Arena Motorsport has confirmed that it will return to the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship in 2009.
The team has revealed that it will introduce a major commercial sponsor to the series with a two-car entry in the Independents' class, with former driver Tom Chilton at the wheel of one of the Ford Focus STs.
Chilton previously drove for the team in a Honda Civic Type-R before signing for Vauxhall back in 2006. Since then, the Arena team has focused its attention elsewhere, including running Chilton's younger brother Max in the British F3 International Series in 2007.
Arena's return to the BTCC will also mark a return to the series for the Ford brand, albeit not as a works outfit. Aside from some Production Class entries, the Blue Oval hasn't been seen in the BTCC since the Super Production era drew to a close in 2000.
"This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for Arena to return to the BTCC after a three year absence," team principal Mike Earle said. "We will announce our commercial partners in January, but I can confirm we will definitely be back.
"We have researched many options of cars to build and decided the Ford Focus was dynamically the most suitable for our programme. We will be entering the 2009 BTCC as an Independent entry. We will not be receiving any additional support from Ford.
"We have selected Tom Chilton as the driver to lead this programme due to his suitability from both an on-track and off-track perspective. As a driver he has a proven track record and we are very excited to be re-united with him after the successes we enjoyed together in 2004 and 2005. Out of the car Tom has a unique appeal to our commercial partners and provides excellent PR opportunities for the programme.
"Everyone at Arena is looking forward to the challenges ahead and we are aiming to return to the winning ways we enjoyed in the BTCC in the past."