SEAT SPORT IN CONTENTION AFTER CLOSEST WTCC QUALIFYING SESSION OF THE YEAR
Tiago stars for SEAT Sport at Brands Hatch
Tiago Monteiro was the fastest official SEAT Sport driver in both Free Practice sessions at Brands Hatch today -- and he continued the trend by setting the 4th fastest time in qualifying for Round 17 of the FIA World Touring Car Championship.
The day hadn't started so well, as Tiago locked up entering Paddock Hill Bend and ended Free Practice 1 against the tyre wall. The SEAT Sport team did a great job to repair his SEAT Leon, and he repaid them by setting a great time in qualifying. He could have been even faster, had he not been delayed by WTCC newcomer Sergey Krylov.
The Russian driver, who for this race meeting has replaced fellow countryman Timur Sadredinov in a GR Asia SEAT Leon (who had a problem with his visa application), also ruined Jordi Gene's best lap. The Spanish driver had been the initial pole-sitter in his SEAT Leon TDI, but he lost two tenths of a second when he had to lift off and go off line to avoid a slower Krylov.
Yvan Muller didn't get a clean lap either, and despite carrying 60kgs of weight handicap qualified an impressive 5th in the SEAT Leon TDI -- one place ahead of Pierre-Yves Corthals, who qualified an excellent 6th, and top Independents' Trophy runner by far, in his SEAT Belgium Leon.
In the closest qualifying session of the year, less than half a second covered the top 13 cars, with Alain Menu's pole time just 0.014 quicker than 2nd placed James Thompson. Gabriele Tarquini was only 0.430 seconds off the pole time, but amazingly he qualified down in 11th position. Michel Jourdain didn't get a clean lap around Brands Hatch, and his minor delays saw him qualify in 20th place.
Qualifying was held in 18C and dry conditions, and despite heavy rain forecast in other parts of the UK, race day at the Brands Hatch circuit in Kent is expected to be dry.
Tiago Monteiro (SEAT Leon TDI nº 18): "After crashing in first practice, the team did a fantastic job to repair the car and make it perfect for me. Qualifying was going quite well, and I was one tenth up in the first sector on my best lap when I was delayed by Sergey Krylov. Things like that are always frustrating, but that's racing. I've been the fastest works SEAT all day and race day tomorrow is more important."
Yvan Muller: (SEAT Leon nº12): "Somehow I am fifth! On my first flying lap I had a good first sector, but I had to lift towards the end of the lap because there was a slower car in front of me. At the end of my second flying lap I made a small mistake, and also on my third and final lap. I could have been one or two tenths faster, but with sixty kilos of weight and only lighter cars around me, I am happy."
Gabriele Tarquini (SEAT Leon nº 11): "The difference between me and pole is only four tenths, but I am eleventh. The gap on the clock is very small, but the difference on the grid is very big. Now I hope it will rain tomorrow, because I need it to be a wet race. I must say that Yvan did a very good job in qualifying with sixty kilos."
Jordi Gene (SEAT Leon TDI nº 9): "Pole was not possible, but I think I could have qualified fourth. I was two tenths up on my best time when I came across Sergey Krylov and he didn't see me in his mirrors at all and ruined my lap. I also had too much understeer, as the balance of the car was a little out."
Michel Jourdain Jr (SEAT Leon nº10): "I made a couple of small mistakes and on one flying lap I got caught up in slower traffic. I never got a clean lap, which in qualifying is essential. The times are so close here that two or three tenths of a second makes a huge difference."