It has been announced today that Aurelien Panis will leave Zengo Motorsport, effective imediately. The young Frenchman in his first year of touring car racing, scored a point for the team in Monza and Hungary. He currently sits 14th in the championship, with double the points of his Hungarian team mate Nagy. Panis will continue his racing season in “another series”, with support from Honda France. It can only be imagined that it will be a TCR drive of some description.
The Frenchman’s exit has left a spare seat at Zengo. Enter Zsolt Szabo. The 21 year old Hungarian has been driving a Seat in the European Touring Car Championship for Zengo. Szabo has shown his pace, putting his Leon on pole in Portugal and winning race 2. He currently sits 7th in the ETCC championship. The move will see Zengo return to an all Hungarian driver line up. The team has often favoured driver’s from it’s native land, choosing to develop their talents.
“Zsolt has impressed us with his pace and potential and ability to learn new tracks and adapt to new situations very quickly,” said team principal Zoltan Zengõ. “As a team that takes pride from the work it has done in giving opportunities to young talents and nurturing their careers, we are very pleased to give Zsolt this opportunity in the WTCC and excited to watch him progress. It will be tough but there’s no better way to learn and he’ll be given all the help possible to aid his transition“.
Currently it is unclear as to whether Szabo will be in the car for the remainder of the season. It is likely that the team will share the second Civic between it’s other ETCC and TCR Drivers. Those being Norbert Nagy and Ferenc Ficza. Both have had impressive performances in the ETCC and TCR series respectively. Nagy has seen the ETCC podium 3 times, but is yet to take to the top step. He sits third in the championship, 15 points down. Ficza has seen the podium just once in the opening TCR series race, but has struggled to score points after that. He currently sits 14th on 31 points.
Despite the lack of clarity, the team says the second car won’t be going anywhere. “While we are committed to running a second car alongside Dániel Nagy for the rest of the season, we are considering iving two of our other young drivers, Ferenc Ficza and Norbert Nagy, the chance to do a WTCC race and we’ll make an announcement on this in due course”.
The next round of the WTCC takes place in Argentina on July 16th.