Porto: BMW preview

BMW expects difficult WTCC centenary meeting in Porto. Munich, 29th June 2009. Following three consecutive victories, BMW this weekend goes to Porto (PT), which marks the start of the second half of the FIA World Touring Car Championship. Thanks...

BMW expects difficult WTCC centenary meeting in Porto.

Munich, 29th June 2009. Following three consecutive victories, BMW this weekend goes to Porto (PT), which marks the start of the second half of the FIA World Touring Car Championship. Thanks to BMW Team Italy-Spain's Alessandro Zanardi (IT) and Sergio Hernandez (ES) claiming a victory each in Brno (CZ), the present points' score of 153 puts BMW just eight points adrift of SEAT's tally. In the drivers' classification the five BMW national team drivers are close. After a disappointing weekend for him in the Czech Republic, Augusto Farfus (BR), from BMW Team Germany, is determined to ratchet up the pressure on points' leader Yvan Muller (FR/SEAT). The Brazilian's team-mate, Jorg Muller (DE), BMW Team UK's Andy Priaulx (GB) and the BMW Team Italy-Spain duo also intend making up ground in the drivers' rankings.

However, the BMW drivers face a difficult mission in the 99th and 100th rounds since the WTCC started in 2005. Farfus, Muller, Priaulx and Hernandez take 40 kilograms of compensation weight onboard their cars, while their rivals at the wheel of the SEAT cars with turbo diesel engines and 2.7 bar boost pressure race with no ballast and should be able to make full use of their advantage in Porto.

Andy Priaulx (BMW Team UK):

"The Porto track is a classic street circuit. It has long straights and some strange chicanes. Overtaking manoeuvres are difficult. However, the event in 2007 was great, with huge numbers of spectators streaming into the circuit. It was also a sporting success for me: I was able to take a debut victory."

Jorg Muller (BMW Team Germany):

"The races in 2007 were thrilling. I had a great duel with Andy Priaulx, and finished in the runner-up position on the podium. I love street circuits, and Porto is without doubt one of the most attractive ones. It is not as narrow as other circuits of this kind, but has both slow and quick sectors. This is a perfect combination."

Augusto Farfus (BMW Team Germany):

"Although we were in Porto in 2007, I view the circuit as a newcomer on the calendar as some changes have been made to its layout. I am looking forward to the race. In Portugal I feel as though I am at home. After my mistake in Brno I intend scoring points again."

Alessandro Zanardi (BMW Team Italy-Spain):

"In Porto it won't be easy for us. Although I basically like the circuit, it is hardly the perfect layout for BMW. But after my victory in Brno I am naturally highly motivated to post another good result."

Sergio Hernandez (BMW Team Italy-Spain):

"Two years ago Porto was not that good to me as I was involved in numerous incidents. Now I have more experience and have noticed that street circuits are increasingly to my liking. It's a great feeling to race at the centenary meeting as a fresh winner."

History and background:

The "Circuito da Boavista" draws on a long tradition, which includes hosting Formula One World Championship races on two occasions. In 1958 Stirling Moss (GB) was victorious, while Australia's Jack Brabham won two years later. The first automobile race on this street circuit was staged in 1931. The Portuguese spectators were presented with a 'first' in 1958 when Maria Teresa di Fillipis (IT) became the first woman to start a Formula One race. In the event, though, she retired from the race after six laps.

The Formula One races were staged on a 7.5-kilometre circuit. In the meantime the track has undergone considerable change. The drivers from the BMW national teams will face eleven laps on the 4.720-kilometre circuit. In addition to changes to the classic track, the infrastructure has been modified. Changes include three new stands, giving a capacity of 24,000 seats.

Last year, Estoril (PT) was the venue for the Portuguese legs of the WTCC. Andy Priaulx was the only driver to make it onto the podium with third place in the second race. Porto's WTCC debut in 2007 saw Priaulx and Jorg Muller score a one-two in the second race.

On paper, the "Circuito da Boavista" seems more like a normal track than a street circuit. In this sense it resembles American street circuits. Different to Pau (FR), the Porto layout is flat, and drivers are faced with long straights and 90-degree corners. As a result, the average speed here is almost 20 km/h faster than on Pau's "Circuit de Ville". As is usually the case with street circuits, crash barriers lure the drivers into slipping up. Since the circuit made its WTCC debut in 2007, several modifications have been made for this race, particularly to the chicane before the start/finish straight.

Porto, previously known as Oporto, is situated on the mouth of the Douro River, and has a population of 330,000, making it the second largest city in Portugal after Lisbon. The wider area of this coastal city has approximately 1.3 million inhabitants.

The historic part of the city, situated on the northern bank of the Douro was acclaimed as a World Cultural Site in 1996. Porto is known across the world for its alcoholic speciality: port wine. The grapes for this wine may only be harvested in the Douro Valley. The fermentation process takes approximately two years.

The drivers will be able to orientate themselves during a 30-minute test session on Friday. Both WTCC races will be contested over 11 laps, giving a total distance of 51.92 kilometres. The first race starts at 11:35hrs local time, which is the same as BST and so an hour behind CET, and the second at 16:50hrs local.

The BMW national team drivers will be available for interviews in the BMW Motorsport Hospitality unit from 17:15hrs local time on Saturday.

-credit: bmw

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About this article
Series WTCC
Drivers Andy Priaulx , Jorg Muller , Yvan Muller , Augusto Farfus , Stirling Moss , Jack Brabham , Sergio Hernandez