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ollowing six successful years in British motorsport, SEAT UK has decided that it will not participate in the British Touring Car Championship for the 2009 season.
This year will also mark the end of the SEAT Cupra Championship, the popular and highly-regarded one-make series that has nurtured talented drivers on their way to a place in either the BTCC or WTCC – previous SCC stars include Gordon Shedden, Rob Huff and Mat Jackson. Offering the biggest prize pot in British motorsport, this series was first run in the UK in 2003.
The Spanish brand’s ethos is ‘sporty, design-driven and lively’. Since the start of its activities in British motorsport, as well as on a wider stage with the World Touring Car Championship, SEAT has successfully strengthened its sporty and lively credentials.
Now, with the brand’s image continuing to develop, SEAT UK is looking to broaden its appeal through its marketing strategy. The company will be utilising the resource that would otherwise have been used in British motorsport in areas that will continue to boost brand awareness and vehicle sales.
Steve Robertson, SEAT UK Head of Marketing, said: ‘SEAT has enjoyed six very successful seasons in British motorsport – five of them in the BTCC – and it is fair to say that through both touring cars and the SEAT Cupra Championship, the brand’s image has been massively enhanced.
‘This is emphatically demonstrated through sales of our hot hatches – the UK is the world’s biggest market for the Leon Cupra, for example, while FR and Cupra combined account for over 30 per cent of Leon sales in this country. That’s way ahead of any competitor and shows just how our motorsport activities have really established the brand among enthusiastic drivers.
‘Now it is time to emphasise SEAT’s sporty and stylish image through other marketing activities, which will continue to enhance the brand’s profile. I would like to thank all the many people who have helped us achieve so much in both the BTCC and SCC over the past few years – they can be very proud of what they have contributed. I would also like to thank, on behalf of everyone at SEAT UK and SEAT Sport UK, the many fans who have followed our progress over these past few years. Your support is hugely appreciated.’
Scott Dennis, SEAT UK National Motorsport & Events Manager, added: ‘There’s no doubting that SEAT and SEAT Sport UK have made a huge impact on the British motorsport scene. The SCC has proved to be a fantastic breeding ground for genuine talent – drivers that have gone on to participate at the highest level of touring car racing. We’ve made a big impression on the BTCC, too, during our five seasons. Our roll call of drivers – Rob Huff, James Thompson, Luke Hines, James Pickford and Tom Coronel, as well as current duo Darren Turner and Jason Plato ? have helped secure the 2006 Manufacturers’ Trophy, the 2007 Teams’ Trophy, as well as the first ever win for a diesel car in the 50-year history of the Championship with this year’s Leon TDI.
‘Of course, the SEAT Sport UK team has been essential in securing these successes, and I’d like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who has contributed. In particular I’d like to thank Grant Clearwater and Ian Fisher [Team Principals of Northern South Limited] for their unwavering professionalism throughout our relationship with them. I’d also like to thank Jason and Darren for their commitment to SEAT Sport UK. Jason, in particular, has been a consistent strength of the team from our first season in 2004, as well as a front runner in both this and last year’s season. Like all of the other SEAT BTCC drivers, he and Darren have also been great brand ambassadors.’
The SEAT Sport UK team is looking forward to contesting the final weekend of the BTCC at Brands Hatch on 20/21 September where, in the Leon TDI, Jason hopes to secure the accolade of most wins this season.
SEAT Sport UK achievements 2003 ? 2008 (to date):
· BTCC Team Champions 2007
· BTCC Manufacturer Champions 2006
· 101 podium results in 147 British Touring Car Championship appearances ? an amazing 69% success rate
· Six drivers helped achieve those podium results, with Jason Plato responsible for 69 of them – including the first in Round 2 of the 2004 BTCC at Thruxton; the team’s maiden BTCC race weekend
· First ever win for a diesel-powered race car in the 50-year history of the BTCC, with Jason Plato at the wheel of the Leon TDI this year at Donington Park
· A total of 78 different drivers have contested the SEAT Cupra Championship since its inception in 2003
· Of these, the Cupra Championship has produced 15drivers that have gone on to race in either the WTCC or BTCC: Rob Huff, Mat Jackson, Gordon Shedden, James Pickford and Tom Boardman to name a few