NEXT STOP: BELGIUM From the shortest racetrack to the longest one. From Puebla Amozoc (3.0 km) on the Mexican highland, to Spa-Francorchamps (7.0 km) in the Belgian forest of the Ardennes. After its first overseas event, the FIA World Touring...
NEXT STOP: BELGIUM
From the shortest racetrack to the longest one. From Puebla Amozoc (3.0 km) on the Mexican highland, to Spa-Francorchamps (7.0 km) in the Belgian forest of the Ardennes. After its first overseas event, the FIA World Touring Car Championship is heading back to Europe for rounds 11 and 12 that will take place on Saturday 30th July. And the fight for both, the Drivers' and the Manufacturers' titles, is more open then ever. Despite a disappointing Mexican weekend, that left him scoreless, BMW's Dirk Muller has retained his leadership in the Drivers' Championship.
However his competitors have managed to closed the gap on him. Fabrizio Giovanardi currently the man in the best shape is only two points behind, while Andy Priaulx, Antonio Garcia and Gabriele Tarquini have 5, 8 and 9 point gaps respectively. With 20 points to be awarded in the Belgian meeting, three other drivers have theoretical chances to aim for the lead: Rickard Rydell (14 pts behind), James Thompson (15 pts) and Augusto Farfus (18 pts).
In the Manufacturers' Championship, Alfa Romeo and BMW have a joint lead at 129 points, with SEAT third, 31 points behind.
PUEBLA: A SUCCESSFUL EVENT
The meeting in Mexico was a crucial one for the newborn FIA WTCC, as it not only decreed the championship's globality, but also took place on a race track that nobody knew and that had been extensively rebuilt.
"I am pleased that we have sorted out all organisational and logistical issues, respecting the plans and making the races happen without technical problems," commented Marcello Lotti, General Manager of KSO.
"We have to acknowledge the efforts put up by the event promoters. Not only did they responded effectively to all the requests in terms of organisation and facilities, but also invested in a huge promotional campaign. And this resulted in a sell-out on the race day and massive attendance from the media, with more than 250 people accredited. An excellent beginning, with an aim to do even better next year."
KSO Chairman Jacques Behar added: "We wish to thank our main sponsor LG, and the car Manufacturers for their support, which has made possible to achieve such a success on our first event outside Europe."
BACK TO EUROPE BY SEA AND AIR
The FIA WTCC cars and parts are already on their way back to Europe. Most of the load was shipped back yesterday from Veracruz, on board the Mexican cargo ship `Yucatan', that is due to dock on the 18th of July in Antwerp, where all the teams will collect their own items.
However, six cars are flying back to Stuttgart, where they will be delivered this weekend. These are the five damaged in the incidents that happened in Puebla Jorg Muller's BMW, Adriano De Micheli's Honda, Nicola Larini's Chevrolet and the Alfa Romeo cars of James Thompson and Gabriele Tarquini plus Robert Huff's Chevrolet, that the team will use for a test in view of Spa.
ATTENDANCE ON SITE INCREASED BY 52 %
Official figures of on site attendance point out a drastic increase compared to last year's FIA European Touring Car Championship.
The 71,000 spectators who attended the Mexican weekend elevated the total number to 196,000 in five events, meaning an impressive average of 39,200 per meeting. And an increase of 51.9 % compared to 2004.
MAN OF THE WEEK: ROBERT HUFF
Rob Huff is Chevrolet's youngest driver. At Puebla he finished Race 1 in 6th position giving them their first Driver's points and more valuable manufacturers points. How was Race 1? "Brilliant, but very hard work. I was pushed all the way and had some great battles. There was always overtaking going on and so my result was satisfying." And Race 2? "A disappointment. When I was chasing Coronel I think a radiator hose burst and I slipped off on my own water."
How are Chevrolet progressing? "It's amazing: we started the season in the 20th position mark and five rounds later we qualified ninth and through the discrepancies of others ended up 6th on the grid. Everything is going in the right direction."
What do you expect from Spa? "It's a circuit with very long straights and this could be a problem as we are down on power compared to the others. However, chassis and brakes are working well and the suspension is fantastic, so you never know."
FIA EUROPEAN TOURING CAR CUP IN VALLELUNGA
Wedenesday in Paris, the FIA World Motor Sport Council has ratified that the maiden edition of the FIA European Touring Car Cup will take place at Vallelunga, Italy, on October 16th. Competitors from at least ten different European countries are expected to take part in the event that will award two different FIA Cups, one for Super 2000 and one for Super Production cars.
The FIA ETC Cup will be the first international car racing event held on the revised Vallelunga racetrack. The circuit, located 40 km north of Rome, is currently being extended from 3.2 to 4.2 km, with the addition of a new section between the Cimini 2 and Trincea bends. The works are due to be finished by the end of August.
LACKO IS BACK: Adam Lacko, the young Czech who impressed on his first apperances in Monza and Magny-Cours, will re-join in Spa at the wheel of a BMW 320i run by Crawford racing on behalf of the IEP Team.
THEY SAID: QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Mexican newspaper La Aficion, Monday 28th June: "Fully packed grandstands and two spectacular races. It's enough for the FIA to be satisfied with the first visit paid by the World Touring Car Championship to Mexico. Before the event there were many speculations about what these cars might do. However none of them were close to the fantastic show staged by the drivers and their cars."