BMW celebrates triple victory in Valencia - Title fight closer than ever. Valencia (Spain), 08th October 2006. BMW Team Germany's Jorg Muller (GER) claimed victory in the 18th round of the FIA World Touring Car championship. While the...
BMW celebrates triple victory in Valencia - Title fight closer than ever.
Valencia (Spain), 08th October 2006. BMW Team Germany's Jorg Muller (GER) claimed victory in the 18th round of the FIA World Touring Car championship. While the 37-year-old secured his third win of the season, BMW Team Italy-Spain driver Duncan Huisman (NLD) and BMW privateer Luca Rangoni (ITA) made for a clean- sweep on the podium by crossing the line in second and third places respectively. In race one, Rangoni delivered a remarkable performance at the wheel of his of Proteam Motorsport BMW 320si WTCC, finishing second, behind winning Alfa Romeo driver Augusto Farfus (BRA).
Andy Priaulx (GBR) of BMW Team UK retired in round one, but fought his way up to eighth place in the second race. The Guernsey-born driver now has 59 points under his belt and holds second place in the Drivers' Championship, one point behind Farfus, the new leader. Thanks to his victory, Jorg Muller jumped to third place in the rankings, having equal points with Priaulx. Meanwhile, his team-mate, Dirk Muller (GER), scored two points in Valencia. With 53 points to his tally, he is among the nine drivers who still have the chance to secure the title. In the Manufacturers' Championship, BMW (221 points) has regained the lead from SEAT, and leads this classification by ten points, with two more WTCC rounds to be contested.
Race one was over for Priaulx right at the start. Entering turn 1 of the "Circuit de la Comunitat", the reigning Touring Car World Champion collided with SEAT's Gabriele Tarquini (ITA), went off and re-entered the track backwards. He subsequently hit Chevrolet driver Robert Huff (GBR) and damaged his car. Both drivers were forced to retire. Alessandro Zanardi (ITA) of BMW Team Italy-Spain also suffered bad luck. Following a fight with a rival driver, the 39-year-old went off into the gravel and rejoined at the back of the field.
Rangoni, however, experienced a far more positive race. At the end of the safety car period caused by Priaulx' first-corner incident, the BMW private driver was running in fourth position. Jorg Muller had improved to seventh place, while Huisman held ninth position. Dirk Muller delivered the biggest chase: From 22nd place he worked his way up to 12th. On lap 5, Race leader Jordi Gene (ESP) had to stop for a drive-through penalty due to a jumped start. All BMW drivers consequently gained one position. Jorg Muller passed Alain Menu (SUI) on lap eight, but lost fifth place on the final lap to Peter Terting (GER).
Following an intense fight with Yvan Muller (FRA), James Thompson (GBR) and Tarquini, Dirk Muller finished 11th. Zanardi moved up into 15th position, while Huisman took the chequered flag in seventh place, thus scoring points for the second time this year and securing a first-row grid position for race 2. Jorg Muller, who finished sixth, started from third position on the grid due to the reversed grid regulation.
The BMW pairing succeeded in making full use of its promising grid positions. Huisman passed Menu for the lead, while Jorg Muller also overtook the Chevrolet driver. The other BMW drivers also gained some ground at the start. Dirk Muller improved from 11th to eighth place. He was running in sixth place, when he lost two positions on a dramatic final lap. However, he launched a counter-attack on Menu and got past again, crossing the line in seventh. Priaulx started an impressive chase. After a number of spectacular overtaking manoeuvres he crossed the line in eighth position, scoring one point.
Zanardi was involved in various wheel-to-wheel duels in the middle of the pack, however, he failed to improve. After 13 laps, he had to make do with 17th place. At the front, however, Huisman and Jorg Muller were in total control of the race, with Rangoni running in third. Towards the end of race, Huisman tyre's lost some grip, enabling Jorg Muller the chance to pass the 34-year-old - which he did on lap 12, thus securing victory.
Over the course of the WTCC weekend, 59,000 spectators followed the action at the "Circuit de la Comunitat". As was the case last year, Macau will see the two decisive rounds of the championship on 19th November.
Jorg Muller (BMW Team Germany):
"I had not really expected to be just one point behind the championship leader after the two Valencia rounds. At the beginning of the season, the balance of the car was not as I had wished for with a lot of handicap weight aboard. However, we did a lot of testing and solved the problem. This was proven today. I don't dare to make any predictions for the season finale. It's possible that none of the three drivers who are at the top right now will win the title. Everything is possible. I'm really happy that I'm part of the title fight."
Duncan Huisman (BMW Team Italy-Spain):
"This is a great result for BMW Team Italy-Spain in our home event. Valencia is not my favourite track, which happens to be Macau. But the car was very good here. I didn't want to risk anything when Jorg tried to overtake me, as I'm not fighting for the title. I will now try to score maximum points in Macau, in order to help BMW win the Manufacturers' title."
Andy Priaulx (BMW Team UK):
"Obviously I was really disappointed following my early retirement in race one, but that's part of the game: Sometimes you win by an inch, sometimes you lose. I did not give up and was rewarded by finishing eighth. I will carry 45 kilograms of handicap weight in Macau. The last time I had as little weight aboard of my car was at Magny- Cours - and that was the second meeting of the season. Last year I won the title in Macau. I like the track with its unique challenges. However, you also need some luck to make it there."