WTCC debut in Porto: Successful first half of the season for BMW. Munich, 03rd July 2007. As the FIA World Touring Car Championship reaches the half-way mark, the BMW national teams are preparing for the "Circuito da Boavista" in Porto (PRT)...
WTCC debut in Porto: Successful first half of the season for BMW.
Munich, 03rd July 2007. As the FIA World Touring Car Championship reaches the half-way mark, the BMW national teams are preparing for the "Circuito da Boavista" in Porto (PRT) this weekend. Set on the Atlantic coast, this street circuit is 4.720 kilometres in length and promises some spectacular race action, even though opportunities to overtake are few and far between.
The more ballast a WTCC driver has had on board the more successful he has been. The fact that all five drivers of the BMW national teams will be carrying handicaps this weekend is a clear indication of the BMW 320si WTCC's strong performance so far. For the second time in a row, championship leader Augusto Farfus (BRA) of BMW Team Germany has to pay for his success by carrying the maximum load of 60 kg. The same goes for team-mate Jorg Muller (GER), currently second in the drivers' standings.
Third in the Drivers' Championship at the moment is title defender Andy Priaulx (GBR) of BMW Team UK. He will be joining the line-up this weekend with an additional 55 kg on board, while BMW Team Italy-Spain's Felix Porteiro (ESP) will have 30 kg extra, following his first race victory in Brno (CZE). Alessandro Zanardi (ITA), also of BMW Team Italy-Spain, will have an extra 10 kg on board after his third place podium finish in Brno.
BMW's performance throughout the first half of the season has been impressive: together, the teams have notched up five victories, two pole positions and six fastest lap times so far. Farfus is currently leading the drivers' classification on 53 points. At the same time, BMW is fronting the Manufacturers' Championship with 142 points, 38 points ahead of SEAT, who are second.
BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen:
"The first half of the World Touring Car Championship ends in Porto and our results at this stage are very good. Five of the ten races so far have been won by drivers of the BMW national teams. Augusto Farfus, Jorg Muller and Andy Priaulx are leading the drivers' standings while the Manufacturers' Championship has BMW in front, also with a clear lead. It all goes to show that once again the BMW 320si WTCC is the best basic car in the championship. Neither changes to the basic weights of the cars nor the rolling starts for the first race have affected the ability of our drivers to set the pace in this year's contest. As in the last two years, this World Touring Car Championship has seen some thrilling and action-packed racing, with races on street circuits like this weekend's in Porto giving the competition that extra punch. We have built up a solid basis for the rest of the season. Now the teams have to keep standards up, because we want to have plenty of reason to celebrate again when we do Macau at the end of the year. But we still have quite a way to go until then."
History and background:
After Zandvoort (NLD) and Pau (FRA), Porto is the third venue to be making its debut in this year's World Touring Car Championship. Even so, the "Circuito de Boavista" has a long motorsport tradition, having even provided the setting for two Formula 1 World Championship races: in 1958 future world champion Stirling Moss (GBR) put compatriots Mike Hawthorn und Stuart Lewis Ewans into second and third place in Porto. Two years later the city's Grand Prix was won by Australia's Jack Brabham ahead of Bruce McLaren (NZL) and Jim Clark (GBR). The first ever car race at the "Circuito de Boavista" took place in 1931.
During the Portuguese Grand Prix in 1958 spectators also witnessed something truly special: Maria Teresa di Fillipis (ITA) was the first woman ever to take part in the Formula 1 World Championship, although she was unlucky in Porto and had to retire from the race after six laps.
The Formula 1 races of those years followed a 7.5 km circuit. Since then, however, major changes to the layout have resulted in today's 4.720-kilometre loop, on which the BMW national teams will complete eleven laps when they race this weekend in Porto. Modifications have included the elimination of one chicane and track widening in several places in order to meet the requirements of the international automobile federation FIA.
Changes to the circuit over recent years have not only affected the track layout but also the infrastructure surrounding it. These include three new grandstands, which bring the total number of seats at the track to 24,000.
The "Circuito da Boavista" is the slowest of the three street circuits on the WTCC race calendar in 2007. Top speeds are reached in the streets of Macau (MAC), where the season reaches its finale on 18th November.
Porto, or Oporto as it was formerly known, is situated on the estuary of the River Douro. With 330,000 inhabitants, it is the county's second largest city, after the Portuguese capital, Lisbon. About 1.3 million people live in the surrounding area of the coastal city.
Porto's historical city centre on the north bank of the Douro has been a UNESCO World Heritage Centre since 1996. However, outside Europe, the city is also well- known in particular for its famed alcoholic beverage Port. The drink is made exclusively from grapes harvested in the Douro valley which have matured for at least two years.
As with all new circuits on the WTCC calendar, Friday's 30-minute test session in Porto will give drivers the chance to familiarise themselves with the circuit. The first race starts on Sunday at 10:05 hrs (live on Eurosport 2). Round 2 is scheduled for 16:35 hrs and will be transmitted live on Eurosport International.
Facts and figures:
Circuit / Date Circuito da Boavista / 08th July 2007
Lap / total distance 4.720 km / 51.92 km (11 laps)