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Mehdi Bennani to race new Honda in 2014

Moroccan World Touring Car Championship driver Mehdi Bennani will race a new-specification Honda Civic for Proteam Racing in the 2014 WTCC, it has been confirmed.

Bennani, 30, has competed in the WTCC for the past five years, making his début in a SEAT León for Exagon Engineering during occasional outings in 2009. In 2010 he made the switch to rear-wheel drive with a Wiechers-Sport BMW, before changing to Proteam Racing, where he has remained since 2011.

Proteam are the only outfit in the WTCC besides RML to have competed in every single WTCC race since the current series began in 2005. The Italian team have spent the past nine years racing independent BMW’s in the series, in addition to racing BMW’s in the ETCC in 2004.

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“After ten years as a BMW customer team, we are truly excited and honoured to be welcomed in the Honda racing family,” said Proteam Principal Valmiro Presenzini. “We are fully confident that Bennani will be able to deliver some impressive performance at the wheel of the new Civic.”

Bennani himself is looking forward to be being able to race with current specification machinery next season, having competed in ageing BMW’s in recent years.

“Throughout the current season I think I proved that I am capable of achieving excellent results and fighting for the top positions,” said Bennani. “I claimed three second places and four victories in the Yokohama Trophy, and I had close fights for the overall victory with the likes of Tarquini, Coronel and Huff.

“I am very excited now to make another step forward and being entrusted one of the most competitive cars in the field.”

Honda’s William De Braekeleer added that the manufacturer was pleased to be able to support the WTCC grid by making available a fourth 2014-spec Civic, acknowledging the importance of increasing grid sizes for the forthcoming season.

“Since Honda joined WTCC, it has always been our wish to support the championship further by allowing private teams to have access to our cars,” said De Braekeleer. “Because of next year’s new technical regulations, the championship needed as many ‘2014-spec cars’ as possible and it was therefore in line with our philosophy to make a fourth 2014 Civic WTCC available for a private outfit.

“Needless to say that we are particularly pleased that an agreement could be made with an experienced and successful squad like Proteam and we can’t wait to see Mehdi showing his great talents at the wheel of the new Civic!”

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