Larini to retire from WTCC
|By Steven English||Friday, November 20th 2009, 09:02 GMT|
Nicola Larini will leave the World Touring Car Championship after this weekend's season finale in Macau.
The 45-year-old Italian announced ahead of Friday's qualifying session that he will not return to the series with the RML Chevrolet team in 2010.
He had been with the team since 2005 and took his first WTCC victory at Marrakech in May this year.
"Macau's round will be my final races as a works drivers in the WTCC," said Larini in a statement. "I came to the conclusion that it was the moment to move on and time to call it a career as a WTCC driver.
"Chevrolet RML has been my home for five years and I am happy to have spent this time around them, a spell nearly as long as I had with Alfa Romeo and Ferrari before."
Larini competed in 49 grands prix between 1987 and 1997. He began his F1 career with Coloni and moved through Osella, Ligier and Modena. In 1992, he joined Ferrari for the last two races of the season in place of Ivan Capelli.
He then returned to the Scuderia in 1994 for the Pacific and San Marino grands prix in place of the injured Jean Alesi. He scored his only F1 podium at Imola, in a weekend overshadowed by the deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenburger.
He was retained as a test driver for Ferrari until he joined Sauber at the beginning of the 1997 season, in which he contested the first five races before being replaced by Gianni Morbidelli.
Outside of F1, Larini moved into the DTM in 1993 with Alfa Romeo and won the championship in his debut season.
He also raced for the Italian manufacturer in the European Touring Car Championship between 2001 and 2003, before joining Chevrolet's WTCC programme in 2005.
Larini says he would still consider racing in another series in future.
"I am saying goodbye to WTCC in Macau, but I am not saying I'm retiring for good. I still love to race, and if there is a series or an operation that I can join without this taking a toll on my personal life, then I'll give a hard look to the opportunity," he added.