So with what seems to be a busy but also an interesting and intriguing 2016 BTCC season ahead of us, heres the run down of recent news stories. I will happily apologise if these seem a little out of date. Unfortunately my time away from the blog has been rather busy of late so I am on a little catchup.
If you’ll forgive me, I’d appreciate that…
So, the news!!!
BTCC Champ Dave Newsham moves to Rallycross with
Power Maxed Racing
Power Maxed Racing (PMR) are delighted to announce that 2014 BTCC Jack Sears Trophy Winner, Dave Newsham has signed to race for the team in the 2016 MSA British Rallycross Championship. Confirming his sabbatical from the BTCC, Newsham will compete in his maiden season in British Rallycross as Power Maxed Racing look to contest their first ever championship in the formula.
Power Maxed Racing have confirmed they will enter a 600 BHP, All-Wheel-Drive Ford Fiesta in the Supercar class. The team have been working non-stop on their 2016 expansion plans after completing their first season in the BTCC in 2015. They will enter teams into British Rallycross, British Touring Car Championship as well as other championships to be released over the coming weeks.
Dave Newsham had a strong 2015 season with Power Maxed Racing in the BTCC putting his Chevrolet Cruze in and around the top ten. The Scotsman is no stranger to British Rallycross having competed previously in the Super 1600 class. Both Power Maxed Racing and Dave Newsham have also confirmed that key sponsors including 3M, Joyce Design, Coffee Drops, Norscott, Automatic Retailing, Kitwave, Vendman and One Estates will also be supporting the British Rallycross programme.
Adam Weaver, Power Maxed Racing Team Principal commented, “I’m thrilled to continue our relationship with Dave, he is a highly talented driver and a great guy. It is great news for the team that he has agreed to take a sabbatical from the BTCC to help PMR in our development year in British Rallycross. I was planning to drive myself but when the opportunity arose to put Dave in the seat, it was one not to be missed.”
Weaver continued, “British Rallycross has long been on my radar and I am really pleased to be entering this year. I’m incredibly passionate about Rallycross and its potential and bringing a proven name like Dave Newsham is not only good news for us but good news for the championship. We are taking a phased approach into the championship, this year we will be entering a proven car from 2015 before going on to build our own cars for 2017.”
Dave Newsham remarked, “I’m really looking forward to a great season in British Rallycross. I love watching the action on TV, it is one of the most exciting forms of motorsport there is. I had the pleasure of sampling it for myself at the 2014 GP, that got me hooked. I really enjoyed working with PMR last year and I am delighted to be remaining part of the family and looking forward to a long future with the team. Their professionalism and skill will stand us in good stead in British Rallycross. It’ll take a bit of getting used to as I’ve spent the last few seasons trying to avoid the gravel but getting behind the wheel of a 600BHP monster is going to be fantastic, I can’t wait!”
Newsham continued “I’ve had five incredible years in BTCC with some very good memories. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the whole BTCC community for their support and my sponsors for the opportunity of making the switch to BRX possible”.
2016 MSA British Rallycross Championship will be contested over eight rounds taking place across seven weekends from March to October. The first round is on the 6th March at Croft.
Power Maxed Racing sign Hunter Abbott
Power Maxed Racing (PMR) are proud to announce that they have moved quickly to sign Hunter Abbott to drive the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze for Power Maxed Racing in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC). Hunter has also been engaged as brand ambassador for Automotive Brands, Steel Seal, Power Maxed and J-B Weld, which will see him complete a number of engagements for the brands during 2016.
Power Maxed Racing have made great strides forward since they joined the championship at the start of last year. Following the change of ownership to Power Maxed and the appointment of Martin Broadhurst as Technical Director, they have pushed every element of their racing programme to find improvements. They were chosen as development partner to RML being the first team to test the new BTCC components, as well as forming a close working relationship with Swindon Engines and developing a host of new initiatives including a new engine for this season.
Hunter Abbott has a long and distinguished racing career and this will be his third season in the BTCC. His racing CV is full of accolades starting from his Karting career. He is one of only two drivers to have won a championship in his first year of karting, the other being F1 Star, Jenson Button. He has been awarded Driver of the Year by NASCAR legends Roush Racing while racing in SCSA, winning the Rookie Championship in 2005 and finishing vice-champion on his return to the series in 2007. He continued to a successful GT career as 2008 British GT4 vice-champion and 2013 Benelux Porsche Carrera Cup Vice-Champion with many poles, podiums and wins to his name between. Proof of Hunter’s pace and versatility is that he has held lap records at Zolder, Spa-Francorchamps, Donington Park National and Brands Hatch Indy circuits.
