The full season entry list for the 2010 FIA World Touring Car Championship that will start on March 7th at Curitiba, Brazil, was released today.
Twenty competitors are listed: drivers coming from fifteen countries at the wheel of cars built from three different manufacturers.
KSO’s reaction was of satisfaction, considering the difficult moment for motorsport in general and the fact that race-by-race entries are expected to expand the field during the season representing additional brands.
Marcello Lotti, General Manager of KSO, commented: "We are proud that we managed to maintain a high quality field in this challenging economic environment. Most of our regular drivers and teams are still with us, which guarantees continuity in the growth of the championship’s popularity. We are grateful to BMW and Chevrolet who renewed their trust in the championship confirming their factory programmes. And we also thank SEAT because, although no longer competing with an official team, the brand made a big effort to guarantee a strong representation of customers teams that will be provided by SEAT Sport with the necessary technical support ."
Speaking about new entries Lotti said: "It is very rewarding for us to see young drivers and teams joining the championship. The new entries from bamboo-engineering and Zengö-Dension Team, the arrival of promising youngsters like Michelisz and Vaulkhard and the full commitment of drivers coming from new regions – Bennani from Morocco and O’Young from China – are testament to the WTCC’s worldwide reputation."
About the missing entry from the LADA Sport team, Lotti explained: "We were surprised and disappointed, because in 2009 they undertook a commitment for a three-year programme. This is now a matter for the FIA to deal with."
Twenty full season competitors entered in the 2010 FIA WTCC
SR-SPORT TO FIELD A FOUR-ACE TEAM
The newly established SR-Sport, emanation of SUNRED Engineering Development, will field a very strong four-car team in the 2010 FIA WTCC.
Thanks to their strong ties with SEAT Sport, the Spanish outfit managed to put together a quartet of SEAT León TDI machines that will be entrusted to the capable hands of former SEAT Sport drivers: the reigning World Champion Gabriele Tarquini, the 2009 Independents‘ Trophy winner Tom Coronel, Tiago Monteiro and Jordi Gené.
Team principal Joán Orus said: "I am really enthusiastic to race the SEAT TDI cars, because I think we will be able to fight for the WTCC title with the new team SR-Sport and four great drivers. We will also run Michel Nykjær’s cars under the SUNRED banner and altogether this is a great opportunity to show our potential and future possibilities. I want to say thank you to SEAT Sport’s customer department for their support and to all drivers for placing confidence in our team."
SR-Sport will field four SEAT León TDI cars for Tarquini, Coronel, Monteiro and Gené
TARQUINI EAGER TO DEFEND WORLD TITLE
After becoming the oldest World Champion in motorsport history,, at the age of 47 in 2009, Gabriele Tarquini returns to defend his FIA WTCC crown with a SEAT León TDI run by SR-Sport.
"I am really pleased that I was given the opportunity to stay in the championship. I had received offers for other series, but my ambition was to defend the title. This is the first time in my career that I can sport the number one of the world champion and I did not want to miss it," Tarquini commented and then added: "The SUNRED people are competent, motivated and ready to make a step forward. The León TDI was the winning car last year and I think it can be still competitive. Obviously we won’t have the same technical and financial means we had with SEAT Sport, but in spite of this I believe we have the potential to win some rounds and, with a bit of luck, to fight for the title again."
MONTEIRO: I’M HAPPY TO STAY IN WTCC
For the fourth consecutive year, Tiago Monteiro will take part in the FIA WTCC with a SEAT car under the banner of the new SR-Sport team.
In the past three years, Monteiro has established himself as one of the top men in the championship, giving significant contribution to SEAT Sport’s successes.
"I am really happy to be able to compete in the WTCC again. Apart from Formula One, the WTCC is the championship with the greatest level of competition. I have learnt a lot over the past few years and it is essential that my career continues in the WTCC. I will give my all to secure the best results and to improve as a driver, and as a team, at each round of the season. This is the only mentality I will be working with at each race," he said.
ENGSTLER AND ROMANOV TOGETHER AGAIN
Team principal Franz Engstler and Russian driver Andrei Romanov will be team-mates again in the 2010 FIA WTCC, as they were two years ago.
The Liqui Moly Team Engstler face their third season in the FIA World Touring Car Championship and again will field two BMW 320si cars, with plans to expand to a third one for Macanese driver Hery Ho during the season.
Engstler has been rejoined by Romanov, who makes a comeback to the team after racing for them in 2008 and spending last year claiming three race victories in the German ADAC Procar series at the wheel of a Chevrolet Lacetti.
"Andrei has always had ambitions, now we can benefit from his 2008 experience and go together as a strong team into the championship," said Franz Engstler who last year finished third in the WTCC Independents‘ Trophy and second in the FIA European Touring Car Cup.
SERGIO HERNÁNDEZ RETURNS TO PROTEAM
Spanish driver Sergio Hernández will join Stefano D’Aste at Proteam Motorsport for the new season.
Hernández who spent the 2009 as factory driver at BMW Team Italy-Spain and claimed his first WTCC victory at Brno, returns to the Italian outfit for which he raced in 2007 and 2008.
During his second year with the team, Hernández managed to win the Yokohama Independents‘ Trophy and together with D’Aste helped Proteam to win the Teams‘ Trophy.