Post-Monza newsletter

HUGE INTEREST IN THE NEW WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP The first event of the new FIA World Touring Car Championship last Sunday in Monza, aroused a lot of interest from both the fans and the media. The 40,000 spectators who gathered on the grandstands ...


The first event of the new FIA World Touring Car Championship last Sunday in Monza, aroused a lot of interest from both the fans and the media. The 40,000 spectators who gathered on the grandstands represented a 60% increase compared to last year. At the same time press attendance on site increased by 38%, with a total of 182 accredited media represented by 277 journalists, photographers and cameramen from 22 countries and three continents.

The championship's official website received 30,420 visits from Saturday to Monday, with a total of 281,000 pages view and more than 3-million hits. On the TV side, 6 millions of different viewers have watched at least one of the FIA WTCC programmes on Eurosport. More details on TV audiences and distribution will be unveiled next week.


The opening weekend of the new FIA World Touring Car Championship was very successful for BMW, who managed to win the first race and place Dirk Müller at the top of the Drivers' Championship. All this at Monza, which is one of Alfa Romeo's favourite racetracks.

"It was a great start to the new World Championship with some nice successes for our teams," BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen commented. "Dirk Müller heads the Drivers' championship, Jörg completed a great recovery, Andy Priaulx, Antonio García and Alessandro Zanardi also collected points. Despite almost permanent close contact, the races were fair virtually throughout, which also says something about the new standard of this series."

Times may have gone by, but Schnitzer Motorsport is still at the top. The German team that won the only WTCC title in 1987 is now racing under the name BMW team Deutschland. Team manager Charly Lamm commented: "The results in Monza were a great reward for us,. The WTCC could not have wished for a better season opener, and this applies equally to us. After his win in Race 1, Dirk also managed to work his way up from eighth place onto the podium in the second race, whilst Jörg can be proud of having improved his position from 29th to fourth."


Germany-based RS-Line IPZ Racing will join the championship at Magny-Cours and contest the remaining events of the season with two Ford Focus ST170 cars.23-year old German Frank Diefenbacher and 32-year old Sascha Plöderl from Austria are the two drivers selected for the campaign. The team directed by Rainer Stiefel have considerably updated the two cars seen in last year's FIA ETCC, also replacing the "H" pattern 5- speed gearbox with a 6-speed sequential.

A former SEAT Sport works driver, Diefenbacher collected a few podium results in the 2003 and 2004 FIA ETCC seasons. His new team-mate Plöderl was a race winner in the Austrian Touring Car Challenge (ÖTC), in which he finished runner up for three consecutive years: third in 2001 and 2002, second in 2003.


Young Czech driver Adam Lacko will switch from Alfa Romeo to BMW from the next meeting in Magny-Cours. Lacko, who drove an Alfa 156 Gta at Monza, securing third place in the Independents' Trophy's Race 2, dropped the Italian car to drive the Crawford Racing's second BMW 320i alongside Carl Rosenblad. The car will be run by the Swedish under the colours of IEP Team.

The 21 year old Lacko had first driven the car during the official testing in Monza. "He showed a huge potential," team manager Eje Elgh said. "His merit list is impressive despite his young age."

Carl Rosenblad sees his new team mate as a positive injection for the team: "It's always good to have a team mate to compare and analyse together with. But we will also be competitors and I will do my best to be the fastest."


The first points of the Michelin Independents' Trophy were also allocated at Monza. Marc Hennerici of Germany who races with Wiechers-Sport claimed the maximum 20 points available and jumped straight to the top of the table. He crossed the finishing line in his BMW 320i, ahead of his Independents' Trophy competitors in both races. Respectful overall finishes of 13th and 10th made it a very successful weekend for Hennerici and the team. In the first Race the German driver came home first with a 4.5-second margin ahead of Tomas Engström's Honda Accord and Tom Coronel's SEAT Toledo. In Race 2, with Coronel out due to a broken drive-shaft, Hennerici beat Alessandro Balzan (SEAT Toledo) and the impressive Adam Lacko at the wheel of the IEP Team Alfa Romeo 156 Gta. In the Trophy's classification Balzan trails Hennerici by 8 points, while Swedish driver Engström is sitting third.


VISITORS: Promoters of four different championships visited Monza for the FIA WTCC inaugural event: Hans Niemann (German Produktionswagen Meisterschaft), David Sonenscher (Asian Touring Car Championship), Sergey Krylov (Russian Touring Car Championship) and Darius Grinbergas (Baltic Touring Car Championship). They are all cooperating with the FIA and KSO in diffusing the S2000 regulations.

WEBSITE: Files of all drivers and teams, plus the cars' detailed technical specifications are available on the official website Pop up windows may be opened by clicking on the driver/team names on the entry list. High-resolution official portraits of all drivers and pictures of their helmets are also downloadable from the Who's who area.


David Sonescher, promoter of the Asia Touring Car Championship, on the starting grid at Monza: "Whatever happens, an important page in the history of motor sport is being written today!"


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Series WTCC
Drivers Andy Priaulx , Antonio Garcia , Dirk Müller , Tom Coronel , Carl Rosenblad , Frank Diefenbacher , Alessandro Balzan , Tomas Engstrom , Sascha Ploderl , Mario Theissen , Charly Lamm