As has been rumoured for a while, Tech 1 Racing will take the place of Saulnier Racing in this year's World Series by Renault line-up, the series stalwart having switched its attentions to sportscar racing with Swiss Spirit.
Although it will remain involved in the Eurocup Megane Trophy, Simon Abadie's Tech 1 outfit has decided to expand its horizons, and has already signed talented Belgian Jerome d'Ambrosio for its first World Series campaign.
Founded at the start of 2000 by Abadie and sister Sarah, Tech 1 has been a loyal supporter of Renault Sport championships. Initially involved in the French Formula Renault championship, the Toulouse-based outfit switched to the Eurocup Megane Trophy with immediate success last year, as the owner-driver won at Monza and Matthieu Lahaye finished as runner-up in the Junior championship.
Tech 1 will continue to field three cars in the 2006 Megane Trophy, but its focus has been on fettling its newly-acquired World Series machines in the past few days.
"We started to discuss matters with Serge Saulnier at the end of last year, and the project really came together about a month ago," Abadie explained, "When we first created the team, our ambition was to step up to an international championship, and I quickly sensed that it was a great opportunity for us.
"This is going to be a big challenge, but I felt it was critical for the future of the team. Our profile is going to be significantly raised by taking part in the flagship World Series by Renault category, and we have to restructure accordingly, particularly by taking on additional, experienced personnel and two talented drivers."
Fourth in last year's Italian Formula Renault championship, d'Ambrosio steps up to the World Series after a solid winter testing performance. His team-mate will be announced in the following days.
Renault Sport's Jean-Paul Mari welcomed the arrival of new blood into the series, particularly that which had come up through the marque's racing ranks.
"Simon Abadie represents a new generation of teams as, at just 27, he will be the youngest team manager in the championship," he explained, "We think that Tech 1 Racing has the potential to rise to the challenge that it is taking on. The team received a good grounding in the French championship before getting a taste of international motorsport in the Megane Trophy, and I wish the team the very best of luck - just as I hope that Serge Saulnier will be successful in endurance racing."
Although Saulnier has now switched his attention to mounting a Le Mans Series assault with the new Swiss Spirit prototype team, he insists that he will be on hand to assist Abadie in his step up to the World Series.
"I know Simon well, as he drove for our team in F3 until 2003," Saulnier explained, "He was keen to take on a new challenge with his team, so I was only too pleased to share our experience and skills with him. This marks the close of a chapter for Saulnier Racing, as we will not be racing in a single-seater category in 2006, but I will be coming to a few World Series meetings to offer my support to Simon."