James Thompson says he is hopeful of a strong result as the World Touring Car Championship returns to Imola this weekend although the N.Technology man admits it is difficult to predict who will be ones to watch in the latest rounds of the year.

The former home of the San Marino Grand Prix is back on the WTCC calendar for the first time since 2005, but has undergone a number of changes since then - with this weekend's event being the first major international event since the circuit was reopened.

On the last outing at Imola in the WTCC, N.Technology took a race win with the Alfa Romeo 156 and while the Honda Accord Euro R has yet to match those results as the team works hard to develop the JAS Motorsport built machine, Thompson said he was hopeful of a strong weekend.

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"Imola is a very special track, steeped in history," he said. "There is a lot of anticipation for this weekend, everyone wants to see how the renovations have changed the track and what kind of racing it's going to produce.

"As everyone is starting from scratch, it's hard to say who will be competitive. The front-runners are all carrying heavy success ballast now so hopefully this will allow others to race at the front end of the grid. We will see."

With no-one having had chance to sample the circuit in its latest configuration, the Italian squad heads into the weekend on a level playing field with its rivals and team manager Andrea Muller said he was hopeful that it would aid Thompson in his bid to bring home more points.

"We hope to benefit from the levelled playing field," he said. "However our aim is realistic and finishing in the points on Sunday would be a satisfying result.

"Touring car racing is as close as ever where hundredths of a second can make a huge difference; we hope to capitalise on that at the weekend."