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Monday, May 02, 2005

WTCC Magny Cours Race 2

If race one was a bit of a bore, race 2 produced some great racing. Full results can be found here. There is something to be said about the WTCC race formats. In race 2, the top 8 finishers of race 1 start at the head of the grid, in reverse order. So, for race 2, Augusto Farfus Jr started on pole in his Alfa Romeo 156 after finishing eigth in race 1. Jordi Gene, elder brother of Ferrari tester Marc Gene, started in second after finishing seventh in race 1. And so on and so forth.

Farfus managed a brilliant start to race 2, immediately pulling away from Jordi in the SEAT Toledo Cupra. Jordi's start wasn't quite as good and was soon swamped by the BMWs of Dirk Muller, Antonio Garcia and Jorg Muller and the Alfa of Gabriele Tarquini. Completely overwhelmed, the SEAT had to give way to these much faster cars.

In the lead, Farfus broke away for a while. Behind him Jorg Muller continues his sparkling pace this weekend to take Tarquini. In the twisty bits of Magny Cours, the BMWs clearly had a handling advantage afforded by their rear drive chassis. You could tell that they can brake later and then turn in sharper than the front drive SEATs and Alfas.

Not long after, Dirk Muller begins to reel in Farfus. Two corners before the start finish Dirk mounts a spectacular but unsuccessful attack on Farfus. Behind, Jorg Muller is on the move. Clearly unhampered by weight penalties after Monza, he takes Antonio Garcia who had 20kg added to his car.

The action at the front was mightily close. Farfus' Alfa clearly slowing down the BMW train behind him. In the long Estoril bend, you can tell that the front drive Alfas clearly did not have traction, their front wheels spinning in a cloud of smoke, leading to mass understeer. Easy meat for the BMW.

Nevertheless, Farfus mounted a good rearguard action. Rushing down to the Adelaide hairpin, the BMWs of Dirk Muller and Jorg Muller were three abreast alongside Farfus. The Alfas are clearly weak under braking. They simply must brake earlier than the BMWs. Farfus tries his best and locks up under braking and misses the Adelaide hairpin. Three BMWs flash past him.

Once Farfus was dispatched, Jorg Muller set his sights on Dirk Muller. After winning in Monza and finishing second in race 2 in Italy, Dirk was carrying a hefty 45kg of weight penalty. There was just no way he could defend against the lightweight BMW of Jorg Muller. After some half hearted resistance, Jorg passes Dirk and simply drives off into the distance.

The SEATs and Alfas behind were still engaged in battle. Andy Priaulx who didn't manage Jorg Muller's excellent start from eighth was now making up the field. Again, the BMW's rear drive advantage tells. He passes Tarquini and sets his sights on third place Garcia, whom he passes without much ado. Priaulx carrying a 10kg weight penalty.

Priaulx then goes after Dirk, who has a 35kg disadvantage to his chaser. But against Priaulx, Dirk defends excellently, Alonso style. Andy Priaulx in the end settling for third, making Race 2 a BMW 1-2-3-4. Behind Jorg Muller's peerless BMW, the others finishing in close order in a classic touring car race.

Just after taking the flag though, Dirk Muller experiences some sort of terminal problem on his car, causing him to do a 180 degree spin and then slamming into a bemused Augusto Farfus' Alfa.

Jorg Muller then, making into two out of two at Magny Cours this weekend. His weight penalty for the next round is going to be enormous. This is going to be especially damaging since the WTCC moves to Silverstone next, a circuit traditionally kinder to front wheel drive machinery.

All in all, I was quite pleased with the Eurosport internet live feed. There was no commentary though, but you could hear all the engine and background noise. The SEATs in particular sounding absolutely fantastic. Riceboys would appreciate their engine. It sounds like a Honda VTEC.

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