Proteam have announced their driver lineup for the 2011 World Touring Car Championship, which will be made up of series newcomer Javier Villa and Moroccan Mehdi Bennani, who makes the switch from rival independent BMW team Wiechers-Sport.
The pair will be joined at the start of the season by Italian Fabio Fabiani, who has made selected appearances for the team in previous seasons.
“We will start the season with two 320 TC cars powered by the new 1.6-litre turbo engine [for Villa and Bennani] and one 2.0-litre normally aspirated 320si for Fabiani,” explained team principal Valmiro Presenzini. He added: “We are currently racing against time to finish the two new cars that will be air-freighted to Brazil.”
Spaniard Villa raced in the GP2 Series for four years between 2006 and 2009, scoring three wins in the 2007 season. Forced to look for options away from single-seaters for 2010, he raced in the Spanish Mini Challenge.
“I feel extremely motivated while opening a new chapter of my sporting career,” said 23-year-old Villa. “My goal is to build experience and fight for the Yokohama Trophy, but also to show off with the factory teams that are involved in the championship.”
By joining Proteam for his maiden WTCC season, he will be driving for a team that has successfully worked with two fellow Spanish ex-GP2 drivers. Sergio Hernandez won the Independents' Trophy for the team in 2008 and 2010, while Felix Porteiro was runner-up in 2009.
Bennani raced in his first full WTCC season with Wiechers-Sport in 2010, finishing fifth in the Independents' Trophy. He will be hoping that switching to Proteam will help him to gain better results.
“The fact that I’m joining Proteam means that I must claim good results,” said Bennani. “I am confident, because all the ingredients are there. The team is very professional, I know most of the tracks and Proteam’s BMW is among the best cars in the field.”