Dirk Muller most successful BMW driver in difficult Puebla rounds. Puebla (Mexico), 30th July 2006. During rounds 11 and 12 of the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) in Puebla, BMW Team Germany's Dirk Muller (GER) was the most successful...
Dirk Muller most successful BMW driver in difficult Puebla rounds.
Puebla (Mexico), 30th July 2006. During rounds 11 and 12 of the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) in Puebla, BMW Team Germany's Dirk Muller (GER) was the most successful driver of the BMW national teams. The 30-year-old managed to record sixth place in the first race and fourth position in race two. Next to Dirk Muller, Andy Priaulx (GBR) of BMW Team UK was also able to collect points at the "Autodromo Miguel E. Abed". Although he was forced to carry the maximum handicap weight of 80 kilograms on board, the reigning World Champion succeeded in fighting his way from last to seventh position in the second race. All of the entering drivers were, however, required to cope with track conditions that were in part irregular. As it had already been the case on Saturday, the freshly laid tarmac caused many problems. The winners of the weekend were Salvatore Tavano (ITA), who was able to triumph in the first race, and Augusto Farfus, who claimed victory in race two. The two Alfa Romeo drivers used the advantage of their front-wheel-drive in these conditions. Additionally, the minimum weight for Alfa Romeo and Chevrolet had been reduced by a further ten kilograms before the event.
The first race at the 3.24-kilometre track began with a moment of shock: Before entering the oval, Chevrolet driver Nicola Larini (ITA) crashed into the side of Duncan Huisman's (NLD BMW 320si WTCC of. As a consequence, the BMW Team Italy- Spain driver pushed the car of Robert Huff (GBR), who hit the wall. The race had to be suspended and several worrying minutes passed before Huff could be removed from his car. As a cautionary measure, he was immediately transported to hospital by helicopter. Following a lengthy interruption, the field finally restarted the race behind the safety car for the second time. Track conditions, however, continued to deteriorate.
Dirk Muller had already worked his way up to tenth position before the red flag and continued to improve his position following the restart. On lap three, he passed Priaulx, and two laps later, he benefited from the misfortune of BMW Team Italy- Spain driver Alessandro Zanardi (ITA), who had been hit by Yvan Muller (FRA) and subsequently fell back from sixth position. On lap 14, Dirk Muller attacked SEAT driver Jordi Gene (ESP) and took over sixth place, which he managed to defend until the end. In the battle for eighth position and, in other words, for the pole position in race two, Priaulx was obstructed by Gabriele Tarquini (ITA), who rammed the BMW driver no less than three times over the course of the race. The last of these collisions forced Priaulx back into 18th position. The other drivers of the BMW national teams experienced a similarly disappointing race: Zanardi finished in 17th position, Huisman came 21st. Jorg Muller (GER) of BMW Team Germany also crossed swords with Muller and was finally forced to settle for 19th position.
Between the two races, road sweepers came on to the circuit to remove the countless pieces of asphalt and small stones from the racetrack. However, grip levels remained extremely low. Nevertheless, Dirk Muller managed to gain second place at the start of the second round. He was, however, later forced to let Gianni Morbidelli (ITA) and then Farfus pass him, both of them carrying considerably less weight. After Tom Coronel (NLD) had even been able to take fourth place away from him, Dirk Muller reclaimed this position just before the end of the race.
Further behind in the field Priaulx delivered a remarkable performance with the maximum ballast of 80 kilograms on board. Having entered from the last place on the grid, he managed to overtake one opponent after the other and finish in seventh position. Zanardi's race, on the other hand, took an unpleasant turn following another encounter with Muller: On lap three, the 39-year-old again collided with the SEAT driver, causing both to prematurely retire form the event. Jorg Muller's hopes to collect points were crushed by a damaged right front tyre, which forced him to do a pit stop. He finally crossed the line in 15th position. Duncan Huisman finished the race four places ahead of him, improving from 20th to 11th position.
Charly Lamm (Team Manager BMW Team Germany):
"The weekend in Puebla was dominated by the bad track conditions. The new track surface already started to break open in the practice and qualifying sessions, which led to extremely difficult race conditions. We are happy about the points that Dirk Muller managed to win for us despite the bad conditions. Like many other drivers, Jorg experienced some problems coping with the situation. The tyre failure finally prevented him from collecting any points."