ETCC: Estoril: Season finale race report

Fabrizio Giovanardi and Jorg Muller shared honours in the season's final meeting, claiming one win a piece in another thrilling weekend, which saw a six-car pile-up at the start of the first race. Recovering from a penalty that cost him second...

Fabrizio Giovanardi and Jorg Muller shared honours in the season's final meeting, claiming one win a piece in another thrilling weekend, which saw a six-car pile-up at the start of the first race.

Recovering from a penalty that cost him second place in Race One, Jorg Muller went on to win Race Two, meaning that he was classified second in the Drivers' Championship. Nicola Larini, who was second behind his team-mate Giovanardi from the beginning of the season until the very last round, finished third in the points.

WEATHER: Cloudy and windy with a dry track.

RYDELL FASTEST IN THE WARM UP

Drivers hit the track in the early morning of a dark and windy day. The racing lines were still damp after a stormy night.

Pole sitter Rickard Rydell set the fastest time of the session with a lap of 2:02.216, closely followed by Fabrizio Giovanardi who was only 0.195 seconds slower. However, the Alfa Romeo driver went off in the gravel trap just before the end of the session due to a power-steering failure.

Dirk Muller and Nicola Larini were third and fourth fastest, with a gap of 0.450 and 0.558 seconds respectively. Young British drivers Tom Ferrier (Dart Racing Alfa Romeo 156 Gta) and James Hanson (Prodrive Volvo S60), performed very well, setting the sixth and seventh best times respectively. Eric Cayrolle successfully tested his Scuderia Bigazzi Alfa Romeo 156 Gta that was repaired after the collision he had yesterday with Jorg Muller. Tommy Rustad did the same with his RJN Motorsport Nissan Primera, which has a new engine.

RACE ONE: GIOVANARDI'S NINTH AFTER A PILE-UP AT THE START

Sandro Sardelli's Honda Civic is missing, withdrawn by CiBiEmme Team after the engine failure that occurred in qualifying.

Start: Giovanardi makes a better start than Rydell; they clash door-to-door on the straight. Giovanardi turns first, followed by Coronel and Rydell. Larini tries to dive inside the Volvo and the barrier, but he is punted by Jorg Muller; his Alfa 156 jumps and spins, causing a pile-up behind. Two Alfa Romeos (of Ferrier and Villamil), three BMWs (Huisman, Ekblom and Gene) and Tavano's Honda are caught up in the accident and forced out of the race. Larini stops along the track a few corners later.

Lap 1: Giovanardi is leading the race, closely chased by Coronel, Jorg Muller and Rydell; Dirk Muller is fourth and first of the pursuers.
top-ten positions: 1 -- 7 -- 42 -- 60 -- 43 -- 11 -- 16 -- 61 -- 3 -- 6

Lap 2: Jorg Muller and Rydell both overtake Coronel, moving up to second and third.
top-ten positions: 1 -- 42 -- 60 -- 7 -- 43 -- 11 -- 16 -- 61 -- 3 -- 6

Lap 3: Giovanardi builds up a narrow margin while Jorg Muller and Rydell fight over second position. Cayrolle steals sixth place from Rustad. De Simone and Antonelli overtake Bernardoni climbing to ninth and tenth respectively.
top-ten positions: 1 -- 42 -- 60 -- 7 -- 43 -- 16 -- 11 -- 61 -- 6 -- 28

Lap 4: De Simone spins and retires after a collision with Antonelli.
top-ten positions: 1 -- 42 -- 60 -- 7 -- 43 -- 16 -- 11 -- 61 -- 28 -- 3

Lap 5: Jorg Muller is closing in on Giovanardi.
top-ten positions: 1 -- 42 -- 60 -- 7 -- 43 -- 16 -- 11 -- 61 -- 28 -- 3

Lap 6: Jorg Muller is right behind Giovanardi's car. Hanson overtakes Rustad for seventh; then they both overtake Cayrolle demoting him from sixth to eighth.
top-ten positions: 1 -- 42 -- 60 -- 7 -- 43 -- 61 -- 11 -- 16 -- 28 -- 3

Lap 7: Giovanardi manages to keep Jorg Muller behind him. At the chicane Jorg Muller locks his front wheels and Rydell manages to draw up beside the BMW, but cannot overtake it. Rustad regains sixth position from Hanson. Cayrolle loses two more places to Bernardoni and Antonelli who are now eighth and ninth.
top-ten positions: 1 -- 42 -- 60 -- 7 -- 43 -- 11 -- 61 -- 3 -- 28 -- 16

