Vallelunga victory sees SEAT Sport UK win in Europe
Written by zboyd
Saturday, 15 October 2005
Jason Plato won Race 2 at the Autodromo di Vallelunga near Rome today to finish runner-up in the FIA European Touring Car Cup and prove that SEAT Sport UK is one of the best touring car teams in Europe.
The special invitation race meeting for FIA Super 2000 and Super Production cars attracted 26 entries, with drivers coming from 10 countries and seven manufacturers represented. Six SEAT Toledo
The FIA European Touring Car Cup title was decided by the combined points scored in two 13 lap (50km) back-to-back races, which were held at the recently extended 4.10km Autodromo di Vallelunga in Italy in gloriously hot and sunny conditions. Originally all cars were due to race on Yokohama tyres (the control tyre for next year’s FIA World Touring Car Championship) but as not all cars seemed suited to the new tyre teams were free to choose an alternative tyre. This prompted all six SEAT Toledo Cupras to race on Michelin rubber.
In the build up to race day there were four free practice sessions (two on Friday and two on Saturday). To celebrate his 38th birthday in style Plato topped the time sheets in his Toledo
Amazingly everyone missed the stationary Hurtgen, but Nykjaer was in a three car wide sprint off the grid which only just squeezed by. The three cars touched and the contact saw his Toledo Cupra come into the pits for repairs after the opening lap.
On lap four Salvatore Tavano (Alfa) pushed Plato wide at the Curve Semaforo to take 4th place, while Goransson overtook Coronel at the following Curva Trincea to take 2nd. Coronel, Tavano and Plato raced nose-to-tail for two laps, before Coronel allowed Tavano to move up to 3rd unchallenged. For the second half of the race, the two top SEAT drivers raced side-by-side and although they swapped position several times, Coronel took the chequered flag just ahead of Plato.
Balzan finished 9th and Collard 10th to ensure that four SEAT Toledo
Coronel ended the race in a very close three-car battle and eventually finished 5th between Tavano and Engstler. Balzan scored a point for finishing 8th, while Nykjaer’s race ended after he ran through a gravel trap.
Jason said: “The SEAT Sport UK team has done a fantastic job all weekend and I have to thank them for giving me a car to enable me to fight for the FIA European Touring Car Cup. Things didn’t look so great immediately after qualifying but the guys worked so hard to fix the problem. The first race was just one of those races you can have from time to time and luck was against us. We changed the set-up for Race Two and everything worked perfectly. I had a good start and we were able to take the lead and win it comfortably. It’s great to be able to win my last race of the 2005 season with a win and a European trophy. SEAT Sport UK wins a race at European level – we’re a great team!”
Scott Dennis, SEAT Sport UK Motorsport Manager, said: “We said before the event that we were coming to Italy to win some silverware and that’s exactly what we’ve done! We were very excited about racing for the FIA European Touring Car Cup title and we knew it was going to be very difficult, especially as we don’t race on Michelin tyres in the British Touring Car Championship and we would have to start from the beginning to find a good set-up.
After our technical problem in qualifying our backs were against the wall and we had an enormous amount of work to do in the short time before the first race, but what followed proves that we are one of the best teams in Europe. Jason was unfortunate in Race One to be involved in three racing incidents that weren’t his fault, but to dominate the second race in the way he did shows that he is also one of the world’s best touring car drivers. It’s a great way to finish the 2005 season on such a high note.”
Jaime Puig, SEAT Sport Director, said: “The FIA European Touring Car Cup had a good balance of drivers and cars from many national championships and the racing proved that this event was a very good idea. It is something that we are keen to support the FIA with in the future as we have done this time with six Toledo
RACE 1 RESULTS
1. Alex Zanardi (BMW 320i)… 22:25.305
2. Richard Goransson (BMW 320i)… + 9.406
3. Salvatore Tavano (Alfa Romeo 156)… + 13.402
4. Tom Coronel (SEAT Toledo Cupra)… + 18.172
5. Jason Plato (SEAT Toledo Cupra)… + 18.496
6. Franz Engstler (BMW 320i)… + 19.639
7. Thed Bjork (BMW 320i)… + 30.952
8. Jens Edman (Peugeot 407)… + 31.502
9. Alessandro Balzan (SEAT Toledo Cupra)… + 33.308
10. Rob Collard (SEAT Toledo Cupra)…. + 33.505
14. Ari Laivola (SEAT Toledo Cupra)…. + 1:00.770
19. Michel Nykjaer (SEAT Toledo Cupra)….+ 4 Laps
RACE 2 RESULTS
1. Jason Plato (SEAT Toledo Cupra)… 22:34.183
2. Richard Goransson (BMW 320i)… + 4.014
3. Thed Bjork (BMW 320i)… + 6.297
4. Salvatore Tavano (Alfa Romeo 156)… + 7.351
5. Tom Coronel (SEAT Toledo Cupra)… + 9.654
6. Franz Engstler (BMW 320i)… + 10.009
7. Alex Zanardi (BMW 320i)… + 10.370
8. Alessandro Balzan (SEAT Toledo Cupra)… + 17.158
9. Claudia Hurtgen (BMW 320i)… + 19.228
10. Luca Rangoni(BMW 320i)… + 22.460
14. Ari Laivola (SEAT Toledo Cupra)….+ 49.491
15. Rob Collard (SEAT Toledo Cupra)…. + 53.213
Michel Nykjaer (SEAT Toledo Cupra)….DNF
FIA EUROPEAN TOURING CAR CUP – FINAL POSITIONS
1. Richard Goransson…16pts
2. Jason Plato…14pts
3. Alex Zanardi…12pts
4. Salvatore Tavano…11pts
5. Tom Coronel…9pts
6. Thed Bjork…8pts