WTCC bids farewell to Europe - BMW in confident frame of mind. Munich, 11th September 2009. This weekend Imola (IT) hosts rounds 19 and 20 of the 2009 FIA World Touring Car Championship, which simultaneously marks the end of the European leg of...
WTCC bids farewell to Europe - BMW in confident frame of mind.
Munich, 11th September 2009. This weekend Imola (IT) hosts rounds 19 and 20 of the 2009 FIA World Touring Car Championship, which simultaneously marks the end of the European leg of this year's series. After the victories posted by BMW Team UK's Andy Priaulx (GB) and Augusto Farfus (BR) of BMW Team Germany in BMW's home races at Oscherleben (DE), the BMW national teams depart for the "Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari" in a confident frame of mind. Farfus, with 90 points, is just one adrift of world championship leader Gabriele Tarquini (IT, SEAT). The same gap separates BMW (234 points) from leader SEAT in the Manufacturers' Championship.
Last year Imola was not, though, kind to the BMW drivers, with only Jorg Muller (DE), the team-mate of Farfus, managing to make it to the podium. The long straights of this classic circuit enable SEAT's drivers to exploit the torque advantage provided by their turbo-diesel engines. Despite carrying 40 kilograms of compensation ballast, Farfus, Priaulx, Muller and Sergio Hernandez (ES) of BMW Team Italy-Spain fully intend ensuring they are in the best possible shape as regards points ahead of the four final overseas races. The same applies to Hernandez' team-mate Alessandro Zanardi (IT), who is allowed to shed 20 kilograms from his sequential transmission- equipped BMW 320si WTCC for his home race.
Andy Priaulx (BMW Team UK):
"This is a track where getting a tow is important for a good lap time. This is not the perfect place for our BMW as there are too many kerbs for us and so it is not possible to get on the power. Having said that, I am determined to follow on where I left off in Oschersleben."
Jorg Muller (BMW Team Germany):
"At Imola we may possibly not fare as well as we did in Oschersleben. However, we will give it all we have. Last year in race two I finished second, proving that this year we can also hope for good results even if the circuit does not suit us."
Augusto Farfus (BMW Team Germany):
"Of all the tracks on which we will race in the remaining events this year, Imola is the most difficult one for us. Still I like the atmosphere at this circuit, as I lived in Italy quite a while. I want to score as many points as possible, in order to be well-prepared for the season finale in Okayama and Macau."
Alessandro Zanardi (BMW Team Italy-Spain):
"I have good memories of Imola. When I was a little boy, my uncle used to work there as a marshal. He took me with him once. That was the first time I experienced a Formula One racing car. This experience captured my heart, and I became a motorsport addict. Fortunately I was able to convert this passion into a career as a racing driver. So, in a way, it all started in Imola for me."
Sergio Hernandez (BMW Team Italy-Spain):
"It gave me a boost in motivation to leave Oschersleben with some points in the bag. This shows that we are working in the right direction. In 2008 I narrowly missed out on a points finish. This time I want to make it into the top eight at this classic race track."
History and background:
The BMW national teams have contested rounds of both the European and the World Touring Car Championship at Imola, twice taking podium places, the last being by Jorg Muller for BMW Team Germany in 2008.
After Curitiba, the "Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari" is the fastest circuit on the 2009 WTCC calendar. Last year, having been comprehensively remodelled, the circuit celebrated its return to the international motorsport stage.
The undulating circuit offers a rhythmic layout, and contains three chicanes which need to be attacked aggressively. The cars should be able to 'ride' the high kerbs well in order to allow the drivers to accelerate early.
The motorsport tradition of Imola, population 66,000, stretches back to the 1940s, when a street race was held within the town situated in Italy's "Emilia Romagna" province. In 1950 the first stone for a permanent circuit was turned, with the first race held in1952.
On 21st April 1963 Imola hosted its first Formula One race, with public roads making up part of the circuit until 1979. Between 1980 and 2006 Imola staged rounds of the FIA Formula One World Championship. Michael Schumacher (DE) holds the record for the most victories, having won here seven times.
On 1st May 1994 triple Formula One world champion Ayrton Senna (BR) crashed fatally at the "Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari". Fifteen years after the racing legend's death, Augusto Farfus will race with '15th Ayrton Senna Anniversary' messages on his helmet and car. These refer to the simultaneous exhibition being staged in the Brazilian Embassy in Rome (IT).
This weekend Alessandro Zanardi will compete in the second Para-Cycling World Championships in Bogogno (IT). In the timed trial on Thursday the 42-year-old was placed 15th in Class C.
Both WTCC races will be contested over 11 laps, providing a race distance of 53.99 kilometres. The first race starts at 12:50hrs (11:50hrs BST), and race 2 at 15:05hrs (14:05hrs BST).