The 2005 World Touring Car Championship will see the first-ever full factory team from Chevrolet competing in a season-long FIA championship, and it will be based in the UK. Ray Mallock's experienced race operation will run three Chevrolet Lacetti four-door saloons - these are the cars which first saw the light of day as the Daewoo Nubira - developed with the benefit of all the know-how gathered from GM's previous UK and European saloon racing programmes.
Eric Nève, responsible for overseeing the project, says that, "When we were looking for a suitable platform to showcase the fact that Chevrolet is now a true global brand, we were immediately convinced of the benefits of the championship. It allows us to compete against the same brands that we compete against in the marketplace, while at the same time providing the right commercial and communications advantages."
The WTCC is certainly a global affair, replacing the existing European Touring Car Championship. Already in at least its second manifestation, the provisional calendar starts in April with Monza, then moves on to Magny-Cours, Silverstone, Brno, Mexico, Spa-Francorchamps, Oschersleben in Germany, Istanbul and Valencia, before the final round in November at the charismatic Macau city circuit.
Right now, the Chevrolet project is still in its very early stages. No race Lacettis exist as yet, and the first prototype isn't due to be completed until December. An extensive winter test and development programme will then begin, on various European circuits.
Neither are there any nominated drivers, although Chevrolet has been talking to a number of possible candidates, and it wants drivers "who have won races and championships before".
Actually, there is one race winner whose name is already being bandied about, as indicated on the windscreen and side windows of the mock-up shown here. "Louis" is Louis Chevrolet, that ebullient Swiss-American who raced for Buick, founded his own company in 1911, but left before it became part of General Motors, moving on to start Frontenac. One of these cars won the Indianapolis 500, driven by his brother Gaston, while a less exotic version was also raced there by Alfred Moss, father of Stirling. What with one thing and another, not a bad pedigree for the new team.