Fabrizio Giovanardi is returning to the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship this season after inking a deal with Airwaves Racing.
The 47-year-old Italian previously raced in the BTCC between 2006 and 2010, winning the championship twice with Vauxhall in 2007 and 2008. In total he won 24 races from 122 appearances and made the podium on 41 occasions.
His return to drive a Mountune-powered Ford Focus ST NGTC means that seven former or current champions are expected to line-up on the grid. Giovanardi joins another returning tin-top legend, Alain Menu, as well as Matt Neal, Jason Plato, Gordon Shedden and current title-holder Andrew Jordan, with 2009 champ Colin Turkington also poised to return.
David Bartrum, boss of Motorbase Performance which prepares the Airwaves Racing Fords, said: “This is a very important year for Airwaves Racing. The intentions are the same as last year: we want to win races and go after the championship. This is the year to do it.
"There are 30 cars on the grid and seven guys that have won the championship; I think it’s a fantastic year for Giovanardi to join us. We’ve always been proud of our driver line-up, but this year it’s got a little Italian spice to it that might take the team forward that little bit more.”
Giovanardi’s union with the Airwaves Racing team has been a long time in the making, with behind-the-scenes talks with the Motorbase Performance team boss going as far back as 2010.
Giovanardi said he was relishing the opportunity to return to the BTCC after a four-season absence: “I am really looking forward to coming back to this special championship. For the last four years I have done long-distance racing and for me, it’s quite boring! I want to come here and try to win another championship; I need to win the third one.
“These are passionate guys, it’s a small team but with people that work well together. The right people make the right target and I believe straight away that we can be one of the teams fighting for the championship.”
The 2014 BTCC season opener takes place at Airwave Racing’s local track, Brands Hatch, on 29 and 30 March. Autocar and sister brands Pistonheads and What Car? are official media partners of this year's championship.