Last weekend at the 2015 Autosport International Show I took the opportunity to speak to several different Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship drivers regarding their plans for the upcoming 2015 season…
The first driver I spoke to was Simon Belcher, who confirmed his plans before Christmas to return for a second season of BTCC behind the wheel of the Handy Motorsport NGTC Toyota Avensis. Simon explained that for the team and himself, 2015 was a season of progression.
“Well 2015 is our progression year. 2014 was our rookie year and we’re looking to move forward. If I look back to this time last year, we had done one test in December 2013 to get myself comfortable with the car and no further testing otherwise,” he explained.
Simon went on to explain how he and the team are moving forward. “When you first start driving one of these cars, you feel like you are on top of the car. Now after a season’s experience I actually feel one with the car and the car feels part of me. That means we can start really pushing forward. This season we have continued the technical partnership with Speedworks, who run the sister Toyota Avensis and have signed renouned Touring Car Engineer Geoff Kingston, who is radically redeveloping the front end aero as well as looking at building new shells which will take about 30 kilos out of the car.”
For Simon the goal for this season is clear. “With 32 cars on the grid being driven by arguably the best Touring Car drivers in the Country, the top 15 is where we want to be. Once we are consistently there and we hit that goal, then we’ll move that up to be consistently in the top ten, but its all one step at a time.”
During the show, Simon later confirmed that he would indeed have one of the new lighter NGTC Toyota Avensis shells to start the season with.
The theme of progression is one that Aiden Moffat shared as well when I spoke with him. He explained that the initial goal for this season is top ten finishes. “Several times last year we were knocking on the door of points finishes and we now have a proven car which last year was also a strong car, so we don’t see a reason as to why we can’t break into the top ten,” Aiden explained
However he and the team feel much more prepared for the season ahead after being in a much more settled position. “Last year we didn’t get to do a lot of testing due to sorting out sponsors and then the accident at Thruxton put us behind as well. Last year we were still making changes to the team after the firsr couple of meeting. This year we have a lot of testing planned and we have a proven package ready to work with.”
With this being his second season of BTCC and Aiden being the youngest driver on the grid, I also asked him what he has done differently to prepare himself for the 2015 season. “I think experience has been key in my preperation since last season. Last year it took me a while to get used to the mindset of “I’m here, they’re here, we’re in the same championship, so lets go racing” and I feel thats helped. I’m as good as the rest of the drivers in the BTCC and I’m looking forward fighting with them.”
I also asked him about the difference he found between the Chevrolet Cruze Saloon and the Mercedes A-Class he tested before Christmas at Donington Park. “There was a massive difference between both cars. The Mercedes felt more suited to my driving style and I felt more confident to push in the car. In the Chevrolet, I found it more snappy and unpredictable to react to my driving style. In the Mercedes, I found it was easier to start pushing the car towards the limit with the small amount of time I spent in the car and thats given me confidence to try and move up the field this year.”
Aiden and the team are looking forward to testing the NGTC Laser Tools Mercedes very soon and for the second consecutive season, the team is in a technical partnership with the WIX Racing/Ciceley Motorsport squad who ran Adam Morgan in their Mercedes A-Class last season.
I also spoke to Tony Gilham about his 2015 Tintop plans and to Richard Hawken on his prepration for his debut season in the BTCC as an Infiniti driver and this will soon in another post.
All the best!
All the best from the Guru!!