The SEAT Cupra Championship is a one make series which runs as a support package to the British Touring Car Championship. The championship began in 2003 and joined the TOCA support tour a year later in 2004. The series will not continue for 2009, due to SEAT UK ending its racing activities. This announcement was made with just one 2008 round left, leaving many drivers at a loose end and with large amounts of useless equipment - undoubtedly causing many to be unable to race at all in 2009.
Originally the prize for winning the championship was a drive for the Seat works team in the BTCC. From 2005 and onwards this changed to a £100,000 cheque. All races are shown live on Setanta sports and ITV4 as part of their all day coverage of the BTCC. The present format is 20 races in total, with 2 races at each of the 10 meetings throughout the year.
Throughout the championship's six years, 78 drivers competed. It established itself as one of the main routes into topline Touring Car racing, and drivers went on to do well in either the BTCC or World Touring Car Championship. Past contenders such as Rob Huff, Mat Jackson, James Pickford, Emmet O'Brien and Gordon Shedden mean that tin top fans keep a close eye on these cars and drivers for the next big racing talent.
Cars driven are the Seat Leon Cupra. Engine sizes moved from a 1.8 L (first generation Cupra R) to the second generation Leon with a 2.0 L engine in 2007. The engines use an inline four cylinder layout and are paired with a six speed gearbox. Prices for new entrants are £40,000 plus VAT directly from Seat. Seat estimate the total budget for running a car to be between £60,000 and £100,000.
A late surge in the standings saw Oli Wilkinson finish second, just 5 points off Pickford with 146. Tom Boardman was third with 133 points, Gordon Shedden fourth with 123 and Gavin Smith fifth with 98 points.
This was Tom Boardman's year, as he made a good start to the season winning both opening rounds at Donington, and going on to get 7 race wins in total for the year. Mat Jackson got a total of 8 wins including some superb performances at Snetterton and Knockhill. In the end he was always playing catch up to the more consistent finishing of Boardman, who won overall on 260 points. Jackson finished in second on 245 points. third was Tom Ferrier on 219 points, fourth was Carl Breeze on 191 points and fifth was Alan Blencowe who finished on 116.
With a lot of new faces for 2006, the nearest any one got to Mat's total of 273 points was Alan Blencowe with 225. Following them in the final points standing were new boys, Jonathan Adam in third with 218 points, Fulvio Mussi in fourth with 169 points and Ben Winrow in fifth with 166 points. Jackson used his £100,000 prize to buy the WTCC winning car used by Andy Priaulx to enter his own Jackson Motorsport team as an independent in the BTCC for 2007.
The championship was dominated by Scottish driver Jonathan Adam, who won winning 9 of the 20 races. An exciting first race of the year saw a win for Carl Breeze with Adam right behind him at the line. A good start to race 2 and a very comfortable victory for Adam followed. His impressive driving continued, winning 4 out of the next 6 at Rockingham, Thruxton and Croft.
One of the more interesting meetings were rounds 11 and 12 at Donington, where the drivers were greeted with terrible weather conditions. Victims included Carl Breeze and Oli Wilkinson. The race was red flagged and restarted, but by round 12 we had a very depleted grid of 14 cars. Champion Adam ended the season with a huge total of 302 points. Fulvio Mussi was half a point ahead of third placed Carl Breeze with 204.5 and 204 respectively. Behind them were Neil Waterworth fourth with 177.5 points and Daniel Welch ending the season strong to finish fifth with 153.5 points.
The Leon Cupra R class was won by Harry Vaulkhard with 267 points. Ian Churchill was second on 263 points ahead of older brother Adrian on 248.5 points. Freddy Nordstrom was fourth with 222 points and Mike Doble fifth with 171.5 points.