Peter Wyhinny, the managing director of Seat, has raced a diesel-powered van for five full seasons in the Volkswagen Racing Cup series. Facing fierce competition from GTIs and Corrados, he took three podium finishes in 2008 -- again, in a diesel van.

For the 2009 season, Wyhinny is aiming "to be a real thorn in the sides of the cars and may even be looking for our first win." In 2008, he took a career best 13th place finish overall in a field of 29 participants.

The VW Racing Cup allows just about every model in the VW lineup to participate. The only stipulation requires entered vehicles to have either competed in the championship in the past two years or be less than ten years old. This results in a wide variety of vehicles (the website boasts Beetles, Corrados, Golfs, GTIs, and Polos among others) and drivetrains. There's one class for everything to compete in, governed by a power-to-weight ratio regulation.

In Wyhinny's case, the VW Caddy relies on a 2.0L turbodiesel, which produces about 260 hp and 377 ft-lb of torque. It's also equipped with a six-speed gearbox. Through previously seen as a "bit of a joke," Wyhinny's 2008 performance has altered perspectives. "It's fair to say it's now treated as a very serious competitor," he said, but "we still have a smile on our faces "

The first round of the 2009 season kicks off at Oulton Park in Cheshire on April 11.

Source: Volkswagen Racing Cup