Oschersleben: SEAT Sport race notes

SEAT Sport wins FWD battle in Germany In dry and sunny conditions, SEAT Sport cars were consistently the fastest of the front-wheel-drive runners in both of the FIA World Touring Car Championship races at the Oschersleben circuit in Germany.

SEAT Sport wins FWD battle in Germany

In dry and sunny conditions, SEAT Sport cars were consistently the fastest of the front-wheel-drive runners in both of the FIA World Touring Car Championship races at the Oschersleben circuit in Germany. Rickard Rydell's SEAT Sport Toledo Cupra finished 2nd in the opening race, while Jordi Gene's brand new Leon - making its competition debut - narrowly missed out on another podium finish in Race 2.

Race 1 Starting from 6th place, Rickard Rydell drove a tactical race; choosing his passing opportunities carefully and taking full advantage of each one to lie just outside the podium positions by the halfway point. Lap 9 saw Rydell move into 3rd place, while just one lap later he'd moved up into 2nd. Holding off a determined challenge from both the BMWs of Jorg and Dirk Muller over the final few laps, a delighted Rickard held onto that 2nd place and so picked up 8 valuable Championship points. Also in the points were Peter Terting and Jordi Gene. Terting's Toledo Cupra started from 8th on the grid, with the 21 year old German driver mirroring Rydell's progress through the field until the pair touched and Peter backed off, rather than risk taking out his team-mate. Peter went on to finish 5th, while Jordi Gene improved from his 10th place on the grid to finish 7th. For more than half the race, Jordi ran in 8th position and so was on course to start Race 2 from pole, but a last-lap error from Augusto Farfus meant Gene gained a place almost within sight of the chequered flag. In all, there were four SEAT Sport cars in the top 7, with a delighted Stephane Ortelli finishing 6th on his debut for the SEAT Sport France team.

Rickard Rydell (2nd): "I'm very pleased; not just for myself, but for the entire team. SEAT Sport has done a fantastic job in developing the Leon while continuing to improve the Toledo. In terms of race pace, we're right up there and have shown that both cars can compete with anyone. Starting Race 2 from seventh place, my aim is just to score some more points but anything can happen in this Championship."

Peter Terting (5th): "I made a good start and I soon got involved in quite a bit of fighting! The team did a really good job in giving me a great car and I had no problems during the race. I fought with Rickard a little, but it was too dangerous to continue and I'm more than happy with fifth place. It means I have a good start position for Race 2, but it's always difficult to predict what will happen in the second race, as we've seen a few times already this year!"

Jordi Gene (7th): "I'm very happy -- it's an extremely positive way to start the afternoon! The car was certainly better than yesterday, but that's exactly what you get when you start competing with a new car. My target was to finish eighth and I went one place better than that. Alessandro Zanardi will start alongside me and it'll be tough to fight with him; the BMWs always start well and his last lap was the fastest of Race 1. I think it's certainly possible for me to win the second race, but it will be very hard. My aim is to stick with Alex and finish on the podium."

Race 2 As he'd predicted, Jordi Gene was beaten to the first corner by not one, but two BMWs. The new Leon was more than a match for the rear-wheel-drive cars, running comfortably in 3rd place until lap 8 when Race 1 winner Andy Priaulx overhauled Jordi on the start/finish straight. The disappointment at losing out on a podium finish was countered by the performance of the car throughout the weekend; a performance that caused more than a few surprises in both qualifying and the two races. Changes to Rydell's car between the races had upset the Toledo's balance and the Swede was more than happy to finish 7th and collect 2 more points, but the first corner of the opening lap saw the end of the challenge from both Peter Terting and Stephane Ortelli. There was contact between several cars, with someone nudging Terting into Ortelli. The SEAT France car continued to finish 15th, but Peter's car was too badly damaged to continue and so his race ended after only a few hundred metres. In the Michelin Independents' Trophy, Race 2 was won by the SEAT Sport Holland Toledo Cupra of Tom Coronel, which finished 13th. With 6 races remaining, Tom is now just 5 points behind Marc Hennerici, the series leader.

Jordi Gene (4th): "I'm happy, of course, but not quite as happy as I could have been. If Peter and Stephane hadn't crashed, I'm sure they would have helped me to finish on the podium. Still, I kept the pace -- especially at the beginning -- and I showed I could stay with the BMWs. Finishing on the podium would have been a huge surprise, but we still had a good result and it was a very promising day."

Rickard Rydell (7th): "I had some slight understeer in the first race, but I think we might have tried a little too hard to fix it, because it turned into oversteer in Race 2. The balance of the car is quite critical and so I lost the pace. Overall, I'm happy with the weekend; I'm sixth in the Drivers' Championship now, but the goal for the rest of the season is still to stay in the top six and beat some of the other factory drivers."

Peter Terting (DNF): "The start was okay, but the first corner was chaos! Someone touched me, I hit Ortelli and that broke my rear axle. I'm very disappointed, particularly since I was in a strong position to do well myself and help keep some of the pressure off Jordi."

Jaime Puig, SEAT Sport Director: "I'm very happy. It's been a good weekend -- a podium, the Leon on the front row and then a fourth place on its debut! We were confident about the new car before we came to Oschersleben, but there is always an element of doubt when you race a car for the first time. Now we can really say that the Leon is ready for the roads of Europe -- it goes on sale this week!"

-seat-

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