Popular Argentine touring car racer Jose Maria Lopez has signed a one race deal with Wiechers-Sport to pilot their BMW 320 at the inaugural Race of Argentina at the all new Rio Hondo circuit next weekend.

He will take the place of the team's regular driver Fredy Barth, who has a prior engagement.

"I'm really happy we've signed him," said Wiechers-Sport team manager, Dominik Greiner. "Everybody involved in the event put a lot of effort into this and now we are looking forward to a great weekend in Argentina."

"'Pechito' is very popular and I'm sure he will learn quickly how to handle the car," he added. "I hope we will score many points in the races."

Lopez, who is nicknamed 'Pechito' meaning 'Little Jo' by his fans, will become only the second Argentine to race in the FIA WTCC, after Leonel Pernia took a tenth place at a one-off race at Monza in 2010 with NIKA Racing in a factory-spec Chevrolet Cruze.

The 30-year-old was actually a test driver for the Renault F1 team in 2006 after impressing in Europe. He won a GP2 sprint race in Spain in 2005 while driving with the DAMS team having formerly established himself in F3000. He also claimed the 2003 title in the Formula Renault Euro Cup.

More recently, Lopez has been translating his former single-seater skills to touring cars where he has become a successful leading driver in various South American series.

This year he currently ranks fifth overall in the Super TC2000 championship, at the wheel of a semi-works Fiat.

by Dexter Fielding