American outfit Rotek Racing has announced that it is to enter the World Touring Car Championship later this year having agreed a deal to purchase the Ford Focus models raced by Team Aon last year.
The team, which already competes in the German VLN Series, will undertake a test and development programme with the cars ahead of its race debut, which could come before the end of the European season.
If a European debut isn't possible, the team will certainly appear for the 'fly-away' events in the Americas and the Far East at the end of the season.
Robb Holland, who made a one-off outing with Bamboo Engineering at Sonoma last year, is the first driver confirmed to drive one of the Fords, with discussions ongoing with potential team-mates.
“Last season I became the first and to date the only American to race in the WTCC and so to be moving full-time into the series with an American team and an American manufacturer is very exciting,” Holland said.
“The guys at Rotek Racing have acquired two well-built cars from Arena and I can't wait to get started on the extensive test programme they have planned between now and our WTCC race debut together.
“The WTCC is packed with highlights but for me as an American, racing later this season, in September at home at Sonoma with an American team and manufacturer will be extra special.”
The team will initially be based out of its European base at the Nurburgring but will move to new premises at Sonoma Raceway during the summer.
The deal will ensure that the Ford brand remains on the WTCC grid despite the decision taken over the winter by Capsicum to wind down its touring car arm Arena, who ran the cars last season.
“I'm delighted that we've been able to pass the WTCC baton to Rotek Racing,” Capsicum's Rupert Swallow said. “On behalf of Capsicum I would like to wish them and driver Robb Holland every success when they take to the track later in the season.
“I would also like to record Capsicum's gratitude to Mike Earle and his team at Arena who have continued to work on the Focuses in difficult circumstances and have delivered two well-engineered and updated cars for Rotek Racing to develop further.”