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Austrian problems for STR

Special Tuning Racing signed off the first half of the 2012 FIA World Touring Car Championship with a disappointing weekend in Austria.

The trip to the Salzburgring marked the final appearance for the turbo diesel engine as Tom Boardman will swap to the new SEAT Sport 1.6litre turbocharged engine from Portimao onwards.

With the Salzburgring consisting of two long straights, the layout showed up the weaknesses of the turbo diesel power plant compared to the new 1.6litre turbocharged engine and Boardman knew he was in for a tough weekend.

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Neither Boardman or team-mate Darryl O’Young could help each other with a slipstream either – Boardman lacked the outright pace to help O’Young while the Hong Kong racer couldn’t help his British team-mate as his petrol powered SEAT Leon was too quick for the diesel powered car.

Heading into qualifying, Boardman knew he was going to struggle and he finished the session after three laps and setting a 1m30.057s which left him 20th on the grid for both the weekend’s races.

Boardman fought valiantly in the opening race of the weekend but was unable to challenge and he couldn’t get his fastest lap below the 1m30 barrier and as the race drew towards its conclusion, he was forced to retire with transmission issues.

The transmission failure couldn’t be fixed between the two races and so Boardman was forced to miss round twelve, and the final ever race for a turbo diesel in the WTCC ended in retirement.

“It’s been a frustrating first half of the season,” explained Boardman, who is currently 19th in the outright drivers’ Championship standings and 12th in the Yokohama Independents’.

“Knowing that my car has been significantly slower than the rest has made it a tough time for me. This has been accentuated by the faster circuits of Marrakesh, the Hungaroring and the Salzburgring. However, now is the time to look forward and in my mind it’s the start of a new season for me. I can see the potential the SEAT has, and if I can get some solid finishes under my belt going forward I can quickly move up in the Yokohoma Trophy.”

Team-mate Darryl O’Young also saw his weekend end prematurely after an accident in round eleven meant that the #20 SEAT Leon driver ended with a swollen ankle.

Qualifying had seen O’Young secure a top twelve start but missed out on the race two pole position by 0.3s.

O’Young survived the tight first chicane on the opening lap and later in the race, his weekend was over. He had contact with the Wiechers-Sport BMW 320TC of Stefano D’Aste, which sent him across the gravel.

Having survived the gravel trap, O’Young saw his race finished in the gravel after contact with another BMW 320TC, this time Charles Kaki Ng in the Liqui Moly Team Engstler.

The incident ruled O’Young out of the second race of the weekend as his car was too badly damaged to be repaired and he ended up with a visit to the circuit’s medical centre due to a swollen ankle.

The Austrian disappointments have dented his hopes of closing the gap to the leaders in the Yokohama Independents’ point’s battle. O’Young is currently eighth in class with 24 points while in the outright drivers’ Championship; the Hong Kong racer is 17th on 11 points.

Next up for the Special Tuning Racing team is a trip to Portugal and Portimao over the 2nd/3rd June, and the final round of the 2012 World Touring Car Championship in Europe. O’Young is in action this weekend in the FIA GT1 Championship, at the Navarra circuit in Spain.

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