Another podium for SEAT Sport at Spa Friday and Saturday were dry, sunny and warm. Race day was a little cloudier than qualifying, with air temperatures around 24 degrees. Race 1 The race was shortened due to a delayed start. Two of the three...
Another podium for SEAT Sport at Spa Friday and Saturday were dry, sunny and warm. Race day was a little cloudier than qualifying, with air temperatures around 24 degrees.
Race 1 The race was shortened due to a delayed start.
Two of the three SEAT Sport drivers were then able to use the 7 laps which remained to brilliant effect, with Jordi Gené scoring yet another podium finish for the team and Frank Diefenbacher battling from 12th place on the grid to finish 7th.
Rickard Rydell wasn't so fortunate; a first-corner incident saw his Toledo Cupra forced into the pit wall as he tried to avoid Fabrizio Giovanardi's Alfa Romeo (which was, in turn, avoiding Kurt Mollekens - a move which earned the BMW driver a drive-through penalty).
Gené ran for much of the race in 4th place, easily matching the pace of the 3 BMWs in front. On lap 6, however, Jordi passed Andy Priaulx to snatch 3rd position and held on to the podium place despite a stiff challenge from the ETCC Championship leader.
Diefenbacher made an excellent start - making up 4 places on the opening lap - but when he tried to overtake James Thompson, the pair touched and Frank went off briefly. The radiator was blocked by debris which in turn fractured an oil pipe and, despite finishing 7th, the engine was damaged and so Frank was unable to start Race 2.
Jordi Gené: "For me, it was a brilliant race - one long fight! There were lots of impacts on my rear bumper on lap 1; Gabriele Tarquini was crazy! I was able to stay with the pack of BMWs quite easily, which is really encouraging for us. I overtook Priaulx and Jörg Müller to move up to second place, but Jörg had the inside line and so I had to settle for third. I never expected such a good result at this circuit, so I'm really pleased."
Frank Diefenbacher: "I did everything I could! The start was good, so I was in a good position to fight with James Thompson and Kurt Mollekens but Mollekens wasn't fair at all and I was happy to get past him. After I passed Thompson, he touched me under braking and I went off briefly. That damaged an oil pipe and I actually slid on my own oil the next time we went through the chicane! I'm obviously pleased with 7th - there's no way I could have gone any faster - but I'm also really disappointed not to be starting the second race."
Rickard Rydell: "I didn't make a good start, but somehow Giovanardi turned in front of me and pushed me into the wall. There was nowhere to go; not even time to lift off. It was very unfortunate, since I was clearly the quickest on used tyres in the warm-up session. The guys should be able to repair the damage, but I'll have to start from the back of the grid, so there's no real hope of a good result."
Race 2 The SEAT Sport mechanics were able to repair the damage to Rickard Rydell's front suspension, although the Swede was forced to start from the pit lane.
Another stunning drive from the former British Touring Car Champion saw the Toledo carve its way through the field to finish in 11th place. Although ultimately unable to finish in the points, Rydell was pleased at the car's performance at one of the team's least favourite circuits.
Any hopes of another podium finish, meanwhile, had evaporated on the opening lap, when Jordi Gené's car was hit by the BMW of Dirk Müller. The incident dropped Jordi from 6th place to 14th and so the Spaniard was unable to repeat his thrilling performance from Race 1.
The leading pack saw plenty of incidents and the race ended with Dirk Müller taking 2nd place; further frustration for Gené, who was well aware that the SEAT had been the only car to match the pace of the BMWs in the first race.
Rickard Rydell: "It's nice to show, both in warm-up and in the race, that we have the pace to win but we knew that, starting from the pit lane at the back of a 30 car grid, it would be impossible to score a decent result. There are a lot of positive things that have come out of this weekend, though. The car is certainly fast; we didn't expect it to be quite as fast here at Spa and so we're all looking forward to Imola. I certainly hope that I've saved all my good luck for the last few races of the season!"
Jordi Gené: "The second race was horrible! I was very unlucky; I was hit by one of the Müllers and that dropped me eight places which meant any hope of a good result was gone. Still, the balance of the car feels good and the first race showed that the Toledo was the only car which could really threaten the BMWs. I think the whole team is really positive about the next few races."
Jaime Puig, SEAT Sport Motorsport & Technical Director: The cars were clearly on the pace here which we didn't really expect; we're now confident that we can be quick almost anywhere. Clearly I preferred the first race and I have to say that another podium is fantastic news for us! Frank set the fastest lap in Race 1; I'm just sorry that he couldn't start Race 2 and also for Rickard, who had an excellent second race. The next two circuits should be better for us and I have to say that I'm quite optimistic after this weekend."