The Wiechers Sport team has finally confirmed its commitment to the 2011 World Touring Car Championship season, while also announcing that little-known Swiss driver Urs Sonderegger will join the team as the replacement for Mehdi Bennani, who has moved on to the rival Proteam BMW outfit.
The team has secured the use of a turbocharged 1.6-litre BMW 320TC for the 46-year-old, who has been confirmed for Rounds 2 (Zolder) to 8 (Oschersleben) of the championship season. The outfit will therefore miss the season-opening round at Brazil in order to test its newly-arrived car and to help Sonderegger acclimatise.
The team will confirm who will drive its car at Valencia, Suzuka, Guangdong and Macau in due course.
“I’m very happy to have progressed to the WTCC, in which I will have to face the opposition of the best drivers in the world. As a rookie I will try to learn as quickly as possible and I’m sure that Wiechers Sport will give me the necessary support to be able to compete at the same level as the other WTCC drivers,” Sonderegger is quoted as saying.
In fairness to Sonderegger, his results in the feeder touring car series – most recently, four seasons in various European SEAT León Eurocup championships – have not exactly been stellar, and he has failed to finish in the points in any of his outings over the last two seasons in the SEAT León Eurocup Championship (pictured).
But the Wiechers team management is confident that their rookie signing has what it takes to mix it with the best.
“"We can’t wait for the 2011 season to begin,” said Wiechers Sport boss Dominik Greiner. “Sonderegger is very motivated and will be a reinforcement for the whole team. He will drive with us for seven races and he sees this season as a chance to learn by confronting the best touring car drivers.”
[Original image via Flickr]