The World Touring Car Championship will have a reduced grid of factory cars in 2011 with BMW and SEAT set to announce downsized programs next week.
BMW is expected to cut its works effort from five cars to two. Roberto Ravaglia's ROAL Motorsport team is expected to quit the series following Alex Zanardi's announcement that he is to leave the WTCC.
Schnitzer Motorsport will remain a factory BMW team in 2010, but is rumored to be leaving the WTCC to focus on the VLN endurance series at the Nurburgring Nordschleife with the GT2 M3. That would leave the RBM team to run two WTCC cars, most likely for Andy Priaulx and Augusto Farfus.
The German manufacturer has been openly critical of the series' performance-balancing regulations this season and admitted in March this year that it was considering quitting.
BMW Motorsport boss Mario Theissen would only say that, "A decision on next year's program will be made on Dec. 5."
SEAT, meanwhile, is believed to be on the verge of withdrawing from the WTCC entirely. It has already confirmed that it will reduce its effort next year, as French team ORECA – which took Yvan Muller to the 2008 title – will not be retained for 2010.
The Spanish manufacturer is expected to announce its future next week, but WTCC boss Marcello Lotti believes SEAT will keep a two-car works team.
"For sure BMW and SEAT are reducing their programs, but we will still have four manufacturers," Lotti said in this week's Autosport magazine. Chevrolet will return with at least three cars and Lada will also run three Prioras again next year.
Lotti is confident that more manufacturers will be attracted by the next generation of regulations, beginning in 2011. "I am working hard to have two new manufacturers when our new rules arrive in 2011," he added. "I'm sure we will have more than four."