The Polestar Racing outfit has made a shock announcement that former World Touring Car Champion Gabriele Tarquini will join its Swedish Touring Car Championship team for the series’ next two races, paving the way for the Italian to join the group’s WTCC squad alongside Robert Dahlgren for next year.
After a lengthy and successful time in the STCC, Polestar Racing entered the WTCC series full-time this year, with Dahlgren piloting the outfit’s turbocharged C30 ‘Drive’, often running close to the front of the field.
There had been questions that Polestar Racing might abandon its WTCC foray, but the announcement of Tarquini’s signing would almost certainly indicate that the team will expand to a multi-car operation in 2012, with Tarquini on board.
The former F1 driver currently lies fourth in the WTCC Drivers’ Championship standings, having worked wonders in the venerable SEAT Leon, which has steadily slipped from competitiveness against the all-conquering Chevrolet Cruze.
He won the second race at Zolder and also picked up three further podium finishes to-date this season, but he’s equally been the subject of plenty of criticism for some uncharacteristically robust driving against his rivals, and even his team-mates.
Tarquini will replace former WTCC race-winner James Thompson, who split with the team last weekend and is headed to unknown pastures; he will partner Tommy Rustad at the next two rounds at Karlskoga and Jyllandsringen in the squad’s normally-aspirated C30.
“Tarquini will drive the two races at Karlskoga and Jyllandsringen, the two worst tracks for front wheel drive cars on the calendar and where a top-five result is an achievement. On the other hand, these extreme circumstances are ideal to test how quick and well Tarquini and Volvo Polestar can align as a team, which is of obvious interest as our motorsport program may evolve,” Derek Crabb, Executive Director for Motorsport at Volvo Cars, said.
“I have raced most types of racing cars and for several different brands in many different international and national championships, but both Volvo and the STCC will be two firsts for me. I am very excited,” Tarquini added.
[Image via FIA WTCC Media]