Reigning Argentinian Super TC 2000 champion Néstor Girolami will replace Rickard Rydell in the NIKA Racing Honda Civic WTCC at the next rounds of the FIA World Touring Car Championship in Slovakia and Portugal.

“I am really, really happy about this opportunity and I can’t wait to get started. I have a lot to learn about the car, the tracks and the championship so I will be taking things step-by-step,” said Girolami.

Girolami was originally slated to take over Proteam Racing’s Honda – which has remained unraced since Dušan Borković’s sudden departure from the team after the second round of the season in Morocco – but that fell through when the Italian privateer outfit confirmed it was withdrawing from the rest of the season.

Girolami, who won last year’s Super TC 2000 Championship with Peugeot, will make his WTCC race debut next weekend, following a successful test session with the factory LADA outfit as it sought to evaluate a replacement for the then-unwell (and subsequently sacked) James Thompson.

Rydell had recently returned to racing at last weekend’s Race of Moscow – finishing just outside the points in both races – following a two-month stay of absence when he was struck down with thyroiditis.

“As good as it was to get back in the car in Russia last weekend, this decision was made before my return and I fully support it,” the Swedish veteran said.

“I have missed three rounds this year and there is very little we can achieve in terms of the championship, so this will have no effect as far as that is concerned. On the contrary, this will benefit us in the longer term as we explore ways for the team to grow.

“I would like to welcome Néstor to the team and there is no doubt that he will do a good job for us. I will be back in France and for the final rounds.”

Image via FIA WTCC Media

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.