Pre-season newsletter 2005-03-25

FIA WTCC NEWSLETTER 25 March 2005 2005 FIA WTCC PRESENTED IN MONZA The 2005 FIA World Touring Car Championship was launched on Tuesday, during a crowded press conference in Monza. More than 200 journalists, photographers and TV crew members ...

25 March 2005


The 2005 FIA World Touring Car Championship was launched on Tuesday, during a crowded press conference in Monza. More than 200 journalists, photographers and TV crew members coming from twenty different countries attended the event. Promoter Marcello Lotti said: "Four years ago in Monza, we started from scratch with the FIA European Touring Car Championship. Should somebody had told me that in four years we were here again to start a World Championship, I would have said he was mad..." Jacques Behar, chairman of KSO and managing director of Eurosport, unveiled the worldwide TV distribution for the season: "Besides Eurosport the FIA WTCC will be broadcast on a number of national TV channels, like the RAI in Italy, TF1 in France, TVE in Spain, ZDF in Germany and TV Azteca in Mexico. Other negotiations are still ongoing."


The visit of Lapo Elkann, Brand Promotion Manager of FIAT Auto, wound the Alfa Romeo drivers up during the official testing in Monza. Augusto Farfus and Gabriele Tarquini set the pace, clocking the two fastest laps. Farfus emerged as the fastest driver on both days: on Tuesday he was clocked at 1:59.492 and on Wednesday he improved by 7 tenths, to 1:58.783.

"I like this track very much and we have worked very well over these two days," the Brazilian youngster commented. "I am very confident, because we clocked good times using the race set up."

Farfus's team mates were also quick: Tarquini set the second fastest lap (1:59.094), Thompson the fifth-fastest (1:59.681) and Giovanardi the sixth fastest (1:59.707).


BMW drivers rivalled with their Alfa Romeo colleagues in setting fast lap times during the two day-official testing in Monza. BMW Team Deutschland's Dirk and Jörg Müller topped the BMW patrol, setting the third (1:59.335) and fourth-fastest (1:59.525) laps, with gaps of five and seven tenths of a second from Farfus respectively. Antonio García was clocked at 1:59.807, the seventh-fastest time, while his BMW Team Italy-Spain team- mate Alessandro Zanardi was 12th fastest (2:00.178).

2004 FIA ETCC champion Andy Priaulx, struggled on day 1 at the wheel of his BMW Team UK car: "We were still struggling to find the balance with the new brakes. And Monza is all about slipstreaming; I don't have a team-mate and this is always a difficult track for me." On day 2 Priaulx improved to ninth-fastest 2:00.100.


After setting the fastest times in the previous test sessions at Silverstone and Magny- Cours, SEAT Sport struggled to keep the pace of the BMW and Alfa Romeo cars in Monza. With a lap in 2:00.163, Jordi Gené emerged as the best SEAT driver and clocked the tenth fastest time over the two days. His team mate Rickard Rydell was only three thousandths of a second slower than him, while SEAT Sport's new boy, Peter Terting, improved consistently and finally posted a promising 2:00.463.

"We know that Monza is a bit tough for us. Here we are about five kilometres slower of the other cars at the end of the straight. We know we have a slight engine disadvantage," Rydell commented.


Chevrolet Racing continued the development work on the Chevrolet Lacetti at Monza. "We still have a long way to go," said Chevrolet Europe's Motorsport Manager, Eric Nève. "These two days have clearly shown the strength of the FIA World Touring Car Championship. We are where we expected to be. For a new manufacturer coming into a World Championship against some very experienced competitors there is no point in doing anything else but take a very conservative start."

On the track, the drivers tried a few laps giving each other a tow in true NASCAR style and finally clocked lap times covered by only half-a-second: 2:03.018 for Alain Menu, 2:03.411 for Robert Huff and 2:03.515 for Nicola Larini.


The Ford Hotfiel Sport team faced the whole FIA WTCC field for the first time during the official testing in Monza. Lap times for Thomas Klenke's and Thomas Jäger's Ford Focus cars remained in the 2:04 range: 2:04.574 for Klenke, 2:04.828 for Jäger.

"Our car is still brand new," said Klenke. "It has good potential and improves every time we hit the track. Obviously we were not pleased to be so far off the pace in Monza, but we have to consider that we were still running with a old 2004 engine, with a brand new gearbox and with final gear ratios which were too short for Monza. We have decided to test again in Oschersleben, which is close to the team's workshop. This will enable us to make quick changes to the car as soon as the test happens."


COLCIAGO: Roberto Colciago created a surprise in Monza at the wheel of the JAS Motorsport Honda Accord. With a lap in 1:59.841 the Italian driver set the eighth fastest time. The best for a car other than an Alfa Romeo or BMW.

D'ASTE: Proteam Motorsport's Stefano D'Aste emerged as the fastest Independent driver in the Monza test. A best lap in 2:00.193 placed him in 13th position, between Zanardi and Terting.

IMOLA: The circuit dedicated to Enzo and Dino Ferrari will host three FIA WTCC teams next week. BMW Team Deutschland, BMW Team Italy-Spain and SEAT Sport will test there on Tuesday and Wednesday.


FIAT Auto Brand Promotion Manager Lapo Elkann, after having a ride in Monza in an Alfa Romeo 156 race car driven by Augusto Farfus: "I asked him to complete four laps, because I was having a lot of fun! Monza is a fantastic circuit, and Alfa Romeo is Italy's second red car after Ferrari!"

Farfus after the four laps: "They have warned me that in the case of an accident I would have put the whole company in serious troubles... But he was excited and pushed me to go; which I did, because my fastest lap time with him onboard was 2:03!"


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About this article
Series WTCC
Drivers Andy Priaulx , Antonio Garcia , Jorg Muller , Thomas Jäger , Augusto Farfus , Rickard Rydell , Gabriele Tarquini , Jordi Gene , Stefano D'Aste , Nicola Larini , Thomas Klenke , Roberto Colciago , Marcello Lotti , Alain Menu
Teams Proteam Motorsport