Chevrolet Europe will participate in the 2005 FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC). It is the first time in its history that Chevrolet, GM's largest global brand, is entering a full factory team in an official FIA world championship.

The announcement comes less than a week after the news that Chevrolet would begin to market in Western Europe a range of cars built primarily by GM Daewoo Auto & Technology (GM Daewoo) in Korea, a strategy already successfully deployed in North and South America, Asia Pacific, South Africa and, most recently, Central and Eastern Europe.

Three Chevrolet Optras will be developed, built and entered into the 2005 championship series by the renowned British racing team RML (Ray Mallock Limited).

"We are excited to be launching GM's first FIA world championship entry with Chevrolet," said Erhard L. Spranger, Executive Director, Chevrolet Europe. "A strong motorsports presence provides the perfect stage for a strong brand to showcase its core values to a global audience. The FIA World Touring Car Championship provides exactly the platform Chevrolet needs to achieve its goals." (more)

"Chevrolet was looking for a product with high potential. We are delighted and honored that the car developed and built by GM Daewoo has been chosen to spearhead the brand's European growth," said Nick Reilly, President and CEO of GM Daewoo. "You need an experienced technical partner when you take on a program like the WTCC. RML has a proven track record and expertise in motorsports and in touring cars in particular."

"We are very proud to represent Chevrolet in its first global motorsports challenge," said Ray Mallock, founder and Managing Director of RML. "We are looking forward to a very promising and successful relationship with the brand."

The WTCC replaces the current European Touring Car Championship (ETCC). For the first time, it will run in 10 countries in Europe and Latin America as well as in China.

The rollout of the first prototype is scheduled for December. The first actual race-going Chevrolet Touring Car will then hit the track for an extensive test program throughout Europe. The drivers will be announced at a later stage.

The WTCC is tentatively scheduled to start in Italy (Monza, 10 April), then to go to France (Magny-Cours, 1 May), the United Kingdom (Silverstone, 15 May), the Czech Republic (Brno, 29 May), Mexico (26 June), Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps, 22 July), Germany (Oschersleben, 28 August), Turkey (Istanbul, 18 September) and Spain (Valencia, 2 October). The season's finale is scheduled for the city circuit of Macau in the People's Republic of China on 20 November.