Students revving up for careers in the motor industry with help from donated SEAT

Around 100 students are now in pole position to follow their dreams after honing their skills in diagnostics and electrical work on the Leon TDI handed over by Sunderland-based Pulman SEAT.

The SEAT Leon donated in 2010 has already helped hundreds of students during their studies. Now students at the Skills Academy for Automotive, Engineering, Manufacturing and Logistics at Team Valley are ready to embark on a ‘labour of love’ which will result in the two-year-old car being transformed into a working replica of the race car that powered SEAT to back-to-back World Touring Car Championship Manufacturer titles in 2008 and 2009 and won the drivers’ title for both Gabriele Tarquini and Yvan Muller.

The students also have their sights set on entering the modified version – complete with the WTCC Leon’s eye-catching yellow and green livery - into competitive touring car races with the help of partners from Tornado Motorsport.

Gavin Batie, Curriculum Operations Manager for Automotive at Gateshead College, said: “We want students to work on something that is true to life so to receive this car from Pulman SEAT provides them with an excellent opportunity. It’s been a very valuable learning tool.”

The students will work on the car at the College’s £5.5million purpose built training facility, complete with professional spray booths, rolling road, workshops and driving simulators.

Dean Thorne, 16, and Nathan Hewitt, 17, who both want to pursue careers as race mechanics, are two of the students who will help transform the Leon.

Dean said: “I am looking forward to working on the car and race preparing it. It’s a great learning opportunity.”

And Nathan added: “We have a fantastic chance to work with a great car.”

Natalie Wilson, Marketing Manager at Pulman SEAT, said: “There is a huge pool of talent at the college and we thought if we donated the car it would help them fulfil their potential. The car came from a supply of fully-functional cars which couldn’t be registered for the roads for a variety of reasons.

“We have enjoyed forging strong links with Gateshead College and are looking at ways of building on this in the future.”