Seat Sport UK: Fine balance for SEAT Sport UK at Mondello Park
Itís going to be a fine balancing act for SEAT Sport UK when it races at Mondello Park for the first time on June 12/13, as circumstances make it advantageous for its drivers, Jason Plato and Rob Huff, to push hard Ė even though they havenít any great knowledge of the twisty Irish circuit.
The revised ETCC-spec weight regulations which affect the Toledo Cupra will see SEAT Sport UKís two race cars at there lightest at the beginning of the Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship race weekend. Sunday (13 June) race day success will depend on the track knowledge gathered during the two free practice sessions on Saturday (12 June) and how the team turns that data into technical set- up for the crucial qualifying session.
As if to add extra intrigue to this brainteaser, SEAT Sport UKís work will start with a clean sheet of paper, Plato has only raced at Mondello once (in 2001), Huff has never been to Ireland before and the team will have just 2 hours between free practice and qualifying to come up with a pole-setting solution!
Situated 25 miles west of Dublin near Naas in Co. Kildare, the tight and twisty 2.25 mile Mondello Park circuit will also play host to a large contingent of SEAT UK dealer guests, who will be there on race day to see the Toledo Cupras in action. So no pressure on the SEAT Sport UK drivers thenÖ
Jason said: ďIíve only raced at Mondello Park once and that was back in 2001. Itís a tricky technical circuit and difficult to set a car up for, so what we find out in free practice is going to be critical. While some parts of the circuit will suit the Toledo Cupra very well, Iím not so sure about other sections, so we have a lot of work to do. The racing will be very exciting because there are lots of overtaking opportunities, so you can do well from almost anywhere on the grid if the carís set up properly. I canít remember the circuit in great detail, but what does stand out is the fantastic party atmosphere, the great welcome from the fans and the wonderful Irish hospitality. Iím really looking forward to racing there again.Ē
Huff said: ďIíve never been to Ireland before, not even on holiday, so I know absolutely nothing about Mondello Park Ė I havenít even been able to find it on PlayStation or Xbox! To be fair I love racing at new circuits and Iíve always been able to learn a new circuit really quickly. Last year I raced in the final round of the Spanish Supercopa series at Barcelona. Iíd never been to the Circuit de Catalunya before and we were all in identical Leon Cupras, but after two practice sessions I qualified 4th on the grid, just 0.2 seconds off pole. Free practice at Mondello will be very important, but Iím confident we can get a good qualifying and race set up and be back on the pace.Ē
Scott Dennis, SEAT UK Motorsport Manager, said: ďThe two free practice sessions at Mondello Park will be the most critical of the season for us. Weíre a new team contesting the BTCC for the first time, so we donít have any technical data from any circuit we go to until after the first free practice session, but at Mondello our drivers also have little experience of the track. If we get Saturday right we have a good chance of racing at the front on Sunday.Ē
The BTCC race weekend at Mondello Park begins with two 40 minute free practice sessions on Saturday 12th June, starting at 10.35 and 12.40, followed by a 30 minute qualifying session starting at 15.30. Rounds 13, 14 and 15 of the BTCC take place on Sunday 13th June, with the three 14 lap races starting at 10.55, 13.55 and 16.40.