Class of 2012 - pic: Norwich Photo

BTCC ANNOUNCES BIG START TO ITS NEW TURBOCHARGED SEASON

  • 24 cars on an all-turbo grid for opening event of year
  • Nine different makes, ten different models represented

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship has unveiled a 25-car entry for its 2012 season, with 24 of those due to take the grid for the first event – an increase on the number that started 12 months ago.

No fewer than ten different models from nine different makes – Audi, BMW, Ford, Honda, MG, Proton, Toyota, Vauxhall and VW – will be rolled out by the 14 teams which will contest this year’s BTCC, which begins at the world famous Brands Hatch circuit in Kent on the weekend of 31 March/1 April.

Notably, for the first time, every car on the BTCC grid will race with a turbocharged 2.0 litre engine. More than half the cars are built to the championship’s full ‘Next Generation Touring Car’ (NGTC) regulations that are leading to a rapid return of bigger, more aggressive-looking machinery. The remainder are all current S2000-based cars equipped with turbo engines built to NGTC specification.

This year’s BTCC, sponsored by automotive and motor sport tyre giant Dunlop, will again comprise ten events featuring 30 ferociously contested races (three on each race day) at nine venues around the UK – meaning the nation’s favourite car racing attraction can be easily accessed by the vast majority of the population. Each of the ten meetings will receive a minimum six hours of live television coverage on ITV4 and ITV4 HD – ‘simulcast’ on the www.itv.com website. Highlights across the network on ITV1, ITV4, ITV4 HD and again on its website will be shown in the following week.

Indeed, Dunlop and ITV Sport remain committed as the championship’s title sponsor and broadcast partner respectively through to the end of 2013 at least. In addition, an increasing number of ‘big name’ brands are also joining the BTCC grid as sponsors of teams and drivers.

“Words such as ‘staggering’ or ‘phenomenal’ are often over-used, but both very genuinely apply to the BTCC’s current health,” commented BTCC Series Director Alan Gow. “Our trackside crowd and TV viewing audience figures continue to reach new heights – Brands Hatch has advised us that ticket sales for its opening round in a fortnight are its biggest ever for a BTCC event this far in advance.

“Now, here we are, ready to start another great season and with a larger grid than at the first round last year – despite the very challenging economic climate. Once again the BTCC boasts terrific depth of competition as well as a huge and exciting variety of different makes and models of car. And I have little doubt that, just as with seasons past, the number of cars will increase as new teams and drivers take on the challenge of competing in the UK’s biggest motor racing championship.

“We all know that things are tough out there, so I sincerely applaud all our teams, drivers and their sponsors for their incredible determination and the loyalty they have shown to the championship. Our own partners, Dunlop, ITV Sport, HiQ, Intercontinental Hotel Group, Dennis Publishing and Fujifilm are also companies that truly live and breathe the BTCC.

“In fact it is a ringing endorsement of the BTCC’s cost-effectiveness and proven ability to ‘deliver’ on a great many levels that such well-known brands are becoming increasingly involved.”

“The expanded line-up of NGTC-specification cars is only going to add to the spectacle with their more intimidating presence and flame-belching exhausts. It could well be that one of them wins this year’s championship, but equally a very well-sorted S2000-turbo car could also take the title. But whoever takes away the ultimate prize – and one of the most famous trophies in global motor sport – we are guaranteed a fascinating fight and an extraordinary season ahead of us.”

Below is the official entry list for 2012′s Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship followed by key notes on every driver including hometowns plus the BTCC calendar.

Entry list: 2012 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship

No. Name (NAT) Team Car
1. Matt Neal (GBR) Honda Yuasa Racing Team Honda Civic**
4. Mat Jackson (GBR) Redstone Racing Ford Focus ST
5. Aron Smith (IRL) Redstone Racing Ford Focus ST
6. Liam Griffin (GBR) Redstone Racing Ford Focus ST
8. Robert Collard (GBR) eBay Motors BMW 320si
11. Frank Wrathall (GBR) Dynojet Toyota Avensis**
12. Daniel Welch (GBR) Welch Motorsport with Sopp+Sopp Proton Persona**
TBA TBA Rob Austin Racing Audi A4**
17. David Newsham (GBR) Team ES Racing.com Vauxhall Vectra
18. Nick Foster (GBR) eBay Motors BMW 320si
31. Mark Hazell (GBR) Rob Austin Racing Audi A4**
33. Adam Morgan (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis**
34. Tony Gilham (GBR) RCIB Insurance & HARD. Honda Civic
38. Tom Onslow-Cole (GBR) eBay Motors BMW 320si
43. Lea Wood (GBR) BINZ Racing Vauxhall Vectra
44. Andy Neate (GBR) MG KX Momentum Racing MG6**
48. Ollie Jackson (GBR) AmD Tuning.com VW Golf
50. Tony Hughes (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis**
52. Gordon Shedden (GBR) Honda Yuasa Racing Team Honda Civic**
55. Jeff Smith (GBR) Pirtek Racing Honda Civic**
66. John Thorne (GBR) Thorney Motorsport Vauxhall Insignia VXR-R**
77. Andrew Jordan (GBR) Pirtek Racing Honda Civic**
78. Chris James (GBR) Team ES Racing.com Vauxhall Vectra
99. Jason Plato (GBR) MG KX Momentum Racing MG6**
TBA TBA* Thorney Motorsport Vauxhall Insignia VXR-R**

Cars no. 1, 44, 52 & 99 eligible for Manufacturer/Constructor Trophy.All others; eligible for Independents driver and team trophies

** Denotes car built to full NGTC chassis/engine spec. All others; S2000 chassis/NGTC engine spec. *Denotes entry from Oulton Park

2012 Dunlop BTCC drivers: key notes

Matt Neal, aged 45 from Droitwich Spa, Worcs
Became Champion for third time in 2011 – hoping to equal Andy Rouse’s record of four titles.

