Priaulx wins for BMW in Porto - Muller takes championship lead. Porto (Portugal), BMW Team UK's Andy Priaulx (GBR) claimed victory in the 12th round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship. At the "Circuito da Boavista" in Porto, he shared the...
Priaulx wins for BMW in Porto - Muller takes championship lead.
Porto (Portugal), BMW Team UK's Andy Priaulx (GBR) claimed victory in the 12th round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship. At the "Circuito da Boavista" in Porto, he shared the podium with the new championship leader Jorg Muller (GER) of BMW Team Germany and Chevrolet's Alain Menu (SUI), who finished second and third respectively. By taking seventh place in the morning race, Priaulx had secured second grid position for race two and converted it perfectly to his maiden win of the season despite carrying 55 kilograms of handicap weight. In race one, it was Menu who celebrated on the top step of the podium.
Thanks to positions eight and two secured in Portugal, Muller now has 58 points to his tally, thus being the new leader of the drivers' classification. His team-mate Augusto Farfus (BRA) and Priaulx follow in second and third place, just two points behind the 37-year-old. Farfus had travelled to the Atlantic Coast as the leading driver in the championship. He narrowly missed out points by finishing ninth in race one. But he managed to work his way up to sixth place in round two. Just like Muller, Farfus was carrying the maximum ballast of 60 kilograms. In the Manufacturers' Championship, BMW has accumulated a total of 167 points over the past 12 rounds, holding a comfortable lead.
For Priaulx and Muller, the first race at the 4.720-kilometre track took a comparably unspectacular course. Priaulx defended seventh place at the start and kept that position until the very end of the race. Muller overtook BMW Team Italy-Spain driver Alessandro Zanardi (ITA) after the "rolling" start and finished the first lap in eighth place. Just as Priaulx did, Muller delivered a flawless performance at the tight street circuit and kept his place - and pole position for round two - until the chequered flag was waved.
Farfus, who had gained tenth place from James Thompson (GBR/Alfa Romeo) at the start, tried to follow Muller's example and also launched an attack on Zanardi. However, during this overtaking manoeuvre, both cars touched, thus forcing Zanardi into a spin which cost him several positions. Farfus crossed the line in ninth place, while Zanardi came 16th, one place ahead of his team-mate Felix Porteiro (ESP). The race saw a four-lap safety car period, after SEAT private driver Emmet O'Brian (IRL) had hit the barriers. The following pile-up also sent BMW privateer Sergio Hernandez (ESP) and Roberto Colciago (ITA/SEAT) into an early retirement.
In the second race of the day, the safety car was deployed once again. On lap 6, Miguel Freitas (PRT) had lost control of his Alfa Romeo in the chicane before the pit straight and hit the wall. Before the race was neutralised for three laps, Muller and Priaulx had built up a gap on the rest of the field. Muller defended the lead at the start, but Priaulx put the German under constant pressure on the following laps. When Muller locked a front wheel on lap 5, Priaulx seized the opportunity and passed his fellow BMW driver for first place. This order remained unchanged until the end and meant the sixth BMW one-two victory this season.
Farfus experienced "mixed emotions" in race two. At the start, he gained two positions and improved to seventh place. In the following two laps, however, he had to let Menu and Robert Huff (GBR) pass again. But Farfus was far from giving up his hopes for further championship points. A successful overtaking move against Gabriele Tarquini (ITA/SEAT) on lap 10 put him in eighth place. Accidents for Huff on lap 12 and Nicola Larini (ITA/Chevrolet) on the final lap meant sixth place for Farfus, when he took the chequered flag. The two BMW Team Italy-Spain drivers, however, had no chance to go for points as they were stuck in the middle of the pack throughout the race. Zanardi finished 15th, Porteiro had to make do with 18th place, following a pit stop caused by a blocked cooling intake.
Jorg Muller (BMW Team Germany):
"I'm really happy that I managed to leave my car in one piece today. Conditions were anything but ideal. Leading the field on this track is particularly tricky. If you get off the line just by a few centimetres that could mean the end of your race. Before Andy passed me, I had braked too late and locked a front wheel. I got off the line - and he used his chance. However, I'm not too sad about it, as I'm the new championship leader."
Andy Priaulx (BMW Team UK):
"I respect the other drivers too much to say that I expected this victory. But it simply was about time for it to come. I already had a few chances this year, but it didn't happen. Now I finally did it. A big thank you to Jorg. You can always be sure that you can go flat out side by side through the corner and nothing will happen. The fight was good fun. It's too early to think about the championship. It's a moving target for all of us. This will be an exciting second half of the season."
Augusto Farfus (BMW Team Germany):
"In race one, I saw the chance of getting past Alessandro Zanardi and gave it a try. However, it didn't work out. I braked hard to avoid touching his car, but it was too late. I'm really sorry for Alessandro. In race two, it was my goal to score at least some points, which I did. Points scored on street circuits are especially valuable. The championship is closer than ever."