The Liqui Moly Team Engstler outfit looks set to confirm its departure from the FIA World Touring Car Championship at the end of the current season.
The German privateer outfit has been part of the WTCC for the past eight seasons, with its peak achievement coming this year when it romped to the Yokohama Trophy title for TC2T specification (older Super 2000) cars this year at the hands of team owner/driver Franz Engstler in his BMW 320TC.
With the WTCC set to move to a TC1-only rulebook next year, it would spell the end of the German driver and his cars, unless he is able to secure a deal with one of the existing TC1 manufacturers to continue in the championship.
“I think for us it will be impossible to stay in the World Touring Car Championship,” Engstler said after last weekend’s Race of Japan event, where he won Race 1 before notching up his first retirement of the season in Race 2.
“You need a contact with a manufacturer, else you cannot stay in the series. We are looking at our possibilities, one of which is the new TC3 series, which we believe is a great platform.
“We are very close to announcing everything – in Macau we will know best – but at the moment it looks impossible to stay in the championship, which is sad after eight fantastic years, but this is what the situation is like and we have to accept it.”
Even if he switched to the new TC3 series, Engstler would have to end his long-running relationship with BMW, as the start-up championship’s rules are designed for smaller capacity production cars.
“We have been with BMW for more than 25 years, but it really depends on them if we will be able to continue with them. At the moment we are in touch with several manufacturers, unfortunately I can’t see us continuing with the Bavarian constructor at the moment, so I believe we will have a completely different car next year,” he added.
Engstler has been a stalwart of the WTCC, and created history by becoming the first Independent team to claim an outright race win – with Engstler himself being the oldest driver ever across any FIA-sanctioned championship – when he claimed victory at his home race at Oschersleben in 2011.
Image via FIA WTCC Media
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