Andy Priaulx has warned his FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) rivals that he is 'fired-up' for this weekend's German outing at Oschersleben – a track that he predicts will suit BMW and one around which he has triumphed in seasons gone-by.
Arriving at the east-German circuit sitting just seventh in the chase for the coveted crown – some 28 points adrift of the best-placed BMW of Team Germany star Augusto Farfus in third – Priaulx knows he needs to make up ground fast.
Fourth and sixth-quickest respectively in Saturday morning's two free practice sessions was a solid enough start, but in the latter one the Guernseyman lagged almost a full second off the pace. If that situation persists into qualifying and race day, there seems to be little hope of a repeat of either his 2005 and 2006 Oschersleben victories – en route
to respectively the first and second of his three consecutive WTCC drivers' crowns – or his runner-up spot to Alex Zanardi four years ago, when the popular Italian stood atop the podium for the first time since his horrific Lausitzring CART smash in 2001 in which he had lost both his legs, and of which Priaulx remarked: “That was a very emotional day for all of us, and I am sure no one begrudged him that win – I certainly didn't.”
Moreover, as BMW's home outing, though the Bavarian marque may currently be trailing chief adversary SEAT by 211 points to 201 in the manufacturers' standings, it is perhaps fitting that it is the fans' favourites that have secured seven of the eight race wins since the WTCC first visited the circuit back in 2005. Priaulx is confident there can be more of the same this time around.
“I am really fired-up and ready for this race,” the 36-year-old enthused of what will be his first competitive appearance in over a month following the WTCC's mid-summer break. “Not only have I had some time to relax and have holiday with the family, but along with the guys from RBM who run my car I have put in some serious testing mileage. I feel confident we have the speed and think we should do well this weekend – after all BMW has a pretty good track record here.”