LANDMARKS IN A SUCCESSFUL MOTORSPORT HISTORY
SEAT has sporting character in its genes! For many decades, motorsport has been a firm element in this Spanish automobile manufacturer’s activities. Just two outstanding examples: in 2008 and 2009, SEAT twice won the World Touring Car Championship with the Leon TDI WTCC, and in 1996 to 1998 the brand captured the World Rally Championship three times in the two-litre class.
At the 2012 Techno Classica, SEAT is exhibiting three very different examples from its varied motorsport history, which began in 1971 with the establishment of the Special Vehicles department from which SEAT Sport later developed. By the autumn of 1972 the company’s first rally car, a SEAT 124-1500, had already scored its first win in a European Championship event. The SEAT team notched up one success after another in the Spanish championship between 1973 and 1983, and on the international scene too the Barcelona-based team soon began to make a name for itself.
SEAT PANDA 45 RALLY
The first exhibit, a SEAT Panda 45, dates from 1982 and was built in accordance with Group 2 regulations. These for example permitted a twin-choke Weber carburettor to be used, which boosted the output from this small engine with its displacement of only 903 cc to an impressive 62 bhp. For Carlos Sainz, already a talented driver at the age of 20, this was ample power with which to put to shame drivers in much more potent cars. Today, Carlos ‘El Matador’ Sainz is a rallying legend. He was World Rally Champion twice, in 1990 and 1992, finished on the podium 97 times in World Championship events and crowned his career by winning the Dakar Rally in 2010, which assured him of an entry among the all-time greats in the annals of motorsport.
SEAT IBIZA BIMOTOR
To obtain the best results when resources are limited often means resorting to unexpected methods. SEAT returned to rallying midway through the 1980s with a twin-engined car, the Ibiza Bimotor – and promptly took the runner’s-up title in the 1986 and 1987 Spanish off-road rally series. Very few people expected SEAT Sport’s outlandish design to prove so successful, in particular because of the need to synchronise the two 1.5-litre engines perfectly together, failing which the Bimotor would have been unable to deliver its impressive output of 2 x 125 bhp effectively to the road wheels. Each engine had its own gearbox and drove one of the car’s axles, making this the first SEAT with all-wheel drive.
SEAT IBIZA KIT CAR
As well as the Leon WTCC, the Ibiza Kit Car counts as one of the most successful competition cars in the history of SEAT. It was, after all, World Rally Champion in the 2-litre category three times in succession, from 1996 to 1998. With a power output of 260 bhp, a Hewland motorsport gearbox and six-piston disc brakes, these highly professional competition cars were developed by SEAT Sport in Barcelona and, with various internationally experienced drivers at the wheel, qualified regularly for the winner’s podium. Between them, Erwin Weber, Harri Rovanperä and Toni Gardemeister amassed 14 victories and 31 second or third places in world championship events.
SEAT LEON WTCC
The SEAT Leon achieved equally impressive World Touring Car Championship results, both in petrol-engined form and as a TDI diesel. In 2008 und 2009 the Leon captured the world championship title for the Spanish brand, with Yvan Muller and Gabriele Tarquini as the drivers. In recent years too, the SEAT Leon Supercopa has proved to be one of the most successful one-make trophy series in Europe.
Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo, S.A. was established on May 9, 1950, but this is not to imply that SEAT is about to reach retirement age. Far from it: after a most varied history, the Spanish motor vehicle manufacturer can now claim to possess an unmistakable character of its own, a clearly defined strategy, a dynamic model range, leading-edge technology and charismatic design. Another feature it has retained to this day is its dedication to motorsport.