2005 brings maiden season

FIA WTCC Heading Towards Its Maiden Season After it was launched in Monaco on 10 December 2004, in a press conference hosted by FIA President Max Mosley and Eurosport President Angelo Codignoni, the new FIA World Touring Car Championship is ...

FIA WTCC Heading Towards Its Maiden Season

After it was launched in Monaco on 10 December 2004, in a press conference hosted by FIA President Max Mosley and Eurosport President Angelo Codignoni, the new FIA World Touring Car Championship is heading towards its maiden season that will start in Monza on 10 April 2005.


In 2004 BMW claimed both, the FIA European Touring Car Championship Drivers' and Manufacturers' titles. Aiming to encore in the FIA WTCC, the Bavarian car Manufacturer confirmed entirely its five-driver line-up.2004 FIA ETCC champion Andy Priaulx will continue with BMW Team Great Britain run by RBM; Dirk and Jorg Muller are facing their fourth season for BMW Team Deutschland-Schnitzer Motorsport; Ravaglia Motorsport will enter again Alessandro Zanardi and Antonio Garcia under the flag of BMW Team Italy-Spain.

After a first test in Valencia for Schnitzer and RBM, this week the German team joined Ravaglia Motorsport in Vallelunga (Wednesday and Thursday).


While his BMW fellow mates were testing in Vallelunga, Andy Priaulx joined the BMW Williams F1 Team in Valencia for his first test in a Formula One car. A special reward that BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen offered the Englishman for his victory in the 2004 FIA ETCC. Priaulx joined the team on the last day of the test and successfully completed 64 laps.

"His performance. He drove consistently and, had it not been for technical problems, he undoubtedly would have improved his lap times," Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director, said.

Priaulx declared: "I want to thank BMW and WilliamsF1 for giving me this unique opportunity. It was a great experience, and completely different to anything I have done in the past. In the weeks before the test, I did special exercises under the guidance of a physiotherapist in order to prepare my neck muscles. It was worth every effort, as my neck hasn't hurt at all. I also arranged a test with my former Formula 3 team to refresh my left-food-braking, I'm pleased I did! I'd like to have achieved a better lap time, but, just as I went out on fresh tyres, testing was interrupted due to an incident by someone else on the track."


AutoDelta Squadra Corse will run four Alfa Romeo 156 cars for Augusto Farfus, Fabrizio Giovanardi, Gabriele Tarquini and James Thompson. A quartet that managed to claim eight race wins and five pole position in the 2004 FIA European Touring Car Championship.

Testing for Alfa Romeo began last week in Jerez de la Frontera, where the four drivers started to develop the 2005 car. AutoDelta will test again soon, either in Monza or back to Jerez.


SEAT Sport signed 20-years old German Peter Terting, runner-up in the 2004 German SEAT Leon Supercopa, for teaming up with Jordi Gene and Rickard Rydell. "It's a great honour and I hope to meet the expectations. I'm greatly looking forward to taking this leap, a significant one for my racing career," Terting stated.

The German tested for the first time with the team two weeks ago in Valencia. "He completed 150 laps in two days, and by the end of the second day he was only a few tenths slower than Jordi and Rickard," team manager Antonio Rodriguez revealed.


Facing its first commitment in an FIA Championship, Chevrolet began an intensive testing programme. The RML-built Lacetti moved its first steps at the MIRA Proving Ground in Nuneaton, UK. The honour of accomplishing the shakedown went to Robert Huff, the youngest of the three drivers signed by Chevrolet Europe. His experienced team-mates, Alain Menu and Nicola Larini were in charge for the first proper test a few days later.

The team has fixed a number of private tests before facing the other Manufacturers in Monza for the FIA WTCC official testing.


JACKPOT: Drivers competing for the Michelin Independent's Trophy will fight for 350,000 prize money. At each race meeting a total of 35,000 will be awarded to the top eight Independent drivers, classified by adding the points obtained in the two races. The first classified will win 12,000.

FORD: First shakedown for Hotfiel Sport's new Ford Focus at Oschersleben. Patrick Bernhardt completed a great number of laps without any technical problems. A few days later the Focus successfully underwent the FIA inspection for homologation.

BRILLIANCE: Plans for the first appearance of a Chinese car Manufacturer in international motor sport are running a bit behind the schedule. "We met with a few problems in importing cars and parts," project manager John Batchelor explained. "However we will start the season in Monza with one car at least."

ROSENBLAD: Carl Rosenblad will compete for the Independent's Trophy at the wheel of a Crawford Racing BMW 320i. "The team is also aiming for running a second car in two- three events," the Swedish driver revealed.

PROTEAM: Italy-based Proteam Motorsport announced his line-up: two BMW 320i cars for Stefano D'Aste and Giuseppe Cirò. "We have put together a strong team. The Independents' Trophy is an ambitious goal, but not impossible!" team owner Valmiro Presenzini commented.

RS-LINE: German RS-Line team is working to put together a 2005 campaign. "We have updated our Ford Focus ST170 and fitted a sequential gearbox," said team manager Rainer Stiefel. "These changes should result in an improvement of at least one second in terms of lap times."


Nicola Larini after his first drive in the Chevrolet Lacetti:
"Surprisingly enough I had no problems adapting to the right-hand drive configuration of the car, although this was the very first time in my career that I was sitting on the "wrong" side."


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About this article
Series WTCC
Drivers Fabrizio Giovanardi , Andy Priaulx , Antonio Garcia , Jorg Muller , Carl Rosenblad , James Thompson , Peter Terting , Rickard Rydell , Gabriele Tarquini , Jordi Gene , Stefano D'Aste , Nicola Larini , Giuseppe Ciro , Patrick Bernhardt , Mario Theissen , Alain Menu
Teams Williams , Proteam Motorsport