Spanish WTCC driver Pepe Oriola confirmed yesterday after the 2 WTCC races in Russia that he will switch to driving a Chevrolet Cruze with support from RML from the next WTCC round at Porto in 3 weeks time.
This will bring the count of Chevrolet Cruze's on the grid to 6.
The young spaniard, who joined the World Touring Car Championship in 2011 at the tender age of 16, has been a SEAT Leon driver from the start and took his first win this year in Marrakech. However his talent has shone brightly before that win as he has regularly hassled the bigger teams in many races over the past 3 seasons.
However, as proven on many occaisions this year, the Chevrolet Cruze is still the car to beat even though its not in a "Works Team" environment anymore. It is still capable of taking Pole Positions as proven by Yvan Muller and 3 drivers have taken outright race wins this year in Cruze's: Yvan Muller, Michel Nykjaer and James Nash.
Now Oriola has already made it clear that they will won't be able to test the car before Porto, but he will get a shakedown run in the UK just before. So effectively the next 2 races at the street circuit of Porto will be an eye opener for him. After that however, he'll get time to settle in as the season heads to its fly away races in the 2nd half of the season.
So I'm going to stick my neck out on what I feel is a sure bet....
Pepe Oriola will take his second win later this season.
Its not a given, but he already proven he has the talent and now has the car to do it in. It will also be good to see how he matches up to Muller, Chilton, MacDowall, Nash and Nykjaer in equal cars...
Whatever way you look at it, its great news for Oriola and the WTCC to see another young driver stepping up.