European leg of the WTCC season ends in Spain. Munich, 26th September 2005. This coming weekend, the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) will be bidding farewell to Europe. Rounds 17 and 18 of the series take place at the Circuit de la ...
European leg of the WTCC season ends in Spain.
Munich, 26th September 2005. This coming weekend, the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) will be bidding farewell to Europe. Rounds 17 and 18 of the series take place at the Circuit de la Comunitat Ricardo Tormo near Valencia, following which the BMW national teams will be gearing up for the season's final in Macau. Both the drivers and the team managers are unanimous that the World Championship title won't be decided until the event in China. That makes it all the more crucial to secure a good starting position in the two Spanish races.
In the drivers' standings, both Andy Priaulx (GBR) of BMW Team UK and BMW Team Deutschland driver Dirk Muller (GER) have every chance of claiming the first World Championship title in touring car racing since 1987. Since Istanbul, Priaulx has been leading the championship with 74 points, and Dirk Muller is just one point adrift of him. The main threat to the BMW duo is Fabrizio Giovanardi (ITA), racing for Alfa Romeo. He is currently in third place with 70 points.
Like Priaulx and Dirk Muller, Antonio Garcia (ESP) of BMW Team Italy-Spain is also looking forward to the races in Valencia with excited anticipation. "It's good that the World Championship is also stopping off in my home country of Spain," says the 25- year-old. "Racing before a home backdrop is always something special. Basically I really like the circuit, although things didn't work out too well for us in 2004. But Imola was also rated as Alfa territory - and I came second there at the end of May."
The 4.005-kilometre Circuit de la Comunitat presents drivers with a challenge. Slow, medium and fast turns make for a demanding mix that is unforgiving of any driver error. The circuit was already part of the European Touring Car Championship calendar last year, when both race wins went to Alfa Romeo drivers. The current FIA WTCC season, however, has shown that the dominance of manufacturers on certain tracks is no longer as clear-cut as in the past. Rather, it is the distribution of weight handicaps that influences the balance of power from weekend to weekend.
While Priaulx will be racing with the maximum ballast of 60 kilograms, Garcia will only be taking 20 kilos of extra weight with him onto the circuit this weekend. With 48 points, the "local hero" is currently seventh in the drivers' rankings. "I would have liked to be further ahead in the World Championship at this stage," says Garcia. "This season I've been involved in a lot of collisions through no fault of my own. In Istanbul and Spa alone I lost a lot of points in the second race each time, which is a pity. But that hasn't altered my goal in any way: I want to win a race in 2005 - preferably in Valencia, of course."
With his World Championship points, Garcia is a key pillar for BMW in the battle for the Manufacturers' title. The same goes for his team-mate Alessandro Zanardi (ITA), who celebrated a sensational race victory in Oschersleben and followed it up with a further podium place in Istanbul. With four races to go this season, BMW leads the manufacturers' standings with 215 points, ahead of Alfa Romeo (200) and SEAT (147).