Proton will enter next season's British Touring Car Championship, series organisers BMP and the Malaysian company have confirmed.

The much-speculated entry will be backed by national oil company Petronas - backers of the F1 Sauber squad - and run under the Petronas Syntium Proton Team [PSP] banner. The two-car attack will use the Proton Waja model, the latest to be produced by the manufacturer.

The 2002 season will be the first time that Petronas and proton have competed in the BTCC, although the marque has already made a strong impact in events around the world. PSP will run under the direction of team manager David Wong, whose Petronas Primax team has scored over 80 wins in Malaysian and Asian-based saloon competition.

Petronas engineers, who have acquired a wealth of experience in the South African Touring car Championship between 1999 and 2001, will be working with Proton to build the race cars, with the tem being based in both Malaysia and the UK.

The arrival of another manufacturer backed entry into the new-look BTCC has delighted series director Richard West.

"We are all delighted that the Petronas Syntium Proton Team will be joining us on the grid next year," he said, "We have laid the foundations for a strong championship, and worked hard to attract new manufacturers. To attract a team of this calibre speaks volumes for the strength of the series."

Proton's arrival follows hot on the heels of news that the Barwell Motorsport team will graduate to the Touring class of the BTCC next season.

No drivers have yet been announced for the project, but new champion Jason Plato's name has already been mentioned in connection with one of the seats.

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