Farfus most successful BMW driver in Brazil - Muller launches fight back. Curitiba, 8th March 2009. On the opening weekend of the 2009 FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC), BMW Team Germany's Augusto Farfus (BR) was the most successful...
Farfus most successful BMW driver in Brazil - Muller launches fight back.
Curitiba, 8th March 2009. On the opening weekend of the 2009 FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC), BMW Team Germany's Augusto Farfus (BR) was the most successful member of the BMW national teams. In the first race of the season the 25-year-old finished fifth in front of his home crowd in Curitiba (BR). In race two, he added sixth place to his tally on a wet track. His team-mate, Jorg Muller (DE), was the man of the second round, in which the 39-year-old drove his BMW 320si WTCC from 21st on the grid to finish fifth.
Sergio Hernandez (ES) of BMW Team Italy-Spain and BMW Team UK's Andy Priaulx (GB) also scored championship points in the first race by finishing sixth and seventh. However, SEAT dominated proceedings at the "Autodromo Internacional de Curitiba" and celebrated two clean sweeps by claiming the top four positions. The win in race one was secured by Yvan Muller (FR), Gabriele Tarquini (IT) claimed victory in race two.
Muller's hopes for a strong result in race one ended as early as Turn 3. Running in fifth place he was hit by Chevrolet's Alain Menu (CH), who rejoined after cutting the chicane. Following this bump with Menu, Muller collided with Priaulx and had to pit with a handling problem. He went out again a few minutes later, but finished five laps down on the winner. Priaulx dropped to 19th with a damaged right front wheel, but fought his way back up to ninth.
Due to this incident, Farfus improved from seventh to fifth and eventually finished sixth. The progress of Hernandez was the best, crossing the line in seventh after starting from 11th. His team-mate, Alessandro Zanardi (IT), improved from 14th to 12th. All BMW national team drivers benefited from a time penalty after the chequered flag for two drivers who had finished in front of them, thus gaining two places each. Priaulx was classified seventh, securing two points and a front-row grid position for race two alongside BMW privateer Felix Porteiro (ES) of Proteam Motorsport.
Thirty minutes before the start, a heavy thunderstorm hit the 3.685-kilometre circuit. The race therefore got underway ten minutes late and was started behind the safety- car. In these conditions, the BMW drivers running at the front were unable to defend their positions. Only Farfus and Porteiro managed to translate their promising grid positions into points. Muller, on the other hand, coped really well with the conditions and launched an impressive fight back. From 21st place he improved lap by lap, finally taking the chequered flag in fifth.
Friedhelm Nohl (General Manager Engineering, Sports and Touring Cars):
"This weekend, SEAT was unbeatable - in both dry and wet conditions. However, our drivers also had some highlights. Andy managed to move up from the back of the field in race one following a collision at the start. Jorg put in a fantastic performance in the second race, improving from 21st to fifth. Augusto and Sergio finished in the top eight in both races. So we at least took home some points. Now we must immediately set our sights on the future. We will do our best to close the gap to the frontrunners as quickly as possible."
Andy Priaulx (BMW Team UK):
"I was just relieved to finish race one, despite the incident after the start, and I was feeling pretty confident for race two from the front row of the grid. Sadly what I felt would be a good race for me turned into a nightmare. For some reason I just could not drive the car in the wet conditions, and I was going backwards in race two. It was a shame as up to then I was happy with how things had gone."
Jorg Muller (BMW Team Germany):
"Following the disappointment in race one the successful fight back in the second felt really sweet. We made the perfect set-up choice for these conditions. At first, we considered taking the risk to run on dry tyres, but then we forgot the idea as there was just too much water on the track. Had the race gone on for another few laps I could have made it even further up. Overall I'm happy."
Augusto Farfus (BMW Team Germany):
"We have done what we could - however, that was not good enough this weekend. For race two we opted for a dry set-up, in order to have an advantage over the course of the race. But the circuit didn't dry out fast enough, so our decision didn't pay off."
Sergio Hernandez (BMW Team Italy-Spain):
"I'm satisfied with my race one result and also with the way the relationship with my new team worked out. However, it was disappointing to lose points in race two due to a collision."
Alessandro Zanardi (BMW Team Italy-Spain):
"This was a disappointing weekend. I didn't manage to be quick enough in the dry or the wet. We will now have a close look at the reasons for that. I had hoped to benefit from my new sequential gearbox at the standing start of race two, but the rain took this opportunity away from me."