World Touring Car racer Tiago Monteiro has been linked with a possible switch to the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship as team-mate to Rickard Rydell after engine supply issues look set to damage his WTCC campaign.
The Portuguese driver is currently driving for the Spanish independent SUNRED Engineering team for a third consecutive season, but due to a lack of availability of the new SEAT Sport engine, as used by Gabriele Tarquini and Aleksei Dudukalo at Lukoil Racing, Darryl O’Young at STR and Monteiro’s team-mate Pepe Oriola, Monteiro and team-mate Andrea Barlesi had to start the year with the older 2.0 litre TDI engine, which was initially developed during the 2007 WTCC season.
With no clear date given as to when SUNRED can expect to receive the new 1.6 turbo unit from SEAT, SUNRED went back to their own engine this weekend at Valencia. The team has had no development time on the engine during the off season, and limited budget available to do any future work, especially as the engine isn’t officially supported (or homologated) by SEAT. As a result, the ‘SR’ cars were all at the bottom of the speed traps and struggling to compete against the BMWs, Chevrolets, Fords and re-engined SEAT León WTCCs.
Monteiro was clearly frustrated with the pace of the car at Valencia, unable to hold off Aleksei Dudukalo’s new SEAT in race two. The Russian was his team-mate at SUNRED last season but Monteiro outqualified him at every race of the season
With no certainty as to when or if SUNRED will get the new engine, it’s understood that Monteiro has been linked with a surprise move to join Chevrolet Motorsport Sweden alongside Rickard Rydell in the the 2012 Scandinavian Touring Car Championship, with their season starting next month at Mantorp Park. Chevrolet Motorsport Sweden will be defending its drivers’ title against Team Biogas.se, who’ve also signed ex-WTCC racer Jordi Gené for this season, who was also a former team-mate to both Rydell and Monteiro at SEAT.
It’s understood the proposed arrangement would include selected rounds of the WTCC with Chevrolet Motorsport Sweden after the STCC concludes at Solvalla on September 22nd, which would mean China, Japan and Macau. The team entered the opening round of this year’s WTCC with Rydell, with the Swede finishing just off the podium in race one in his first run in the new 1.6 turbo powered Cruze.
Rydell’s Chevrolet team-mates in 2011 in the STCC were Viktor Hallrup for the full campaign, with Michel Nykjaer joining in the last two rounds to help Rydell’s drivers’ title ambitions. Hallrup has now signed with Brovallen Design in the TTA Racing Elite League, whilst Nykjaer is still looking at options to race in the WTCC, STCC or the new Danish Thundersport Championship.
If it happens, Monteiro would be following in the footsteps of several WTCC racers who’ve tried their hand in the STCC, with Gabriele Tarquini, James Thompson and Colin Turkington all racing in the Championship last season. Monteiro would also be not driving a SEAT badged touring car for the first time since he joined the WTCC in 2007.