2016 BTCC News Update No.2…

Hello BTCC Fans!!

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As is the usual case with the build up each year for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, the news doesn’t stop flowing… So here are the latest updates!!!

JAMES COLE JOINS SUBARU TEAM BMR FOR 2016 BTCC

James Cole will join Team BMR for the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship to complete the line-up of the Subaru UK manufacturer team for the forthcoming season.

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James will be behind the wheel of the fourth new Subaru Levorg Sports Tourer in what will be his fourth season in the BTCC.  The former British Formula Ford Champion will make his switch from Motorbase Performance where he competed in the second half of the season with the team after they joined the grid at Snetterton in August..

The Liverpool based driver joins the Team BMR line up alongside his three team mates Colin Turkington, Jason Plato and Team Principle Warren Scott.

A delighted Warren Scott commented “It’s great to welcome James to the team and I look forward to seeing how well he does in the Subaru Levorg.  He has lots of experience to bring to the BMR team and I believe this is the right time and place for him to showcase his ability.”

James Racing career began in 2007 competing in the BRSCC North West Formula Ford championship where he took the title, before progressing to the main championship in 2008 where he finished in tenth.

He went on to win the British Formula Ford championship title in 2009 and was nominated for the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award.  After graduating to the British Formula 3 and then Formula 2, James made his BTCC debut in 2013.

Speaking of his new team James stated “I’m very excited to be joining Warren and the talented team of people he has brought together at BMR. I’ve still got loads to learn in BTCC and I couldn’t be in a better place to do that alongside Carl & Kevin, my engineer Richard Owen, and two of the best BTCC drivers, Jason and Colin. My previous successes came in rear wheel drive so I believe a big step forward can be made this year. I would also like to thank Warren for this great opportunity, I intend to make the most of it.”

Team Manager Alan Cole added “I am pleased to welcome James to the team, I look forward to adding his rear wheel drive experience to our new project and I am expecting good things for the season as he learns from his team mates.”

WIX RACING CONFIRM NEW ENGINEER LINEUP FOR 2016 BTCC

Ciceley Motorsport, the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship team that operates WIX Racing, has announced major changes to its engineering personnel for 2016.

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Marco Calovolo will replace Paul Ridgway in heading up the engineering squad, concentrating on Adam Morgan’s Mercedes-Benz A-Class and he will be joined by Federico Turrata who will oversee Aiden Moffat’s similar car having recently been successful in the Chinese Touring Car Championship.

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Calovolo has over 25 years of experience on touring car race engineering, most recently looking after James Thompson in the World Touring Car Championship and he is relishing the challenge of a new team, a new car, new circuits, a new specification of touring car and a new championship. Having worked in Formula 1 and the DTM, he was a key part of Alfa Romeo’s success in the WTCC before most recently working for the LADA project.

Paul Ridgway will leave Ciceley Motorsport to pursue an opportunity, which presents a new challenge that he just can’t resist. Ridgway joined Ciceley Motorsport in 2013 and has been a major factor not only in turning the Mercedes-Benz A-Class into a winning car but also in helping Adam Morgan make the graduation into a touring car race winner.

Ciceley Motorsport team owner Russell Morgan said: “It is with great sadness that Paul is leaving us, not only for his brilliance as an engineer but also as a close friend to both Adam and me. Paul has made it clear that he still wishes to see ‘his Merc’s’ fighting at the front and will always be on hand to assist where possible. We are, however, incredibly excited and lucky to have Marco and Federico joining us, as their pedigree is there for all to see.”

Bob Moffat of Laser Tools Racing said: “Changes like this are always inevitable in racing. We have a strong engineering team joining us and, with the introduction of the new RML components, I believe we have a strong platform to build on. I would like to thank Paul for his tremendous efforts and would like to wish him all the best in his new role.”

A handover period will begin during a three-day test for the team in Portimao in late February with both WIX Racing and Laser Tools Racing eager to form a successful relationship with their Italian engineers – and develop a taste for Espresso!

THRUXTON SEES FIRST MAJOR BTCC GATHERING…

Thruxton kick-started its 2016 motor sport campaign in fine style this week, with a busy pre-season test that gave a number of BTCC drivers the opportunity to get some crucial mileage under their belts come both rain and shine.