Adam Weaver, Team Principal, Power Maxed Racing commented, “I have had my eye on Hunter for a while now and am looking forward to giving him his chance to shine and show his true potential. There’s so much more that goes in to being successful than just driver talent and this is more prevalent the higher up you go, preparation, team and machine are vital ingredients. I have been a good judge of motorsport talent in the past and I see something in Hunter, racing is a learnt skill you’re not born a driver and Hunter is highly intelligent with lots of experience. I believe pairing him with the technical skill of the PMR team and engineers, we can help Hunter unlock his true BTCC pace. That is why I am happy to support Hunter as a driver and Brand Ambassador.”
Weaver continues, “Hunter has a great track record and we believe that if we guide him through the switch to front wheel drive, he will flourish in the team, turn a few heads and deliver some of his best results. We run a very ‘open book’ team approach, sharing data and setups as we believe that treating both drivers as equals moves the whole team forward, he will be no understudy.”
Hunter Abbott commented, “I am very much looking forward to the new opportunities presented by PMR, I want to show the paddock what I can achieve and repay Adam’s faith in my abilities. I have had 2 good years in the BTCC and I can’t wait to get out in the Chevrolet with PMR. It will also be great to try my hand at front wheel drive especially as the Chevrolet has enjoyed such a high level of development.”
Abbott continues, “I am looking forward to working as a Brand Ambassador with Adam and the Automotive Brands – Steel Seal, Power Maxed & J-B Weld, there are so many synergies between our businesses, mine being Alcosense Breathalysers and I know this strategic partnership will offer massive opportunities all round.”
Negotiations are well underway to fill the final PMR seat with a number of names in the frame. Adam Weaver explains, “We have a number of options for our final seat, we are talking to some familiar faces, a BTCC multi-champion and one or two new ones. All the drivers we are talking to will make a great pairing with Hunter, but you know what this part of the season is like for speculation and rumour, we will just have to wait and see”.
Support Our Paras Infinity BTCC Team withdraws from 2016 season
British Touring Car Championship team Support Our Paras Racing has withdrawn from the series with immediate effect.
The team, operated by Derek Palmer Sr, began last season with two factory-supported rear-wheel-drive Infiniti Q50 machines, but lost its works backing after the Thruxton round of the 2015 campaign. The project was staffed by injured servicemen.
The decision to withdraw was made by team principal Palmer Sr and came after the targeted budget for 2016 was not forthcoming.
“Naturally it’s a huge disappointment to the team, and the injured guys from the Parachute Regiment who prepared and operated the car,” he said.
“We appreciate these are tough times financially for companies across the country, but that doesn’t make our disappointment any less. We will now focus on returning to motorsport in a different series.”
Team HARD. Awarded 2nd TBL for 2016 BTCC
Team HARD will run two cars in the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship after Series Organiser TOCA approved its purchase of an additional TOCA BTCC Licence (TBL).
Kent-based Team HARD already owned one TBL – required for each entry to guarantee participation – and has now concluded successful negotiations to obtain another as part of its expansion plans for the coming season.
“This is an exciting time for Team HARD and now we’re facing arguably the biggest year we’ve ever had,” said Team Principal Tony Gilham. “This is great news and we’ll bring you further information on our second seat over the coming weeks.”
Young talent Chris Smiley has already been signed by Team HARD and expected to drive the outfit’s Toyota Avensis, but Gilham has also admitted he is evaluating a number of car options for the future.
Team HARD, along with the rest of the BTCC entry list, will make its first official outing of 2016 during the Season Launch event at Donington Park on 22 March. The opening rounds take place at Brands Hatch on the 2/3 April.
Austin looking forward to Handy Motorsport season
Rob Austin produced an unsurprisingly rapid showing during his maiden test at the wheel of Handy Motorsport’s brand new Toyota Avensis in Portugal at the weekend – an outing which left the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship squad feeling justifiably excited for the 2016 season.
