SEAT’s return to the World Touring Car Championship landscape has been particularly fraught, and the car marker’s sporting arm has still not been able to resolve its engine shortage issues ahead of next weekend’s second round of the championship at Valencia.
At the opening round at Monza two weekends ago, seven SEATs lined up for the weekend, with SUNRED Engineering rookie Fernando Monje not taking part and instead electing to compete in the European Touring Car Cup supports races (winning both) in a SUNRED-run SEAT León TDi.
SEAT’s entry list was then reduced to six cars when Special Tune Racing’s Tom Boardman was ruled out of the action when SEAT could not supply enough parts for him to run one of their new 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engines that they had developed to use this season.
Boardman’s team-mate Darryl O’Young was the team’s sole representative, and his engine blew on his out-lap in qualifying. A spare was fitted ahead of Sunday’s two races, but that caught fire in the morning warm-up, causing too much damage to his car for him to be able to take part.
There was more trouble for SEAT, with Tiago Monteiro (Tuenti Racing) and Andrea Barlesi both having to run the older-spec turbodiesel engines for the weekend, leaving Gabriele Tarquini (Lukoil Racing), Aleksei Dudukalo (Lukoil) and Pepe Oriola (Tuenti Racing) as the only runners who used the new turbocharged engines. All three of those drivers were each forced to change their engines over the course of the weekend.
This weekend, at least, a full field of eight SEATs will be present, with Monje making his championship debut and Boardman back in the field, although both will run turbodiesel units at the Spanish circuit. Monteiro and Barlesi will be doing likewise, with SEAT justifying their allocations on the basis that they were among the last drivers to be confirmed in the carmaker’s 2012 line-up.
Tarquini, Dudukalo, Oriola and O’Young will be running the turbocharged engines. One hopes that reliability will be somewhat improved this time around.
Stay tuned next week for our bumper preview of the World Touring Car Championship’s Race of Spain!
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