Gabriele Tarquini has signed for Hyundai Motorsport’s new TCR project as the lead test driver for the project, which will see the Germany-based team develop a new i30 for customer racing.
Tarquini, who lost his drive in the World Touring Car Championship last year when LADA pulled out of the championship, will now focus his time on developing the South Korean manufacturers latest racing car.
The Italian will put his 25 years of experience to use on the project, starting his role next month. The new car is scheduled to be completed and ready for customers by the end of the year.
“To be able to bring such an experienced driver into the project at this early stage is a big step forward,” said Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Manager Andrea Adamo. “Gabriele Tarquini is recognized as one of the most successful current touring car drivers.
“However, he has also shown his ability to work with a team, helping to develop a project for competition. For us this is very important.
“The TCR marketplace is growing, but it is very competitive, with a number of top manufacturers building models for the regulations. Because of this we need to take full advantage of all of our test running over the coming months so we can deliver a strong car to our customers that they can be competitive with in the full range of championships worldwide where TCR specification designs are welcomed.”
The new i30 TCR will be powered by a two-litre turbocharged engine, featuring a six-speed sequential gearbox and 100-litre fuel tank.
Tarquini says that the challenge of bringing on a TCR car for the first time will represent an ‘exciting challenge’, having previously been involved in developing numerous cars to multiple previous touring car regulations.
“I’m very pleased to have joined Hyundai Motorsport and their TCR project,” said Tarquini. “You can see from their rally team that they are working at a very high, a very professional, level.
“This will be my first time developing a TCR car so to be the lead test driver for the project is an exciting new challenge for me. I am looking forward to getting started and using my experience start developing a car from almost a blank sheet of paper.
“I met with some of the engineers on the project when I visited the team’s headquarters and I’m confident that we can work together to make the car competitive for a very tough set of regulations.”