The third meeting of the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) is being held this weekend at Valencia’s Cheste track, a traditionally scheduled venue, where SEAT will be starting in the lead of the drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles.
After winning the four races at the two previous meetings, SEAT Sport is facing the challenge in Spain of remaining in the lead despite being in a difficult position. According to the race guidelines, the SEAT León TDI units will be carrying a considerable amount of success weight compared to their main rivals, making the team and drivers tackle the competition with a conservative approach.
The SEAT cars will also be penalised with a further handicap established this week by the FIA, which limits their maximum revolutions, and it is still unknown how this will affect their performance.
Xavi Serra, SEAT Sport Chief Track Engineer:
“Due to the extra weight we’ve accumulated, there will be greater wear on our cars’ tyres than before, and the hotter the weather the worse it’ll be for us. The Valencia track’s curves favour BMW, and Chevrolet will also benefit from carrying little ballast. This situation puts us in difficult territory. We could end up with a good result in the classification, but we’ll have more problems during the race, at least in the first one.”
The success weight applied after the first two WTCC meetings rule out the SEAT drivers as favourites, points out current championship leader Rickard Rydell: “The excellent level we’ve managed to achieve at the first two races will be difficult to maintain in Valencia. The upcoming race is important for SEAT because we’re competing on home ground, and my objective is to rack up as many points as possible.” Portuguese team-mate Tiago Monteiro, winner of the last race, shares this opinion, since “this track won’t be good, and we’ve got our work cut out for us with the extra burden we’ll be carrying thanks to our previous results.”
The drivers know that SEAT is no longer a favourite, and according to Yvan Muller, “the weekend in Valencia is going to be complicated. It’ll probably be very hot, and the twisty track is better suited to BMW.” Sharing his thoughts, Gabriele Tarquini said “the Valencia track is completely different from the ones in Brazil and Mexico. I think we might put up a fight during the race and pull off a good classification, but BMW is the favourite team.”
If anyone is feeling good about going into the race, that’s Jordi Gené, who said “we’re looking forward to the race in Valencia. We’ve always done well in Cheste, and I hope this year won’t be an exception, but we have to be realistic since we’ll be carrying so much more weight than our rivals.”
Race: 2008 WTCC, races 5 and 6
Circuit: Cheste, Valencia
Length: 4.005 km. Two, 13-lap races
Friday, 16 May
3:00 – 3:30 p.m.: Free training session
Saturday, 17 May
8:30 – 9:00 a.m.: Free training session
11:30 – 12:00 a.m.: Free training session
3:00 – 3:30 p.m.: Qualifying session
Sunday, 18 May
9:30 – 9:45 a.m.: Warm-up
12:05 p.m.: 1st race
3:50 p.m.: 2 nd race
- SEAT Sport UK