BMW Team Deutschland's JÃ¶rg MÃ¼ller dominated the second meeting of the season. The German driver won both the third and fourth rounds of the season, which were very spectacular and packed with collisions and overtaking manoeuvres, and jumped...
BMW Team Deutschland's Jörg Müller dominated the second meeting of the season. The German driver won both the third and fourth rounds of the season, which were very spectacular and packed with collisions and overtaking manoeuvres, and jumped into the Championship lead with a 12-point margin.
Nicola Larini emerged as the best Alfa Romeo driver in Magny-Cours; he was classified twice second and managed to move up to second in the Championship too; only one point ahead of his team-mate Gabriele Tarquini. Andy Priaulx (BME Team Great Britain) and Duncan Huisman (Carly Motors) completed the podiums, finishing third in Race 1 and Race 2 respectively; the Dutchman was the first Independent driver able to break into the top-three positions so far this season.
After a difficult weekend in Barcelona, Jordi Gené was classified sixth in Race Two and thus scored SEAT's first FIA ETCC points, on only the second appearance of the Spanish Manufacturer in the Championship.
Like in Barcelona, Nicola Larini set the fastest time in the warm, up with a lap in 1:50.927. The Italian driver was followed by Jörg Müller's BMW (1:51.141) and Gabriele Tarquini's Alfa (1:51.396). After a disappointing qualifying, Rickard Rydell and his ART Engineering Volvo S60 were ranked in a good fourth position, with a time of 1:52.058; however the Swedish driver' s team-mate, Sandro Sardelli, stopped on the side of the track with engine problems. Technical failures with his PRO Motorsport Honda Civic prevented newcomer Miguel Ramos to take part in the session; the team decided to withdrew him from the meeting. Local hero Eric Cayrolle, in his Scuderia Bigazzi Alfa Romeo 156 Gta, was clocked as the fastest Independent driver with a time of 1:52.501, which was good enough for the eighth place overall.
Sardelli was demoted to the last spot of the starting grid, due to an engine change for his Volvo S60 after the warm up failure.
Dirk Müller managed to take the lead at the start, chased by Priaulx and Jörg Müller. During the first lap, Jörg Müller overtook Priaulx at the hairpin and soon afterwards he tried to outbrake his team-mate. The two Schnitzer BMWs clashed: Jörg took the lead, while Dirk slipped down to seventh after driving over the grass.
Behind the leaders, the Alfa cars of Colciago and Larini were fighting door-to-door for third position. Cayrolle came back into the pit with transmission problems; Couto spent three laps in the pits for repairs, after a collision with Diefenbacher.
On lap 2 Rydell went off and retired after a collision with García. On lap 3 Larini overtook Priaulx for second, while Giovanardi was chasing Tarquini, who was in fifth position, right behind Colciago. The latter was closely following Priaulx, knocking on his rear bumper.
On lap 4 Giovanardi managed to pass Tarquini at the hairpin, but the Championship leader struck back and recovered the fifth place. On lap 6 Balzan retired from tenth place, due to engine problems.
By then Tarquini was closing on Colciago and finally took fourth place from him on lap 7; Giovanardi and Dirk Müller tried to benefit from the situation and dived inside Colciago. Giovanardi managed to pass through after a brief contact, while Dirk met with a strong reaction from Colciago. They clashed repeatedly, allowing Huisman to pass them both for fifth.
On lap 8, while chasing Giovanardi, Huisman hit his car and sent it into a spin. The 2002 ETCC champion came back to the pits and retired.
While fights raged behind them, Jörg Müller and Larini were comfortably cruising in first and second places. Priaulx was still third but was unable to relax, as Tarquini was not far away. On lap 11 Ruberti missed a gear and slipped from seventh to tenth.
Jörg Müller scored his first win of the season, from Larini and Priaulx. Tarquini was classified fourth, while Huisman managed to maintain the fifth place, despite a final attack from Colciago. Coronel and Ruberti finished seventh and eighth, collecting the final points. After the race the stewards inflicted to García a 25-second time penalty, due to his collision with Rydell; the Spanish driver, who had taken the flag in ninth position, was demoted to 14th.
Ruberti was on pole on the top-eight reversed grid; while Dirk Müller, Giovanardi and Rydell were placed at the back, having asked for dispensation from the parc-fermé for repairs. Diefenbacher's SEAT took the start from the pit lane, due to a broken wheel hub. Balzan came back to the pit after the warm-up lap, his Alfa still suffering from engine problems.
At the start, Coronel sprinted into the lead, followed by Huisman, García, Colciago and Ruberti. When the field arrived at the Hairpin, Priaulx was sent into a spin and Sardelli hit him; both cars were badly damaged. Tarquini, Dirk Müller and Ruberti were also involved in the accident and retired.
