For BMW the fight for the FIA WTCC title starts in Curitiba. Munich, 3rd March 2009. This weekend sees the start of the 2009 FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC), with the "Autodromo Internacional de Curitiba" hosting the opening two rounds...
For BMW the fight for the FIA WTCC title starts in Curitiba.
Munich, 3rd March 2009. This weekend sees the start of the 2009 FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC), with the "Autodromo Internacional de Curitiba" hosting the opening two rounds of the series for the third consecutive season. BMW has entered its three national teams and their five drivers with the express aim of recapturing both world championships. To date BMW has scored four drivers' and three manufacturers' world titles in the touring car category.
"Naturally I am hopeful we will top the points' charts in both championships at the end of the season," says BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen. "However, in motorsport such things cannot be planned. We can only work on our own performance, which we concentrated on throughout the winter. Once again it should be a close fight between us and SEAT, with Chevrolet being another worthy competitor. We are well prepared."
Triple world champion Andy Priaulx (GB) will once again be competing under the BMW Team UK banner, with Jorg Muller (DE) and Augusto Farfus (BR) representing BMW Team Germany. Alessandro Zanardi (IT) of BMW Team Italy-Spain has a new team-mate in Sergio Hernandez (ES).
Andy Priaulx (BMW Team UK):
"Every year I look forward to being in Curitiba. The city has many different sides to it, and could easily be in Europe. The circuit is interesting and challenging, and BMW has traditionally achieved good results there. Everybody hopes for a strong start to a new season, so I will endeavour to have a good opening weekend."
Jorg Muller (BMW Team Germany):
"Curitiba sees the end of the off-season. The two races are extremely important and the first real opportunity to compare performances. All the teams have tested thoroughly over the winter, and now it will become clear who has made the most progress. I have won in Brazil, so the circuit evidently suits me."
Augusto Farfus (BMW Team Germany):
"Curitiba is my home town, so naturally I love returning here. As hometown hero there are, though, particular pressures. Overall the feeling is positive, for there are thousands of fans all cheering me on together. I hope to start the 2009 season with the right momentum."
Alessandro Zanardi (BMW Team Italy-Spain):
"I like the Curitiba circuit. However, I would prefer it to be twice the length. Despite the lap being short, it's just all about being faster than the opposition - which is precisely what I intend being. Everybody looks forward to this event to see where they stand. We are well prepared, so hopefully I'll return to Europe a happy man."
Sergio Hernandez (BMW Team Italy-Spain):
"I like the circuit and people of Curitiba. Mentally the Brazilian people are similar to the Spanish. The atmosphere at this event is unique. Over the past two years I have amassed a lot of experience, which I hope to put to good use in my debut for BMW Team Italy-Spain by fighting for points and race wins."
History and Background:
The "Autodromo Internacional de Curitiba" hosts the FIA World Touring Car Championship for the fourth time since 2006. The past two years has seen the capital of the Brazilian province Parana have the honour of staging the season's opening events.
Three of the six races held to date on the 3.695-kilometre circuit have been won by BMW drivers. In 2006 Andy Priaulx celebrated a victory in Brazil; the following year saw Jorg Muller and Augusto Farfus each make it to the top step of the podium.
Curitiba has a population of approximately 1.7 million inhabitants, and is situated 340 kilometres south-west of Sao Paulo, where the BMW Sauber F1 Team will contest the Grand Prix of Brazil on 18. October 2009. Curitiba was founded in 1693 by Portuguese colonialists, and is the most progressive of all Brazil's cities.
Brazil's first national university was opened in Curitiba in 1913. Rapid population growth in the second half of the 20th century saw Curitiba adopt sustainable and ecologically sound city planning and transport policies, earning it the title of "World's Most Innovative City" in 1996.
Construction of the circuit started in 1965, and was completed two years later. A comprehensive rebuild programme, which saw the infield oval added, was undertaken in the mid-nineties, making the circuit one of the most modern in Brazil.
Curitiba sees the debut of a new WTCC qualifying format: All competitors will contest a 20-minute qualifying session, with those recording the ten fastest lap times progressing to a ten-minute shoot-out for the first pole position of the year.
The first race of the new season, to be televised live on Eurosport 2, gets under way with a rolling start at 13:05 local time (16:05 GMT). The second race, with a standing start format, is scheduled for 16:05 local time (19:05 GMT), and will be transmitted live on Eurosport International.