SEAT Sport set for WTCC title challenge With less than two weeks to go before the first pair of races in the 2006 FIA World Touring Car Championship, the SEAT Sport team completed its preparations at the combined WTCC media and test days at the ...
SEAT Sport set for WTCC title challenge With less than two weeks to go before the first pair of races in the 2006 FIA World Touring Car Championship, the SEAT Sport team completed its preparations at the combined WTCC media and test days at the Monza circuit in Italy.
A stomach upset forced Gabriele Tarquini to sit out two of the sessions, but his five colleagues were all able to make full use of the two-day test. An intensive test and development programme throughout the winter has focussed on key areas, such as aerodynamics, suspension and transmission, while also working with the WTCC's new tyre partner, Yokohama. In addition, the team's three new drivers have all been gaining valuable experience of the SEAT Sport Leon in which they'll be challenging for both the Drivers' and Manufacturers' WTCC titles.
In all, six European nations are represented in the 2006 SEAT Sport squad, with Gabriele Tarquini (Italy), Yvan Muller (France) and James Thompson (Great Britain) joining last year's line-up of Rickard Rydell (Sweden), Jordi Gene (Spain) and Peter Terting (Germany) to form what is arguably the strongest team in the WTCC. In all, the team's drivers are responsible for one European Touring Car Championship title, five titles in the ultra-competitive British Touring Car Championship and no fewer than six race wins in the WTCC's first season.
Following the five-month gap since the final round of the 2005 season in Macau, the team is keen to get the 2006 campaign underway. The now-traditional opening pair of races at Monza, with its long straights and low-speed chicanes, aren't seen as the team's strongest events, but all of the drivers expressed optimism after the test days.
The SEAT Sport Leon has already been shown to be a race winner and, after the winter's development work, there's confidence that the team will challenge for both WTCC titles in 2006.
Rickard Rydell (car number 3): "I have to say that I'm really looking forward to the season after all the work we've done during the winter. Of course, everyone's working a lot harder this year because we're running double the number of cars. Any of us can win races this year; I think we will be very competitive at seven out of the ten circuits and we might need a little luck at the others! Of the three that don't suit us, Monza is easily the worst but let's wait and see what happens."
Jordi Gene (car number 9): "I'm very positive about the year ahead -- we've worked hard, but we've improved the car in almost every area. The aerodynamics are better and we've found improvements in the suspension and chassis set-up but we have the same horsepower as last year and so, for the moment, Monza is still not our best circuit. I don't want to put a result in my head, but I think we can all score some points and then maybe get a little sugar in the next races!"
Peter Terting (car number 10): "We've done a lot of work over the winter and we've made a big step forward over how we finished last year. Also, I was new to the team this time last year and now I know everyone, I know the car and I know my engineer; the biggest difference is the change of tyres, but that's the same for everyone. We have to be positive about our chances at Monza, but even if we don't do so well, we'll be going to the next races with very little ballast and that will help us there."