Tension mounts before WTCC finale: BMW homes in on title defence. Munich, 13th November 2007. The stage is set for a thrilling finale to the FIA World Touring Car Championship. This coming weekend's races at the "Guia Circuit" in Macau will...
Tension mounts before WTCC finale: BMW homes in on title defence.
Munich, 13th November 2007. The stage is set for a thrilling finale to the FIA World Touring Car Championship. This coming weekend's races at the "Guia Circuit" in Macau will decide whether BMW achieves a hat-trick of titles, in both the Drivers' and the Manufacturers' Championships.
Andy Priaulx (GBR) of BMW Team UK enters the final race weekend of the year as joint leader, together with SEAT driver Yvan Muller (FRA). The 33-year-old, who won the championship in 2005 and 2006, currently has 81 points under his belt. In third place, with 71 points, is BMW Team Germany driver Augusto Farfus (BRA). His team-mate Jorg Muller (GER), in fifth place with 66 points, is also among those drivers who could still be crowned world champion in the former Portuguese colony. All six title contenders will take to the 6.117-kilometre street circuit with the maximum weight handicap of 60 kilograms. The BMW national team drivers also have a joint goal: they are out to help BMW secure its third manufacturers' title in a row. BMW currently leads this class with 237 points, 10 points ahead of SEAT.
Andy Priaulx (BMW Team UK): "The Guia Circuit is one of those circuits, where a touring car feels ultra fast. It is a huge challenge. You come menacingly close to the wall at more than one spot. You need to be very determined in order to be quick. Only the best driver with the best and most reliable car will win over the course of a racing weekend in Macau. It has always suited me there in previous years. I hope that will also be the case this time."
Augusto Farfus (BMW Team Germany): "I love Macau. This is a circuit full of extreme contrasts. We enter the Melco hairpin slower than at any point in the season. In Mandarin corner, on the other hand, we reach higher speeds than in any other bend. This is what makes the circuit such a challenge. As a driver, you just can't fail to find it fascinating."
Jorg Muller (BMW Team Germany): "Every street circuit is special - but Macau is even more exciting. The stretch in the city is tighter than Monaco, whereas in the harbour we go faster than anywhere else. Then there is the unique atmosphere in the paddock. Drivers and teams are much closer to each other than usual. I just love this combination of the demanding circuit and the special atmosphere."
Felix Porteiro (BMW Team Italy-Spain): "I am really looking forward to my first appearance in Macau. Over the last few weeks I have spent several hours in front of the computer, getting to know the virtual circuit. Once on site, I will use the time before the first test on Thursday to learn the track and ensure I am as well prepared as possible."
Alessandro Zanardi (BMW Team Italy-Spain): "In a way, I used the New York Marathon to help prepare for the season finale. To be there was a fantastic experience. I came fourth in my class, and was quicker than I had hoped. I really didn't expect that. Now I am highly motivated for Macau. We have not been as competitive as we would have liked in the past. Hopefully it will be a different story this time. I have a new clutch regulator on the steering wheel, which should allow me to be as quick as the other drivers in the hairpin. We have always lost a lot of time there in the past. For this reason, I am very confident."
Fredrik Ekblom (BMW Team UK): "I have raced a couple of times in Macau with Formula 3, but that was a long time ago. I can hardly wait to tackle it in a touring car. This circuit has so many variables. It rises and falls, and the corners are extremely diverse and challenging. It is my aim to support BMW and my team-mate Andy Priaulx as much as possible in their battle for the title."
History and background:
BMW have won all the World Touring Car Championships held to date. In 1987, Roberto Ravaglia (ITA) was crowned champion. He went on to become the current Team Principal of BMW Team Italy-Spain. In both 2005 and 2006, Andy Priaulx took the title. Including the European Championships in 2003 and 2004, this is the fifth time in succession that Priaulx enters the season finale still in the hunt for an FIA touring car championship. He has so far been successful on four occasions.
All three BMW title contenders have already tasted victory in Macau. Jorg Muller won the legendary Formula 3 race there in 1993, and followed this with victories in BMW touring cars in 2004 and 2006. Augusto Farfus won in 2005, while Priaulx triumphed in the first race in 2006.
Qualifying at the "Guia Circuit" will last 45 minutes, rather than the usual 30 minutes. This is because red-flag situations are common at the narrow street circuit, which has in previous years meant fewer drivers having the opportunity to record a clear, "flying" lap.
On Friday, 16th November 2007, BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen will be available for interviews with media representatives between 13:00 and 14:00hrs in the BMW Hospitality area. The drivers from the BMW national teams will be available to answer journalists' questions at the same location, between 18:15 and 18:30hrs.
The 21st race of the season will get underway on Sunday at 12:00hrs local time (04:00hrs GMT). The final race of the year will follow after a 15-minute break. Eurosport International will provide live coverage of the event.
Motorsport has a great tradition in Macau: this year sees the Formula 3 race staged for the 54th time. The finale of the WTCC is just one highlight in a varied programme, which also includes the 41st edition of the motorcycle GP.
Macau consists of a peninsula and two islands, which are connected by bridges. The majority of the 500,000 inhabitants live on the peninsula. The total area of Macau is 25.4 km". The official national languages are Chinese and Portuguese.
Facts and figures:
Circuit / Date: Guia Circuit / 18th November 2007
Lap / Distance: 6.117 km / 55.05 km (9 laps)
Race 1: Andy Priaulx (BMW Team UK)
Race 2: Jorg Muller (BMW Team Germany)
Pole position 2006: Andy Priaulx (BMW Team UK), 2:33.318 minutes
Fastest laps 2006:
Race 1: Alain Menu (Chevrolet), 2:34.249 minutes
Race 2: Yvan Muller (SEAT), 2:34.394 minutes