Photo: WTCC Media

Fabio Fabiani moves across to Engstler BMW

Italian backmarker Fabio Fabiani jumps across to Liqui Moly Team Engstler as there’s a wave of car swapping amongst the independent BMW drivers for the first WTCC race in China.

37-year-old Fabiani has left Proteam Racing to be replaced by Hong Kong driver Philip Ma at China. Fabiani, currently in second place in the Jay-Ten standings, a category for independent drivers competing in normally aspirated machinery, had a chance to overtake Russian Aleksei Dudukalo in those standings last time out in Japan since Dudukalo had switched to the turbocharged SUNRED engine at Donington Park in July. Unfortunately, Fabiani was unable to take part in that race after the stewards refused to grant permission for him to race after he had ignored the black flag in free practice, using the 107% qualifying rule as the reason.

Fabiani will now be replaced by Philip Ma in Proteam Racing’s BMW 320si at Shanghai and Macau as part of a previous arrangement with the team, but Fabiani will take over the BMW 320si at German team Liqui Moly Team Engstler, which was driven by Charles Ng at Suzuka. The additional race for Fabiani gives him a chance to take the lead in the Jay-Ten Trophy assuming the stewards accept the driver change.

Charles Ng will still be on the grid in Shanghai, but will now be competing in the turbocharged BMW 320 TC which was driven by Masaki Kano at Suzuka and by Marchy Lee earlier in the season – which will mean Fabiani’s only rival in the Jay-Ten category will be his old car at Proteam driven by Ma.

With Chevrolet not planning to field its fourth car at Shanghai and SUNRED keeping their seventh in the garage until Macau for André Couto, there will be 22 cars on the grid for next weekend’s race at the Tianma circuit in Shanghai.