SEAT Sport Leon TDI scores its first points The two Swedish rounds of the FIA World Touring Car Championship witnessed an amazing debut for the groundbreaking new TDI-engined SEAT Sport Leon. After Jordi Gene ran as high as 2nd in Race 1, Yvan...
SEAT Sport Leon TDI scores its first points
The two Swedish rounds of the FIA World Touring Car Championship witnessed an amazing debut for the groundbreaking new TDI-engined SEAT Sport Leon. After Jordi Gene ran as high as 2nd in Race 1, Yvan Muller scored the new car's first WTCC points by finishing in 6th place.
In the petrol-engined cars, Tiago Monteiro and Gabriele Tarquini scored points in both races at Anderstorp; Monteiro finishing 2nd and 6th and Tarquini 5th and 7th. With heavy rain showers immediately before each race, Tarquini gambled on fitting dry "slick" tyres before Race 1, while it was Monteiro's turn to opt for slicks in Race 2.
Tiago Monteiro scored his best result for SEAT Sport by finishing in 2nd place: his Leon crossing the line just 0.729 seconds behind the Chevrolet of Robert Huff. At first, Gabriele Tarquini's gamble of fitting slick tyres didn't look like it had worked, with the Italian lying in 17th place after 6 laps, but the drying track meant he charged through the field in the 2nd half of the race to claim 5th place on the very last lap.
Yvan Muller and Jordi Gene gave the two diesel-powered SEAT Sport cars a fantastic debut. Jordi ran in 2nd place for 4 laps after passing Tiago on lap 3, then a tyre problem meant he slipped back to finish 18th, but Yvan finished in an incredible 6th place. Tom Coronel finished 4th in the SEAT Netherlands powered by SEAT Sport Leon, making it 4 SEAT cars in the top 6. Michel Jourdain Jr. failed to finish after going off the track while trying to overtake.
Heavy rain fell around 20 minutes before the start, making tyre choice difficult. This time, Monteiro, Muller, Gene and Jourdain opted for slicks, while Tarquini chose to play it safe and fit heavily-grooved wet tyres. Again, the 1st half of the race saw the conditions favour those cars fitted with wets, although once the track dried, Monteiro took full advantage and stormed through to finish 6th, 2 places behind Tom Coronel, who finished 4th once again.
Tarquini felt that his tyre choice might have been a little too conservative -- the Italian finished 7th, with Michel Jourdain 12th after another charge over the final few laps. Jordi Gene stalled on the startline after having difficulty seeing the starting lights and then experienced power steering problems, while a similar issue meant Yvan Muller was forced to pull into the pits on lap 9.
Tiago Monteiro (SEAT Leon no. 18): "I'm very pleased, obviously. It was a very tricky weekend with some awful weather and so we couldn't really see the potential of the TDI. The gamble with the slicks in the second race could have gone better - if I hadn't been held up, I could have been fourth, for example - but I'm more than happy with a pole position, a second place and points in both races."
Yvan Muller (SEAT Leon no. 12): "It's a real shame about the power steering, because I was on the pace; without power steering, it's almost impossible to control the car. It's great that I scored the first points with a diesel, but there's a long way to go in the development of the engine and the conditions here meant that we couldn't really compare anything between the two cars."
Jordi Gene (SEAT Leon no. 9): "For me, the worst thing is that we couldn't show the full potential of the diesel engine. I'm already convinced that we have a winning car, but we had some small problems that we didn't have in testing. I could have been on the podium in the first race, for sure, and so I don't think we were able to show just what the TDI engine is capable of doing."
Gabriele Tarquini (SEAT Leon no. 11): "The second race was clearly quicker with a slick tyre, but I had to be a little conservative being on the second row. After Porto, it was clear that Chevrolet have the quickest car because of the engine and it's happened here again; the FIA now have to do something about the waiver situation."
Michel Jourdain Jr (SEAT Leon no. 10): "The first race was my fault, but I couldn't see the lights from where I was on the grid on the second race; my engineer called the start but I lost a little time. Once the track dried, I could really push, although I was held up by a couple of cars. At the end, there was a really good fight with Priaulx and Muller who were on slicks as well.""
Jaime Puig (Director, SEAT Sport): "I'm more than happy with the performance of the TDI; we had some problems, but I hope we can solve them quite easily. We could have done better in the second race, of course, but I think the first races with the engine went well. As for the situation regarding Chevrolet and the engine waiver, I think a few people need to be asking themselves some serious questions now."
The next WTCC meeting will be at Oschersleben in Germany on August 25th/26th.