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BMW confirmed this week that they are planning to enter the German DTM series in 2012. The manufacturer has yet to announce its future in the World Touring Car Championship. If BMW were to withdraw as a factory team, it could pose a threat to the series. I feel though that the WTCC could have a future away from full-manufacturer teams. It could take a leaf from the new FIA GT1 series, which has a format of 6 manufacturers and 12 privateer teams with two cars each.

This is how I reckon the WTCC grid could look if it adopted GT1's team format:

SEAT Leon
Sunred SEAT / Zengo Dension SEAT
Sunred would take keep regular Tom Coronel alongside champion Gabriele Tarquini. Jordi Gene would be the SEAT factory-supported driver alongside Hungarian youngster Norbert Michelisz at Zengo.

BMW 320si
BMW Team RBM / BMW Team Proteam
RBM would keep its BMW-supported lineup of Andy Priaulx and Augusto Farfus, while Proteam would keep its double indie trophy winning lineup of Sergio Hernandez and Stefano D'Aste. RBM would probably go across to the DTM with BMW in 2012, so Engstler Motorsport would step into fill the gap.

Chevrolet Cruze
RML Chevrolet / Bamboo Chevrolet
Chevrolet would be represented by its two current full-time teams. Car builders RML would keep Yvan Muller and Rob Huff, while Chevrolet would support Alain Menu in a move across to partner Harry Vaulkhard at Bamboo, making up for the loss of any backing from current driver Darryl O'Young.

Honda Accord
Hartmann Honda / JAS Motorsport Honda
Hartmann would step up after success with Accord in Denmark and ETC, with regular Tomas Engstrom joined by Dane Michel Nykjaer. JAS have built and run the Accord since 2004, and possible drivers include former JAS-men Roberto Colciago and Alessandro Balzan.

Lada Priora
Russian Bears Lada Sport / Colak Lada Sport
The Russian Bears return to the WTCC as a private team with Jaap van Lagen and Kirill Ladygin, while Colak become a two-car team with Marin Colak joined by Timur Sardredinov.

Volvo C30
Volvo Polestar Racing / Volvo Dealer Team UK Cleland
The Polestar team will bring Tommy Rustad and Robert Dahlgren across from Sweden where the team has been highly successful. Volvo Dealer John Cleland has long been linked with running a Volvo racing team, and would sign fellow ex-BTCC champs Rickard Rydell and James Thompson.

All of this is a product of my imagination and I have not heard of any such plans for the future of the World Touring Car Championship.
 
 
Picture
After SEAT's withdrawal, it's time for BMW and Chevrolet to lead the way.
The 2010 World Touring Car Championship gets underway at Curitiba on 7 March. Here is a team-by-team preview.

SR-Sport
SEAT Sport has withdrawn, leaving Sunred to run a team of diesel Leons for champion Gabriele Tarquini, Tiago Monteiro, Jordi Gene and Independents Trophy champion Tom Coronel. Expect race wins for Tarquini and Coronel, with Tarquini able to challenge for the title. Monteiro and Gene will be regular point scorers and should challenge for podium finishes.

Zengo-Dension Team
Hungarian Leon Eurocup squad steps up to the big time running a diesel Leon for promising Eurocup champion Norbert Michelisz. He should challenge for the Independents Trophy and will score some regular overall points.

Chevrolet
Introduced the Cruze model last year, and after a year of development will be looking to win the title, particularly after the witdrawal of SEAT. Yvan Muller has replaced Nicola Larini, and is partnered by Rob Huff and Alain Menu. Muller and Huff start the season amongst the favourites, while Menu will take race wins.

BMW Team RBM
BMW have reduced their squad to one two-car team, with Racing Bart Mampaey responsible for the two cars. Andy Priaulx stays on and is joined by Augusto Farfus who moves across from Schnitzer. With the SEAT threat reduced, Priaulx will be looking to be amongst those challenging for the title, while for Farfus it will be his best chance to take the title, and will be looking to banish the disappointment of last year.

Liqui Moly Team Engstler
Franz Engstler
returns for another season, and has brought Andrei Romanov back to the team after a year out. Engstler will be looking to win the Independent's Trophy this year after some bad luck in 2009, and use reverse grids to challenge for overall podiums. Romanov must improve from a fairly poor 2008 season.

SUNRED Engineering
Sunred will run two diesel Leons for Danish and  ex-European champion Michel Nykjaer and Swiss driver Fredy Barth. Expect Nykjaer to challenge for the Independents Trophy and be on the pace with the cars run under the SR-Sport banner, although he will need to learn the tracks. Barth will be further to the back of the field.

bamboo-engineering
British Touring Car team moves to the world stage, taking its Chevrolet Lacettis and young driver Harry Vaulkhard with them. He will be partnered by Hong Kong Porsche driver Darryl O'Young. Vaulkhard showed promise in the European Touring Car Cup in 2009, but it will be a steep learning curve for both.

Wiechers-Sport
Wiechers have signed Moroccan Mehdi Bennani, probably the discovery of 2009 after making his debut at his home race for Exagon. He will need to adapt to the rear-wheel drive BMW 320si from the SEAT Leon, but will challenge the Independent establishment.

Colak Racing
Croatian Marin Colak impressed in his debut season last year, starting second on the grid in Germany. He is the only Leon driver with a petrol engine, putting him at a disadvantage against drivers like Barth. Will be looking for Independent podiums where possible.

