A raft of new manufacturers are evaluating joining the World Touring Car Championship when new regulations come into force in 2011, according to series boss Marcello Lotti.
The Italian made the statement in the wake of SEAT’s withdrawal from the WTCC in January and amid rumours that Lada could quit the series this year. He insisted that the “product was safe” for the future.
Lotti said that a new 1.6-litre turbo-charged engine formula would “give opportunities for new manufacturers to come in and others to come back”. SEAT is known to be evaluating its Exeo model and, said Lotti, “it’s no secret we’re talking to Subaru”.
Other manufacturers looking at the WTCC include Ford, which is developing a 1.6-litre powerplant for its world rally programme. Lotti is also known to have had meetings with Toyota and Honda’s South American division.
The official reason for SEAT’s withdrawal after winning the WTCC with the Leon TDI in 2008 and ’09 is so that it can focus on customer cars, but it is believed that management changes precipitated the move. Its decision, made before the end of last season, follows a downscaling of BMW’s WTCC assault from five factory cars to two.
Reigning champion Gabriele Tarquini looks set to race a turbodiesel SEAT this year. The Spanish SUNRED Engineering squad, which is based next to SEAT Sport, is understood to be forming a new team to run the Italian with support from factory engineers.