Curitiba: BMW Team preview

WTCC season kick-off in Brazil: The pursuit of BMW continues. Munich. This weekend, the 2008 FIA World Touring Car Championship commences at the "Autodromo Internacional de Curitiba". The two races in Brazil kick off the longest World Touring...

WTCC season kick-off in Brazil: The pursuit of BMW continues.

Munich. This weekend, the 2008 FIA World Touring Car Championship commences at the "Autodromo Internacional de Curitiba". The two races in Brazil kick off the longest World Touring Car Championship ever, with a total of 24 races. BMW once again finds itself in the position of being hunted down by the chasing pack. Andy Priaulx (GB) of BMW Team UK wants to add to his haul of three World Championship titles, while BMW is aiming for its fourth consecutive manufacturers' title.

To achieve this goal, the Munich-based manufacturer is sending two more top-class national teams into battle, alongside BMW Team UK. As in 2007, Augusto Farfus (BR) and Jorg Muller (DE) will wear the colours of BMW Team Germany. BMW Team Italy-Spain will be represented by Alessandro Zanardi (IT) and Felix Porteiro (ES). All five drivers have already proved they are capable of winning WTCC races, and are highly motivated to get their season off to a flying start. Last year, drivers from the BMW national teams claimed all the podium places in Curitiba.

BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen:

"Last year we came through in a very dramatic finale, taking both World Touring Car Championship titles for the third time in a row. I am convinced that this season will be no less exciting. Our goal is clear: At the end of the final race, we want to top both the Drivers' and Manufacturers' Championships. In 2007, we laid the foundation for this with a strong performance in Curibita. We should also be competitive there this year."

Andy Priaulx (BMW Team UK):

"The start of a new season is always exciting, but there is always that feeling of apprehension. You ask yourself if you have done all the work you needed to do over the winter, and also wonder what the opposition has been up to. I know that we have done all the work and there is nothing I can do about the opposition, except try to beat them on the track. It is fun going to Curitiba as the fans there are so enthusiastic. I appreciate that Augusto is their favourite, but they still give the rest of us a warm welcome. Obviously the other teams want to beat the World Champion, but I start every year with a clean sheet and feel that I am under the same pressure as everyone else."

Augusto Farfus (BMW Team Germany):

"I am very motivated for the start of the season, for many reasons. On the one hand, I got married last weekend. On the other hand, I come from Curitiba. To appear in front of a home crowd is always very special. This could be the most exciting season of my career. In my first year for BMW, I was in the fight for the title right to the end. Now I am aiming even higher."

Jorg Muller (BMW Team Germany):

"The preparations for this year have been a little shorter than in 2007. We have carried out fewer tests, as the races in Curitiba are very early this year. I am, however, convinced that we are excellently prepared. Brazil was a good event for us last year, and I was able to take pole position and victory in race one. We have the necessary material and a strong enough team to be challenging for the top positions again this year. However, you never know quite how strong the opposition really is. Thanks to Augusto's wedding, we arrived in Brazil very early this year, so we are well acclimatised."

Alessandro Zanardi (BMW Team Italy-Spain):

"It is never easy to say exactly where you stand in the build up to the first race. Therefore, the two races in Curitiba form a very important yardstick. In 2006 my third place put me on the podium and in 2007 I picked up points in both races, so you could say that the circuit suits me. It should be considerably hotter in Brazil than it was during our test sessions. Furthermore, the track surface in Curitiba is very different to European circuits. All this means we can expect a very exciting weekend."

Felix Porteiro (BMW Team Italy-Spain):

"I made my BMW WTCC debut in Curitiba in 2007. At that time, everything was new to me, but I still managed to claim fourth position on the grid. That gives me confidence that I can perform well again this year in Brazil. Last year I didn't manage to pick up any points. This time I want to improve and get the season off to a successful start. The experience I gained last season should stand me in good stead for 2008. I feel at one with the car, and I'm full of confidence."

History and Background:

The "Autodromo Internacional de Curitiba" is the venue for World Touring Car Championship races for the third time since 2006. The capital of the Brazilian fderal state of Parana also had the honour of staging the first race weekend last season. BMW drivers were victorious in three of the four races round the 3.695km circuit.

Curitiba has 1.7 million residents and is about 340 kilometres away from Sao Paulo. On 2nd November, the BMW Sauber F1 Team will contest the finale of the Formula One season there. The city was founded by Portuguese colonialists in 1693, and is the most advanced of all Brazil's cities.

In 1913, Brazil's first federal university was opened in Curitiba. The city met the rapid population growth in the second half of the 20th century with sustainable and ecological town planning and structuring of the transport system. In 1996 it was awarded the title "Most Innovative City in the World".

Work started on the racing circuit in 1965, and was completed two years later. In the mid 90s, the circuit underwent an expensive modification. The oval was given an infield. Today, the track is one of the most modern in the country.

-credit: bmw.de

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About this article
Series WTCC
Drivers Andy Priaulx , Jorg Muller , Augusto Farfus , Felix Porteiro , Mario Theissen
Teams Sauber