Poulsen Motorsport
Kristian Poulsen
has split from Team Engstler for this year and will go it alone. He disappointed in 2009, his results not on the same standard as Engstler. He is still new to touring cars though, having moved from rallying in 2007. He will be looking for the occasional overall point, thanks to the new points system where points will be scored for a top 10 finish.

Scuderia Proteam Motorsport
Proteam brings back the line-up it had in 2008, with Stefano D'Aste being paired with Sergio Hernandez, back from a year with BMW Team Italy-Spain. Both will be looking to regain the Independents Trophy that they won in 2007 and 2008 respectively.

Predicted Order
1. Rob Huff
2. Augusto Farfus
3. Yvan Muller
4. Andy Priaulx
5. Gabriele Tarquini
6. Tom Coronel
7. Alain Menu
8. Jordi Gene
9. Tiago Monteiro
10. Sergio Hernandez
11. Michel Nykjaer
12. Stefano D'Aste
13. Franz Engstler
14. Norbert Michelisz
15. Mehdi Bennani
16. Harry Vaulkhard
17. Marin Colak
18. Darryl O'Young
19. Fredy Barth
20. Andrei Romanov
21. Kristian Poulsen

Calendar
1. Race of Brazil - Curitba - March 7
2. Race of Mexico - Puebla - April 11
3. Race of Morocco - Marrakech - May 2
4. Race of Italy - Monza - May 23
5. Race of Belgium - Zolder - June 20
6. Race of Portugal - Algarve - July 4
7. Race of UK - Brands Hatch - July 18
8. Race of the Czech Republic - Brno - August 1
9. Race of Germany - Oschersleben - September 5
10. Race of Spain - Valencia - September 19
11. Race of Japan - Okayama - October 31
12. Race of Macau - Macau - November 21

Who do you think will win the WTCC in 2010? Tell me by leaving a comment below. Recieve WTCC news by following @Frontofthegrid on Twitter.

Photo Credit: Baptiste
 
 
British Touring Car team Bamboo Engineering look set to enter the World Touring Car Championship in 2010.

Their website carries the message 'Our new World Touring Car Championship website is currently being built'.

The team was only formed during the summer break of the 2009 BTCC season after a fall-out inside the Tempus Sport team. Most of the Tempus team including its driver Harry Vaulkhard moved to form Bamboo to run their Chevrolet Lacetti for the rest of the season.

The team took two cars to the European Touring Car Cup at Braga, with Vaulkhard impressing. The team were set to run two cars in the BTCC this year, but now look set to join the WTCC.

Reports suggest that Vaulkhard will be joined in the team by Canadian-born Hong Kong driver Darryl O'Young, who has experience in the Porsche Supercup and the FIA GT Championship.

Bamboo will become the first independent team to run Chevrolet Lacettis full-time in the WTCC. Currently, only eight drivers are confirmed to drive at the opening round at Curitiba, Brazil in five weeks time. BMW have reduced their program to leave RBM running Andy Priaulx and Augusto Farfus. Chevrolet have signed Yvan Muller to join Rob Huff and Alain Menu in their team. Stefano D'Aste has rejoined Proteam, while Mehdi Bennani has replaced him at Wiechers. Sunred have signed Michel Nykjaer, while reports suggest he will be joined by Tom Coronel, with reigning champion Gabriele Tarquini and Russian Timur Sardredinov in another Sunred-run team. BTCC champion Colin Turkington has reportedly received offers from Proteam and Wiechers.

Follow us on twitter @Frontofthegrid to keep up to date with WTCC news.
 
 
Chevrolet are working on running five cars in the 2010 World Touring Car Championship. The team have fielded three cars for Rob Huff, Alain Menu and Nicola Larini each year since 2005, but are looking to expand next year to improve their chances in the manufacturers' championship.

Whether RML, who run the cars, would be able to run all five cars alongside a possible BTCC programme (as we revealed last week) is a major doubt. Rival team SEAT currently get ORECA to run two of their five cars, although recently announced they will split at the end of the season, sparking speculation that SEAT will drop to three cars for 2010. BMW could also drop to three cars, likely to be run by Schnitzer and driven by Andy Priaulx (whose car is currently run by RBM), Jorg Muller and Augusto Farfus.

If RML do not run all five cars, then there are several options Chevrolet could use for running the extra two cars. Perfection Racing, who successfully run Chevrolet's in Denmark under the Chevrolet Motorsport Denmark banner, are the favourites. They will leave the Danish series at the end of the year due to a lack of harmony with the rules, and are evaluating a move to the WTCC, which would be ironic given the fact that SEAT and BMW are unhappy with the regulations in the WTCC.
Perfection would bring with them double European and Danish champion Michel Nykjaer. Huff and Menu are likely to stay on, while Yvan Muller could leave SEAT to join Chevrolet, while Fabrizio Giovanardi is without a drive following the BTCC withdrawl of Chevrolet's fellow GM-marque Vauxhall, and could be brought in, in favour of fellow Italian Nicola Larini.

Another possibility for the supprt deal could be Indie squad Wiechers-Sport, who have just announced a partnership with Chevrolet and ADAC to build cars for a German one-make series based on the Cruze model.

It is predicted that SEAT will hold onto the services of Tarquini, Gene and Monteiro, but a Chevrolet move for Rydell would be unlikely after he stole a victory from his teammates on a special guest appearance for the team at Anderstorp in 2007.

LADA are showing speed in the hands of James Thompson, and while Kirill Ladygin will be kept on to appeal to the Russian market, a quicker driver than Jaap van Lagen could well be found.

What do you think will happen in the WTCC for 2010? Leave your comments belw