Colin Turkington will return to action in the World Touring Car Championship at Shanghai next weekend behind the wheel of a Chevrolet Cruze run by West Surrey Racing.
He will compete under the banner of Team Aviva-Cofco, the insurance firm having backed his appearances in the Far East in recent seasons.
Since winning the British Touring Car Championship title in 2009, limited funding has largely restricted Turkington to occasional appearances on the world stage. He won at Okayama in 2010, and scored a second and a fourth at Shanghai’s Tianma Circuit last season. Next weekend’s races in the Chinese city will take place at the Formula 1 Grand Prix venue.
Last year he was able to contest a full campaign in the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship, but his WTCC drive will be his first race for 12 months.
Behind the wheel of a Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T from RML, it will be the first time the Northern Irishman has raced a rear-wheel drive car since he campaigned an MG with WSR in the 2006 BTCC.
“It’s great to be back in the WTCC and I’m really excited to be driving at Shanghai’s F1 circuit,” said Turkington. “I haven’t raced since the WTCC event at Tianma last year, so it will probably take a while to get the rust out of the system. It’s also the first time I drive the Chevrolet Cruze. The last time I drove a front wheel drive touring car was for in 2006, so that’s another steep learning curve!”
WSR chief Dick Bennetts added: “We’re really pleased to be back in the WTCC with the support of Aviva. It’s going to be a tough challenge for Colin and the team to learn a new car and a new track, but we’re all looking forward to it. We’ve obtained the car from RML and they have bent over backwards to help us get everything to Shanghai in time, so we can’t thank them enough.”
Simon Machell, Chief Executive of Aviva Higher Growth Markets, commented: “The WTCC Race of China is a prestigious motorsport event that demonstrates Aviva’s strategy of operating a successful business in a competitive environment through focus, strength and performance. We will be inviting over 60 VIPs to Shanghai and look forward to treating them to a unique experience.”
Turkington will be one of a number of additional entries for the Shanghai round. French youngster and SEAT Supercopa champion-elect Hugo Valente will take over the Sunred Leon driven by Hiroki Yoshimoto in Suzuka, while there will also be numerous local entries.
Macau’s Liu Lic Ka will take over the Engstler BMW 320si raced by Masaki Kano in Japan and that will be in the hands of Jo Merszei in Macau. Liu previously competed at his home race in 2009. Hong Kong champion Eric Kwong Hoi Fung will make his WTCC debut in a normally-aspirated Chevrolet Cruze for the Look Fong Racing Team, while Kelvin Leong Ian Veng will drive a Honda Accord Euro R entered by Song Veng Racing Team. China Dragon Racing have entered Chevrolet Lacettis for Filipe Clemente de Souza and Ng Kin Veng ahead of a further appearance in Macau.