Lap 8: Jorg Muller knocks Giovanardi's rear bumper, which earns him a warning flag. Dirk Muller comes back to the pits and retires from fifth with engine problems.
top-ten positions: 1 -- 42 -- 60 -- 7 -- 11 -- 61 -- 43 -- 3 -- 28 -- 16

Lap 9: Jorg Muller and Rydello are door-to-door again, but the German driver manages to retain his second place.
top-ten positions: 1 -- 42 -- 60 -- 7 -- 11 -- 61 -- 3 -- 28 -- 16 -- 26

Lap 11: Rustad and Hanson are closely fighting for fifth position.
top-ten positions: 1 -- 42 -- 60 -- 7 -- 11 -- 61 -- 3 -- 28 -- 16 -- 26

Lap 12: Giovanardi beats Jorg Muller on the finish line by one-tenth of a second, to score his ninth win of the season. Rydell finishes third, with Coronel fourth. Rustad managed to withstand Hanson's assault, obtaining a brilliant fifth place, scoring his and Nissan's first points in the Championship.
final positions: 1 -- 42 -- 60 -- 7 -- 11 -- 61 -- 3 -- 28 -- 16 -- 26

After the race, the result was changed by the Stewards, who judged Jorg Muller responsible for the pile-up at the start and added 30 seconds to his lapsed time, demoting him from second to fourth. Bernardoni received a 20-second time penalty for jumping the start, and this demoted her from seventh to ninth.

RACE TWO: JORG MÜLLER IS SECOND IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP

Three cars do not take the start: Dirk Muller's BMW (blown engine), De Simone's BMW and Villamil's Alfa (both due to consequences from the collision at the start).

Three others take the start from the pit-lane: Larini's Alfa, Tavano's Honda and Antonelli's Alfa.

Start: Hanson is the pole sitter on the reverse grid, with Rustad alongside him. They both have a bad start, leaving Jorg Muller and Coronel enough room to enter Turn 1 in first and second places. Giovanardi dives inside Rustad; they clash and Rustad goes on the grass, collecting Hanson.

Lap 1: Giovanardi overtakes Coronel for second place.
top-ten positions: 42 -- 1 -- 7 -- 60 -- 21 -- 10 -- 16 -- 5 -- 20 -- 3

Lap 2: Giovanardi is closely chasing Jorg Muller and manages to overtake him at Turn 5, jumping into the lead.
top-ten positions: 1 -- 42 -- 7 -- 60 -- 21 -- 10 -- 16 -- 5 -- 20 -- 3

Lap 3: Rydell steals third position from Coronel.
top-ten positions: 1 -- 42 -- 60 -- 7 -- 21 -- 10 -- 16 -- 5 -- 20 -- 3

Lap 4: Ekblom and Cayrolle they both overtake Huisman, demoting him from fifth to seventh. Huisman loses another position to Gene.
top-ten positions: 1 -- 42 -- 60 -- 7 -- 10 -- 16 -- 5 -- 21 -- 20 -- 3

Lap 5: Huisman regains seventh place overtaking Gene.
top-ten positions: 1 -- 42 -- 60 -- 7 -- 10 -- 16 -- 21 -- 5 -- 20 -- 3

Lap 6: Larini overtakes Bernardoni for tenth place. Antonelli retires with a broken driveshaft.
top-ten positions: 1 -- 42 -- 60 -- 7 -- 10 -- 16 -- 21 -- 5 -- 20 -- 2

Lap 7: Jorg Muller is putting pressure on Giovanardi, when suddenly the Italian driver slows down and stops along the track. He retires, his gearbox broken.
top-ten positions: 42 -- 60 -- 7 -- 10 -- 16 -- 21 -- 5 -- 20 -- 2 -- 3

Lap 8: Coronel is chasing Rydell very closely.
top-ten positions: 42 -- 60 -- 7 -- 10 -- 16 -- 21 -- 5 -- 20 -- 2 -- 3

Lap 9: Coronel overtakes Rydell and moves up to second. Cayrolle, Huisman, Gene and Ferrier have a good fight for positions between fifth and eighth. Huisman overtakes Cayrolle, while Ferrier overtakes Gene.
top-ten positions: 42 -- 7 -- 60 -- 10 -- 21 -- 16 -- 20 -- 5 -- 2 -- 3

