BMW and Alfa Romeo have shared the honours in the opening rounds of the World Touring Car Championship after James Thompson stormed to victory in an eventful second race in Monza
Thompson, who was seventh in the first race, started second on the grid after the top eight formed up in reverse order. The Briton made light work of claiming the lead, storming past a slow starting Rickard Rydell who had the amended pole, and got to work setting about building a lead from the rest of the field.
Behind the pair Fabrizio Giovanardi stalled on the second row, briefly holding up the pack behind him. BMW teammates Antonio Garcia and Dirk Muller were quickly by the stricken car, and their powerful starts allowed them to pass the poleman by the first chicane.
By lap two Augusto Farfus had also caught Rydell, and in a moment of over-enthusiasm punted the Swede off the track from behind. The SEAT team were clearly distraught, although teammate Jordi Gene spared their dignity by running a strong race in the points.
The usual season-opening antics that were missing from the first round came to the fore in the second, with Roberto Colciago spearing off track at Lesmo on lap five, and BMW's Gianluca de Lorenzi and Chevrolet's Robert Huff running each other off one lap later.
Meanwhile at the front of the race Garcia was pulling back Thompson's lead, but he lost two places after locking a wheel and running slightly wide. Approaching the first chicane on lap six the front runners all tried to take the corner together - Thompson cut across the grass to avoid his pursuers, Farfus also ran wide, while Muller and Gabriele Tarquini collided, with the Italian coming off second best and being dumped out of the race.
Meanwhile the drive of the meeting was owned by Jorg Muller, who started at the back of the grid but managed to slice his way through almost the entire grid. On the final lap he had caught third placed Garcia, who just managed to keep the German behind him to claim the final step of the podium behind Thompson and Dirk Muller.
After the race the top two men of the day were thrilled with their first day at work. Thompson noted: "It was a fantastic race from where I was sat - I had a great race with Dirk!
"After the first race we said okay, we'll take seventh on the grid and have a real push in the second race, and it certainly worked well for us."
A beaming Dirk Muller knew there was little more for him to prove on the day: "First and second, and a pole position yesterday, is a fantastic start to the season. James was really doing his job perfectly and defending like hell!
"I was quicker but I just couldn't get past him. I have a big hole on one side [of the car] and a big hole on the other side because people were crashing into me, but it is still a great start to the series."
2005 FIA World Touring Car Championship, Monza - Race Two Pos Driver Make Time Gap Laps 1. James Thompson Alfa Romeo 156 18:13.906 9 2. Dirk Muller BMW 320i 18:14.436 + 0.530 9 3. Antonio Garcia BMW 320i 18:14.671 + 0.765 9 4. Jorg Muller BMW 320i 18:15.154 + 1.248 9 5. Andy Priaulx BMW 320i 18:15.373 + 1.467 9 6. Jordi Gene SEAT Toledo Cupra 18:16.376 + 2.470 9 7. Alessandro Zanardi BMW 320i 18:19.882 + 5.976 9 8. Fabrizio Giovanardi Alfa Romeo 156 18:20.673 + 6.767 9 9. Augusto Farfus Jr. Alfa Romeo 156 18:22.810 + 8.904 9 10. Marc Hennerici BMW 320i 18:32.137 + 18.231 9 11. Alessandro Balzan SEAT Toledo Cupra 18:38.433 + 24.527 9 12. Adam Lacko Alfa Romeo 156 Gta 18:45.517 + 31.611 9 13. Valle Makela Seat Toledo Cupra 18:45.897 + 31.991 9 14. Andriano De Micheli Honda Accord Euro 18:46.461 + 32.555 9 15. Nicola Larini Chevrolet Lacetti 18:47.451 + 33.545 9 16. Salvatore Tavano Alfa Romeo 156 18:48.027 + 34.121 9 17. Peter Terting SEAT Toledo Cupra 18:51.349 + 37.443 9 18. Giuseppe Ciro BMW 320i 18:51.386 + 37.480 9 19. Stefano Valli BMW 320i 18:56.134 + 42.228 9 20. Andrea Larini Alfa Romeo 156 18:58.585 + 44.679 9 21. Jens Hellstrom Honda Civic Type-R 19:25.942 +1:12.036 9 22. Stefano D'aste BMW 320i 16:32.545 + 1 LAP 8 23. Tomas Engstrom Honda Accord Euro 18:58.813 + 1 LAP 8 24. Alain Menu Chevrolet Lacetti 12:50.529 + 3 LAPS 6 Not Classified Gabriele Tarquini Alfa Romeo 156 10:09.869 D.N.F. 5 Robert Huff Chevrolet Lacetti 10:29.749 D.N.F. 5 Gianluca De Lorenzi BMW 320i 10:30.609 D.N.F. 5 Tom Coronel Seat Toledo Cupra 8:39.735 D.N.F. 4 Roberto Colciago Honda Accord Euro 9:14.072 D.N.F. 4 Rickard Rydell SEAT Toledo Cupra 2:05.228 D.N.F. 1 Thomas Jager Ford Focus 0 D.N.F. Fastest Lap Jorg Muller BMW 320i 1:59.058
Volvo gave the World Touring Car Championship a major boost when it announced it would enter the series, but its ambitions don't stop there. JACK COZENS examines its programme, the S60 and what its arrival means for the WTCC
The 2012 World Touring Car champion says he never had the money to race cars. Yet 2015 is his 11th season in the WTCC. He talks STUART CODLING through his journey from motorsport fan to paid professional - for little more than £100,000