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Saturday’s warm and sunny weather made a welcome re-appearance on Sunday, although the morning was overcast. The clouds cleared for the afternoon and both races were run in dry, sunny conditions.
First race
After claiming SEAT Sport’s first qualified pole position in the ETCC, Jordi Gené went on to score the team’s first podium finish of the season. As he’d predicted, Jordi’s Toledo Cupra reached the first corner in third place after two BMW’s made a stronger start, but he continued to battle throughout the race and held off the challenge from Jörg Müller to claim that third position. Frank Diefenbacher was embroiled in the same battle and finished a strong fifth despite a minor brake problem in the race’s closing stages.
Completing the SEAT Sport success story in race 1, Rickard Rydell also finished in the points and would start race 2 from pole after snatching 8th place on the penultimate lap. Forced to start from the back of the grid after his post-Magny Cours engine change, Rickard carved his way through the field and grabbed the all-important 8th place from Tom Coronel on lap 10.
Jordi Gené: "I feel fantastic! The start wasn’t brilliant, but I was right with Antonio Garcia going into the first corner. The car felt really good on the new tyres and I tried to make Garcia nervous, so I passed him, then he passed me again and then he spun – my tactics clearly worked! Towards the end, I was so determined to finish on the podium, they would have had to push me out of the way to stop me! As for race 2, now Rickard is starting from pole, he has a great chance to do even better.”
Frank Diefenbacher: "I’m very happy that the team got all three cars home in the points. As for my race, I’m a little frustrated - I wanted to attack Dirk Müller, but towards the end my tyres were almost gone and I had a small brake problem. I accidentally tapped Jörg Müller at one point, so I backed off a little after that. The guys are working on my brakes and I’ll have new tyres for race 2, so I’m aiming to finish on the podium."
Rickard Rydell: "I’m very happy with my race. If I’m completely honest, I didn’t think I could make 8th; it was so close! Everything worked exactly as planned; the car felt really good throughout the race, although I lost a little grip for the last few laps. Now it’s another race, another story. I think I can win from pole position but so many things can happen. Let’s wait and see, but if I have another race like that one, I’ll be very happy!"
Second race
Starting from pole, Rickard Rydell quickly realized he had some kind of understeer problem that forced him to back off and he duly finished fifth. Jordi Gené almost repeated his podium finish of race 1, but finished in a strong fourth place after catching and passing a number of cars. At one point, the intense battle between the leading trio raised the team’s hopes of another top 3 result, but sense eventually prevailed and so Gené had to settle for 4th.
Frank Diefenbacher ended the opening lap in 4th place, but slipped to 6th on lap 2 after damaging his car’s suspension. He lost another place on the next lap and when the damaged part broke completely after lap 4, his race was over. The non-finish at his local circuit was hugely frustrating for Frank, since it was the only disappointment during what was clearly the most successful ETCC race weekend for SEAT Sport so far.
Jordi Gené: "The start was difficult, since I had BMWs all around me! I quickly realized that I was actually faster than most of those around me, so I took it easy and started to quietly pass them; first an Alfa, then a BMW and so on; I remember telling my engineer on the radio, ‘I’m going fishing for points now!’ Frank had his problem, so I was able to pass him easily and then Rickard, but by the time I got to 4th, the three ahead were already far away. I’m delighted with the weekend, both for the amount of points we scored and for the confidence it gives us, especially ahead of Brno which should be another good circuit for SEAT.”
Rickard Rydell: "I was, of course, hoping for more after starting from pole, but the understeer problem started very early in the race and so I had to ease off to look after my tyres which meant I couldn’t push. I’m very pleased with race 1, though – next time I just have to do two races like that! It’s also very encouraging to see how much closer to the others we’re getting. The next aim for us is to get onto the podium regularly and to score as many points as possible. After that, it’s to get our first win."
Frank Diefenbacher: "Race 2 was clearly not as good as race 1 for me. My problem started on lap 2 when the front left wishbone was bent and I started locking the rear brakes. The car was virtually unstoppable in some corners and I was pleased just not to hit anyone. A lot of people hit me, though, and the bodywork was badly damaged. The wishbone eventually broke completely and that was that. I have to say that I’m very happy for the team, but I’m unhappy with my result on my home track."
Jaime Puig, SEAT Sport Director: “This was a great weekend for SEAT Sport. Once again, we’ve showed that our hard work is paying off and we can now live with the top guys. Of course, we need to keep on working to develop the car, but I’m delighted with what we’ve achieved this weekend.”
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