The three-time World Touring Car Champion, Andy Priaulx, believes the championship will still see several SEAT Leon turbo diesels competing in the 2010 season, despite the recent announcement by the Spanish manufacturer that it was quitting the series.
In spite of this, Priaulx says he still expects to see several Leon TDIs line up for the opening round at Curitiba, Brazil on 7 March, and that he fully expects WTCC defending champion and former F1 driver Gabriele Tarquini to be driving in one of these cars.
"I hear that Tarquini might be coming back with a SEAT diesel," Priaulx said in an on-stage interview at the AUTOSPORT International festival. "That would be a semi-works effort with the same diesel engine and it’s going to be the same [as 2009] again."
While sorry at SEAT’s departure, Priaulx also conceded that its withdrawal would provide a more balanced playing field in the series, which will undergo a substantial regulations change in time for the 2011 season.
"It is a shame to lose a manufacturer, but unfortunately, the way the championship has been in the last two or three years with diesel power against petrol, it has caused a lot of problems," he said.
BMW – for whom Priaulx competes – haven’t been immune either from the worldwide slow-down in motorsport spending, and have scaled back their 2010 season works campaign from four cars to just two.