ETCC: Brno: SEAT Sport race notes

It just keeps getting better! The qualifying session on Saturday and the two races on Sunday were run in dry, warm and sunny conditions, with air temperatures around 22 degrees Celcius. Race 1 Starting from pole, Rickard Rydell reached...

It just keeps getting better!

The qualifying session on Saturday and the two races on Sunday were run in dry, warm and sunny conditions, with air temperatures around 22 degrees Celcius. Race 1 Starting from pole, Rickard Rydell reached the opening corner in second place after holding off the challenge of Dirk Muller.

As Rydell had predicted, the rear-wheel drive cars around him on the grid were extremely strong and the former British Touring Car Champion was unable to catch Andy Priaux but was more than happy to score SEAT Sport's best ETCC result so far by finishing second. Also in the points was Frank Diefenbacher, who started from 10th place, but then moved into 8th on lap 4 and held onto that position until the chequered flag. This meant he'd start Race 2 on pole; the 4th race in succession that a SEAT Sport Toledo Cupra had held pole position.

Jordi Gene wasn't so fortunate. The Spaniard received a drive-through penalty after he was judged to have jumped the start. In addition, Jordi went off on some oil and suffered both a puncture and a broken wheel bearing as a result.

Rickard Rydell: "To be completely honest, this feels like a victory to me! I've never won an ETCC race, but this equals the second places I scored in 2002 and it also feels really nice to have another good race after Hockenheim. I think it's clear that we still need a little extra pace in order to start winning outright, but I'm very happy tonight."

Frank Diefenbacher: "Eighth place was exactly what I set out to do, so I'm happy. I've got new tyres for the second race and the guys are making some small changes to the set-up, so it should be a little better. Of the drivers around me, Coronel shouldn't be too much of a problem, so I'm going to try and score another podium. For sure, second place is excellent news for the team and I'm pleased for Rickard."

Jordi Gene: "It all went wrong in that race! On the startline, I let up the clutch slightly and the car started moving forward. I touched the brakes, but the stewards said I jumped the start and I must say that I have no problem with their decision. I then went off on a patch of oil and picked up a front puncture and a broken rear wheel bearing, plus there was the drive-through penalty. I just hope I've used up all my bad luck in that race!"

Race 2 In a near-perfect re-run of Race 1's start, Frank Diefenbacher, battling with two BMWs, reached the first corner in 2nd place. This time, though, Frank took the lead from Jorg Muller after a daring overtaking move on lap 3 and held onto that lead until Dirk Muller managed to squeeze past on lap 6.

Resplendent in its new paint scheme, Diefenbacher's Toledo then slipped another place on lap 8; Frank ultimately holding off Jorg Muller's challenge to finish third and so recording another podium finish for SEAT Sport. Rickard Rydell also drove a strong race, improving on his 7th place on the grid to finish in 5th place. Getting caught in slower traffic ended any chance of further improvement, but the Swede was delighted with his weekend's work.

Starting from the back of the grid after his Race 1 problems, Jordi Gene battled his way through the field to lie in 13th place after lap 5, but then a minor collision with Zanardi's BMW broke the steering, forcing him into retirement.

Frank Diefenbacher: "It was a very good start for me and I was doing everything I could. I must say thanks to Tom Coronel; he was very fair to me. Both Jorg and I stretched our tyres and his went first. He then quickly gave way to the other BMWs and they were able to catch and pass me. Another lap and it could have been another story, but third is third and so I achieved my target."

Rickard Rydell: "I'm very happy – you could see that we definitely had the pace this weekend; it was only really Priaux who was quicker than me in the second race. I got stuck behind two Alfas early on and, if that hadn't happened, I think I could have followed Priaux. When I was on my own, I was able to catch the others quite easily. It's been a really good weekend for SEAT; we've now got the pace, but we can't rest just yet."

Jordi Gene: "It obviously wasn't my weekend! I made a good start and was gaining places, so I was confident of a good result. Alex Zanardi was slower than me and as I was passing him, we touched. Normally when you touch like that, it doesn't matter but this time the wheel broke and the steering arm went soon afterwards. Anyway, I'm very happy for the team; they had two great results, but I'm just sorry that I couldn't join the party."

Jaime Puig, SEAT Sport Motorsport & Technical Director: "I'm very happy. The task this year was to fight for podium places and we've shown that we're able to do that. I'm sorry for Jordi; this weekend hasn't been kind to him, but his time will come again. All of our drivers have now been on the podium and I think that shows just how strong our driver line-up is."

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Series General
Drivers Dirk Müller , Alex Zanardi , Tom Coronel , Jorg Muller , Frank Diefenbacher , Rickard Rydell , Jordi Gene , Jaime Puig