4 very positive points Four points, Michael Rossi's total in the second meeting of the ETCC, the FIA European Touring Car Cup. It is also the number of positive aspects to bear in mind from this trip to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's birthplace. The...
4 very positive points
Four points, Michael Rossi's total in the second meeting of the ETCC, the FIA European Touring Car Cup. It is also the number of positive aspects to bear in mind from this trip to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's birthplace. The ETCC is the little sister of the WTCC, the World Touring Car Championship. The Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) awards three European titles in each of the three categories. Rossi is entered in Super 2000, the topmost level, which is open to cars complying with the WTCC regulations. The Frenchman's Seat Leon TFSI is the petrol-engined version which represented the Spanish Company on the world scene before the advent of the Diesel TDIs. While Rossi is used to doing battle with the other Seat Leons in the single-make championships, in the ETCC he has to compete against the very quick Honda Accords and the BMW 320s. And for the first time, a Seat Leon TDI similar to the reigning double world championship title-holder joined the field at the Salzburgring.
It was the Frenchman's first outing on the quick Austrian circuit, and in practice he first of all set the third, then the second-quickest time on a dry track only 9/1000s behind the championship leader, Brit James Thompson, one of the world's best drivers in the category. Rossi was diabolically quick in the rain with the best time in the third test session and second-quickest in free practice. For qualifying it began to pour and it was necessary to go for it early on. The SUNRED driver was prevented from doing this because of traffic and ended up fourth on the grid for race 1.
It lasted only a few kilometers for Michael. Just as he took third, a rival hit his car damaging the rear bumper. A little further on Okyay punted him off for good. This incident put the Eurocup Seat Leon leader on the back of the grid for race 2. Rossi put on a stunning display of overtaking as he fought his way up from seventeenth to fifth place, only 6 seconds off the podium. And had he not been baulked at the end of the race by Treml's Honda, which was all over the place in the corners, but too quick on the straight, he could have finished third. Even though he had little time to relax as he was too busy overtaking his rivals, he set the third-quickest time in the race.
The young Frenchman tells us about the four positive points mentioned above: "I adapted quickly to a rather special circuit, and I soon found my marks with the Leon TSFI that I hadn't driven since the end of March. I'm improving in terms of experience as this car is much more demanding to drive that the Eurocup or Super Copa versions. I'm fairly satisfied with my overall level of performance in the dry in the race and in the wet in practice despite a top speed that's our Achilles' heel. I was giving away half-a-second to the Leon TDI in each of the two long straights and it was also very difficult to follow the quickest Hondas and BMWs. I made a good comeback overtaking twelve drivers in twelve laps (Michael's car has the number 12!)."
One could add that thanks to his involvement and his performance in the European Cup, Rossi's credibility has been given a big boost in relation to his team. The people at SUNRED know what they're talking about, as this season they are working with the works Seat Sport drivers in the world championship. Like the three musketeers, the number of positive points is five for the price of four!
There is, though, one cloud on the horizon: humans have not yet learned the secret of being in two places at the same time! Rossi will have to choose between the third and last meeting of the ETCC in Italy and the final rounds of the Seat Leon Super Copa France on the Magny-Cours circuit, as both are taking place on the same weekend in October. He will probably opt for the French series even if a place in the first three on the European scene is still within his grasp. At present, he is concentrating on this coming weekend and the Brno rendezvous for the next round of the Seat Leon Eurocup on 31st July-1st August.