Adapting to the front-wheel drive Toyota impressively well, having raced rear-wheel drive cars in the BTCC in recent years, Pershore driver Austin concluded the outing at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve within just a few tenths of the quickest touring car on track
Reflecting on the test, team principal Simon Belcher said: “I’ve no doubt if we’d had the benefit of the full three days, we would have been even quicker. Considering the problem we had with the engine, and the amount of testing time we missed, we all returned to the UK feeling extremely positive – the car is quick and, as we already knew, so is Rob!
“Our guys then worked through the night on the second day to fit the engine so we could get Rob back out for the final day – it was a real team effort and everyone did a great job. Unsurprisingly, Rob adapted very quickly to the front-wheel drive and by the end of the test he was within just a few tenths of the quickest touring car. All in all, it’s been a very positive start for everyone.”
With additional testing in the UK scheduled over the next couple of weeks, Austin’s first ‘official’ appearance as a Handy Motorsport driver will come during the annual BTCC Season Launch at Donington Park in Leicestershire on Tuesday 22nd March.
The season itself commences over the weekend 2nd/3rd April at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in Kent.
Team HARD. Confirm Jake Hill to join Chris Smiley & 3rd TBL
Jake Hill will join Chris Smiley at Team HARD for the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship campaign – driving an RCIB Insurance-backed Toyota Avensis.
Hill, 22, a BRDC Rising Star, made his BTCC debut at Croft in 2013, coming out on top in the Jack Sears Trophy battle. He also raced in the series at the Brands Hatch season finale in both 2013 and 2015.The Kent-based racer is delighted to have secured a full-time drive in the UK’s premier motor sport championship, praising the vital support of RCIB Insurance.
“I am thrilled to have been given this amazingopportunity thanks to Tony Gilham at Team HARD, RCIB Insurance and of course our long-term supporters Sportif Motor Group and our other fantastic partners,” said Hill. “I have loved the BTCC races I’ve competed in so far and I hope I can show what I can do with a full programme. I’m now gearing up for the Season Launch in a couple of weeks and testing.”
Team principal Tony Gilham has long been a fan of Hill’s and is effusive about the prospect of him joining the outfit.
“With Jake and Chris [Smiley], we have one of the most exciting pairings of young talent in the series,” said Gilham. “As soon as it became apparent that we were in a position to run a second car, Jake was my absolute first choice. I really couldn’t have asked for a better line-up, and having seen how quick Jake is in everything he’s raced so far, it’s fantastic to finally have him as part of our family.”
Hill will begin testing at the BTCC Season Launch at Donington Park on 22 March, before further running prior to the curtain-raiser at Brands Hatch – home circuit for driver and team alike – over Easter weekend.
“Both the team and I are based in Kent so I know we will have lots of local support, especially from family and friends, which makes things even more special,” Hill said. “I really can’t thank everyone who has helped make this happen enough – I just can’t wait to get started!”
Managing Director of RCIB Insurance, Mike Joseph, said: “Jake is a great young prospect and we had many people asking us to help him get a drive. It’s exciting to be part of this reborn team, which we believe can surprise a few people this year and be competitive. We love working with the guys at Team HARD and have enjoyed working together since they first entered BTCC.”
After announcing Hill joining the team, Team Principle Tony Gilham confirmed several days later that the team had gained a 3rd TBL for the 2016 season:
Kent-based Team HARD will expand to a three-car operation in the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship after securing a third TOCA BTCC Licence (TBL) in recent days. The news follows last week’s announcement that Jake Hill will contest a full campaign with the squad, alongside the previously signed rookie Chris Smiley, but now the ambitious outfit is committed to building a third Toyota Avensis ahead of the new BTCC season.
It has been an extremely busy winter for Team HARD and this latest development is another signal of intent in its bid to move further up the grid in the UK’s premier motor sport series.
Team Principal Tony Gilham and his loyal staff have worked tirelessly over the last 12 months to reinvent the team and piece together what they believe to be a ‘dream team’, with the third driver being confirmed later this week.
“With Jake Hill joining Chris Smiley, we already have one of the most exciting pairings of young talent in the series,” said Gilham. “As soon as it became apparent that we were in a position to run a third car, we decided to again look to young talent to fill the seat. I really couldn’t have asked for a better line-up and to be in a position to be able to support these young drivers in the BTCC thanks to our amazing sponsors is unbelievable.”
