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Earle resurrects Onyx for WTCC campaign

Photo by BTCC MediaFormer Arena Motorsport and ex-F1 team Onyx Grand Prix team principal Mike Earle is to resurrect his former Onyx team for a planned five-year WTCC campaign.

The move is a cooperation between Onyx Race Engineering and Arlington Industries Group, who have joined forces specifically to compete in the World Touring Car Championship.

Earle previously led Arena Motorsport to the WTCC for the 2012 season, with the outfit, known as Team Aon, graduating to the series from the BTCC. The switch proved to be a challenge, however, with the team managing just five points-scoring finishes during the entire season with drivers James Nash and Tom Chilton.

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Onyx are set to design, manufacture and race a car built to the WTCC’s new-for-2014 specifications. The car and driver line-up are due to be announced shortly.

“This association is exciting,” said Earle. “It is a unique opportunity to assemble such a strong automotive group with the common intention of success in the finest touring car championship in the World.”

Earle’s previous motorsport experience comes from F3, F2 and F3000, with the team winning the 1987 F3000 title with Stefano Modena. The team moved to F1 for the 1989 and 1990 seasons, before shutting down mid-way through the year.

In 1999 Earle founded Arena Motorsport, who competed in the British Touring Car Championship with an independent Renault Laguna. The team sat out 2000 and 2001, before returning in 2002 with a works Honda programme which lasted for three seasons. Arena continued to run the independent Honda in 2005, before once again taking a sabbatical from the series.

The team returned to the BTCC in 2009 with its own Ford Focus ST, running under the Team Aon banner for three seasons before graduating to the WTCC in 2012.

The announcement from Onyx means that there will be at least 17 new-specification cars at some stage on the 2014 grid, with Honda building four Civics, LADA building three Grantas, Citroën building four C-Elsyées and RML building six new Chevrolet Cruzes.

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