BMW endured a mixed weekend at Okayama in Japan, as Augusto Farfus won race two, but Andy Priaulx retired from the race.
After locking out the front row of the grid in qualifying, BMW Team RBM drivers Priaulx and Farfus struggled to use this to their advantage in torrential rain in the first race. Priaulx dropped to second behind Chevrolet's Rob Huff, while Farfus finished fourth. Farfus was able to conquer the conditions in the second race though, taking his first victory of the season. WSR BMW driver Colin Turkington finished second to make it a 1-2 finish for BMW. However, the weekend ended in disappointment for Priaulx as he slid into the gravel and into retirement, damaging his title hopes.
Chevrolet driver Yvan Muller extended his advantage in the drivers' standings to 37 points over Priaulx, compared to 25 coming into the weekend. 50 points are up for grabs in the season finale in Macau on 21st November. Farfus moved up from seventh to fifth in the standings with his victory. In the manufacturers' standings, BMW moved ahead of SEAT Customer Technology and into second place.
Team Principal Bart Mampaey said that the weather conditions gave the rear-wheel drive BMWs a disadvantage against their front-wheel drive rivals. “Whenever we race in Japan, we suffer from very difficult conditions,” said the Belgian. “The same applied today. Our biggest problem was the fact our front tyres needed several laps before they had the right temperatures. During this period, however, our competitors already used their chances to attack or pass us. This made it really difficult today.”
He added: “Thanks to a strong performance Andy was able to bring home second in race one. Due to the points situation he went for it in the second race, but then went off in these horrible conditions with a lot of water on the track. Obviously this doesn't make it easier for us in the title fight.
Despite the disappointment for Priaulx, Mampaey was pleased with Farfus' performance. “Augusto managed to keep out of trouble in the opening phase of race one, before improving place by place over the course of the race. I'm really happy for him. We had some technical issues on both cars during the break between both races – and the whole team did a fantastic job.”
Farfus was delighted to have scored his first victory of 2010. “It's fantastic that I finally managed to win my first race this year,” he said. “The conditions were really tough today. It was even more difficult this time than last year, when I also scored a victory. The pace of my car was good in the wet, but it just took a few laps until I could push. Still it was enough to win, and of course I'm really happy with my result.”
Priaulx was understandably disappointed with the way his weekend turned out. “This was not the way I wanted to finish the weekend after such a good qualifying,” he said. “Race one went according to plan and, while I could do nothing to stop Rob coming by, I was able to fend off Yvan Muller.”
“Then in race two I knew on the grid it would be much tougher with the technical problems we had to work on during the break. I made a mistake and had to retire. Anyway it is congratulations to Augusto for the win. I may be a long way behind Yvan, but I shall still go into Macau fighting to the very last lap.”
Turkington was pleased to have scored the fourth podium finish of his limited 2010 campaign. “I'm used to heavy rain from the United Kingdom, but here conditions really were extreme,” said the former British Touring Car champion. “The most important thing was not to take any risks, which worked out fine for me. It feels great to be back on the podium.”