Lap 10: Gene retires from eighth position due to a blown engine. Bernardoni also retires with a broken gearbox. Cayrolle loses two positions to Ferrier and Larini, dropping down to eighth.
top-ten positions: 42 -- 7 -- 60 -- 10 -- 21 -- 20 -- 2 -- 16 -- 11 -- 18

Lap 11: Ekblom takes third place from Rydell.
top-ten positions: 42 -- 7 -- 10 -- 60 -- 21 -- 20 -- 2 -- 16 -- 11 -- 18

Lap 12: Jorg Muller scores his fourth win of the season, taking second place in the Drivers' Championship. Coronel and Ekblom complete an all-BMW podium, with Rydell and Huisman fourth and fifth. Larini takes sixth position and the final point from Ferrier a few corners from the end.

NOTES AND QUOTES

Jorg Muller, BMW Team Deutschland: "It was a great fight for second place in the Championship! Before the start of the first race, I had to decide to drive in a clever way and stay on the safe side. In Race 1, however, I touched Larini and it was not my purpose at all. He tipped my wheels and jumped off. I had a good fight with Fabrizio (Giovanardi). He was on new tyres and therefore was faster than me. So I left space for him to overtake me. Then, in the middle of the race, his tyres wore off but I chose to keep on the safe side and I was right, because he stopped. I enjoyed today's races, this is how Touring Car races should be : tough but correct. There is probably white paint on my competitor's cars' bodies, while I should have red and blue patches on mine!"

Fabrizio Giovanardi, Gta Racing Team Nordauto: "After I won the title in Donington, I came to Estoril with a relaxed mind and no more pressure. I pushed hard to win another race although I had problems with my tyres. They were good at the start but they wore off quickly. In Race 1, I was under pressure from Rickard (Rydell) and Jorg (Muller), but I still thought I could win, so I fought! In Race 2, I had a good start and managed to overtake Jorg and take the lead. After a few laps I heard a noise in the gearbox, I hoped it could last until the end of the race, but it got worse and finally I had to go back to the pits and retire."

Tom Coronel, Carly Motors: "In Race 1, I suffered from understeer and had an oil leak in the gearbox. However, I managed to have a good fight and claimed second position. In Race 2, I had an excellent start and turned second at the first corner. But the third and fourth gears were jumping out. Our team, Carly Motors, has fought hard in the Championship and two podiums today are a good reward. I finished seventh in the Championship, which is the worse result in my career, so I definitely want to be back next year!"

Fredrik Ekblom, BMW Team Belgium: "In Race 2, I had a very good, fair and clear fight with Huisman, Gene and Coronel. The car was very good and this put me in a position to attack Rydell and eventually to overtake him for second place. Race 1 was a totally different story, as I retired a few hundred metres after the start, caught in the first turn pile-up. Larini came up on my left, we touched and my car's suspension broke".

Rickard Rydell, Volvo S60 Racing Team: "In the first race, I had too much understeer as we had the wrong set up. But it was clean and fair racing, I enjoyed the fight too, however I would have preferred to get second ahead of Jorg Muller. After the race I knew that I had been given a penalty for overtaking under yellow flags. I only remembered overtaking one car, but I did not realised it happened under yellow flags. Therefore it was a relief when they lifted that penalty as it was due to a wrong report from the marshals. In the second race my car was very good, as we had enough time to adjust the set-up. I was following Giovanardi and Jorg Muller with a good chance to fight for a win. But eventually after four or five laps, the differential broke and I was two to three seconds off the pace and could not avoid being overtaken by Coronel and Ekblom."

Tommy Rustad, RJN Motorsport: "I am really happy, for myself and also for the team. It was a very difficult season for us and to score points in the final meeting was at least a small reward. I have to admit I was lucky today, as when the first race started I find myself in the right place at the right moment, so that I could get through, avoiding all the cars that were spinning around me. Then I had a good fight with Hanson and I was happy I could stay together with the cars fighting for the points. I started race two from the front row of the grid, but we had a problem with the tyre warmer and my tyres were not warm enough at the start. Then I had a lot of wheelspin and I was passed by a couple of BMW cars. In the mirror I saw Giovanardi who was trying to pass me using the inside line. I left him the space to do so, but he hit me and pushed me off on the grass."

-fia-

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Series General
Drivers Fabrizio Giovanardi , Dirk Müller , Tom Coronel , Jorg Muller , Eric Cayrolle , Rickard Rydell , Nicola Larini , Tom Ferrier , Tommy Rustad