Premium car manufacturer Infiniti, along with Support Our Paras Racing, today revealed the car and team — to be known as ‘Infiniti Support Our Paras Racing’ — that will be entered into next season’s Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
The aim of the team is to specifically help raise awareness and funds for Support Our Paras, the official charity of The Parachute Regiment, one of the most iconic Regiments in the British Army.
The team, overseen by Team Principal Derek Palmer, will consist of a number of injured Paratroopers who will work on the cars to prepare them not only for race weekends, but also maintain their maximum efficiency throughout the hectic schedule of a BTCC season.
The team has also set itself the ultimate long-term goal of developing, training and ensuring an injured Paratrooper graduates through the racing ranks to pilot an Infiniti Support Our Paras Racing car in the future.
“We’ve set ourselves a number of significant, but achievable targets,” Team Principal Palmer stated. “Of course we are aware of the challenges ahead of us, but with the united forces of The Paras and Infiniti, we believe we have the power to deliver results in the BTCC.”
The introduction of the new team coincides with the amalgamation of the two main Parachute Regiment charities. At the beginning of next year, the former Parachute Regiment Afghanistan Trust will merge with the Parachute Regiment Charity, and operate under the new name ‘Support Our Paras’.
Colin Smith, CEO of Afghanistan Trust, and to be Director of Operations for Support Our Paras charity, said: “I know the overall impact will be tremendous now that the team has finally launched. This is something totally different. It’s employing injured Paratroopers and they can eventually make a career out of this; that has never happened before.”
Steve Oliver, Infiniti Regional Director for North Europe, commented: “To have an Infiniti on the starting grid in the BTCC next year will be an exciting event on its own, but to have the car represent the Parachute Regiment’s main charity makes it exceptionally worthwhile.
Infiniti is establishing itself as a main player in the premium sector in the UK, with sales on the increase, a new design Centre in Paddington London and from next year we will manufacture the first Infiniti for Europe outside of Japan from the plant based in Sunderland. These race cars reinforce our commitment to the UK and provide an ideal platform to link together two truly British establishments, The Parachute Regiment and the BTCC.”
The two NGTC Infiniti Q50 race cars will be driven by Richard Hawken (Walton-on-Thames) — who has won three championships at club level and tested for Speedworks in 2013 — and Derek Palmer Jnr (Lanark/Zurich). Both drivers have raced successfully in Super Touring Cars in recent years.
“I’m extremely proud to be associated with the Parachute Regiment, honoured to work with, and be associated with, the guys and to be part of the team entering the BTCC,” said Palmer, who has race experience in Dutch Touring Cars, Historic Touring Cars, as well as FIA GT, British GT and European GT Championships. “Infiniti’s aspirations perfectly align with those of the team.”