Valencia: BMW Teams preview

BMW national teams kick off WTCC European season in Valencia. Munich, 13th May 2008. This weekend the FIA World Touring Car Championship is going to make its first stop on European soil in the 2008 season. The "Circuit de la Comunitat" in...

BMW national teams kick off WTCC European season in Valencia.

Munich, 13th May 2008. This weekend the FIA World Touring Car Championship is going to make its first stop on European soil in the 2008 season. The "Circuit de la Comunitat" in Valencia (ES) will be the venue for the fifth and sixth rounds of the season. Following the disappointing races in Mexico about a month ago, the BMW national teams are keen to rejoin the battle for top positions in the two 50-kilometre sprint races.

Four of the five drivers will contest the third race weekend of the year with relatively low handicap weights. The drivers will have to take onboard their BMW 320si WTCC cars the same amount of kilos as they have points' tallies. Consequently, BMW Team UK driver Andy Priaulx (GB) will race with 14 kilograms of success weight, while BMW Team Germany driver Jorg Muller will have to load an additional 11 kilograms. Muller's team-mate, Augusto Farfus (BR), has three kilograms of handicap weight. BMW Team Italy-Spain's Felix Porteiro (ES) will try to excite his home crowds despite being handicapped by nine kilograms. However, his team-mate, Alesando Zanardi (IT), will start without being hampered by any additional weight.

Andy Priaulx (BMW Team UK):

"I'm confident we shall be able to move closer to our competitors in Valencia than we were in the Mexican rounds. The races in Spain used to be extremely thrilling and action-packed, so they will be entertaining events for the crowds. It is the start of the European season - and I hope it will begin well for us."

Jorg Muller (BMW Team Germany):

"For me, Valencia is a kind of a second home. I'm there very often, particularly when doing my job as a Formula BMW instructor. In the past, Alfa Romeo used to be our toughest competitor on this track. But this year they aren't racing in the WTCC, therefore, I'm more confident about the first round of the European season."

Augusto Farfus (BMW Team Germany):

"In Valencia the handicap weights are usually a key factor. This year things look rather positive for us, as we are much lighter than - for instance - the SEAT Diesel drivers. I've scored just three points to date, but I want to change this in Spain."

Felix Porteiro (BMW Team Italy-Spain):

"For me, the races in Spain are the most important ones of the entire season. It's just great to race in front of your family and friends. In winter testing, we found several details on the car we were able to improve specially for this circuit. At the end of the straight top speed will be vital as most of the overtaking takes place there."

Alessandro Zanardi (BMW Team Italy-Spain):

"The venue for the kick off to the European season isn't exactly what you would call a BMW circuit. However, this doesn't mean we can't be successful at Valencia. The qualifying certainly will be difficult, but in the races we should prove to be competitive."

History and Background:

To date, Jorg Muller has been the most successful WTCC driver at Valencia. In both 2005 and 2006 he won the second round of the race weekend, and last year he made it to the podium again in the second race by finishing runner-up. Altogether he has scored a total of 36 points in Spain. His team-mate, Augusto Farfus, has also clinched a race win on the 4.005-kilometre track. In 2006 - then still racing for Alfa Romeo - he won the first round of the weekend. Andy Priaulx secured two podium finishes at Valencia by coming third in 2005 and 2007.

The "Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo" - that's the full name of the Spanish WTCC event venue - is one of the most modern European race tracks. In addition to the World Touring Car Championship, many other series regularly pay visits to Valencia. The BMW Sauber F1 Team, for instance, uses the circuit for testing on a regular basis, and since 2006 every one of the team's new Formula One cars has had its roll-out there. The first Formula One race in Valencia, however, will be on the new street circuit in the city centre. The European Grand Prix will be held on 24th August 2008.

The "Circuit de la Comunitat" is the location for the Formula BMW Racing Center, so is the venue for the licence and scholarship courses for the Formula BMW young- gun worldwide series. Furthermore, Valencia also staged the 2006 and 2007 Formula BMW World Final. The winners of the World Final are rewarded with an F1 test with the BMW Sauber F1 Team.

Making a trip to Valencia is not worthwhile solely for motor racing enthusiasts. The sun shines for about 300 days and rain is rare. Therefore, Valencia is a worthwhile destination for tourists. The city is located in the centre of the Iberian Peninsula's Mediterranean coast, at the mouth of River Turia. Consequently its visitors experience a nice seaside climate. Even in winter the temperatures rarely drop below ten degrees Celsius, and in summer a fresh sea breeze makes for agreeably warm conditions.

With more than 800,000 inhabitants, Valencia is Spain's third biggest town - behind Madrid and Barcelona - and the capital of the Eastern Spanish region of the same name. Some 1.8 million people livd in its metropolitan area. Thanks to a variety of sporting activities and Valencia's outstanding nightlife, visiting the city is an extraordinary experience. At the same time the metropolis is one of Spain's most dynamic places and one of the most powerful commercial regions on the European continent. Valencia was founded in 138 B.C. by the Romans, and over the centuries it was often the subject of disputes between Christians and Arabs who alternated as rulers of the city.

Both rounds of the WTCC event will be 13-lap races, a distance of 52.07 kilometres each. The first round will start on Sunday at 12:00hrs CEST (11:00hrs BST). Round two gets underway at 15:45hrs CEST. On Friday, the drivers will have a 30-minute test session. The two races are both covered live by Eurosport (Race 1 - Eurosport 2, Race 2 - Eurosport International) and the official BMW Motorsport Website.

-credit: bmw-motorsport.com

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About this article
Series WTCC
Drivers Andy Priaulx , Jorg Muller , Augusto Farfus , Felix Porteiro
Teams Sauber