Michel Jourdain driving a SEAT Being a pop singer is fun but today in Madrid SEAT introduced his team which is going to participate the third WTCC season with a renewed sense of purpose and the aim of finishing this year in the top spot: while the team finished third in the manufacturers’ rankings in 2005 and achieved second place in 2006, all the Spanish brand’s hopes are pinned on achieving the crown in 2007.
In order to achieve this target and start the season off in top-notch shape, SEAT Sport has been carrying out a grueling winter testing schedule on several tracks with the aim of improving the performance of the León WTCC. This car already proved its mettle last year by winning three victories, five poles and eight fastest laps.
This season, the team will lose two manufacturers’ cars and will gain factory supported cars. In total there will be four SEAT Sport drivers: Jordi Gené, Yvan Muller, Gabriele Tarquini and the new addition, Michel Jourdain, a Mexican driver with wide experience of the American single- seater championships (IRL and Champ Car) and NASCAR.
Along with the four drivers, SEAT Sport will also focus on the factory supported teams: the brilliant winner of the 2006 Independent title, GR Asia and its driver Tom Coronel, with Emmet O’Brien in a second car, SEAT Italy with the 2006 Italian national champion Roberto Colciago, the Exagon team with the experienced Belgian driver Pierre Yves Corthals, and the possible addition of other drivers and teams who wish to drive the León WTCC and who are currently in negotiations with SEAT Sport.
SEAT will therefore have a large and well-prepared team, whose one and only goal is to win the 2007 championship. Indeed, this season promises to be highly exciting and competitive with a total of fifteen official cars belonging to four registered manufacturers: SEAT, Chevrolet, BMW and Alfa Romeo. The season gets underway on the 10th of March in the Brazilian city of Curitiba and will end in Macau on the 18th of November after eleven races in as many countries.
In addition, other manufacturers, such as Honda, Peugeot and Toyota, take part unofficially in the WTCC. In 2006 this took the total number of manufacturers to seven, with fifty drivers lining up, eleven of whom won at least one race, demonstrating the highly competitive nature of the championship.
Jaime Puig, SEAT Sport director: “The WTCC is undoubtedly the most competitive and evenly balanced championship, and therefore the most difficult to win. In addition, the use of handicap weights to equal out the cars, and the different sorts of race tracks, with three urban tracks this year, make it a very well-rounded championship.”
Jordi Gené: “Our aim is to go one better in 2006; to win the title. We have the cars, team and people to do it. It will all depend on the improvements made to the cars because we were just as hopeful and keen last year. As it didn’t happen then, it has to this year.
Logically, it hinges on a lot of factors, including the fact that the first and second races are now separated by a longer break, allowing for testing, and this is something we must take advantage of. If things pan out like that, I hope to continue working for the team as I always have, although of course I would love to be the SEAT driver who is fighting for the World Championship.”
Michel Jourdain Jr.: “First of all I would like to thank SEAT Sport and SEAT Mexico for this fantastic opportunity to drive in a FIA World Championship.
It is a great opportunity and a big change for me, and I am having to adapt not just to the car but also to the Championship, which is really different from the American ones. The SEAT Sport way of working, professionalism and winning mentality have really impressed me and these are qualities for which a driver is always grateful.”
Yvan Muller: “We have to look at the 2007 season with the aim of making the most of the experience of 2006, and to improve on it, to aim for the top spot and both titles. In order to achieve this, we are doing our absolute best, because the aim is always to win.
Without a doubt, having a year’s experience is very important, because last year was very tough for me: not only was I in a new car and with a new team, but I was also competing in a new championship with no knowledge of the circuits, strategies or rivals...now we’ve got past that and this year will be a very positive experience”.
Gabriele Tarquini: “The expectation this season is to win the drivers’ or the manufacturers’ title, or both, as last year we just missed out on them, so we have to have another go.
On a personal level, I’m sure that everything will go better this year, as last season I needed several races to adapt to the team, which was only to be expected. Now I know everyone: the engineers, mechanics and, of course, the car and the way the team works.”