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Whilst not exclusively TOCA-oriented, Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship competitors and support series drivers and teams made up the majority of the 50-plus entries at the two-day test around Britain’s fastest circuit.

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Former BTCC Champion Andrew Jordan got to grips with his strikingly-liveried new Pirtek Racing Ford Focus run by Motorbase Performance, as Jack Goff similarly spent more time acclimatising himself to the IHG Rewards Club BMW 125i M Sport.

Defending title-holder Gordon Shedden put in an appearance on day two as Wednesday’s showers made way for wall-to-wall sunshine, with the Scot taking advantage of the clement conditions to further hone Honda’s potent new Civic Type R, carefully camouflaged until its 2016 livery is unveiled.

There was something of a Civic community in Hampshire, indeed, with Jeff Smith and Martin Depper taking to the track for Eurotech Racing alongside series newcomer Matt Simpson in his Speedworks Motorsport-run car.

Goff was joined by West Surrey Racing stablemates Rob Collard and Sam Tordoff, whilst Alex Martin’s bright yellow Dextra Racing Ford Focus was instantly recognisable around Thruxton’s high-speed sweepers.

The BTCC boys shared the circuit throughout the test with protagonists from the Renault UK Clio Cup, MSA Formula, Ginetta Junior Championship and Ginetta GT5 Challenge – and 2013 title-winner Jordan confirmed that it had been a positive and productive pre-season outing.

“It’s been good,” said the man who annexed pole position at Thruxton every year between 2012 and 2014 and still holds the BTCC qualifying lap record. “We’ve done enough running and got somewhere near with the baseline set-up for the wet. It’s the first time we’ve tried out the new suspension kit in those conditions actually.

“Despite a minor issue that cut Thursday short for us, it was another very promising day and our pace was there or thereabouts throughout. I always love driving here. Thruxton is so quick and probably my favourite circuit. You’ve got to be brave but you’ve also got to have a bit of finesse; you’re almost dancing with the car.”

DRIVERS & SEATS FOR BTCC 2016…

Theres also been a more clearer picture building regarding the 2016 BTCC season this week.

With seats or drivers yet to be confirmed at MG/Triple Eight, Power Maxed Racing, AmD Tuning, Welch Motorsport and Support Our Paras Racing, along with the potential 3rd seat at Eurotech Racing, some drivers are struggling to secure budgets for these positions.

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Lets be clear, MG have renewed their commitment to the BTCC for next three years and are looking return to winning ways with their updated MG6’s this year. Theyre looking for good fast drivers to race against the established works programmes of Team Dynamics/Honda, Team BMR/Subaru & WSR/BMW and take not only race wins but challenge for the Drivers Championship, Teams Championship and Constructors Championship…with updated machinery and a fresh driver lineup, never ever count out Triple Eight…

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Power Maxed Racing had a great debut year in 2015 with both Dave Newsham and Josh Cook hassling the top teams at most venues, whilst Cook took a podium finish in his first BTCC season. The team also debuted the new RML NGTC parts at the Brands Hatch Finale and the team has seen several drivers test the updated Chevrolet Cruze over the winter to get an idea of how the cars will react with new RML NGTC parts.

Both of these teams will surely be frontrunners in 2016 but we’ve already seen that Dave Newsham has been struggling to secure a seat (although last week he confirmed on Twitter he’d passed his medical to race), Hunter Abbott confirmed he wouldn’t be joining Rob Austin at Handy Motorsport due to a lack of budget and Josh Cook is working hard to try and secure a seat despite losing a backer. Theres also the question of where Aron Smith will go. The 3 time BTCC race winner will not be returning to BMR, thats now clear, but like Newsham, Abbott & Cook, Smith is another fast driver in need of a seat.

Mike Bushell has confirmed he will return to the TOCA Support package in the Renault Clio Cup and it could be that a step back could open up a better step up for 2017. To add to this, Handy Motorsport have confirmed that they will run one car despite having secured a second TBL… Therefore the chances to get on the 2016 grid are getting more difficult.

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Consider one final thought… This week is the final week of February. Media Day takes place on 22 March at Donington Park, which leaves about 5 weeks before the season opener at Brands Hatch on the first weekend in April. Thats not long to secure a budget and get seat time in the car…

The clock is ticking…

As usual, I will be keeping you up to date with all the BTCC News as the Tintop Guru Blog continues to cover the buildup to the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!

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