ETCC: Oschersleben: SEAT Sport race notes

Rydell secures first ETCC win for SEAT Sport Sunday morning's 15 minute warm-up session saw the Oschersleben circuit soaked by heavy rain showers, but the two races were run in dry, cloudy conditions. Race 1 Round 17 of the 2004 FIA European...

Rydell secures first ETCC win for SEAT Sport

Sunday morning's 15 minute warm-up session saw the Oschersleben circuit soaked by heavy rain showers, but the two races were run in dry, cloudy conditions. Race 1 Round 17 of the 2004 FIA European Touring Car Championship saw some terrific performances from the SEAT Sport drivers.

Starting from 18th on the grid after his electrical problem during qualifying, Rickard Rydell stormed through the field to finish in 8th place and so secured pole position for the second race of the day, but then gained a place when the Alfa Romeo driver Fabrizio Giovanardi was given a drive-through penalty. Jordi Gene would start Race 2 from third on the grid, one place behind his team-mate, after finishing Race 1 in 6th position. Jordi's tyre problems during Saturday's practice and qualifying sessions mean that the Spaniard wasn't entirely happy with the Toledo's handling, however.

An excellent drive from Frank Diefenbacher ended after only 5 laps while he was fighting with the Alfa Romeo of James Thompson. Contact between the pair broke the Toledo's steering and so Diefenbacher was forced to limp into the pits.

Jordi Gene: "It was a very good race for me, but I have to admit that I'm not entirely confident with the car's set-up after all the problems yesterday. I think Rickard has a great chance of winning Race 2 and I'm going to do my best to help him. I don't think it's realistic for me to win, so I will fight for points and do all I can to keep the others behind me for as long as possible."

Rickard Rydell: "I made an excellent start and I overtook two cars before the first corner. I then passed someone on almost every lap, but got stuck behind Duncan Huisman for four or five laps. When he ran wide on lap 10, I got past him and Tom Coronel to get eighth place, which is what I'd set out to do. Of course, it would have been better to start Race 2 on pole, but I plan to try and make a good start and then go for it! I'm not making any predictions, but I'll try my best and see what happens."

Frank Diefenbacher: "My start was good and I nearly got past James Thompson, but I left it too late. The first few laps were okay, but Giovanardi pushed me out of the way when he passed me. I then started to attack Thomson and got past, only for him to pass me again on the straight. He made a mistake at turn 4 and I tried to get past, but he touched me and as I went over the kerb, the steering broke and that was that."

Race 2 Starting from 2nd on the grid, Rickard Rydell drove the perfect race to give SEAT Sport its first victory in the ETCC. Overtaking pole sitter Tom Coronel on the opening lap, Rydell then led for the remainder of the 14 laps until the chequered flag. The BMW of Dirk Muller closed to within a second of the Toledo at one point, but Rickard kept his cool and opened out his lead once again to take the team's first win by a fraction under four seconds. Jordi Gene also finished in the points by bringing his car home in 6th place.

Jordi was embroiled in a battle with James Thomson and Tom Coronel, but in the end was more than happy to back off and settle for 6th position and the points. Less happy was Frank Diefenbacher, who'd driven superbly to move up to 9th place - just outside the points - after lap 7, but then a collision with Giovanardi's Alfa forced another non-finish.

Rickard Rydell: "We've been waiting for this moment all season. We've known since the start of the year that we'd be competitive at Oschersleben, which is why I was so disappointed when I qualified so far down. To then have a pair of races like these was incredible; to come from 18th on the grid in the first race, to start second in Race 2 and then pass Coronel on the opening lap was perfect! I was pushing for the entire race, apart from the last lap when I was concentrating on not making any mistakes."

Jordi Gene: "I'm very pleased for the team because we knew the victory was something that would happen sooner rather than later, but of course I wish it had been me rather than Rickard! I suppose I have some mixed emotions; I'm very happy for Rickard and the team, but disappointed that I wasn't able to be more competitive; it's been a reasonable weekend, but not brilliant. After all the problems, I took 6 points which is not bad. For sure, the win is good news as we start to look forward to next year."

Frank Diefenbacher: "My congratulations to Rickard for driving such a great pair of races. As for me, it was a real shame. I made a good start and was fighting with Giovanardi when something happened between Tom Coronel and Antonio Garcia in front of us that threw up a cloud of dust. Giovanardi braked and I went into the back of him. I'm really sorry, but there was nothing I could have done about it. A tiny piece of carbon fibre from the front splitter had blocked the throttle butterfly and so my race was over."

Jaime Puig, SEAT Sport Motorsport & Technical Director: "I am absolutely delighted with this result, for SEAT Sport and for Rickard. We knew Oschersleben would be good for us after Frank scored our first podium finish here last year and we've been very confident that our first win wasn't far off for a while now. They say that the first victory is the most difficult; I doubt the others will be easy, but after today I'm very confident that they will come!"

-seat-

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Series General
Drivers Fabrizio Giovanardi , Antonio Garcia , Dirk Müller , Tom Coronel , James Thompson , Frank Diefenbacher , Duncan Huisman , Rickard Rydell , Jordi Gene , Jaime Puig