's really disappointing, as we were very competitive here."
Alessandro Zanardi (BMW Team Italy-Spain):
"After qualifying I was very confident about scoring a good result here. The car underneath me was just really, really good. But then I ruined my first race with a mistake. The team worked perfectly to repair the car, so I could push hard again in race two. It was good fun to overtake so many competitors on such a track, where overtaking normally is impossible."