An unprecedented 32-car entry has been confirmed for the 2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship during today’s (24 March) Season Launch event at Donington Park.
After a hugely entertaining and record breaking 2014 season, which saw Colin Turkington and West Surrey Racing crowned worthy champions, 2015 looks set to build further on the continued success of Britain’s premier motor sport series.
This year marks the second all-NGTC (Next Generation Touring Car) specification season and the fifth campaign since the regulations were first introduced.
Such has been the success of the technical rules that they have been endorsed by the sport’s international governing body, the FIA, for use in touring car racing across the globe.
The diversity of cars also continues to grow in the BTCC, with premium car manufacturer Infiniti joining the championship and becoming the 12th marque to be represented in the NGTC era.
This year’s Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship will again comprise of 30 races across ten events at nine venues around the UK, with the season commencing at Brands Hatch on 4/5 April and concluding on the legendary Grand Prix circuit at the same venue on 10/11 October.
ITV will continue to broadcast each and every race live and in high definition on ITV4, with further highlights shown on ITV. The weekend crowds regularly reach between 30,000-40,000 at each venue.
All change at the top
It has been a whirlwind winter for the BTCC with major news stories and driver announcements breaking throughout the off-season.
The series, which is renowned for its competitiveness and unpredictability, looks set to be cranked up a further notch in 2015 as all of its competing previous champions have changed machinery for the season ahead.
Reigning supremo Colin Turkington arguably produced the biggest surprise after it was announced he would be joining Team BMR. The online reveal for the fledgling and ambitious team reached fever pitch, however, when it was also confirmed that fellow double Champion Jason Plato would be joining Turkington as team-mate.
It will be the first time that Plato and Turkington have raced for the same outfit together and unsurprisingly the first time in the recent history of the series that the previous year’s top two drivers have joined forces at a new team. Aron Smith and Team Boss Warren Scott complete the squad’s four-strong VW entry.
With Plato and Turkington creating room at Triple Eight Racing and WSR respectively, both leading teams moved quickly to fill the void with headline announcements of their own. In fact before the sensational deals had even been inked at Team BMR, it was the manufacturer-backed MG squad at Triple Eight Racing who’d pulled off the biggest capture of the pre-season so far.
Former champion Andrew Jordan confirmed his departure from both the Honda family and of course his own family-run Eurotech team to take up the reins as lead driver for MG.
The 25-year-old has wasted little time in getting up to speed in the often pace-setting MG6, having completed an extensive pre-season test programme. Jack Goff, concluding an all-new line-up for the reigning manufacturer champions, will partner Jordan at Triple Eight Racing.
WSR soon announced their own top class signing with triple World Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx joining Rob Collard and young gun Sam Tordoff at the 2014 quadruple title winners.
Furthermore the Surrey-based squad has been promoted to compete for Constructor honours within the Manufacturer/Constructor championship this season, and as such will be targeting that rather than defending its Independents’ title.
Honda Yuasa Racing is the only front-running team to possess continuity in its driving ranks as both Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden stay with the team for a sixth successive season.
The variables in predicting this year’s title chase just keep on coming, however, as the squad switch from the Civic Tourer – last year’s race-winning estate model – to the all-new and much anticipated Civic Type R.
Build of the BTCC Type R – officially unveiled at today’s Season Launch – has only been completed in the last week and has undergone limited testing to date. What is known, however, is that Team Dynamics know how to build championship-winning cars, having done so several times previously.
The car itself is also one of the most eagerly awaited in years as the legendary Japanese model hits the track before even reaching the road, with the production model not expected to arrive in UK showrooms until later in the year.