First points of the season for SEAT Sport After the damp, overcast conditions of Saturday's qualifying session and the heavy rain showers that followed, the weather for Sunday's two races was cloudy but dry. Race 1 The opening race in the ...
First points of the season for SEAT Sport
After the damp, overcast conditions of Saturday's qualifying session and the heavy rain showers that followed, the weather for Sunday's two races was cloudy but dry. Race 1 The opening race in the brand-new FIA World Touring Car Championship saw Rickard Rydell score the first point of the year for SEAT Sport by finishing in 8th place.
Thanks to the rule that sees the top 8 places reversed to form the grid for Race 2, Rickard would start the 2nd round of the series from pole position, but the high-speed straights of the Monza circuit traditionally haven't been kind to the Toledo Cupras and the Swedish driver was downbeat about his chances for Race 2.
Jordi Gene finished one place behind his teammate, just outside the points, while Peter Terting completed a 100% finish for the team by bringing his Toledo home in 11th position.
All three drivers were satisfied with their performances in the season's first race, with Peter extremely happy with his debut for the team. The aerodynamic effects of running in another car's slipstream are particularly important on the long Monza straights and, had it not been for Terting dropping out of the "tow" from Gene's car on lap 8, all three SEATs would have finished in the top 10.
Rickard Rydell (8th): "It's really nice to get my first point of the year in the very first race, but we really can't do anything about some of the others on the straights here. I had a slight hit from one of the Alfa Romeos on the left rear of the car, but there's no real damage and so that shouldn't cause any problems. Starting from pole in Race 2 won't help me here; my only hope is to join one of the Alfa trains and try to use the slipstream!"
Jordi Gene (9th): "I had a good race, but there was just one car more than I wanted! I made a good start, but Andy Priaulx blocked me in the first corner and Rickard was able to pass both of us. The rest of the race was then very clean for me; I was just concentrating on trying not to lose the tow from Rickard. I'll be trying to get some points of my own in Race 2, but I know it'll be tough."
Peter Terting (11th): "I'm very pleased with my first race for SEAT Sport. I was just behind Jordi at the start, but Alex Zanardi was pushing me very hard. I dropped a little way behind Jordi and lost his slipstream and that's when Zanardi was able to pass me. It won't be easy for me to score points in the second race, but I'll try to stay out of trouble at the start and see what happens."
Race 2 Despite a strong challenge from two BMWs and an Alfa Romeo, Rickard Rydell held his nerve to hang onto first place and lead the field into the first corner. He'd dropped to second place by the end of the opening lap, but his race ended on lap 2 when he was hit from behind by the Alfa of Augusto Farfus Jnr. and spun into the barrier.
It was a frustrating blow for Rickard, who'd hoped to add to the one point he'd scored in Race 1. Lap 2 also caused problems for Peter Terting, when he left his braking a fraction of a second too late and was forced to cut the chicane. This brought a drive-through penalty from the Race Director and so the disappointed German driver would eventually finish 17th.
It was then left to Jordi Gene to uphold team honours by scoring his first points of the season. A strong start saw Gene able to join the "tow" provided by a string of other cars and he finished in 6th place. A thrilling battle with the BMW of Andy Priaulx for 5th position eventually went the way of the British driver, but Jordi was happy enough to leave Monza with three points.
Jordi Gene (6th): "The second race was really good; I'm very, very happy. I made a good start, but Alex Zanardi got past me. I knew I had to pass him again to join the fast train, which I did. I was then able to follow some really quick guys and had a good fight with Andy Priaulx, which I really enjoyed. Over the last two laps, I didn't want to risk having an accident, so I let him pass me and I was happy to take the points for sixth place."
Peter Terting (17th): "The car was working really well, but I braked a little too late and I had to cut the chicane, which is why I got the penalty. I can't really complain, but what else could I do? I'm very pleased with the car and the team; I was really nervous before the first race, but I settled down a lot before the second. I'm disappointed with the penalty, naturally, but I know the next pair of races at Magny Cours will be better for us."
Rickard Rydell (DNF): "Farfus made what was a really bad move. He wasn't even close to overtaking me, but he hit the back of my car and spun me into the barrier. I'm very disappointed; Monza has always been a bit of a problem circuit for us but it was starting to look really good for some useful points. Still, I have to look forward now and Magny Cours should be much better for us after the test we had there last month."
Jaime Puig, SEAT Sport Motorsport & Technical Director: "I'm very happy with Monza this year; two of our drivers have scored points and our performance was good. In the past, Monza has seen us a little way behind the others, but today showed that we're right up there with them this season. Of course, I'm disappointed for the way Rickard was pushed off, but that's racing I'm afraid."