Proteam Racing has been named as the third Honda team for the 2014 World Touring Car Championship season after confirmation it will run a new Civic next year.
The Italian team will end its long relationship with BMW when it joins Zengo Motorsport in running a customer Honda alongside the works cars run by JAS.
Moroccan racer Mehdi Bennani will stay with the team for a fourth season, having been at the wheel of its BMW 320TC since 2011.
His current tally of 80 points is already his best so far in the series, with three podium finishes to his name to date in 2013.
“After ten years as a BMW customer team, we are truly excited and honoured to be welcomed in the Honda racing family,” Proteam boss Valmiro Presenzini said. “We are fully confident that Bennani will be able to deliver some impressive performance at the wheel of the new Civic.”
Bennani himself said he was delighted with the announcement of the new car for 2014.
“Throughout the current season I think I proved that I am capable of achieving excellent results and fighting for the top positions,” he said. “I claimed three second places and four victories in the Yokohama Trophy and I had close fights for the overall victory with the likes of Tarquini, Coronel and Huff.
“I am very excited now to make another step forward and being entrusted one of the most competitive cars in the field.”
Honda Motor Europe motorsport manager William De Braekeleer meanwhile said he was pleased to welcome Proteam into the Honda family.
“Since Honda joined WTCC, it has always been our wish to support the championship further by allowing private teams to have access to our cars,” he said. “Because of next year's new technical regulations, the championship needed as many 2014 specs cars as possible and it was therefore in line with our philosophy to make a fourth 2014 Civic WTCC available for a private outfit.
“Needless to say that we are particularly pleased that an agreement could be made with an experienced and successful squad like Proteam and we can't wait to see Mehdi showing his great talents at the wheel of the new Civic.”
Gabriele Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro have been retained to drive the JAS-run factory cars, while Norbert Michelisz will continue at the wheel of the Zengo-entered machine.