Reigning championship-winning team RML will remain on the FIA World Touring Car Championship grid for the 2013 season.
The team is scaling back to an independent two-car operation this year, with Yvan Muller and Tom Chilton signed to drive the outfit’s Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T challengers.
Having spent the past eight years fronting Chevrolet’s works-supported programme in the WTCC – which included winning the last three Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ Championship titles – the team will operate as an independent outfit following the US carmaker’s withdrawal of its works support from the series.
It is widely tipped that the 2013 season will serve as a holding pattern of sorts for the team while it awaits the arrival of a new works programme – believed to be with Renault – in 2014.
France’s Yvan Muller, 43, will remain on board with the team for a fifth season, having won two of his three Drivers’ Championship titles with the team in 2010 and 2011.
“I’m very fired-up for the new season and highly motivated to challenge for the title again,” he said in the team’s media release.
“I have been with RML for four years and I am very happy to continue our long association. I have the highest respect for the team and a lot of faith in their ability to prepare and race a winning car.”
The team’s new signing is former Arena Motorsport driver Tom Chilton – brother of Marussia F1 debutante Max – who will enjoy his sophomore season in the championship alongside arguably one of the greatest supertouring car drivers in history.
“RML is a top team and I really can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the Cruze. I know there is a lot to learn quickly, but I believe I am with one of the best teams to teach me,” the 27-year-old said.
While the team will be operating as an independent outfit for the upcoming season, Muller is not expected to be granted the right to contest in the Yokohama Independent Trophy Championship for non-works drivers. This will follow the precedent adhered to be fellow ex-works drivers Tom Coronel, Gabriele Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro, who have also had experience in manufacturer-backed outfits.
The announcement means that RML’s third driver, Alain Menu, is still on the WTCC driver market. The Frenchman is expected to announce his motorsport plans at this week’s Geneva Motor Show.
Muller and Menu’s former team-mate and reigning WTCC title-holder Rob Huff was confirmed as part of the new Münnich Motorsport team’s line-up for the upcoming season.