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Lukoil Racing Team announces 2012 drivers

Lukoil Racing Team has announced that the 2009 FIA World Touring Car Champion Gabriele Tarquini and Russian Alexey Dudukalo will drive for the team in the 2012 WTCC season, in a brace of SEAT Leon’s powered by the new SEAT 1.6 litre turbocharged engine.

Tarquini took a single victory en route to fifth overall in the 2011 campaign and he has expressed his delight at staying with the team, as well as training the next generation of Russian drivers.

“I am very glad that LUKOIL confirmed me as one of their drivers, this was not guaranteed. Also, I am very proud to be selected to train the next generation of Russian drivers. Now I’m eager to start the next season. Of course, we will use the same SEAT Leon cars, but I expect much from the new engine. In general, I think that we will be stronger than the year before, and our positions allow us to compete with Chevrolet.”

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Staying with the team alongside Tarquini is Dudukalo, who finished the 2011 campaign down in twenty first position, having picked up a best result of ninth during the season, at Zolder and Donington Park.

Dudukalo said about the announcement: “We will open the new season on better cars. I would like this to give us more chances to rise higher than last year. Then the main problem for us was the engine that has less power and reliability than those of our competitors. This time we will not have this problem, plus we can rely on better experience and technical support. Evgeny Malinovskiy has done good work between the seasons, and now everything depends on us.”

The head of Lukoil Racing team, Evgeniy Malinovskiy is pleased to have finalised the team’s driver line up for the 2012 campaign: “I am glad to present our program for World Championship 2012. Lukoil Racing Team will participate on SEAT Leon of current generation but with better technical support.

“We have also prolonged contracts with drivers who presented us last season. First of all, I am glad that the world champion Gabriele Tarquini remains in our team. He is a most professional and victory-focused driver, whose experience will help us become stronger. This year in WTCC will be very important for Alexey Dudukalo. Alexey won Russian championships for many times, but it’s still difficult for him to compete in European races. Last season he lacked experience in competition and knowledge for a championship of such a high level, but this season we are expecting more stable results. As Alexey receives the necessary experience and good cars, his driving brings better results.

He also feels that the WTCC is an effective marketing tool for Lukoil, as he adds: “WTCC is one of the most effective marketing and sport tools for LUKOIL. They have excellent infrastructure to create guest programs for partners of the company. Last year we held several promotional and image-building events during competitions, and we are satisfied with their results.”

The team will start their pre-season test programme at the beginning of February ahead of the season opening round at Monza, Italy over the 10/11 March.

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