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SEAT Leon TDI scores first BTCC diesel victor

Jason Plato smashed the Donington Park lap record on his way to giving the Leon TDI its first HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship race win – and in doing recorded the first victory for a diesel engined car in the 50 year history of the series. He then finished 2nd and 3rd in the next two races to move from 6th to 2nd in the BTCC Drivers’ Championship. Team-mate Darren Turner also scored his first victory of the season in extremely slippery conditions in the third and final race.

SEAT Sport UK got its BTCC campaign back on track with a strong display around the 1.96-mile National Circuit. The two race wins and four podiums sees SEAT half the gap with Vauxhall at the top of the Manufacturers’ Championship and move ahead of Team Halfords in the Teams’ standings.

Race day got off to a fantastic start when Jason won an incident filled race and smashed Yvan Muller’s 2005 lap record by 0.212 seconds with a 1:12.677 (96.95mph).

Jason’s Leon TDI was the heaviest it has ever been in race two, as the 1180kgs minimum base weight had 45kgs of success ballast and 22kgs of fuel added, making it a super-heavyweight 1247kgs.

Plato said: “It’s been a great day in the office – for me, Darren and the entire SEAT Sport UK team. We’ve got some direction on the car and although the set-up we’ve found is a bit wild and makes the car tricky to drive, we know we have a theory that we’ve now proved makes the car quick. We’ve taken some gambles with set-up in recent weeks and it’s beginning to pay dividends. Now we have to refine that and take some of the nervousness out of the car, because at the moment it’s very snappy at the rear. We’ve scored a lot of points today and I’m now only sixteen points behind Fabrizio in the Drivers’ Championship and we’ve gained ground in the Manufacturers’ and Teams’ tables. Finishing first, second and third is good in anyone’s books and the Leon TDI has been very strong today. Everyone in the team has a smile on their face tonight, and that’s important because even though Darren and I get to spray the champagne, it’s been a huge team effort and a great day for all the lads at SEAT Sport UK.”

Rounds 10, 11 and 12 of the BTCC take place at Thruxton in Hampshire on May 17/18.