SEAT LEÃ“N WTCC UNVEILED Yet more Spanish flair for World Touring Car Championship Following its official unveiling at the Barcelona International Motor Show, the SEAT LeÃ³n World Touring Car is due to make its debut in the FIA World Touring Car...
SEAT LEÓN WTCC UNVEILED
Yet more Spanish flair for World Touring Car Championship Following its official unveiling at the Barcelona International Motor Show, the SEAT León World Touring Car is due to make its debut in the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) this season.
It is one of the most advanced racing cars ever to have been built by the Spanish brand, inspired by the desire to compete for one of the most prestigious titles in the FIA calendar alongside the Formula 1 and World Rally championships.
Conceived and developed at the SEAT Sport facility in Martorell, close to Barcelona, the new León represents a technological quantum leap which will allow the Spanish manufacturer to vie for a world championship title.
This latest move, along with the brand's integration into the Audi Brand Group three years ago (with Audi and Lamborghini), provides the clearest evidence yet that the sporty character of the brand's series-production models provides the ideal basis for building competitive racing cars.
Official track testing will commence within the next few weeks, marking the start of a fine-tuning process which should see the car making its WTCC debut before the end of the current season. Such rapid progress has been made possible by the ambitious work schedule begun by SEAT Sport a few months ago, involving 140 of the company's own personnel, R&D specialists from the SEAT Technical Centre and engineers from Audi Sport, who provided invaluable support when it came to streamlining the new model's aerodynamics in its wind tunnel.
This co-operation with the German engineers will in future be extended to engine development. World Championship is the prime objective SEAT made its return to the international motor racing stage in 2003 when it entered its Toledo Cupra model in the European Touring Car Championship (ETCC).
The brand's commitment started to bear fruit as early as 2004 with one victory, five podium finishes, two pole positions and three lap records. The ETCC has been superseded by the WTCC in 2005 and SEAT took its first step towards being crowned World Champion by initiating a more ambitious and technologically advanced programme from day one.
Work has been carried out on two separate fronts, with the intention of lining up for the start of the World Championship with the Toledo Cupra whilst performing all the studies and testing necessary for the arrival of the new León WTCC.
This has been made possible because SEAT Sport is the only team in Spain responsible for designing, constructing and fine-tuning its cars from start to finish, right through from the initial plans to race day.
"The chance to develop a racing car from scratch until it is ready for the racetrack is a rarity, so the León WTCC project has presented the whole SEAT Sport team with a golden opportunity," remarks Jaime Puig, Managing Director of SEAT Sport. "We were extremely eager to tackle the tremendous challenge that such a young team as ours faces when competing against constructors with vast motor racing experience.
"We have the powerful structure and extremely skilled people that are needed to turn the new León into a winner. I would like to give particular mention to the SEAT Technical Centre and to Audi Sport whose co-operation has been invaluable to us."
From the computer to the racetrack The team has been hard at work in 2005. As the Toledo Cupra, piloted by Jordi Gené, Rickard Rydell and Peter Terting, will continue to represent SEAT in the WTCC until the arrival of the León, it has been put through its paces in pre-season testing while the new car takes shape.
Five months have passed since Jordi Gené first track-tested the handling of the chassis and the mechanical assemblies in a modified Altea last December. In this time, the engineers from SEAT Sport and Audi Sport have defined all of the remaining components for the León, undertaking an exhaustive aerodynamic study in the process.
Thanks to their hard work, the team has been able to turn the car into a reality and the unveiling of the León WTCC at the Barcelona Motor Show crowns their achievements. It underlines just how much technical expertise the brand has at its disposal to put its race team on an equal standing with its rivals in terms of testing, fine-tuning and race development. It is also important to note the tremendous technical and industrial benefits generated by a project of such proportions to Spanish engineers and businesses.