Brands Hatch: SEAT Sport preview

Brands Hatch: SEAT Sport preview
Sep 17, 2007, 4:47 PM

TWO FORMER BRITISH TOURING CAR CHAMPIONS LEAD SEAT SPORT'S WTCC CHARGE IN THE UK Muller and Tarquini aim for more race wins at Brands Hatch Two former British Touring Car Champions -- Yvan Muller (2003 Champion) and Gabriele Tarquini (1994 ...


Muller and Tarquini aim for more race wins at Brands Hatch

Two former British Touring Car Champions -- Yvan Muller (2003 Champion) and Gabriele Tarquini (1994 Champion) -- will lead SEAT Sport's attack on the British rounds of the FIA World Touring Car Championship, which take place at Brands Hatch on September 22-23.

Both drivers are on top form this year, each winning a round of the WTCC (Yvan in Oschersleben and Gabriele in Zandvoort) and as SEAT Sport's best placed drivers (Yvan 4th with 56 points; Gabriele 5th with 51 points), both are still in contention for the WTCC Drivers' title. They also each have a good race record at Brands Hatch -- Yvan winning both his first BTCC and WTCC races there, while Tarquini scored four consecutive wins in 1994 in his maiden BTCC season. They will have different WTCC race-winning engines powering their SEAT Leons around the Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit, with Yvan driving the SEAT Leon TDI and Gabriele the petrol engined SEAT Leon -- but their aim of winning will be the same, despite both carrying the maximum 60kgs of weight handicap.

SEAT Sport dominated the WTCC race meeting at Brands Hatch last year, finishing 1st-2nd-3rd-5th-6th in Race 1 and 2nd-3rd-4th-5th in Race 2 -- and it returns there aiming for similar results with another very strong driver line-up.

Jordi Gene has raced single-seaters and touring cars at Brands Hatch, but he's never raced there in a diesel engined car before -- but now he will, and like his diesel-powered team-mate, Jordi believes the SEAT Leon TDI will be even better at Brands Hatch than it was at Oschersleben.

Tiago Monteiro and Michel Jourdain Jr raced against each other at the Champ Car Series race at Brands Hatch in 2003. That was on the shorter Indy Circuit and whilst Michel finished 6th, Tiago's ill-handling car made it the worst race weekend of the season for him, as he finished 14th. Since then Tiago has raced in Britain twice -- for Jordan and Midland F1 Racing at the British Grands Prix at Silverstone in 2005 and '06) -- while this is Michel's first time back to the UK.

Tom Coronel, the SEAT Netherlands powered by SEAT Sport official driver, also has a good record at Brands Hatch and will be aiming to give his UK-based GR Asia team a good result on home soil in his SEAT Leon.

Pierre-Yves Corthals (SEAT Belgium Leon) will be aiming to bounce back from his start-line accident in Oschersleben and recapture the lead in the Independents' Trophy, while Roberto Colciago and Massimiliano Pedalà, who scored class victory in Race 1 and 2 in Germany respectively, will drive the pair of SEAT Sport Italia Leons.

Technical analysis

Xavier Serra, SEAT Sport Race Engineer: "Last year at Brands Hatch we scored the best SEAT Sport result ever in terms of Drivers' and Manufacturers' Championship points, therefore it's believed that we can dominate again in 2007 -- but as usually happens in motorsport, things are not so easy twelve months later. Brands requires a very good chassis, specially in corners like Paddock Hill Bend that is off-camber or a tricky one like Druids which in you arrive uphill and leave downhill, and SEAT has probably the best chassis which puts us in a very good position. Last year we were better than Chevrolet and Alfa but we were not able to evaluate BMW's performance in the dry. Some people are ruling out the possibility for BMW to be at the same level as the front-wheel drive cars at Brands Hatch, and this is something I believe to be wrong. I expect Brands to be one of the tightest qualifying sessions of the season. As we head to the UK, we hope that the weather will do what everybody in Spain thinks is normal UK weather -- we want rain!"

Driver quotes

Yvan Muller: (SEAT Leon nº12): "We should perform even better with the Leon TDI at Brands Hatch than we did at Oschersleben, because on paper at least it should suit the car better. I know the circuit very well, but we didn't run in the dry with the Yokohama tyres last year, so if it's dry this year then the first challenge will be to find a good set-up. But we go to the UK with a lot of optimism and I am looking forward to it."

Gabriele Tarquini (SEAT Leon nº 11): "Top speed and acceleration is very important at Brands Hatch, so carrying sixty kilos will be very difficult, especially on the long uphill sections. I hope the British weather will be helpful to us, because I prefer to race there in wet conditions like we did last year. If it is dry, with so much extra weight it will be very difficult for sure."

Tiago Monteiro (SEAT Leon nº 18): "I've never driven around the back of the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit and with no testing on Friday, finding a good set-up in free practice on Saturday, which will be my first chance to see the track, will be very important. The track has a lot of history and I'm really looking forward to racing there again. Performance-wise we should be okay. We'll be following our objective of aiming for my first WTCC win, and that's what I'll be trying to do."

Jordi Gene (SEAT Leon nº 9): "I am looking forward to racing at Brands Hatch, because the faster circuit should suit the Leon TDI more. Oschersleben looked to be the worst circuit on paper for the TDI and we did very well there, so we have a lot of hope with the TDI. We should be competitive now at every circuit, which of course is the way it should."

Michel Jourdain Jr (SEAT Leon nº10): "I am really looking forward to racing at Brands Hatch, as it is a great race track. Unfortunately I have never raced on the Grand Prix track, which I hear is very tricky, so I am trying to work with past information that SEAT Sport has on the track and I've been playing on RACE, the WTCC computer game, to learn the track and to get as well prepared as possible. I feel in the last two races we have been really fast, but we just haven't been able to get the good result, so hopefully we can get it now."


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