With the clock ticking ever closer to the start of the 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, ESM’s BTCC Correspondent has made time (amongst finding out he’s going to be a father) to produce another detailed update. Read on for the latest BTCC news and announcements:
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue
My last article featured the great news that Colin Turkington has returned to the BTCC for the forthcoming season following a 3 year absence. It’s fair to say I’m still rather excited about this and I’m pleased to report the BMW 1-series has been built and been out on track testing in anticipation of the new season. eBay Motors have, once again, designed an ‘interesting’ looking car for 2013 as shown below:
Another familiar face returning for the new season is James Kaye. I have always had a great respect for the effort Kaye puts into his racing, albeit towards the back-end of the grid. Unfortunately, I think we may continue to see Kaye bringing up the rear as he’s signed up with AmDTuning.com, which naturally means he’ll be driving that car. Yes, that Golf. Kaye, competing in his first full season since 2006, will be challenging for the newly-formed Jack Sears Trophy for non-NGTC cars.
Also competing in the Jack Sears Trophy will be David Nye. The 55-year-old has signed a deal with Welch Motorsport to drive a S2000 Focus. We’ll see how this one goes I think. Similarly, driving a S2000 Focus next season in the Jack Sears Trophy will be Liam Griffin. He’s remained with Motorbase (despite saying he was retiring), like Mat Jackson and Aron Smith, but they are making the upgrade to NGTC cars. Jackson, in particular, showed good promise in the NGTC Focus last season and I’m sure Motorbase will be hoping for similar and more this year. Smith certainly showed his worth in the S2000 Focus at the back-end of the season, no doubt making Motorbase keen to retain the Irishman for this year. However, he’ll do well to keep out Jason Plato’s way after their incident at Knockhill. One big difference at Motorbase this season is that they have switched major sponsors from Redstone to Airwaves and will therefore be known as ‘Airwaves Racing.’ Naturally their car has changed livery accordingly:
A quick round-up of other teams sees Jeff Smith remaining with Pirtek Racing alongside Andrew Jordan for another season in the Honda Civic. Pirtek have declared they are intending to seriously challenge for the title this season. A big statement I’m sure you’ll agree, but not one that’s completely unachievable. Jason Plato has a new teammate at ‘his’ MG KX Momentum Team in Sam Tordoff. Over previous seasons Tordoff has been at the top end of the BTCC support races, notably the Clio and Carrera Cups. However, it is funny how Plato is Tordoff’s mentor under the ‘KX Academy Racing Scheme.’ Just remember Sam- don’t beat Jason, he won’t like it! One team still looking for a racer is Speedworks Motorsport. I would suggest that Lea Wood, of previous Vauxhall Vectra fame, is the front-runner to take the seat alongside Dave Newsham after testing with them out in Portugal. I know Speedworks have had other interested parties testing with them, including a 16-year-old, but my money is definitely on Wood.
Some of the biggest pre-season news has come out of Team HARD. with them announcing they are running 2 Insignias and 2 Passats during the coming season. In addition to this, it now looks all but certain that they will actually be running 3 Passats, with the 3rd being run on a part season basis by 2 drivers. Robb Holland has been confirmed for some later rounds, like last year, but new face in 20-year-old Howard Fuller is set to start the season in the Passat. It is hoped that Fuller will be able to secure a budget to compete in all the rounds until Holland takes over.
The teams will now be in their final stages of pre-season testing, with races beginning in 2 weeks. An interesting season lies ahead and I hope to preview all the runners and riders in my next article, along with my season predictions, ahead of the opening round on the 31st March.
With the 2013 motorsport season now well and truly underway, ESM will of course be keeping you up to date with news and analysis as the year progresses.