TWENTY-FOUR FULL SEASON ENTRIES 24 drivers from 13 countries, representing five different car Manufacturers - BMW, Chevrolet, Honda, LADA and SEAT - have entered the 2008 FIA World Touring Car Championship's full season that will start next week...
TWENTY-FOUR FULL SEASON ENTRIES
24 drivers from 13 countries, representing five different car Manufacturers - BMW, Chevrolet, Honda, LADA and SEAT - have entered the 2008 FIA World Touring Car Championship's full season that will start next week with the WTCC HSBC Race of Brazil at Curitiba.
The latest addition was Russian Bears Motorsport who entered two LADA cars; the Russian team will join the championship from the third meeting in Valencia.
Among the newcomers are the reigning Turkish Touring Car champion Ibrahim Okyay and Andrey Romanov from Russia. Their presence marks the first ever competitors from Turkey and Russia to have committed to the full season of an FIA racing world championship.
The major line-up changes from last year were N.technology team and James Thompson switching from Alfa Romeo to Honda, and Rickard Rydell's return to SEAT Sport.
CURITIBA HOSTS WTCC OPENING ROUND
The start of the 2008 FIA World Touring Car Championship is just a few days away.
The series' fourth season will get underway next week at the Autodromo Internacional de Curitiba, Brazil.
This is the third time the 3.7 km circuit hosts the WTCC. The championship visited Curitiba for the first time in July 2006; a record crowd of 34,000 attended two thrilling races that were won by Jordi Gene (SEAT Leon) - after an exciting fight with local hero Augusto Farfus (Alfa Romeo) - and Andy Priaulx (BMW 320si).
From last year the Brazilian event was moved to March and given the honour to open the season. The BMW men dominated the 2007 edition, with BMW Team Germany fellow drivers Jorg Muller and Augusto Farfus sharing victories.
The attendance of the Brazilian fans was even larger than in 2006, with 45,000 spectators gathering at the track during the weekend.
SEAT PRESENTED WTCC TEAM IN MADRID
Today at Madrid's Zarzuela Hippodrome, SEAT presented their team for the 2008 FIA World Touring Car Championship.
All five SEAT Sport drivers - Jordi Gene, Tiago Monteiro, Yvan Muller, Rickard Rydell and Gabriele Tarquini - attended the event and met representatives from the Spanish and international press.
At the end of the last WTCC season Muller and SEAT were classified second in the Drivers' and Manufacturers' championship respectively.
"We want to have the number one in 2009 and therefore we have to win the title this year. We came close to succeed in 2007, so we know that we can do it and that is our goal," SEAT Sport director Jaime Puig said.
RUSSIAN BEARS TO RACE LADA
Russian Bears Motorsport are entered in the 2008 FIA World Touring Car Championship's full season. The Russian outfit will run two LADA 110 2.0 cars from the third race meeting of the season that will take place in Valencia on May 18th. The procedure to homologate the Russian car with the FIA is currently underway.
The team, who took part in last year's FIA WTCC events at Zandvoort and Valencia with three BMW 320i cars, have already named their drivers, the 43-year old Russian Viktor Shapovalov, who drove for LADA in the Russian Touring Car Championship, and the 31-year old Dutch Jaap van Lagen, champion of the 2006 Eurocup Renault Megane Trophy.
"We are an independent team, however we have received from LADA the bodyshells with the roll-cages, some necessary spare parts and technical support. Furthermore LADA technicians are supporting us with the documents needed for the homologation," team manager Maxim Maksimenko explained.
During the season the team will be based in their Dutch workshop at Franeker and are expected to make their maiden appearance at the WTCC official test session in Valencia, on April 15th and 16th.
LAUNCH OF LIQUI MOLY TEAM ENGSTLER
The Nueschwanstein castle was the charming background to the presentation of the Liqui Moly Team Engstler's FIA WTCC programme last weekend, in Germany.
"It was a conscious choice, because for the whole team the launch of the WTCC programme was a fary tale that became true," team manager Kurt Treml explained.
The team's plans to enter the WTCC were meticulously built, step by step on the technology of the BMW 320si car, the crew's motivation and know-how, the experience and ambitions of the drivers Franz Engstler and Andrey Romanov, and the enthusiastic support of the main sponsor Liqui Moly and the other partners.
"We must be very grateful to them, because without their support this dream could not have been realized," Engstler said.
OKYAY TO COMPETE IN FIA WTCC
For the first time a Turkish team committed to compete in the full season of an FIA World Touring Car Championship. Borusan Otomotiv Motorsport entered one BMW 320si car that will be driven by the reigning Turkish Touring Car champion Ibrahim Okyay.
The 38-year old from Istanbul, who has six national titles under his belt, is not a new face to the FIA WTCC paddock as he took part in the 2006 event at the Istanbulpark, where he classified third in the Independents' Trophy. "We have also planned to line up a second car in some of the WTCC European race meetings," team manager Aydýn Ural revealed.
The Borusan Otomotiv Motorsport team will sport a turquoise livery, which is also known as "Turkish Blue".
EUROSPORT LIVE COVERAGE FROM CURITIBA
Qualifying - LIVE Eurosport International, 19.00/19.45
Warm up - LIVE Eurosport 2, 01.00/01.30
Race 1 - LIVE Eurosport International, 17.00/18.00
Race 2 - LIVE Eurosport International, 20.00/21.00
Times are CET (Central European Time)