Touring car series proliferate in countries around the globe. The UK has the British Touring Car Series, Germany has DTM, Australia has V8 Supercars, Japan has Super GT and Italy has the Superstars Series.

Most of these national championships are contested by grids limited to just a handful of manufacturers, but like the BTCC, the Superstars series is made up of cars from a seemingly endless array of automakers. BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Jaguar, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche are all represented in a grid of some 34 contenders, but while Maserati is the team to beat, the newest entry is coming from Audi.

Audi RS5 SuperstarsJust as Audi has replaced its A4-based touring car in the DTM series with a new one modeled after the A5, so has its Superstars series effort switched from the RS4 to a new RS5 that will challenge for wins this season. Considering that the outgoing RS4 seized the drivers' title in 2007 and both titles in 2008, the new RS5 has big shoes to fill, and hopes to fill them with its 450 horsepower V8 and what looks like it will be a suitably aggressive body shell to maximize airflow to the engine and over the car.

Three cars will be entered in the series, including one from Audi Sport Italia driven by 2007 series champion and former grand prix driver Gianni Morbidelli, another fielded by German turner MTM and driven by Thomas Schoeffler, and a third piloted by Swedish driver Johan Kristofferson and fielded by his own team KMS. Follow the jump for the press release, and stay tuned to see how their new touring car shapes up.
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Audi to line-up three RS5 races in the 2012 INTERNATIONAL SUPERSTARS SERIES

AUDI SPORT ITALIA AND PARTNER TEAMS MTM (FROM GERMANY) AND KMS (FROM SWEDEN) GET READY TO BRING ON-TRACK THE NEW RS5 RACECAR. FIRST TEST FOR ONE OF THE EXPECTED TITLE CONTENDERS TO BE HELD IN MARCH

Rome, February 22, 2012

One of the major news for the 2012 INTERNATIONAL SUPERSTARS SERIES season have been the arrival of a new racecar from Ingostadt, Germany, as multiple winning team Audi Sport Italia, led by an historical figure like Emilio Radaelli, announced the debut of the brand-new Audi RS5 together with two top-notch partners like MTM (from Germany) and KMS (from Sweden). The new car's first laps are expected in its first shakedown, coming in a matter of days.

Three of the new German racecars, expected to surpass the 450 horsepower-barrier, will be called to fight with an extremely powerful opposition in the 2012 INTERNATIONAL SUPERSTARS SERIES. The FIA-approved championship, promoted by FGGROUP, is set to feature cars from nine different brands this year, including Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Jaguar, Lexus, Maserati, Mercedes and Porsche. Audi Sport Italia is looking forward to be back in the winning game after having cruised to two titles with Gianni Morbidelli. The former Formula 1 racer will be part of the mix aboard an RS5 and eager to pursuit the same goal, in a quest to reclaim the crown he won for the last time in 2009.

«I'm really happy and proud to have this brand-new car» told Morbidelli. «Next week we will complete the program's final steps after the whole team put an impressive effort made of hard work and dedication. During the first week of March we will be on-track for a test in order to gather some feedback concerning the mechanical part and also the reliability. I decided to get back to SUPERSTARS because it's the benchmark championship in modern motorsports in terms of media coverage and also for the high-level teams, drivers and brands lining-up in the series».

Two more Audi RS5s are currently being prepared in Novara. Audi Sport Italia will povide technical support to German team MTM and to Swedish outfit KMS. MTM are set to field Singen-based youngster Thomas Schöffler: after impressing in the VW Scirocco R-Cup, he made his SUPERSTARS debut aboard an Audi Sport Italia-prepared RS4 last year at Misano. KMS, a benchmark in Swedish motorpsorts having won the STCC championship five times, will line-up young sensation Johan Kristoffersson. The 1988-born youngster did well in the 2011 edition of the STCC, pairing Jordi Gené on a Volkswagen Scirocco.

«Being able to run in the 2012 SUPERSTARS SERIES is definitely a great chance for me» told Schöffler. «I want to thank the team, as I really trust them, for the confidence they put in me. My goal will be to grow-up step-by-step and reward them for that confidence. I'm sure that one of the men to beat will be my fellow Audi racer Morbidelli».