At the spiritual home of Italian motorsport - Monza race track near Milan - Alfa Romeo has just launched its bid to win the inaugural 2005 World Touring Car Championship.
The World Touring Car Championship takes over from the highly successful European Touring Car Championship, which has provided some of the most exciting motorsport in the world over the last eight years, and lifts touring car racing up to the same level as the World Formula One Championship and the World Rally Championship.
Alfa Romeo, with the 156, has in recent years been a dominant force in the ETCC, competing alongside teams from BMW, Ford, Peugeot, SEAT and Honda. With 17 teams and 32 drivers listed for the new world series, this year’s new championship adds teams from Chevrolet and - yet to be confirmed - Chinese car maker Brilliance.
Alfa Romeo will run four cars in the 2005 WTCC for Gabriele Tarquini (European champion 2003), Fabrizio Giovanardi (European champion 2001 and 2002), Brazilian Augusto Farfus, and Englishman James Thompson.
The first WTCC round is at Monza on 10 April. The Championship continues in France at Magny Cours (1 May), in England at Silverstone (15 May), then back to Italy and Imola (29 May). The first excursion outside Europe will be on 26 June on a new track at Puebla, in Mexico, before the circus returns to Europe to tackle Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium, 30 July), Oschersleben (Germany, 28 August), Istanbul (Turkey, 18 September) and Valencia (Spain, 2 October). The season's Grand Final will take place on the city street circuit of Macau, in China, on 20 November.
The first race in the European Alfa Challenge, a one make championship for the Alfa Romeo 147 GTA comprising events of two races each, will also take place on 10 April at Monza. This first event will be followed by races on 1 May at Magny-Cours (France), 29 May at Imola, 30 July at Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium), 28 August at Oschersleben (Germany) and 2 October at Valencia (Spain).Published 26 March 2005