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Chevrolet quits World Touring Cars

A move to footie for Chevrolet leaves Brit outfit RML without manufacturer backing

By NickGibbs / Monday, July 09, 2012

Chevrolet has announced it will pull out of the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) at the end of this year, leaving its British motorsports partner RML without a major manufacturer contract for next season.

This was after Chevrolet left the BTCC in February, saying it wanted to concentrate on its WTCC programme...

It also leaves its three drivers - Rob Huff, Alain Menu and Yvan Muller - searching for work after the season ends.

Talented and experience bunch they are, they might struggle to find work as rewarding and well-funded as the Chevrolet gig. Since entering with the global series in 2005, the brand has scored two constructors' championships with the Cruze and won 59 races. The team is hot favourite to win this year too, with a commanding lead over the BMW and SEAT customer teams.

But after the Macau round in November the fun is over and the brand's track adventures will retreat back to the US. "We will keep our commitment to motorsports in GT, Indycar and NASCAR," Chevrolet racing manager Eric Neve told PistonHeads.

Outside of the US Chevrolet's value-led, Korean-made saloons and hatchback were an odd fit for the track, given the lack of any performance versions.

Korean rival Hyundai steers well clear of motorsports, for example, instead pouring its marketing euros into football. Across Europe, it sells double what Chevrolet does.

Chevrolet is expected to follow Hyundai into the stadiums. This year the GM-owned brand become Manchester United's official car supplier. "Football is certainly an avenue we are going to use," Neve told us.

This leaves Northamptonshire-based RML - Ray Mallock Limited - looking for work. "We're obviously disappointed, we have a long partnership with Chevy and GM, but the business is still in good shape," a spokesman for RML told us.

The team's touring car link with GM goes back to 1992, when it first prepared Vauxhall Cavaliers. RML is still big in Le Mans and recently picked up work cramming a Nissan GT-R under a Juke to create the Juke-R. "It's not the intention to have any layoffs," said the spokesman.

We suggest it works on Nissan some more. RML had great success bring the Primera to BTCC in the late nineties, and a touring car Juke would be entertaining, if nothing else...

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