The Castrol Honda WTCC squad has opted not to renew Gabriele Tarquini's contract for 2016 and is expected to announce a new driver line-up next month.
The former Formula 1 driver switched from Lukoil Racing Team Seat to Honda as it returned to the WTCC in 2012 and since the team's inaugural 2013 season he has claimed three race victories, with the highlight of finishing runner-up in the drivers' championship in his first year with the team, while he has also played a key role in the development of the Honda Civic machine.
Honda Motor Europe's Head of Motorsports Robert Watherston has thanked the 53-year-old for his efforts over the past three years and wish him luck in the future.
"We are incredibly grateful for everything Gabriele has given to Honda, both most recently in WTCC and throughout his career,” Watherston said. He's played a significant role in our Touring Car efforts over the years, not least in helping develop the current Honda Civic WTCC machine from which the Civic Type R road car is derived.”
Tarquini says he leaves Honda with fond memories, having also competed with the Japanese manufacturer in the British Touring Car Championship between 1997-2000 and in the European Touring Car Championship in the final two rounds of 2000 and as well as the full 2001 season, and has is keen to remain racing in 2016 away from the WTCC.
"I have many, many good memories of racing with Honda over the years, and we go back a long way,” Tarquini said. “I totally respect their decision for next year, and will only keep good memories of our seasons together. I am proud to have been a part of Honda's return to World Touring Cars, and wish the team all the very best.
“My main objectives remain to continue to race next year so I am currently exploring options, but in parallel I am continuing to talk to Honda about remaining involved in their future programmes outside of WTCC."
Watherston has also confirmed he is looking to shake things up in the Castrol Honda WTCC team and the driver line-up will be announced in the coming weeks.
"For 2016 we have taken the decision to refresh our factory effort with the Castrol Honda WTCC team, which means that whilst we are naturally sad to lose Gabriele, we wave goodbye to him with fondness in our hearts and good memories of a great relationship,” he said. “For the Castrol Honda WTCC team, we will be able to announce more changes and our renewed driver line-up in due course as we reset our sights on next year's championship."