The World Touring Car Championship team SUNRED is holding out hopes that it can retain the services of former champion Gabriele Tarquini and long-time SEAT driver Tiago Monteiro ahead of the 2011 championship season getting underway.
SUNRED now represents SEAT on a non-works basis in the WTCC, following the withdrawal of SEAT’s factory team at the end of the 2009 World Championship season.
Effectively, the outfit fielded six factory cars in 2010, with four – for Tarquini, Monteiro, Tom Coronel and Jordi Gené – running under the SR Sport banner, while a further two ran under the SUNRED banner for Fredy Barth and Michel Nykjær.
Barth and Nykjær have already been re-signed for 2011, while rookie drivers Pepe Oriola and Aleksei Dudukalo have been recruited from the SEAT Eurocup championship to replace the outgoing Coronel (off to ROAL BMW) and Gené (heading up a support category to the WTCC), leaving just Monteiro and Tarquini to be signed…
And despite both being present at the first pre-season test session at the Circuit de Catalunya this week, neither is yet to ink new contracts – and it is believed that Tarquini, in particular, has hesitations about driving for a team for another year without full factory resources.
SUNRED boss Joan Orus has confirmed a six-car effort for 2011 and remains confident that Monteiro and Tarquini will remain on board.
“We will run six cars again,” he told AUTOSPORT. “It will be interesting, with two young drivers like Oriola and Aleksei Dudukalo, two former rookies like Fredy Barth and Michel Nykjær and – hopefully – two experienced guys like Tarquini and Monteiro.”
Orus also confirmed that the outfit will continue with its older-style turbodiesel engines until its 1.6-litre turbocharged engines are ready, admitting the likelihood that his team will stagger the release of the engines as opposed to switching to the new units all at once.
[Original image via FIA WTCC official site]