The World Touring Car Championship today released its full entry list for the 2010 season and series bosses remain confident, despite the loss of several works entries.
The factory SEAT team has been withdrawn, while BMW has scaled back from five to two cars and Lada has also pulled out.
But independent team SUNRED Engineering will run five diesel SEATs, four under the SR Sport name with support from the SEAT factory, while BMW and Chevrolet return with expected title contenders.
"We are proud that we managed to maintain a high-quality field in this challenging economic environment," said series promoter Marcello Lotti. "Most of our regular drivers and teams are still with us, which guarantees continuity in the growth of the championship's popularity.
"We are grateful to BMW and Chevrolet, who renewed their trust in the championship confirming their factory programs. And we also thank SEAT because, although no longer competing with an official team, the brand made a big effort to guarantee a strong representation of customer teams that will be provided by SEAT Sport with the necessary technical support."
There has also been an influx of new teams to the series with Zengo-Dension running a diesel SEAT for Norbert Michelisz and British outfit Bamboo Engineering running two Chevrolet Lacettis.
"It is very rewarding for us to see young drivers and teams joining the championship," added Lotti. "The new entries from Bamboo Engineering and Zengo-Dension Team, the arrival of promising youngsters like Michelisz and [Harry] Vaulkhard, and the full commitment of drivers coming from new regions – [Mehdi] Bennani from Morocco and [Darryl] O'Young from China – are testament to the WTCC's worldwide reputation."
About Lada, Lotti said: "We were surprised and disappointed because in 2009 they undertook a commitment for a three-year program. This is now a matter for the FIA to deal with."
WTCC 2010 entry list
#1 Gabriele Tarquini SR Sport SEAT Leon TDi
#2 Tom Coronel SR Sport SEAT Leon TDi
#3 Tiago Monteiro SR Sport SEAT Leon TDi
#4 Jordi Gene SR Sport SEAT Leon TDi
#5 Norbert Michelisz Zengo-Dension SEAT Leon TDi
#6 Yvan Muller Chevrolet (RML) Chevrolet Cruze
#7 Rob Huff Chevrolet (RML) Chevrolet Cruze
#8 Alain Menu Chevrolet (RML) Chevrolet Cruze
#10 Augusto Farfus BMW (RBM) BMW 320si
#11 Andy Priaulx BMW (RBM) BMW 320si
#15 Franz Engstler Team Engstler BMW 320si
#16 Andrei Romanov Team Engstler BMW 320si
#17 Michel Nykjaer SUNRED SEAT Leon TDi
#19 Harry Vaulkhard Bamboo Chevrolet Lacetti
#20 Darryl O'Young Bamboo Chevrolet Lacetti
#21 Mehdi Bennani Wiechers-Sport BMW 320si
#23 Marin Colak Colak Racing SEAT Leon
#24 Kristian Poulsen Poulsen Motorsport BMW 320si
#25 Sergio Hernandez Proteam Motorsport BMW 320si
#26 Stefano D'Aste Proteam Motorsport BMW 320si