Lada could yet be represented on the 2017 WTCC grid, with team boss Viktor Shapovalov working on a deal for the Vesta TC1 cars to race privately this season.
The team competed as a private entry as Russian Bears Racing in 2008, prior to becoming the Lada factory squad in 2009, but the Russian marque announced its withdrawal from WTCC at the end of last season.
But an agreement between series promoter Eurosport Events and Shapovalov is understood to be in place, allowing the team to return to the grid alongside the factory efforts of Honda and Volvo, as well as private entries from Citroen and Chevrolet teams.
Alan Gow, head of the FIA Touring Car Commission, confirmed that the championship will likely field at least the minimum of 16 cars in the TC1 grid for this season, with Lada’s privateer programme considered.
The championship has added a provision for a secondary class in 2017, dubbed WTCC-2, in a bid to boost grid sizes following the exit of both Citroen and Lada as works teams.
Without financial support from Lada or Russian state-owned oil firm Rosneft, which have moved their focus to running cars in the national Russian Circuit Racing Series, the team’s driver line-up will likely not contain frontrunners Gabriele Tarquini or Nicky Catsburg.
Hugo Valente’s relationship with Lada had soured at the end of last year, and the Frenchman was already set to depart the team.
Neil Hudson / TouringCarTimes