Pau: SEAT Sport preview

This weekend, the SEAT Sport team is travelling to the fourth season event with high spirits after successfully participating at the gruelling Cheste circuit, where they confirmed their leadership in the FIA World Touring Car Championship, and is...

This weekend, the SEAT Sport team is travelling to the fourth season event with high spirits after successfully participating at the gruelling Cheste circuit, where they confirmed their leadership in the FIA World Touring Car Championship, and is ready to challenge the difficult urban track in Pau, France, where the SEAT Leon TDI has yet to be proven. The objective is the same as in Valencia -- stay well in the lead in both the drivers' and manufacturers' titles.

The WTCC was already held in Pau last year, but the team participated with the petrol powered SEAT Leon WTCC, making the upcoming race a new challenge. With narrow, sinewy streets flanked by guardrails, there is absolutely no room for error. Besides, the SEAT Leon TDI will be carrying a lot of extra weight, an added difficulty when challenging this season's new meeting.

Xavi Serra, SEAT Sport Chief Track Engineer

"According to our simulations, Pau is the circuit where the ballast weight is the biggest drawback per kilometre of the entire championship. As at all the tracks that are new for the SEAT Leon TDI, we have doubts as to its performance. In principle, the Leon should perform well on 70% of the track, but it will be tough going on the remaining 30%. However, we expect to be competitive throughout the entire race.

"Pau is a track where Chevrolet dominated last year and where Farfus won the second race with his BMW, so this year is a toss-up for the Manufacturers' title. Any car could get in the lead, and the differences will be decided by the ballast weight and the drivers' skills at the wheel, since an urban track produces more driving differences among participants than any with the same equipment."

THE DRIVERS

The SEAT Sport drivers FACE the challenge of Pau Although an urban track always presents a special difficulty, the SEAT drivers are eager to race in Pau despite being aware of the risks. For example, Jordi Gene claims that "the difficulty of racing with a heavy car on an urban track centres on the moment when the tyres start to wear and a small error can take you out; although on the other hand, the excellent performance of our Leon TDI makes me believe I'll achieve the same results as up to now." Gabriele Tarquini shares this belief, and adds that "Pau is probably the most difficult track of the season; I'm carrying a lot of weight (61 kg), and in addition, we don't have any background information, since last year we were racing petrol powered cars. Besides, the track is slow and has a lot of curves, which is not the most suitable for our TDI."

Of course, some SEAT Sport drivers are looking forward to this race; some because they like urban tracks, and others because they are racing on home ground. Tiago Monteiro comments that "after a difficult weekend I'm looking forward to getting back to the results we got in Puebla, and since I like this kind of tracks, I can't wait to get there. And Rickard Rydell is also enthusiastic, since "I've heard lots of things about this track, and on the whole I like urban tracks. It will be a challenge, because I'm not familiar with the circuit, so I've been training with the WTCC video game to know at least where the curves are."

And of course, the driver with the best hopes of doing well in the race in Pau is Yvan Muller. For him, "it's a pleasure to race in Pau. Urban tracks are especially appealing, and besides, it's on home soil. Naturally I'm looking forward to a good result; not only because I'll be racing at home, but because I need to get more victories. The only thing I can't predict is the car's performance since it has never been driven there. We'll have to see how well it does on this track."

TV broadcast schedules

Eurosport-2, Saturday, qualifying race live at 3 p.m.

Eurosport, Warm up live at 8:30 a.m. and the second race live starting at 3 p.m.

-credit: seatsportuk.co.uk

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About this article
Series WTCC
Drivers Tiago Monteiro , Yvan Muller , Rickard Rydell , Gabriele Tarquini , Jordi Gene