With 27 cars from 10 manufacturers covering 13 different models, the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship has a record entry list ahead of its 2011 season. This is thanks to the highest number of manufacturers and models entered into the series in the two decades it has run since becoming an all two-liter engine formula.
Ten makes of car representing Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Proton, SEAT, Toyota, Vauxhall and Volkswagen will feature on this year's grid.
Of those, 13 different models will be gearing up for action including: Audi A4, BMW 320si, Chevrolet Cruze, Chevrolet Lacetti, Ford Focus, 'Global' Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Honda Integra, Proton Gen-2, SEAT Leon, Toyota Avensis, Vauxhall Vectra and VW Golf.
This beats the previous record (nine makes and 11 models in 1993) seen in the BTCC's two-liter era that began in 1991.
In total, 27 entries have been received for the 2011 season, the first event of which is staged at the Brands Hatch circuit on 3 April. From there, the title race will head off on a high-speed, action packed, six-month tour of the UK, with ten race events at nine different motorsport venues culminating with Finals Day - this year being staged at British Formula 1 Grand Prix venue of Silverstone on 16 October.
Notably, the Audi, Proton and Toyota entries are cars built to the BTCC's new Next Generation Touring Car technical regulations which provide dramatically reduced costs and have led directly to four new teams joining the BTCC for 2011.
Official 'factory' teams from Chevrolet and Honda also star on the entry list, while Toyota GB is funding an engine development program for customer teams running its Avensis to the new NGTC regulations.
Further underlining the BTCC's importance to manufacturers as an ideal sporting arena in which to showcase products, Ford Motor Company has chosen to debut its new 2011 Focus model, in the hands of the independent Team Aon.
Of the 27 entries, 17 drivers contested 2010's BTCC. They include the top five in last year's championship including reigning Champion Jason Plato and Matt Neal, the latter's team-mate Gordon Shedden, Tom Onslow-Cole - who has made a shock move to the AmD-run VW Golf team - and Independent Champion Tom Chilton.
Of the new faces, Frank Wrathall and Dave Newsham are reigning champions stepping up from the hotly-contested Ginetta GT Supercup and Renault Clio Cup categories that support the BTCC on race weekends.
In 2011, the BTCC will once again receive unrivalled levels of television coverage - both live and highlights - across the ITV network. Its ITV4 and new ITV4 HD channel will be broadcasting 'all-day live' at the ten BTCC events with highlights on both ITV1 and ITV4 in the days following.
In addition, the Goodyear-Dunlop group will continue as the championship's title sponsor through its Dunlop brand. Each of the 5000 or so tires supplied to teams in this year's BTCC will be manufactured at Dunlop's Tyre Fort headquarters in Birmingham.
For the British public, the BTCC will also continue to offer unrivalled value-for-money entertainment when compared to other premier sports with free admission for children at every event and tickets for adults costing from as little as ?23 ($37). Admission includes meeting the BTCC's star drivers during pitlane autograph sessions plus, at most events, open access to the paddock.
ENTRY LIST: 2011 DUNLOP MSA BRITISH TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP
|No. Driver (NAT)||Team/Car|
|1. Jason Plato (GBR)||Silverline Chevrolet/Chevrolet Cruze|
|2. Matt Neal (GBR)||Honda Racing Team/Honda Civic|
|5. Tom Chilton (GBR)||Team Aon/'Global' Ford Focus|
|7. Mat Jackson (GBR)||Airwaves Racing/Ford Focus|
|8. Robert Collard (GBR)||WSR/BMW 320si|
|11. Frank Wrathall (GBR)||Dynojet/Toyota Avensis|
|12. David Pinkney (GBR)||Rob Austin Racing/Audi A4|
|13. TBA||Rob Austin Racing/Audi A4|
|14. James Nash (GBR)||888 Racing with Collins Contractors/Vauxhall Vectra|
|17. Dave Newsham (GBR)||Geoff Steel Racing/BMW 320si|
|18. Nick Foster (GBR)||WSR/BMW 320si|
|20. Alex MacDowall (GBR)||Silverline Chevrolet/Chevrolet Cruze|
|22. Tom Boardman (GBR)||Special Tuning Racing/SEAT Leon|
|28. John George (GBR)||GoMobileUK.com with tech-Speed/Chevrolet Cruze|
|29. Paul O'Neill (GBR)||GoMobileUK.com with tech-Speed/Chevrolet Cruze|
|34. Tony Gilham (GBR)||888 Racing with Collins Contractors/Vauxhall Vectra|
|42. Daniel Welch (GBR)||Welch Automotive/Proton Gen-2**|
|43. Lea Wood (GBR)||Central Group Racing/Honda Integra*|
|44. Andy Neate (GBR)||Team Aon/'Global' Ford Focus|
|50. Tony Hughes (GBR)||Speedworks Motorsport/Toyota Avensis|
|52. Gordon Shedden (GBR)||Honda Racing Team/Honda Civic|
|55. Jeff Smith (GBR)||Pirtek Racing/Vauxhall Vectra|
|66. Liam Griffin (GBR)||Airwaves Racing/Ford Focus|
|77. Andrew Jordan (GBR)||Pirtek Racing/Vauxhall Vectra|
|78. Chris James (GBR)||Team ES Racing.com/Chevrolet Lacetti|
|99. Tom Onslow Cole (GBR)||TBA|
|TBA. TBA||Team Aon/'Global' Ford Focus|
- Cars numbers 1, 2, 20 & 52 eligible for Manufacturer and Constructor championships
- Cars numbers 5, 44 & TBA eligible for Constructor championship
- All cars except numbers 1, 2, 20 & 52 eligible for Independent championships
- Cars numbers 1, 8, 17, 18, 20, 28, 29 & 78 all full S2000-spec
- Cars numbers 2, 5, 7, 14, 22, 34, 44, 52, 55, 66, 77, 99 & TBA all S2000/NGTC-engine
- Cars numbers 11, 12, 13, 42 & 50 all full NGTC-spec
BTCC TOYOTA AVENSIS RACERS
Two new Toyota Avensis 'Next Generation Touring Cars' broke cover for the first time recently. Resplendent in the liveries of privateer teams Dynojet Racing and Hughes Motorsport/Speedworks, the Avensis racers went on display at Silverstone.
