Muller and Priaulx on the podium in Spain - BMW leads the championship.
Valencia (Spain), 20th May 2007. Jorg Muller (GER) and Andy Priaulx (GBR) secured podium places in the sixth round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship. At Valencia's "Circuit de la Comunitat" Muller claimed second place for BMW Team Germany behind race winner James Thompson (GBR/Alfa Romeo). BMW Team UK's Priaulx finished third at the 4.005-kilometre circuit. In the morning's race, Priaulx had been the best-placed BMW national team driver, crossing the line in fifth position.
Muller has regained the lead in the Drivers' Championship from his team-mate Augusto Farfus (BRA), who lost his chances for points at the very start of the turbulent first race. Muller now has got 31 points under his belt. Reigning world champion Priaulx is ranked second and on equal points with his brand-mate. Farfus follows in third place, still having 28 points to his tally. In the manufacturers' classification, BMW keep the lead and now hold 81 points.
The first sprint race of the day started with a massive accident, which kicked six drivers out of the competition, among them both drivers of BMW Team Italy-Spain. For the third time this season, the drivers performed a "rolling" start. However, this starting procedure once again made for plenty of collisions and retirements in the middle of the pack. Felix Porteiro (ESP) was pushed by SEAT's Gabriele Tarquini (ITA) and lost control of his BMW 320si WTCC. Of all drivers it was his team-mate Alessandro Zanardi (ITA) who got hit by the local hero with an impact of 8.7g. Before this incident, Zanardi had improved from 18th to seventh place. Both drivers were forced to retire as their cars suffered heavy damage. Only Porteiro's BMW was ready again to race in the afternoon.
Farfus' plans for another points finish from his seventh grid position did not work out either. First, he was hit by Michel Jourdain (MEX/SEAT), spun and dropped back to 18th place. On lap 13, he had to retire from the race, after colliding with Tom Coronel (NLD/SEAT) while fighting for a top-10 position. Muller, however, started a successful chase through the field from 14th position on the grid. On lap 4, at the end of a safety car phase which had been caused by the first-corner incident, the experienced driver already held 11th place. Over the course of the race, he gained three more positions and secured eighth place in the final classification. Priaulx experienced a less spectacular race. Although he had lost two positions at the start, he was satisfied with defending fifth place until the end of the race, thus scoring four valuable world championship points.
Race two kicked off with a little less action than the first race. Muller lost the lead briefly to BMW private driver Luca Rangoni (ITA) of Proteam Motorsport, but regained it in turn 2. Priaulx made a good start from P4 and got by Jourdain. On lap 4, the Guernsey-born driver also overtook Rangoni, now running in the runner-up position behind Muller.
Farfus and Porteiro relentlessly fought their way up from the back of the field and between them made many overtaking manoeuvres. From 18th place on the grid, Farfus took the chequered flag in tenth position. Porteiro remained unlucky during his home event: He was racing in 15th position, when BMW privateer Stefano d'Aste (ITA) hit him, causing a spin. After 13 laps Porteiro finished 19th.
At the top of the field, Muller and Priaulx fought an exciting duel. Priaulx put the leader under pressure, who fended off all attacks in style. Only Thompson was faster than the two BMW works drivers. With a light car without any ballast, he passed Priaulx on lap seven and finally stole the lead from Muller a lap later. The threesome crossed the line in this order.
Rangoni once again won the Independents' Trophy in both rounds and celebrated two seventh places in the overall classification. In race two, his team-mate Sergio Hernandez (ESP) scored a championship point as well by finishing eighth.
Jorg Muller (BMW Team Germany):
"In the first race, I clearly benefited from avoiding an accident in the first corner. Later I passed Corthals, Coronel and d'Aste, thus gaining eighth place and one point. Last year, I was only one point behind in the world championship, so it can be valuable towards the end of the season. The second race was tough. It was difficult to keep Andy behind me. However, if you use all your three mirrors in your car it works. I'm now leading the championship again. But that doesn't make any difference to me."
Andy Priaulx (BMW Team UK):
"I'm really happy with this race weekend. In race one I was the best-placed driver with so much handicap weight and managed to score points. That was exactly what I had planned. In turn 1, I played it safe. And this was the right decision, as we all have seen what happened behind me. The fight with Jorg was good fun. I waited for a mistake, but it didn't happen. It was a fair duel. This weekend, our team has again proved that it is able to turn the tables. We are on the right track and have responded very well to the difficulties we experienced at the beginning of the year. I'm picking up momentum in the championship."