Gabriele Tarquini has opened up an eight point lead in the World Touring Car Championship after the opening European rounds of the season in Valencia.
Despite the SEAT Leon TDi being given a series of penalties in an effort to bring the performance of the diesel cars inline with the petrol powered machines of rival teams, and with extra ballast on board thanks to his championship position, the Italian was able to secure a podium finish in the opening race of the weekend and followed it up with further points in race two to open up a lead over team-mates Yvan Muller and Rickard Rydell.
Tarquini qualified on the front row of the grid and held second place behind Jordi Gene in the opening laps of the first race. However, he was unable to hold of the challenge of Chevrolet driver Rob Huff and slipped to third before reclaiming second place when he followed the Briton in putting a move on Gene – holding his position to the flag.
From seventh on the grid for race two, Tarquini was able to make up two places during the race to take the flag in fifth place and add to his points tally.
“Positive day for us,” he said. “We've scored points in both races achieving a podium finish. I was only sorry for not being able to win at home, but you can't win always. Our cars were very heavy and our rivals were driving much lighter. There was nothing more we could do.”
With the team also strengthening its lead in the constructors' championship thanks to the weekends results, SEAT Sport director Jaime Puig admitted it had been a positive weekend on home soil for the team
“It's been a positive weekend for SEAT,” he said. “This is the way to assess it because we've achieved two podium finishes despite carrying a lot of ballast, we have increased our advantage in the constructors' world championship and we keep the leadership in the drivers' overall standings.”