Andy Priaulx is The New FIA ETCC Champion Gabriele Tarquini Wins Both Races For Alfa Romeo After two really hot races - both for air temperature and incidents - a red flag and a collection of dents on his car's bodywork, Andy Priaulx claimed the...
Andy Priaulx is The New FIA ETCC Champion
Gabriele Tarquini Wins Both Races For Alfa Romeo
After two really hot races - both for air temperature and incidents - a red flag and a collection of dents on his car's bodywork, Andy Priaulx claimed the 2004 FIA European Touring Car Championship title in Dubai. The BMW Team Great Britain driver finished second to Alfa Romeo's Gabriele Tarquini in both the 19th and 20th rounds of the season, and managed to fill the 12-point gap he had from his fellow BMW driver Dirk Müller before the last meeting.
Andy and Dirk finished the season on equal points - 111 - and the Englishman won the title due to having won more races during the year (5 to 3). Priaulx, 30 years old from Towcester, began his motorsport career at 12, in karting; then switched to motocross. At 18 he debuted in car racing, and in 1995 he became British Hillclimbing champion. After one season in Formula Renault he moved to Formula 3, emerging as a race winner in the British Championship. His first touring car season dates back only to 2002, when he was classified fourth - with one race win - in the British Championship. Last year, on his first season with BMW Team Great Britain in the FIA ETCC, he fought for the title until the last round, and eventually was classified third with three race wins. His car is prepared by the Belgium-based RBM team directed by Bart Mampaey.
Today in Dubai, both races resulted in the same podium: the outgoing champion Tarquini scored a double victory, from Priaulx and his own team-mate James Thompson. Priaulx's rivals in the title fight - BMW Team Deutschland's Dirk and Jörg Müller - had a nightmare weekend. After struggling in yesterday's qualifying, they tried to move up in the races, but they were caught in a number of fights and involved in different clashes.
The second race was red-flagged on the first lap, due to a pile-up that eliminated García's BMW, Rydell's SEAT and the Peugeots of Sardelli and Magnussen, the latter ending up with the car turned upside down. None of the drivers were injured.
In the absence of Tom Coronel, who had already claimed the Independents Trophy title after Oschersleben, Oregon Team's driver Luca Rangoni and Salvatore Tavano won the two races for the privateers Trophy, while AutoDelta managed to claim the Teams Trophy title.
RACE 1 REPORT
Tarquini and Thompson chase Priaulx
Priaulx sprinted from the pole to the lead, chased by Tarquini, Rangoni, Thompson, J. Müller and D. Müller. Tavano lost control at the first corner causing a pile-up that involved Gené, Giovanardi, Farfus and García. Both Tavano and Gené retired. During the first lap, Thompson overtook Rangoni for third; and Rydell overtook J. Müller for sixth.
Tarquini in the lead, the Müllers in trouble
On lap 2, Tarquini stole the lead from Priaulx, while the Müllers were swapping paint with Rydell and Diefenbacher. Rydell ran over a piece of debris and pitted with a puncture. On lap 3, D. Müller overtook Rangoni for fourth, while J. Müller dropped down from sixth to tenth. Thompson was closely chasing Priaulx, while Farfus and Zanardi were closing in on Diefenbacher. On lap 4, D. Müller was passed by Diefenbacher and Farfus, then he spun after a collision with Rangoni and pitted to replace the left rear tyre. Giovanardi and Balzan collided while fighting with J. Müller, and both retired. On lap 5, Farfus overtook Diefenbacher for fourth.
Only 4 points between D. Müller and Priaulx
On lap 6, Zanardi lost sixth position to J. Müller, but resisted Rangoni's assaults. Harrison moved up to ninth, ahead of García. On lap 7, Magnussen hit Bartyan, who spun and retired. On lap 8, García overtook Harrison for ninth, while Priaulx and Thompson were still having a close fight for second position, trying to out-brake each other before every corner. On lap 9, D. Müller retired due to the collision with Rangoni. Diefenbacher was closely threatening Farfus's fourth position.
Tarquini scored a comfortable win, while Priaulx managed to keep second place from Thompson. Farfus, Diefenbacher, D. Müller, Zanardi and Rangoni filled the other point positions, with the latter winning the Independents Trophy from Harrison and Sardelli.
After the race only D. Müller and Priaulx were still in the title fight, with the former leading by four points.
RACE 2 REPORT
Alex Zanardi takes the lead twice!
Rangoni had the pole on the reverse grid, but alongside him, Zanardi took a better start and jumped into the lead, chased by J. Müller and Priaulx. During the first lap, the first three of them clashed and spun; immediately afterwards the race was red flagged when Rydell, Sardelli and Magnussen were involved in a pile-up to avoid a spinning García. They all escaped unscathed.
At the restart, Zanardi took the lead again, but on the first lap Priaulx overtook both J. Müller and him. Behind the leaders, several clashes involved Farfus, Thompson, Diefenbacher, Rangoni and J. Müller. D. Müller, who had started from the back of the grid due to a neutralization of the parc fermé after Race 1, was elbowing his way through the field.
Tarquini steals the lead from Priaulx
On lap 2, Priaulx created a gap, while Zanardi was chased by Thompson, Farfus and Tarquini. Giovanardi and J. Müller were fighting door-to-door for the fifth place, Diefenbacher was closely chasing D. Müller. On lap 3, Zanardi could not resist the pressure from the Alfa Romeo men; he got past by Tarquini and clashed with Farfus, dropping down from second to ninth. Diefenbacher was now chasing the Alfas. On lap 4, Diefenbacher overtook Farfus for fourth, while J. Müller ran wide fighting with Zanardi. On lap 5, Tarquini closed the gap from the leader and finally overtook Priaulx.
Tarquini encores, Priaulx is champion
On lap 6, Farfus tried to resist D. Müller and Zanardi, but he received a black-and-orange flag because the right front door of his car, damaged in a collision, kept on opening in the left-handed corners. On lap 7, Zanardi overtook J. Müller for seventh and closed in on D. Müller. On lap 8, Giovanardi stole third position from Thompson, but then retired with electrical problems. On lap 9, J. Müller regained seventh position, but he lost it again on the final lap.
Like in Race 1, Tarquini claimed victory, his sixth in the season, from Priaulx and Thompson. D. Müller finished fourth: enough to equal Priaulx on points, but not to become champion. Zanardi, Tavano (winner of the Independents Trophy) and Bartyan also finished in the points.