Gabriele Tarquini will continue to race in the FIA World Touring Car Championship in 2011. The 2009 World Champion will remain with the SUNRED Engineering squad with whom he raced last season. Tarquini will be joined by Alexey Dudukalo racing under the Lukoil-SUNRED banner, in reference to the Russian oil company that sponsors Dudukalo.
Tarquini and Dudukalo tested together at the Lleida circuit in Spain last week, taking turns behind the wheel of a SEAT Leon TDI. Dudukalo, 34, will step up to the WTCC in 2011 after racing in the SEAT Leon Eurocup.
“I am very pleased to continue to race in the WTCC, it was my aim during the off-season,” said Tarquini. “I am pleased that a company like Lukoil has signed a contract with me and I am glad to have Alexey Dudkalo as a teammate. Last year I helped Alexey in the SEAT Leon Eurocup and I will now be pleased to help him in the WTCC.”
“I am pleased that I will compete in the WTCC,” said Dudukalo. “For me, this has been a dream for the past few years, for sure. After resolving all corporate matters, we can now say that it has come true. SUNRED has a strong team of outstanding professionals and the best drivers. I'm glad that Yevgeny Malinovsky [Lukoil Racing manager] has selected Joan Orus [SUNRED boss] as a partner of Lukoil Racing Team.
“My teammate will be Gabriele Tarquini, a driver of a very high class. I know Gabriele from last year when he helped me a lot in the SEAT Leon Eurocup. I think that together in the WTCC we will be able to be strong competition to our rivals. As Tarquini has far more experience, it is understandable that he will be faster, but I hope to quickly adapt to a new championship and a new machine.”
“I am pleased to have at my disposal the pairing of Tarquini and Dudukalo,” said team boss Joan Orus. “We will try to combine the experience of Gabriele with the capabilities of Alexey. We learned of this young guy a year ago, he was with us through the SEAT Leon Eurocup. In the most recent tests the team has focussed on how to help Alexei learn a new car, and Gabriele's support was crucial. He dedicated it to some of the secrets that could help Alexei to drive the car quickly and efficiently. Now I'm sure that Dudukalo has all the skills necessary for a successful debut in the WTCC.”