BMW continues WTCC campaign on difficult territory. Munich, 17th March 2009. Even at the start of the season, there is no let up in the FIA World Touring Car Championship: Just a fortnight after the first two races in Curitiba (BR), this weekend...
BMW continues WTCC campaign on difficult territory.
Munich, 17th March 2009. Even at the start of the season, there is no let up in the FIA World Touring Car Championship: Just a fortnight after the first two races in Curitiba (BR), this weekend sees the second WTCC event of the year at Puebla (MX). Due to its many slow corners, the "Autodromo Miguel E. Abed" traditionally favours BMW's competitors with front-wheel drive. Added to this, naturally-aspirated petrol engines suffer a greater loss of performance at an altitude of 2,200 metres than turbo diesel engines, which are used by the SEAT team.
After BMW's disappointing races in Brazil, fifth-placed Augusto Farfus (BR), from BMW Team Germany, is the BMW national teams' highest-ranked driver with seven points in the overall standings. Team-mate Jorg Muller (DE) lies in sixth, thanks to an impressive charge through the field in the rain-drenched second race at Curitiba. BMW Team UK's Andy Priaulx (GB) and Sergio Hernandez (ES) from BMW Team Italy-Spain were also able to pick up points in the opener. Alessandro Zanardi (IT) will be looking to collect his first points of the year in Puebla.
Andy Priaulx (BMW Team UK):
"I'm under no illusions: we are definitely not the favourites to finish top in Puebla this year. My goal is to score some points. To achieve that I need to finish in the top ten in qualifying and come through the two races without any incident."
Jorg Muller (BMW Team Germany):
"I am personally quite happy with my start to the season in Brazil. I feel in great shape and was able to show that in the second race. I am concerned though that the SEATs will again be in a league of their own in Puebla. No matter what, I will give it my best shot once more. In the end, every WTCC point can prove decisive."
Augusto Farfus (BMW Team Germany):
"From a BMW perspective, Puebla is not exactly the ideal place to go for the WTCC. That's not to say I don't like the place. I always enjoy being in the Americas - even if Puebla is very different to Curitiba."
Alessandro Zanardi (BMW Team Italy-Spain):
"The two races in Puebla don't necessarily come very high on my list of favourites. But that doesn't change the fact that I want to forget about my poor start in Curitiba. The circuit doesn't suit our cars, and the same goes for the height of the place. But if the opportunity arises to get a good result then I'll grab it."
Sergio Hernandez (BMW Team Italy-Spain):
"The start in Brazil went quite well for me. If possible I want to make it into the second qualifying segment in Puebla, so I can be in a good position to pick up points in the races."
History and Background:
Following 2005, 2006 and 2008, the World Touring Car Championship this year stages its fourth event in Mexico. Augusto Farfus is the only current BMW driver who has tasted victory in Puebla. As an Alfa Romeo driver he was second in race one and won race two back in 2006. Last year only Andy Priaulx was able to pick up a point with eighth in race two.
Puebla, the capital city of the state with the same name, has a population of approximately 1.5 million. The defining event in the town's history was the "Battle of Puebla", during which a French expedition corps attempted to invade the town on 5th May 1862. After local farmers were able to drive back the French army, 5th May became a Mexican national holiday. Because of its impressive colonial architecture, Puebla was named an official UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987.
From the city of Puebla it is possible to see the two Central American twin volcanoes, Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl. With a height of 5,462 meters, Popocatepetl, which is also called "El Popo", towers over its majestic neighbour by 176 metres. Located 15 kilometres outside Puebla are the city of Cholula and the Tepanapa pyramid. Based on its volume, it is the largest building of its kind in the world.
Constructed in 2005, the "Autodromo Miguel E. Abed" is an anti-clockwise track with a total of 18 corners. It is the slowest track on the calendar, and its extreme altitude reduces the performance of every engine in the field. An angular infield enhances the original oval-shaped race track, and its tight winding sections are comparable to a go-karting track.
Critical to success is good traction in the unfailingly slow corners on this "low grip" track. The drivers have to accelerate early and aggressively without spinning the wheels. That explains why the rear axle is set up soft.
The new Formula BMW Americas season gets underway on the support programme of the World Touring Car Championship in Puebla. Last year, 17-year-old Alexander Rossi (US) won the title in this young talent series before claiming the opportunity of a test drive with the BMW Sauber F1 Team by winning the Formula BMW World Final in Mexico. The Formula BMW Americas drivers began their preparations for the start of the season at the beginning of March with a test at the "Carolina Motorsports Park" in southern California (US). The quickest driver was Gabby Chaves from Colombia.
The two WTCC races will each be 16 laps. This is a total distance of 51.84 kilometres. The first race starts on Sunday at 12:20 local time (18:20 GMT). Race two starts at 15.50 (21:50 GMT). Both races will be televised on Eurosport International.