Alex Zanardi has tipped fellow BMW racer Augusto Farfus to be the man to beat as the 2009 World Touring Car Championship season kicks off this weekend in Brazil.
Farfus will be the home hero going into the weekend as the new campaign gets underway, with BMW targeting a strong start to the year to take the fight to defending champions SEAT.
As well as Farfus, Zanardi also said he expects new team-mate Sergio Hernandez to be strong on his debut in the BMW Team Italy-Spain line-up although he urged caution about the pace of the diesel-powered SEAT Leon, despite the restrictions put on the car during the winter.
“My favoured one for the first green light of the year is definitely Augusto Farfus,” Zanardi admitted. “He will be really motivated for his home race, but all the other BMW standard-bearers will not stand waiting, especially my new team-mate Sergio Hernandez, who I discovered faster and more precise than what I thought. The ruling champion Muller with all his mates will satisfy our curiosity, showing us the real potential of SEAT that has been hidden for the whole winter. I hope that we won't be in a mess!
“Chevrolet seemed to be in difficulty during tests that we did together but the team and drivers have enough talent to astonish anyone on Sunday.”