Andy Priaulx expects to see several turbo-diesel SEAT Leons in the World Touring Car Championship next season, despite the Spanish manufacturer's announcement this week that it is quitting the series.
SEAT confirmed long-running speculation that it would withdraw from the WTCC on Wednesday, but Danish driver Michel Nykjaer has already revealed that he will race a customer Leon TDi for SUNRED Engineering.
Priaulx believes that more diesel SEATs will join the grid ahead of the opening race of the season in Brazil on March 7, and says reigning champion Gabriele Tarquini could be aboard one of them.
"I hear that Tarquini might be coming back with a SEAT diesel alongside Tom Coronel," Priaulx said at the AUTOSPORT International show. "That would be a semi-works effort with the same diesel engine and it's going to be the same [as 2009] again."
Priaulx says he is sorry to see the factory SEAT outfit leave the world championship, but insists that the series would benefit from a more balanced playing field which will be introduced through new regulations in 2011.
"It is a shame to lose a manufacturer, but unfortunately, the way the championship has been in the last two or three years with diesel power against petrol, it has caused a lot of problems.
"For me, even to beat my teammate is going to be hard, never mind another 10 to 15 cars. Augusto [Farfus] is one of the fastest touring car drivers around at the moment. I had one of my best ever years in terms of driving performance last year and hopefully that can carry on.
"I've got probably my busiest ever year ahead of me and it will be very tough. My BMW program includes Le Mans and Nurburgring, and there are some other races that haven't been announced yet but look very exciting."