The team faces a huge task ahead as it continues building its second and third cars, with the intention of running all three at the BTCC Season Launch at Donington Park on 22 March. The trio of Toyotas, which will all run the TOCA engine, will then test further before the season opener at Brands Hatch.
The latest driver to join the RCIB Insurance Racing squad will be announced this Wednesday at 8am. This signing will join Hill in a pair of RCIB-backed cars, whilst Chris Smiley will move across to race under a new team name that will be announced in due course.
Ollie Jackson returns to the BTCC with AmD Tuning
AmDTuning.com can confirm that it has re-signed Ollie Jackson to spearhead its assault on the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
The 31-year-old, originally from Reigate but now based in Tamworth, previously raced with the West Thurrock-based team in his first full season in the BTCC back in 2012 – taking three top ten finishes at the wheel of a VW Golf en-route to 18th in the standings.
Ollie then went on to spend a further two seasons in the series with rival teams, before moving into the supporting Ginetta GT4 Supercup last year after a tough season on track in 2014.
With a solid year of racing behind him in 2015, Ollie now returns to the BTCC eager to show his true potential at the wheel of AmDTuning.com’s Audi S3. Ollie is set to get his first run in the car at the BTCC’s annual Media Day event at Donington Park later this month, with the team hopeful of additional running prior to the season opener at Brands Hatch in early April.
“If I’m being honest, I didn’t really think a BTCC return was on the cards this year and I was expecting to return to Ginettas again for a second season,” Ollie admitted. “However, I had a chat with Shaun and before you know it, we’d agreed a deal for me to race the Audi this year. I’m absolutely delighted to be back on the touring car grid, especially with the guys at AmDTuning.com as my best season in the BTCC came with them back in 2012 with the Golf.”
“My last season in the championship didn’t go to plan and is one I would rather forget, but I feel I’m coming back into the series in good shape and view this deal as a fresh start and an opportunity to show what I can do. There is no doubt that the Audi has a lot of potential, but we also have to be realistic in what is going to be a very strong field. I see no reason why we can’t challenge for points on a regular basis during the season and if we can also break into the top ten as we go along then I think we can be happy.”
Team boss Shaun Hollamby said he was pleased to bring Ollie back into the AmDTuning.com fold as the team embarks on a first full season running the Audi, which it campaigned in the second half of 2015.
“We had a lot of interest in the car for this season, particularly after people had chance to see it in the flesh in the new livery at the Autosport International show,” he said. “We’re pleased to have agreed a deal with Ollie to return the fold and are looking forward to resuming the relationship we enjoyed with him when he raced with our Golf.”
“Ollie is a driver who comes back into the series with a point to prove after a tough year in 2014 and we are confident that we have a package that will allow him to show his true potential. We showed the pace of the Audi in the second half of 2015 and with Ollie back in the team, we are confident of being able to regularly challenge for points during the year ahead.”
Michael Epps Joins Team HARD. for Maiden BTCC Season
Team HARD has confirmed that Michael Epps will complete RCIB Insurance Racing’s driver line-up for the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship campaign.
Epps will join Chris Smiley and Jake Hill following a 2015 season spent competing in the VW Racing Cup, where he picked up multiple wins and podiums. The step up to Team HARD and the BTCC is one Epps is relishing.
“It’s probably the most exciting time in my career so far. I could only dream of a BTCC seat at one stage and now it’s really happening – I’m struggling to take it in,” the 24-year-old said. “There was a prospect of driving in the BTCC from the very beginning of my relationship with Team HARD and RCIB, but over thewinter we have come closer and closer to actually being able to make a dealwork.”
“The opportunity presented itself and we had to grab it and work it into this. Now here we are and I can’t wait to go blasting up to Paddock Hill on that first weekend at Brands! The aim is obviously to get as high up as possible and with the current situation of cars changing packages and lots of money being spent, you just never know. I’m optimistic and hoping to bring home points.”
With Epps alongside Smiley and Hill, the outfit has a driver line-up with an average age of just 23. Promoting young talent has been a conscious effort on the part of Team Principal Tony Gilham.
