| ||The SEAT Sport team is faced with a difficult challenge in the last but one 2009 WTCC series of races to be held on November 1st at the Okayama circuit in Japan. Though the track favours rear-wheel drive vehicles, all team members are leaving for Japan determined to come out of the race still at the head of the field so as to be in the best possible position for the final races in Macau. |
This determination is the result of the two victories in Imola at the last European WTCC race which consolidated the Spanish brand’s leadership.
Gabriele Tarquini and Yvan Muller currently head the Drivers’ Championship, while SEAT at the head of the Manufacturers. Tarquini has 109 points, followed closely by Muller with 102, with Augusto Farfus, their most immediate rival, at 91. With 40 points still up for grabs, there is little doubt that the title play-off will be between SEAT and BMW drivers – and with little room for manoeuvre in the event of mistakes.
Gabriele Tarquini is very focussed on the most effective tactic for the team: “I think the SEAT drivers need to be more on the defensive than in Imola, where we went all-out to attack, because the track is not so favourable for our cars. My personal target is to get as many points as possible for the team”. Feelings which are shared by Yvan Muller, who also adds that the weather will be a determining factor in the race: “Our overarching aim is to give SEAT the best possible options for carrying off the Manufacturers’ Championship, and then we’ll start thinking about the drivers”. The Okayama track is difficult and completely unpredictable because of the constantly changing weather conditions, so making any kind of prediction as to the result is difficult”
In the Manufacturers’ category, SEAT leads with 271 points, followed by BMW at 250 points; both Chevrolet (175 points) and Lada (78) are out of the championship running. The most points an individual brand is awarded stands at 18 per race, so that there are still 72 points to be fought for (two races in Japan and 2 in Macau); thus it is unlikely that the championship will be decided after the first Asian race.
The 3703-metre-long Okayama circuit lies close to the city of the same name and is about 200 km from Osaka. The originally private track was reconditioned in 1994 to accommodate Formula 1 races, and was thereafter certified for international motor racing competition. It lies in a valley surrounded by thickly-wooded mountains, making rainy races very likely. This was the case last year, and was the determining factor in the victories by Rickard Rydell in his diesel SEAT León TDI and Tom Coronel in his petrol-engine SEAT León.
Schedule (- 8 hours CET Time)
Friday, 30th October
15.30 – 16.00: Testing (7.30 – 8.00 CET)
Saturday, 31st October
8.30 – 9.00: Free Practice 1 (00.30 – 1.00 CET)
11.10 – 11.40: Free Practice 2 (3.10 – 3.40 CET)
16.00 – 16.35: Qualifying Practice (8.00 – 8.35 CET)
Sunday, 1st November
8.00 – 8.15: Warm-Up (00.00 – 00.15 CET)
13.55: 1st race. 14 laps (flying start). (5.55 CET)
16.05: 2nd race. 14 laps (standing start). (8.05 CET)
Minimum weights and compensation for participating cars.
SEAT León TDI, 1170 kg. + 40kg. ballast = 1210 kg.
SEAT petrol engine, 1170 kg. – 0 kg. ballast = 1170 kg.
BMW, 1155 Kg. + 40 kg. ballast = 1195 Kg.
Chevrolet Cruze: 1170 kg. + 30 Kg. ballast= 1200 Kg.
BMW (private): 1180 Kg.
Lada 110 1170 Kg. - 20 Kg. ballast = 1150 Kg.
(The BMWs have been given a special dispensation by the FIA to compete carrying 15kg less weight than the SEAT León TDI.)