Gordon Shedden, aged 33 from Dalgety Bay, Fife
Runner-up to team-mate Neal in 2011, aiming to become Scotland’s first BTCC Champion since John Cleland in 1995.

Jason Plato, aged 44 from Oxford
Two previous titles plus an unrivalled 68 career race wins in BTCC. Leads new MG team’s assault.

Mat Jackson, aged 30 from Henley-in-Arden, Warks
2008 runner-up and in running for last year’s crown right to the end. Like Shedden, a potential Champion in waiting.

Andrew Jordan, aged 22 from Lichfield/Rugby, Staffs
One of the rising young stars now armed with one of Honda’s new Civics (same as Neal and Shedden).

Robert Collard, aged 43 from Hook, Hants
2012 is probably his best hope of a title bid yet – also highly-spectacular to watch in rear-wheel-drive BMW.

Frank Wrathall, aged 25 from Preston, Lancs
Former Ginetta GT champion stunned in debut BTCC season last year to finish as highest-placed ‘rookie’.

Tom Onslow-Cole, aged 24 from New Malden, Surrey
Another of the ‘rising young stars’ who almost won title in 2010. Switch to BMW could offer him a second opportunity.

Nick Foster, aged 46 from Hook, Hants
Team-mate to ‘neighbour’ Collard and Onslow-Cole after some sensational results in debut season last year.

Dave Newsham aged 44 from Inverness
Former Renault Clio Cup champ who showed flashes of speed in debut 2011 season. Now hunting maiden podium result.

Jeff Smith, aged 45 from Wellingborough, Northants
Looking to build on impressive debut season in second year as team-mate to Jordan.

Andy Neate, aged 37 from Aylesbury, Bucks
Becomes a ‘factory’ MG driver for his third BTCC season – miraculous recovery following near-fatal sportscar crash in 2008.

Tony Gilham, aged 31 from Dartford, Kent
Popular, rapid former Porsche racer (also once a cage fighter!) in Shedden’s 2011 runner-up Civic.

Lea Wood, aged 27 from Hereford
After giant-killing results in older machinery, he is one to watch in newer Vectra. Like Onslow-Cole also a hit with female fans in particular!

Liam Griffin, aged 39 from Essendon, Herts
MD of London’s biggest private hire cab firm Addison Lee who came on strong towards end of debut 2011 season.

Daniel Welch, aged 29 from Fleet, Hants
Quickly on pace in NGTC-spec Proton he built with his father, rallycross legend John in 2011. Definite podium potential.

Aron Smith, aged 22 from Rathfarnham, Dublin
Scored point in first ever BTCC race during one-off appearance in 2011 when he also almost won Renault Clio title.

Ollie Jackson, aged 27 from Reigate, Surrey & Attleborough, Norfolk
Former GT class champ has impressed in pre-season testing in iconic and keenly followed Golf.

Tony Hughes, aged 54 from Stockport, Cheshire
Keen competitor in between running Europe’s biggest safety showers company and championing small businesses in Parliament!

Chris James, aged 33 from Bedford
Having doubled his tiny ES squad in size to two cars, is hoping to join team-mate Newsham as a thorn in side of regular front-runners.

John Thorne, aged 42 from Silverstone, Northants
It’s a dream come true for determined club-level racer whose tuning house company has built its NGTC Insignia.

Adam Morgan, aged 23 from Preston, Lancs
Expected to dazzle in debut season having won prize drive in BTCC for lifting last year’s Ginetta GT Supercup title.

Mark Hazell, aged 52 from Llanhennock, Monmouthshire
Vastly experienced in saloon and sportscar categories, becomes first Welsh driver in BTCC for more than two decades.

2012 Dunlop MSA BTCC Calendar

Rounds, Date, Circuit, Location

1/2/3, Sunday 1 April, Brands Hatch Indy, Kent
4/5/6, Sunday 15 April, Donington Park, Derby
7/8/9, Sunday 29 April, Thruxton, Hants
10/11/12, Sunday 10 June, Oulton Park, Cheshire
13/14/15, Sunday 24 June, Croft, North Yorks
16/17/18, Sunday 12 August, Snetterton, Norfolk
19/20/21, Sunday 26 August, Knockhill, Fife
22/23/24, Sunday 23 September, Rockingham, Northants
25/26/27, Sunday 7 October, Silverstone, Northants
28/29/30, Sunday 21 October, Brands Hatch GP, Kent