But the race to get to the grid for 3 April opening rounds is only just beginning for the teams and their drivers, Frank Wrathall Jr and Tony Hughes. Frank's Dynojet Avensis has yet to turn a wheel in anger and, although Tony's car was successfully fired recently for the first time, progress was hampered by a number of teething problems.
Despite component delays, which mean his car will not undergo shakedown tests until just before the first race, Wrathall was delighted with the reception it received at Silverstone: "The Toyota looks amazing," he said, "and we are all delighted with it. Yes, it is frustrating not to have done more testing, but the first few rounds were always going to be tough for us, so we will just get on with it and do the best, most competitive job that we can."
Hughes was able to complete only a handful of exploratory laps before power steering and fuel pump issues brought his shakedown run to a halt. "I am sure that when we get the Avensis running smoothly that it will perform as amazingly as it looks," said Tony. "This was literally my first time at the wheel and the suspension, brakes and so on all felt good. I am hoping to get to know the car better in testing next week."
Both cars have been constructed by GPR Motorsport from bodyshells taken from the production line at Toyota's Burnaston, Derbyshire, plant. Wrathall's car will be powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged Toyota engine developed by engineering consultancy X CTech R, whose technicians hope the 300hp unit will prove to be one of the lightest and most powerful engines on the BTCC grid.
BTCC CHEVROLET CARS
The wraps also came off the Silverline Chevrolet team's 2011 cars at Silverstone. Built by RML, which also constructs and runs the title-winning Chevrolet World Touring Cars, the two new Cruze will campaign in the 2011 BTCC series with the same successful driver line-up as 2010; driver's champion Jason Plato and promising young gun, Alex MacDowall.
The cars feature a bold new livery, consistent with that of the WTCC cars, and featuring prominent sponsorship from Silverline, as well as series sponsors Dunlop, Holiday Inn, Auto Express and Evo.
Also backing the cars are paint supplier DuPont, ECM Vehicle Logistics and Tesco Momentum 99 Octane fuel. Championship-winner Plato carries additional sponsorship from Britain's biggest-selling newspaper, The Sun.
Both drivers have now tested the 2011 BTCC Cruze ahead of the season opener, and are extremely positive about the car's prospects. "It's even better than last year's car," said Jason Plato. "And we won the championship in that!"
20 year-old Alex MacDowall, competing in his second season in BTCC, added: "I'm thrilled to be driving for Silverline Chevrolet again, and the car feels brilliant. Last season was a learning curve for me - it's fair to say nerves got the better of me a couple of times - but this year I'm much more comfortable and much more confident. I'm hoping for some good results, and hopefully a couple of wins."
BTCC HONDA RACING
While drivers Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden are busy refining their 2011 BTCC Honda Civics with test mileage ahead of the season opener at Brands Hatch this weekend, Honda Racing is pleased to announce several key sponsors and with a technical support arrangement with Bosch Engineering Motorsport. Sarah Mayo, Partnerships Manager at Honda (UK) commented “It’s great to see some new faces onboard for the 2011 season, and we’re delighted to see Marshall Motor Group sign up for their second year with us.
“Combine these sponsors with Pioneer and Yuasa, and the Honda Racing team has some exceptionally strong support behind it. We’ve already had very promising results in our pre-season testing with Matt Neal setting the fastest time at Snetterton last week, so 2011 is promising to be a thrilling season. We can’t wait for it to begin.”
The 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship first group test session of the season took place at Silverstone. Drivers Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden joined the rest of the field for the four-hour session that took place at the championship’s media presentation day. Neal ended up in third place in the new two-liter turbocharged Civic, and the former double champion is confident there is more pace to come from the hatchback.
“The car ran brilliantly all day and we showed some really good pace,” said Neal. “We’re still working on the set up of the car because the weight distribution is different with the new engine, but we found some really promising directions at Silverstone. We’ve only just begun to tap into the potential of the car so I’m very optimistic.” Neal’s teammate, Gordon Shedden, also managed to get some laps in at the wheel of his brand new machine, and posted the eighth fastest time on the car’s shakedown.