It's looking increasingly likely that Team Varta will not appear in the BTCC next season, with the news that team boss John Batchelor is to spearhead the Brilliance entry into the World Touring Car Championship next season.

The Chinese manufacturer recently announced that it will enter the series next season with a car designed by legendary Formula One designer John Barnard.

Batchelor hopes that the Brilliance M1, a four door saloon powered by a two litre Mitsubishi engine, should be a respectable performer in 2005, before it is replaced by an all new M2 model for the following season.

Batchelor also confirmed that he would be looking to recruit experienced BTCC stars to spearhead the team in its first season of racing.

"We will hopefully announce the driver line up on 1 December," he told "It is likely that in year one the drivers will all be experienced former BTCC drivers which we will need to develop the car. We will also be selecting three Chinese drivers to shadow these drivers and introduce them to the team over the next three years.

"The car will be based on the Brilliance M1 model a four dour saloon which was designed in China, styled in Italy and carries a Mitsubishi two litre engine.

"The new car is an unknown, but with John Barnard designing it, it should at least be respectable. In 2006 we will have the new M2 model which we believe will be an even better base for a racing car."

Unsurprisingly the news that Batchelor is to be involved with the Brilliance entry means his own team is unlikely to appear in the BTCC next season, although he isn't saying they definitely won't make an appearance.

"It is very unlikely that our BTCC programme would continue, and if it did it wouldn't be Team Varta as that deal ended after the last race," he said. "If, and it is a very big if, there was a car out in the BTCC, we would be under the banner Team Firstserve Group, running an ETCC spec Honda Civic."

Under the name Team Varta, Batchelor ran a single car for Richard Marsh this season. However the team struggled to make the ETCC Honda competitive because of weight issues and switched to a Peugeot 307 for the races at Brands Hatch and Snetterton. Jay Wheals then raced the Honda in the final round at Donington Park when Marsh was away on business.