Pepe Oriola will no longer be at the wheel of a SEAT Leon in the 2013 World Touring Car Championship with immediate effect, the 18-year-old from Barcelona revealed on Sunday following the latest rounds of the season held at the Moscow Raceway in Russia.
Oriola clinched his first WTCC victory in a SEAT in April on the Marrakech Street Circuit in Morocco. He would have finished in the points in both races in Russia this weekend if not for a jump start penalty in race 1 dropping him down to 17th place after the end of the day's racing.
But now, Oriola has been coaxed away from the SEAT stable by a too-good-to-refuse offer from the Ray Mallock Ltd, which will provide Oriola's Tuenti Racing Team with a Chevrolet Cruze in which to race for the remainder of the current season, as well as technical support for the remaining six races of the season.
"We had a good offer from RML to run with one of their cars and decided to accept it," explained the teenager on Sunday evening. "I have to think about myself and I could not let go the opportunity to drive a Chevrolet."
But despite the big opportunity to step up to the next level in the sport, it was clear that Oriola was saying goodbye to SEAT to some genuine regret all the same.
"I would love to stay with them, but so far they have not decided about future programmes," he explained. "I am grateful to SEAT that gave me the opportunity to build my professional racing career since when I was 15 in the León Supercópa up to the WTCC."
The mid-season change of cars does mean that Oriola will step into the next WTCC event at the end of June at the Portimao circuit in Portugal with minimal chance of familiarising himself with the equipment.
“We won't have the time for a proper test before Porto, so we have just planned a shakedown somewhere in England," he said.