SEAT has secured both the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ titles in the 2008 FIA World Touring Car Championship after Rickard Rydell won Round 21 of the series at the Okayama International Circuit in Japan at the wheel of the Leon TDI.
This is SEAT’s first overall title in the WTCC and signifies the first time a diesel race car has triumphed not only in the WTCC, but in any FIA championship. In addition, it ends BMW’s long run of success in the series.
The Leon TDI has won 11 of the 22 races so far, with Rounds 23 and 24 still left to go in Macau on 15/16 November. In comparison, BMW has taken six victories, Chevrolet three and Honda one.
The Drivers’ title is also certain to go to SEAT, as the only two championship contenders left as the series travels to the Far East are Yvan Muller (France) and Gabriele Tarquini (Italy) – both members of the SEAT Sport team.
Five official drivers have contested the WTCC for SEAT in 2008, all of which have won races this season – the other three are Jordi Gené (Spain), Tiago Monteiro (Portugal) and Rickard Rydell (Sweden). In addition, Tom Coronel (Netherlands) has enjoyed notable success in his petrol-engined SUNRED Team Leon – indeed, he snatched his maiden WTCC victory in the second race of Japan.
Located in the remote mountainous forest region of the Okayama Prefecture, near the city of Mimosaka, this was the first time Japan hosted a round of the WTCC. The tight and twisty 2.3-mile/12 corner track was previously a setting for the Pacific F1 Grand Prix.
Jaime Puig, SEAT Sport Director, was more than happy with the team’s result: ‘The excellent teamwork of all people working at SEAT Sport, both those making up the race team, as well as all those who support us in Martorell, has been key to this success. I want to say a big thank you to all of them, because it is their working capacity and team spirit that has allowed us to achieve such a significant success.’