On lap 2, Huisman took the lead from Coronel, who also lost second place to Jörg Müller. The latter jumped into the lead on the following lap, overtaking Huisman at the Lycée corner. Cayrolle retired with a suspension problem and Couto went off on the oil left by the first lap pile up, while García overtook Colciago for the fifth place. Meanwhile Larini managed to join the Carly Motors duo and overtook Coronel on lap 6.
On lap 7 Diefenbacher pushed Rydell off, while they were fighting for the ninth position; for this manoeuvre the German driver received a 25-second time penalty. Larini passed Huisman for the second position. But by then, Jörg Müller had stretched his margin to five seconds and, despite Larini's final rush, the German driver claimed his second win of the day.
Huisman and Coronel gave Carly Motors a fantastic 3-4 finish, while Colciago recovered the fifth place from García, who lost two other positions to Gené and Giovanardi, slipping down to eighth.
RACE NOTES AND QUOTES
, BMW Team Deutschland, 1st in Races 1 and 2:
"We had big set up problems in Barcelona so we went testing for two days at the A-1 Ring. We found the solution and my car was very good this weekend. In the last few laps, I had problems with my tyres, which dropped off, but I was able to open up a gap in the first laps. There was a big fight behind me and I was able to pull away. Over the last three or four laps, my tyres went down and I had to go a little bit slower. But since the gap was big, it did not matter. It was a brilliant weekend! Regarding what happened with Dirk, I was faster and I tried to get on the inside. There was not too much room, he could have given me a little bit more, but it was also my mistake. It is a shame that something like that happened between team mates. It was a mistake from both of us. I am however happy with my lead in the Championship and I would like to carry 40kg for the rest of the season and have more than a 12-point lead over my competitors!"
, Alfa Romeo Autodelta, 2nd in Races 1 & 2:
"I have to forget the Barcelona races. Here, my car was good to drive in both wet and dry conditions. I have to work on the starting procedure as I do not want to lose a race at the start. All the time, I lose three to four positions and after, it is impossible to come back! I could not attack Jörg anywhere at all today, but generally my Alfa was better in the chicanes. I like this circuit. The tyres remained consistent from the beginning to the end. I am happy, although I was two times second and now I'm 12 points behind Jörg in the Championship classification."
, BMW Team Great Britain, 3rd in Race 1:
"I am happy with the first race but disappointed because my goal today was to finish both races and get some points. It was not my accident, it was a mistake from somebody else, which meant no points for the second race. I am very happy with my team, which is doing a very good job. I think that we can still improve more. I have no weight for the next race, so I am very optimistic. When fighting with Tarquini in the first race, I defended my line in the first corner but he still managed to go through. He got onto the dirty track off-line which was good for me. I felt that maybe I could have improved my first two laps and I could have, maybe not kept up with Jörg, but stayed away from those two guys. I am delighted to be on the podium for my first race here in Magny-Cours and I am very optimistic about what we can do in Italy in two weeks time. It is also great to be fourth in the Championship, though there is a big points difference. It is going to be very tight this year and I just want to keep finishing the races and get a win when the win is there. I am delighted with where I am and the progress that I am making and I just need to keep on working hard. We should be able to stay around this area for the rest of the season."
, Carly Motors, 3rd in Race 2:
"It is a very good result to be the first independent driver on the podium and it is only the start of the season ! The second race was very good because we had a very good start and did not want to do what happened to BMW Team Deutschland in the first race. We had a small chat in between the two races with Carly Pellinkhof and Tommy about avoiding incidents between us. In the second race I had a very good start, and so did Tom and Andy. I was on the inside so I was OK. My car was a little bit quicker on the long straight as I am driving the new BMW while Tommy was driving the old one. Tommy let me pass, it was very kind of him. And when after I was a little bit slower, he did not do anything to me. It was a very good result for us and we were quite lucky to be third and fourth in the second race. We both tried to resist Nicola's return but his car is so quick on the long straight. They have a six-speed gearbox which is an advantage for them. Nicola complained about his brakes but although I was braking late, he was braking 30 to 40 metres after me..."
, SEAT Sport director:
"To get our first points was a great achievement. It was a good day for us. We had a lot of work as it was the first time that we had to work with the car in wet conditions. Luckily, the rain was replaced by the sun today and we could continue working. It was a fantastic effort to get our first points. As well as the points, we are happy as we are closer to the others. It is always more difficult to get more seconds closer but we are working hard !"
, SEAT Sport, 6th in Race 2:
"It was a very good race today. For the first time Frank and I were able to fight with the other cars. We did some changes on the car after the warm up, which were great. Our car has two advantages: the weight and the tyre consistency. The balance of the weight is good and we do not have to work too much on it, at the same time our car doesn't need great camber angles and this allow us to save the tyres. We are a bit slower than the Alfa and BMW cars at the beginning, but towards the end of the race we are faster. Now we have to solve our main problem, which is a lack of engine power."