Young Portuguese driver joins SEAT UK race series Rui Chagas, a 25-year old former Portuguese National Kart Champion from Lisbon, will be the first racing driver from outside the UK and Ireland to contest the SEAT Cupra Championship in the UK...
Young Portuguese driver joins SEAT UK race series
Rui Chagas, a 25-year old former Portuguese National Kart Champion from Lisbon, will be the first racing driver from outside the UK and Ireland to contest the SEAT Cupra Championship in the UK this year, when he drives a Caremore Homes Ltd-sponsored Leon Cupra R in 12 round series.
Having raced across in the Portuguese-based Formula BMW Junior Cup, Rui was looking at entering either the Formula BMW or Formula Renault Championships in the UK - until he joined seven other interested newcomers to drive a SEAT Sport UK-prepared Leon Cupra R for the first time in England (Wednesday 11 February).
Rui said: "The Leon Cupra R is the first racing saloon car I have ever driven and I was very impressed with it. Allen Filsell, from Caremore Homes, came with me and together with his daughter Abbey we spent three hours talking to people about the series, including Rob Huff, and everyone was extremely kind and helpful. At the end of the day I said to Allen that I'd love to do the SEAT Cupra Championship and he said, 'if you are happy we will register today.' It was Allen's birthday, but I got the present! He is a man with a big heart and he made it one of the happiest days of my life."
Rui started racing karts in 1991, finishing runner-up in the Portuguese National Championship twice (in 1993 and '94 - losing the title both times on a tie-break) before winning the title outright in 1996. He made his racing car debut in 1995, driving a Formula Ford in Portugal, and the same year he raced a kart in England - winning the only race he has contested in the UK.
Rui raced in the 2000 Formula BMW Junior Cup, and halfway through the following year he stopped racing in order to finish his education in England - gaining a degree in Automotive Engineering at Kingston University.
Having never raced at any of the UK circuits, nor in a saloon car, before, Rui is nonetheless upbeat about his aims for the season ahead.
"If you want me to tell you the truth, I want to finish in first place," says Rui. "I could say I'd be happy to finish on the podium, but I would be lying. A racing driver has to believe he can win or there is no point starting a race. It will be difficult for me because of course I don't know any of the circuits and I don't know saloon cars, but I will try my best."
The 2004 SEAT Cupra Championship is a 12 race series - 10 races of which are part of the TOCA Tour / British Touring Car Championship package, and two races will be held at a special 'Racing Rivals - Live 2004' event at Donington Park. The 2004 SEAT Cupra Championship's total prize fund is almost one million Euros, including a works touring car drive, worth half a million Euros, for the winner - making it the most well rewarded motorsport series in the UK.
2004 SEAT Cupra Championship
Brands Hatch...April 24/25
Oulton Park...May 22/23
Donington Park...August 28/29