“We have chosen to support young up-and-coming drivers once again,” he acknowledged. “We’re rewriting the rulebook and focusing on skill rather than just looking for drivers with big budgets. Mike is another very exciting prospect and I can’t wait to see what he can do in the Avensis. Having witnessed his pace last year, we are confident he will enjoy a very promising debut season. This isjust the start of a long-term plan for the team as we now look to establish a solid platform on which to build moving forwards.”
Team Dynamics/Honda Confirm Return of Halford’s Sponsorship
Halfords returns with Team Halfords Yuasa Racing for the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season, with the team ready to defend its driver and manufacturer titles with Gordon Shedden, Matt Neal and new signing Andy Neate.
Halfords will be back on the BTCC grid after a seven-year absence, as co-title sponsor of last year’s championship winning team, which now competes as Team Halfords Yuasa Racing. Scotsman Gordon Shedden will return to defend his drivers’ championship title after an exhilarating 2015 season, with team-mate and three-time champion Matt Neal entering his 26th year in the UK’s premier motorsport category.
The team also expands to three cars for the first time since 2006, with the experienced Andy Neate joining the squad. Halfords sponsored Team Dynamics’ motorsport programme for five years from 2004 to 2008, with Matt Neal winning the first two championships of his BTCC career behind the wheel of the famous Honda Integra Type R, also becoming the first independent driver to win the overall drivers’ championship in the British Touring Car Championship’s history. Gordon Shedden joined the Halfords and Team Dynamics family in 2006, taking four wins and helping Team Halfords to its second consecutive teams’ championship title in his debut season.
Paul Tomlinson, Motoring Expert at Halfords: “It’s fantastic to bring the Halfords and Halfords Autocentre brands back into the country’s biggest motorsport championship. We’re looking forward to laying down the gauntlet this season and bringing orange and black back to the grid with Team Dynamics, as well as our partner Yuasa Batteries, to defend the driver and manufacturer titles.”
Andrew Taylor, Managing Director of Yuasa Battery Sales (UK): “We’ve had an amazing journey so far in the British Touring Car Championship with Matt, Gordon and the Honda Yuasa Racing Team, and now we look forward to working with Halfords to defend our championship with the team in 2016. Our sponsorship of the team now enters a new era, and one that we’re very excited about.”
Richard Tait-Harris, Commercial Director, Team Dynamics: “Having worked with Halfords for five years in the past and winning two championships with Matt, we look forward to a long and successful future together. We’re also excited to be continuing our fantastic relationship with Yuasa Batteries and to the challenge of retaining our title as champions of the BTCC this year.”
The full livery of the team’s Honda Civic Type R’s will be unveiled at the BTCC 2016 Season Launch event at Donington Park, Leicestershire, on March 22nd.
B-TEC Development Series Postponed until 2017
Following a review of the current situation, B-TEC announces the postponement
of the 2016 B-TEC Development Series until 2017.
While there has been unprecedented interest in this new touring car series over the
past few months, recent developments in other categories have diverted the attention
of potential entrants away from the Development Series, leading us to this
Ian Harrison – Director, B-TEC Development Series;
“Naturally we are disappointed to have to postpone like this, but that is all it is, a
postponement. We want to ensure that we have the strongest possible grid when we
start, and at the moment there are a lot of carrots being dangled in front of potential
entrants from other categories. During 2016, we will be running some on track
experience events for entrants to come along and driver the cars and to hear our 2017
plans. Hopefully this will confirm to them that the Development Series is a cost effective
solution over an entire season. We will be announcing these events in due course. I
would like to thank everyone who has put the effort in up to this point and look
forward to working with them as we go towards 2017”
Ian Watson BARC General Manager;
“We are obviously disappointed to have arrived at this point but believe it is right to
postpone the start of what I am sure will be an interesting option for both drivers and
teams. The idea of starting the series in 2016 was always going to be pushing the
boundaries of what was possible to be achieved in the time and having a further twelve
months to get everything in place will I am sure make a big difference.”
B-TEC will continue to work with current commercial and supply partners to ensure
the category provides drivers and teams a solid development platform in 2017.
With the BTCC Season due to start at Brands Hatch on April 2nd on the Indy Circuit, things are looking exciting for another cracking year of racing ahead. There has also been the promise of a surprise announcement on Tuesday at Media Day from racer Mark Howard via Facebook…
The Team at Tintop Guru will aim to keep a regular roundup of the season as it progresses with any news roundup’s provided on a regular basis.
Until Next Time!
All the Best!