Rumours have started circulating that Lada will pull the plug on their WTCC program at the end of this season. After previously commiting to the championship for next seaon, reports say that a shift in the manufactures marketing strategy means that they will focus on Russian Championships instead.
Should the reports be true, it would leave Gabrielle Tarquini, Hugo Valente and Nicky Catsburg without a drive. Catsburg, who has a contract with the team for 2017 says “I have heard the rumours but as yet I have no ‘official’ confirmation from the team.” The news could also force Gabrielle Tarquini into retirement, with the option of a return to Honda out of the question and a seat at Volvo looking unlikely as the Swedish marque looks to bring Robert Dahlgren into the team from its STCC program. Valente may move to the TCR International series, where he was due to be racing this season before Lada offered him a last minute drive for 2016.
A Lada departure would also leave Honda and Volvo as the only manufacture teams in the series, after Citroen announced their departure earlier in the season. While Citroen will still be present on the grid in 2017, the chances of privateer Ladas being run next season seems unlikely. The loss of the three Ladas now means that there could only be 15 cars on the grid next season.
We await an official word from Lada, which we expect will come in the next week.