Filippi to make wildcard appearance with Alfa WTCR team

Former GP2 race winner Luca Filippi will make his World Touring Car Cup debut at Zolder this weekend, driving an Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR for Romeo Ferraris.

Filippi will contest the 2020 WTCR season opener as a wildcard, having missed the deadline to make a regular entry for the Belgian event.

The Italian driver will team up with 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours GTE Am class winner Jean-Karl Vernay, who was signed by Romeo Ferraris as its sole full season driver last month.

Filippi will make his WTCR foray following a full campaign with BRC Hyundai in the TCR Europe series in 2019, when he finished 16th in the championship with a best result of second at the Red Bull Ring.

Prior to switching to touring cars, Filippi raced in selected IndyCar races in 2013-16 before joining the NIO team for the 2017/18 Formula E season.

His junior single-seater career featured an extended stint in the Formula 1-supporting GP2 series between 2006-12, during which he scored six race wins and finished runner-up to champion Romain Grosjean in 2011. 

“I am very happy to be at the kick-off of the FIA WTCR in this 2020 season,” Filippi said. “It has been possible thanks to the support of great companies that I have the honour to represent and that I want to repay with my greatest determination and the best possible results in what is the top and most competitive touring car series.

“My first season with a front-wheel-drive car has left me very good sensations and I am sure that the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR by Romeo Ferraris will be among the front-runners.” 

Filippi’s team Romeo Ferraris had originally planned to pull out of the WTCR at the end of the 2019 season and even put both its Alfa Romeo TCR cars on sale.

However, it decided to make a comeback after the series announced a cost-friendly, Europe-based calendar in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Romeo Ferraris’ plan was to downscale from two entries to only one this year, taking advantage of a change in WTCR regulations that made the move possible, but Filippi’s addition means it will run two cars at Zolder this weekend.

Romeo Ferraris joined the WTCR grid in 2018 with a pair of Giulietta TCR cars and has enjoyed considerable success in its first two years in the category, scoring two victories, nine podium finishes and a solitary pole position.

Last year it finished seventh in the teams standings’, with Ma Qinghua delivering its sole victory of the season in the third race at Slovakia.

Kevin Ceccon, who was coincidentally replaced by Filippi at Scudera Colino during the 2011 GP2 season, scored five podiums in Romeo Ferraris’ other entry last year, including a second place finish in the season finale at Sepang. 

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