ETCC: Monza: BMW race report

BMW Wins manufacturers' title but is runner-up in the drivers'. After two exciting races in Monza the 2003 FIA European Touring Car Championship finished with a new title for BMW thanks to consistency all year from the drivers run by the three...

BMW Wins manufacturers' title but is runner-up in the drivers'.

After two exciting races in Monza the 2003 FIA European Touring Car Championship finished with a new title for BMW thanks to consistency all year from the drivers run by the three national teams. Unfortunately at the end it was not to be a double celebration as Jörg Müller missed out on the Drivers' title by a single point.

BMW has a long and successful record in European Touring Car Racing.This goes back to its first title in 1966 and continued through the seventies and eighties. It was a BMW that won the last European Touring Car Championship when the series was discontinued after the 1988 season, and a BMW that won again when it was re-instated 13 years later in 2001. Up to the start of the 2003 season BMW had claimed 17 European Touring Car Championship titles. It can now add to that the 2003 Manufacturers' and Independents' titles.

Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: We have seen that the ETCC can deliver great  sport. The excitement is hard to beat and the championship stayed open until the last round, so we didn't know who would become champion. All the BMW Teams worked hard and I would like to congratulate them on a job well done.  This is especially important at the final round, as Monza is not a track that BMW expected to be competitive, so a win and three further podium places was a great bonus. BMW and Alfa Romeo have been equally strong over the season under the current regulations. We see the sporting side of the series as critical. In some races, including the final, we saw overly aggressive driving. The incidents we saw over the season have not all been judged in the same way. For next year we expect a more equal interpretation of the rules and regulations.

BMW Team Deutschland - Schnitzer Motorsport - Charly Lamm:  "We came to Monza fighting for the drivers' title and we have lost out by a single point. Obviously we are sad about this but you cannot win all the time. I think Jörg gave everything and drove fantastically today. He won race two from 12th on the grid, but the slow puncture he picked up in race one robbed him of the points he so urgently needed. I wish to thank all the team at Schnitzer and BMW Motorsport for all their efforts through the whole season."

Dirk Müller (GER) - Qual 2nd ; Race 1 - DNF; Race 2 - DNS: "I am relieved I was not injured in the accident. I was wearing the HANS system and I this prevented any injury to my beck. I just have a sore back. I am disappointed as I don't like to finish the final race of a season with a crash. We saw the Stewards' decision and from the Colciago inboard pictures I am disappointed a competitor acted that way. I had a good car today and I am sorry for the team and the mechanics to lose it in such a way."

Jörg Müller (GER) -  Carrying 20 kilos of ballast: Qual 1st   ; Race 1 - 12th  ; Race 2 - 1st  :. "For me it was a sweet weekend as we came to Monza without any expectations as we thought Alfa Romeo would fill the top five. We were surprised by our performance in free practice and qualifying so I am quite happy being championship runner-up by just a point. It was a good weekend for us on a circuit which is not usually good to BMW so I am happy."

BMW Team Great Britain - RBM - Bart Mampaey:  "We made some changes in the warm up and the car was so good we did the quickest lap time in race 1. The way race one developed we felt we had a chance of the title. There was a lot happening around us but we stayed out of trouble so we had a good result.  In race Andy made one of his usual brilliant starts, but then Tarquini made a mistake and the result was Huisman ran into Andy. He tried to come back as well as we could and the finish showed how competitive our car was. I am happy with the way the championship has finished for us and want to thank BMW GB and Andy for all their efforts."

Andy Priaulx (GBR) - Carrying 10 kilos of ballast:  Qual 7th ; Race 1 - 2nd ; Race 2 - 6th: "It has been a brilliant year. We have got to be pleased with what we have done with three race wins and fighting for the championship at the end of twenty races. I am very pleased and hopefully next year will be as good if not a little bit better. In race two I made a good start. Unfortunately sometimes you have contact and sometimes you get away with it and today I didn't get away with it. I am not disappointed because we have had a good year and ended on a strong performance. It is one of those things, as I have had situations when I have been lucky and today I was not."

BMW Team Italy-Spain - Ravaglia Motorsport - Roberto Ravaglia: "I am happy because Alex finished in the points but I am disappointed because BMW lost the drivers' championship. For me it is a question of style. BMW together with all the drivers have the right style of competing. I was amazed today to see what Alfa did, especially the accident with Dirk so he could not help Jörg."

Fabrizio Giovanardi (ITA)  - Qual 15th  -(started 20th due to engine change) - Race 1 - 6th  - Race 2 - 5th : "I think it was impossible for me to fight for the win. The car was fine today and, in fact, better than at some of the other races, so for me it is good to finish the championship like this."

Antonio Garcia (ESP) -  Qual 6th ; Race 1 - DNF  - Race 2 - DNS : "I was sixth on the grid and thought I could overtake the two Alfas in front of  me. I made a good start but then at the end of the straight I got pushed by someone, spun and then got hit by most of the other cars on the grid. It was very difficult to leave room for everyone in that corner."

Alex Zanardi (ITA) - Qual 11th; Race 1 - DNF; Race 2 -7th: "My second race was better than the first one. I am not super happy, because super happy would be if I won the race. I am still encouraged to see where I am after very few days of practice and very little time in the car this weekend, because we had trouble not only in race one but also in the first practice and this didn't help at all."


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Series General
Drivers Fabrizio Giovanardi , Andy Priaulx , Antonio Garcia , Dirk Müller , Alex Zanardi , Jorg Muller , Roberto Ravaglia , Mario Theissen , Bart Mampaey , Charly Lamm