ETCC: Oschersleben: Race notes

WEATHER: Mostly cloudy, with a fresh wind and a threat of rain, but the track was dry. RICKARD RYDELL GIVES SEAT ITS FIRST ETCC WIN BMW GRABS THE MANUFACTURERS' CHAMPIONSHIP AGAIN Lady Luck proved to be very capricious in Oschersleben. If she...

WEATHER: Mostly cloudy, with a fresh wind and a threat of rain, but the track was dry.


Lady Luck proved to be very capricious in Oschersleben. If she had favoured Alfa Romeo in Saturday's qualifying, on the race day she smiled on BMW and SEAT.

The 17th and 18th rounds of the FIA European Touring Car Championship at the Motopark have delivered the first, definitive verdicts as far as the titles are concerned: BMW has mathematically claimed the Manufacturers' Championship for the second year in a row; on the other hand, the Drivers' Championship will be decided during the last race meeting in Dubai (October 8), but it will be a family affair between three of the German make's drivers. At the same time, SEAT obtained its first race win since joining the FIA ETCC at the beginning of 2003.

Gabriele Tarquini, the outgoing champion, and Alfa Romeo, leave Oschersleben disappointed and embittered. Their chances of winning another title -- re-launched two weeks ago in Imola -- vanished after only three laps of today 's first race, when Tarquini retired due to a transmission failure that also prevented him from starting the second race.

This left the BMW drivers free to make their own races, with no threat of losing the championship in favour of Alfa Romeo. Andy Priaulx won Race 1, but he was victim of a race accident in the second one; just like Jorg Muller. Thus Dirk Muller was able to score important points, stretching his leading margin in the championship to 12 and 17 points ahead of Priaulx and Jorg. With 20 points still to be awarded, this leaves only theoretical chances to his fellow BMW team-mates.

The second race turned to be a triumphal march for Rickard Rydell and SEAT. The Swedish driver snatched the lead from Coronel, and then resisted D. Muller's return. He drove a perfect race, claiming his first personal win in the FIA ETCC -- after a number of podium results for Volvo and SEAT -- but also gave the Spanish Manufacturer its first win in the European Championship. A well deserved honour, since the Toledo Cupra cars and his three drivers have become more and more competitive as the season progressed.

BMW' s perfect day was completed by the results of the Independents Trophy and the DMSB Produktionswagen Meisterschaft. In the Independents Trophy, Carly Motors' Tom Coronel won both races to secure the second consecutive title for the Dutch Team directed by Carly Pellinkhof. The two races counting towards the German championship were also won by BMW drivers: Franz Engstler and Claudia Hurtgen; the latter also stretched her leading margin to 27 points ahead of her Schubert Motors' team-mate Thomas Winkelhock.


Priaulx sprints to the lead, chased by the Alfas

Garcia and Rangoni (13th and 14th respectively after qualifying) were demoted to the last two spots of the grid, due engine changes. At the start, Priaulx took the lead from Farfus, Tarquini and D. Muller. Thompson was leading the rest of the field, chased by Diefenbacher, Giovanardi, J. Muller, Gene, and the duo of Coronel and Tavano, fighting for the lead in the Independents Trophy. Engstler was making the pace in the DPM race ahead of Klenke and Funke. During the first lap Sardelli was sent into a spin, and rejoined at the back.

Tarquini out of the race and of the title fight

On lap 2, Giovanardi overtook Diefenbacher for sixth, Huisman overtook Tavano for 11th. On lap 3, Tavano lost another position to Rydell. On lap 4, Tarquini slowed down and stopped along the track due to a transmission failure, losing the third position and his chances of winning the title again. On lap 5, Diefenbacher tried to steal fourth position from Thompson; they collided and the SEAT driver retired with a broken suspension. Giovanardi and J. Muller moved up to fourth and fifth. In the DPM race, Funke overtook his team-mate Klenke for second.

Engstler defends his leadership in the DPM

On lap 6, Zanardi pitted after handling problems following a collision. Priaulx pulled away, while Farfus was being closely chased by D. Muller. Thompson was sweating to defend his sixth position from Gene, Coronel, Huisman and Rydell. On lap 7 Balzan and Sardelli retired, both with collapsed front suspensions. In the German Championship, the first five drivers -- Engstler, Funke, Klenke, Hurtgen, Winkelhock and Hennerici -- were separated by only 5 seconds. On lap 9, Garcia joined the group fighting for the sixth position. On lap 10, Rydell jumped Coronel and Huisman, moving up to eighth. Differential problems forced Klenke to slow down, handing his third place in the DPM to Hurtgen.

Coronel claims the Independent's title

On lap 11, Zanardi retired with persisting handling problems. J. Muller was chasing Giovanardi for fourth; they closed in to the Farfus-D. Muller duo. Garcia overtook Huisman for the 10th place. On lap 12, Giovanardi hit D. Muller, who slipped down to fifth; but he recovered one position on the last lap overtaking his team-mate J Muller.

Priaulx crossed the line in first, with a comfortable margin of 7 seconds ahead of Farfus and Giovanardi, who was later penalized by 30 seconds for his incident with D. Muller. The Mullers finished third (Dirk) and fourth (Jorg) scoring enough points to secure the Manufacturers' Championship for BMW. Coronel was classified eighth, and mathematically claimed the Independents Trophy. Engstler won the DPM race from Funke and Hurtgen.


Rydell takes the lead from Coronel on lap 1

Tarquini, Balzan and Bernhardt did not make the grid. From the pole, Coronel took the lead, chased by Rydell, J. Muller and Thompson. On the opening lap Huisman was sent into a spin. Rydell stole the first position from Coronel, who lost two other places to J. Muller and Thompson . In the DPM race, Engstler was leading again, from Hurtgen, Winkelhock and Hennerici.

Two collisions eliminate Priaulx and J. Muller

On lap 2, D. Muller moved up to fourth, jumping Coronel. Engstler dropped back after a collision with Tavano. On lap 3, Farfus attacked Priaulx's sixth position, they collided and the Englishman retired with a broken suspension. Thompson overtook J. Muller for second. On lap 4, Farfus overtook Coronel for fifth. Hurtgen was leading in the DPM, closely chased by Funke, Hennerici and Klenke. On lap 5, the Mullers were on Thompson's tail, the Englishman and Jorg collided twice, the German got the worst of it and retired. D. Muller benefited from the situation and moved up to second, behind Rydell.

D. Muller closes the gap from the leader Rydell

A group of seven drivers was fighting for the third position: Farfus, Thompson, Coronel, Garcia, Giovanardi, Diefenbacher and Gene. On lap 8, a collision involved Giovanardi, Diefenbacher and Garcia; only the former managed to continue. D. Muller was closing the gap from Rydell, while Rosenblad broke into the points, and Hurtgen into the top-ten. On lap 10, Klenke retired from fourth in the German championship, while a recovering Huisman overtook Hurtgen for 10th.

Rydell wins first ETCC race for SEAT

Thompson was closely chased by Coronel and Gene; while Rosenblad and Giovanardi were in a tough fight for the seventh position. On lap 13. Coronel overtook Thompson and grabbed the fourth position. Rydell increased his pace, stretching his leading margin again and went to score SEAT's first win in the Championship. D. Muller and Farfus completed the podium, ahead of a brilliant Coronel. Rosenblad won his duel with Giovanardi and scored his first ETCC points. Hurtgen claimed the DPM race from Hennerici and Funke.


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Series General
Drivers Andy Priaulx , Dirk Müller , Tom Coronel , Claudia Hurtgen , Rickard Rydell , Gabriele Tarquini