ETCC: Monza: SEAT Sport qualifying notes

SEAT Sport Sets Promising Pace For Season Opener The first qualifying session of the 2004 FIA European Touring Car Championship season saw the three SEAT Toledo Cupras demonstrate strong potential. Frank Diefenbacker will start Sunday's ...

SEAT Sport Sets Promising Pace For Season Opener

The first qualifying session of the 2004 FIA European Touring Car Championship season saw the three SEAT Toledo Cupras demonstrate strong potential. Frank Diefenbacker will start Sunday's opening race from 7th place on the grid, while Rickard Rydell and Jordi Gené are 12th and 13th respectively after both drivers went off into the gravel. The winter's extensive development programme has meant the gap to the pace setters has been slashed and so there are smiles in the team camp tonight. Diefenbacker, in particular, was delighted with his performance after qualifying in 15th place at Monza last year.

Of all the circuits in the ETCC, Monza is perhaps the least suited to the Toledos. Despite that fact, the second season for SEAT Sport in the series has begun well. Conditions changed constantly during the day; the morning's showers giving way to sunshine and a drying track in the afternoon. All three drivers had agreed a strategy to assist each other with aerodynamic "tows" during the session, although this strategy was only partially successful.

Frank Diefenbacher: "To be completely honest, I did much better then I expected. The tow Rickard gave me worked really well and all the work we did on the test benches has really paid off. As for tomorrow, it all depends on the first corner of the first race; if you're in a group and get a good tow then anything's possible."

Rickard Rydell: "I've been struggling a little with rear brake problems - basically, I keep locking up and so I can't stop! I've only had one day of testing before today, so we expected things to be a little difficult, but I'm hoping for some more testing before Valencia and that should make all the difference. I think the only target tomorrow is to get some points, if possible."

Jordi Gené: "I'd arranged with Rickard for us to give each other a tow, but it didn't work. On my last real attack I ended up going off briefly, so it was a really horrible session. It's a shame, because we were good in the damp this morning - fifth in the first session and then seventh in the second. I know we can do better than this."

Round 1 begins at 14.45 local time, with round 2 scheduled for 15.45. The finishing positions for round 1 will dictate the grid for round 2, although the top 8 will be reversed.

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Series General
Drivers Frank Diefenbacher , Rickard Rydell , Jordi Gene