With the arrival of the Giulia sedan and Stelvio crossover, it’d be all too easy to forget about the old Giulietta. But the racing scene hasn’t.
The Giulietta is Alfa’s C-segment hatchback. It launched as a Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf challenger back in 2010. At that point, Chrysler was just entering bankruptcy proceedings and Fiat had yet to take over.
Long as it’s grown in the proverbial tooth, and lagging in the consumer marketplace, the Giulietta has found another lease on life on the race track. It was converted to competition spec for the British Touring Car Championship earlier this year, and has been racing in the Italian TCR series. But now it’s headed for the big leagues.
That’d be the FIA World Touring Car Cup (abbreviated as WTCR), as the previous World Touring Car Championship has been rebranded following its adoption of the cost-conscious, closely production-based TCR format. The cars are being prepared by Italian tuner Romeo Ferraris – which prepared the version pictured here for the Italian series – and will be fielded by Team Mulsanne (of no Bentley associated whatsoever beyond the name).
To drive it, Team Mulsanne has tapped the talents of one Fabrizio Gionavardi. At 51 years old, the highly accomplished touring-car driver has won the BTCC twice for Vauxhall and Triple Eight Racing (in 2007 and ’08), and twice won the European Touring Car Championship that preceded the WTCC and new WTCR… in an Alfa, no less.
“I had the pleasure of driving the car very recently, and I was very impressed,” said Giovanardi. “For me, it will be a comeback on the world stage after a few years out of racing, but my passion and hunger for victory are intact.”
His teammate in the second car has yet to be announced. However both former F1 driver (and seasoned touring-car veteran) Gianni Morbidelli and American pilot Kevin Gleason (who drove for Lada in the WTCC last season and a Civic in the previous TCR International Series before that) also test-drove the Alfa alongside Gionavardi earlier this month at Monza.
“We are delighted to announce the entry of our cars in the FIA WTCR,” said Romeo Ferraris chief Michela Cerruti. “The introduction of TCR cars will certainly raise the level of both the competition and the show on track, in a series that has always attracted huge numbers of spectators and viewers.”