SEAT Sport driver Yvan Muller clinched his first world title at the wheel of a Leon TDI WTCC as the Spanish brand closed its best ever FIA World Touring Car Championship season.
The final race in Macau concluded with SEAT scooping a total of two world titles, recording 12 victories and 19 podium finishes in the process.
The French driver raced to three victories and nine podium finishes to grab the Drivers’ title, while fellow SEAT Sport pilot Gabriele Tarquini (Italy) secured runner-up spot in the world championship in Macau.
Muller’s title win, the first FIA circuit racing world crown taken by a Frenchman for 15 years, came as he steered his diesel-engined Leon to two podium finishes in the two races in the Far Eastern city – a special administrative region of China and one of the most vibrant stops on the glamorous WTCC calendar.
The 39-year-old veteran of three WTCC campaigns said of his first global title success: ‘Defeats are remembered for a long time and victories are quickly forgotten. However, I think I’ll remember this day for a long time!
‘To win the championship you must be a consistent driver, but you must also have a team that will offer you the chance to fight for it. I want to say thank you to all my team-mates and the whole SEAT team, because we have always worked closely together, collaborating and always progressing. This is why we have been able to win.’
Frank Bekemeier, SEAT vice-president for Research and Development, said: ‘I’m very proud of the job done by SEAT Sport.
‘The triumph of the TDI engine has been a demonstration of the constant innovation of our marque, allowing us to make competitive history by taking the first world title for a diesel engine.’
Muller’s Drivers’ title triumph comes hot on the heels of SEAT’s first overall title in the WTCC, secured just a couple of weeks ago when Swede Rickard Rydell won Round 21 of the series at the Okayama International Circuit in Japan at the wheel of the Leon TDI.
It’s the first time a diesel race car has come out tops not only in the WTCC, but in any FIA championship.
Five official drivers have contested the WTCC for SEAT in 2008, all of which have won races this season – the other two are Jordi Gené (Spain) and Tiago Monteiro (Portugal).
In addition, Tom Coronel (Netherlands) has enjoyed notable success in his petrol-engined SUNRED Team Leon.
Jaime Puig, SEAT Sport Director, said: ‘I want to thank the whole team for the excellent job done throughout the year. Their persistence and dedication has allowed us to achieve all our aims.
‘This victory is the victory of the whole SEAT family, workers and commercial network.’
Final WTCC Drivers’ standings (top six)
1. Yvan Muller (SEAT)...114pts (CHAMPION)2. Gabriele Tarquini (SEAT)...88pts3. Rob Huff (Chevrolet)...87pts4. Andy Priaulx (BMW)...81pts5. Rickard Rydell (SEAT)...77pts6. Augusto Farfus (BMW)...66pts
Final WTCC Manufacturers’ standings
1. SEAT...326pts (CHAMPION)2. BMW...274pts3. Chevrolet...238pts4. Honda...60pts