Sunday, June 03, 2007

BMW dominant in Pau WTCC race

Pau (France), 03rd June 2007. Augusto Farfus (BRA) of BMW Team Germany is the winner of the eighth round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship. At the "Circuit de Pau", the 23-year-old claimed his second win of the season ahead of BMW Team UK's Andy Priaulx (GBR) and Tiago Monteiro (POR/SEAT). In Sunday'smorning race, Farfus had taken the chequered flag in seventh. Porteiro was the best-placed BMW national team driver, crossing the line in fifth place, directly followed by Priaulx.

The race win marked the crowning finale of an eventful weekend for Farfus. His spectacular qualifying accident had forced the Schnitzer crew to perform a nightshift. The heavily damaged BMW 320si WTCC was ready to race just in time for warm-up on Sunday morning - and Farfus topped the time sheets. Additionally, the BMW works driver was relegated from third to 13th on the grid for the first race due to a penalty after the Valencia weekend. Despite these difficulties Farfus delivered two flawless races, thus rewarding the team for its exceptional work in Pau.

BMW Image above.

Farfus wrecking during practice. WTCC Images.
Farfus's team-mate Jörg Müller (GER), who headed the championship prior to the races at the 2.760-kilometre track, left Pau empty-handed after finishing 11th and 10th respectively. Therefore, Priaulx is now the leader of the Drivers' Championship. The 32-year-old is the only WTCC driver who has scored points in each of the eight rounds held so far. The reigning champion has 42 points under his belt, just two points ahead of runner-up Farfus. Müller follows in third place, lying 11 points behind Priaulx. BMW consolidated its lead in the Constructors' Championship. The brand increased its tally to a total of 106 points.

The crowds in Pau witnessed an almost incident-free first race. Only five drivers were forced to retire on the twisty street circuit. Unfortunately, Alessandro Zanardi (ITA) of BMW Team Italy-Spain was one of them. On lap 12, he hit the barriers and had to pit with a damaged front suspension. At the start, the 40-year-old had gained several positions. His fellow BMW drivers did just the same. Farfus performed the biggest leap forward: At the end of lap 1, he was already running in ninth place, putting SEAT's Jordi Gené (ESP) under pressure. Porteiro also made an excellent "rolling" start and improved from eighth to sixth. Seventh-placed Priaulx, who got passed by the Spaniard, remained in Porteiro's rear mirror for the remaining 19 laps. From 16th grid position, Müller gained two places at the start.
Overtaking manoeuvres remained a rarity in the narrow streets of Pau. However, Farfus proved that it is possible. His patience paid off on lap 16, when he succeeded in overtaking Gené. Due to the retirement of Chevrolet's Nicola Larini (ITA) three laps earlier, the BMW drivers had already gained one place each without a struggle. Farfus was now running in seventh position, defending it until the end of the race. Larini's retirement also meant an improvement for Porteiro and Priaulx. Running in fifth place, Porteiro withstood the pressure of the two-time World Champion, thus securing his best result of the season. Müller crossed the line 11th. With three cars within the first two rows, the BMW national teams had made perfect use of the reversed grid and were in a promising position for race two.

Pole-sitter Farfus and Priaulx laid the foundation for the third BMW one-two of the year as at the start they both overtook Gené. Until the very end of the race the pairing remained close to each other. Nevertheless, Priaulx did not get tempted to try a dangerous overtaking move. At the end of the day, the two BMW drivers crossed the line with a gap of almost five seconds to Monteiro. Porteiro was also on his way to secure a place on the podium. At the start, he defended fourth position and even passed Gené for third place on lap 11. However, just a few corners later, Porteiro's race ended abruptly, when his left front-wheel damper broke after going over a high curb.

Zanardi made a remarkable start from the back of the field and was already running in 13th place when the safety car came out on lap 3. A total of four cars crashed out of the race in this massive incident at the end of the start-finish straight. When the green flags were waved again on lap seven, Zanardi continued his catch up. After Müller had a brief off-track moment when launching an attack against Tom Coronel (NLD/SEAT), the Italian seized the opportunity and overtook the BMW Team Germany driver. In the end both narrowly missed out on a points' finish. Zanardi finished ninth, and Müller crossed the line in tenth place.

BMW Communications news and photos.

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