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WestCoast Racing signs Pellinen, Morbidelli and Gleason for 2016

WestCoast Racing has signed Finnish front-wheel drive specialist Aku Pellinen to pilot one of its ‘Step 2’ Honda Civic cars alongside Gianni Morbidelli and Kevin Gleason in the 2016 TCR International Series season.

The Swedish team have opted to continue with a degree of consistency for the forthcoming season, with Morbidelli and Gleason returning to the series for the forthcoming year.

Pellinen, who hails from Uusikaupunki in Finland, is a former Abarth 500 AC Euro Champion, and the 21-year-old also competed in Porsche Carrera Cup machinery in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup 2015 season.

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“This is quite a big step in my career and my first experience of racing outside of Europe, but it’s a good opportunity in a series that is growing at a surprisingly fast rate,” said Pellinen, who will be the first Finnish driver to take on TCR. “It’s a real opportunity to spread my wings and, while I’ve only completed a handful of laps in the Honda Civic TCR, I’m confident it will suit me well.

“I’ve driven a lot of front-wheel-drive cars in my career and I know where my strengths lie and where I need to improve.

“I think I can take a lot from my teammates, but particularly Gianni, as he has been racing for more years than I’ve lived. WestCoast Racing also has a lot of experience with touring cars, so I’m expecting to learn quite a few new tricks.

“Of course, many of the circuits will be new to me, but I have spent a lot of time in the simulator so I won’t be starting from zero. I will try to finish the first races to get as much mileage as possible and I’ll be happy if I can finish somewhere close to my teammates who have far more experience with the car than I do. It will be good to compare myself to both Gianni and Kevin.”

WestCoast Racing Team Manager James Nixon was pleased to have kept some continuity in his squad for 2016, which will see increased competition from SEAT, Opel, Volkswagen, Subaru, Ford and Alfa Romeo.

“It feels great to welcome back both Gianni Morbidelli and Kevin Gleason to WestCoast Racing,” said Nixon. “The commitment from both drivers is immense, as they work tirelessly on improving and they grew closer as teammates during the 2015 season, working fantastically well to develop the Honda Civic with their engineers. All of that hard work will hopefully show in this year’s results. They, along with the eventual Champion, were the outstanding drivers in the field for me.

“We are also pleased to be starting a new collaboration with young Finnish driver, Aku Pellinen, who I have been watching closely in recent years. I believe he will be a top contender for the title come the end of the season, as there’s no doubting his speed and passion to be at the top.

“Working with Gianni and Kevin will be a big help on his return to front-wheel-drive and everybody at WestCoast Racing is excited to see how his season unfolds.

“With this line-up, I feel we are now in a position to take on the fight for the titles.”

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