ROAL Motorsport has dropped rookie driver Alberto Cerqui from its line-up for the World Touring Car Championship finale at Macau in two weekends’ time. His place in the team’s BMW 320TC will be taken by little-known racer Kei Cozzolino.
Cozzolino, 25, is an Italian citizen who currently races in Japan. He has achieved little in the way of substantial results in recent years, finishing fourth overall in the 2009 Japanese Formula 3 championship and tenth in the 2010 Formula Nippon standings, the last season in which he raced full-time.
Cozzolino has twice competed on Macau’s famous Guia street circuit in the traditional Formula 3 Grand Prix, but he has never driven a touring car.
The decision to replace Cerqui with such an inexperienced driver is very odd. Granted, the former Italian Superstars champion hasn’t perhaps performed at the level many would have hoped in his maiden year of WTCC competition – he has a best finish of fourth at the Slovakiaring in among a host of accidents – but he hasn’t disgraced himself either, generally running close to the pace of his vastly more experienced team-mate Tom Coronel.
Clearly quite a bit of cash is being exchanged to fund Cozzolino’s appearance. One wonders how he will stand a chance of being remotely competitive when making his touring car debut at no less a daunting place than Macau.
The decision to appoint him will also put ROAL’s chances of winning the Yokohama Independent Trophy team’s championship in serious jeopardy. The team lies just 18 points clear of the Lukoil Racing squad in the standings, and with double points on offer this weekend, it could easily be overhauled if Cozzolino is as uncompetitive as we expect him to be.
Here’s hoping he will at least bring enough cash to cover the many bent panels that will undoubtedly ensue…
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