Automotive

World Touring Car Championship kicks off

World Touring Car Championship...
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March 24, 2005 The inaugural World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) begins next month, taking over from the highly successful European Touring Car Championship, which has provided some of the most exciting motorsport in the world over the last eight years, and lifts touring racing up to the same level as the World Formula One Championship and the World Rally Championship.

The inaugural World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) begins next month, taking over from the highly successful European Touring Car Championship, which has provided some of the most exciting motorsport in the world over the last eight years, and lifts touring racing up to the same level as the World Formula One Championship and the World Rally Championship.

Alfa Romeo and BMW will be the main contenders in the Championship, though teams from Ford, SEAT, Honda, Chevrolet and - yet to be confirmed - Chinese car maker Brilliance, will be amongst the field when the field gets away on April 10 at Monza. Being the spiritual home of Italian motorsport, the Monza race track near Milan is sure to increase Alfa Romeo’s chances in the first round, and the team is looking to play a major role in the titrle, fielding four factory teams; Gabriele Tarquini (European champion in 2003), Fabrizio Giovanardi (European champion in 2001 and 2002), Brazilian Augusto Farfus and Englishman James Thompson.

Farfus set the fastest time on the FIA WTCC official testing’s first day yesterday (March 22). Farfus and his Alfa 156 were only a little bit faster than the BMW cars of the Müllers and García. Roberto Colociago created the biggest surprise of the day, setting the fifth fastest time in the JAS Motorsport Honda Accord.

New comers Ford and Chevrolet still have to work to close the gap, while the SEAT cars did not maintain the competitive performances they had in the recent testing in Magny-Cours and Silverstone.

The first WTCC round is at Monza on 10 April. The Championship continues in France at Magny Cours (1 May), in England at Silverstone (15 May), then back to Italy and Imola (29 May). The first excursion outside Europe will be on 26 June at the new track at Puebla, in Mexico, before the circus returns to Europe to tackle Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium, 30 July), Oschersleben (Germany, 28 August), Istanbul (Turkey, 18 September) and Valencia (Spain, 2 October). The season's Grand Final will take place on the city circuit of Macau, in China, on 20 November.

Here is the complete list of each driver’s best lap.

1) Farfus, Alfa – 1:59.4922) J. Muller, BMW – 1:59.5253) D. Muller, BMW – 1:59.7234) Garcia, BMW – 1:59.8075) Colciago, Honda – 1:59.8416) Thompson, Alfa – 2:00.0317) Zanardi, BMW – 2:00.2388) Rydell, SEAT – 2:00,4079) Giovanardi, Alfa – 2:00.42310) Priaulx, BMW – 2:00.47611) De Lorenzi, BMW – 2:00.61312) Tarquini, Alfa – 2:00.62813) D’Aste, BMW – 2:00.99914) A. Larini, Alfa – 2:01.36115) Tavano, Alfa – 2:01.47116) Terting, SEAT – 2:01.60117) Gene, SEAT – 2:01.88218) Rosenblad, BMW – 2:02.28519) De Micheli, Honda – 2:02.61020) Valli, BMW – 2:02.71921) Ciro, BMW – 2:02.85022) Othla, Honda – 2:03.27323) Menu, Chevrolet – 2:03.61524) N. Larini, Chevrolet – 2:04.08725) Engstrom, Honda – 2:04.13126) Lacko, Alfa – 2:04.42527) Huff, Chevrolet – 2:04.50228) Klenke, Ford – 2:04.65729) Jager, Ford – 2:04.82830) Hellstrom, Honda – 2:14.425

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