The Dunlop British Touring Car Championship 2015 Preview – PART 2
Mr and Mrs Stig are back for part 2 of the BTCC 2015 preview after yesterdays launch day. Today they look at the rest of the field.
Stewart Lines – Houseman Racing (TOYOTA)
Recently announced ex-motocross racer Stewart who has previously competed in the Mini Challenge, Clio Cup, the Volkswagen Cup and VAG Trophy since moving on to four wheels, will join the BTCC this season in place of Lea Wood who has taken up a managerial role. The rookie year will be a steep learning curve for this driver it will be interesting to see how he progresses throughout the season.
Kieran Gallagher – RCIB Insurance Racing (TOYOTA)
Kieran is set to embark on his first full season in the BTCC in 2015 after being named as the driver for Team Hard as it prepares to return to the championship. Having previously contested one event with Team Hard back in 2013 where he finished in 13th place, it has been confirmed that Gallagher will be at the wheel of the car as he joins the series on a full-time basis. He spent last season competing in the VW Racing Cup, and so has a very steep learning curve as he moves into the BTCC season.
Andy Priaulx – Team IHG Rewards Club (BMW)
Three times World Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx will return to the BTCC this year for West Surrey Racing. Experienced Andy, who was awarded the MBE in 2008 as a reward for his run of four successive FIA titles, will be competing in the BTCC for the first time since 2002, when he took a maiden win at Knockhill finishing 5th overall with Honda. There is a real chance for Andy to be a title contender this season, and is expected to be a top 3 finisher.
Derek Palmer Jnr – Infiniti Support our Paras Racing (INFINITI)
Team Principal Derek, who has successfully raced in Super Touring Cars in recent years, has high hopes for this team which has been set up to raise awareness of and funds for Support Our Paras, the official charity of The Parachute Regiment. Good looking solid cars, it will be interesting to watch this team, made up of a number of injured Paratroopers who will work on the cars, progress over the season.
Richard Hawken – Infinity Support our Paras Racing (INFINITI)
The second driver in the Infinity team, Richard has previously won 3 championships at club level and tested for Speedworks in 2013, again an interesting driver/team combination to watch progress throughout the year.
Alex Martin – Dextra Racing (FORD)
Alex makes his debut in this year’s BTCC in the Ford Focus under the Dextra Racing banner. Following three successful years competing in the Ferrari Challenge Europe championship, which culminated in him securing two race wins and five podiums during the 2014 season, Martin is relishing a return to the BTCC paddock having previously raced on the TOCA support package in the Porsche Carrera Cup. This is a big jump for this young driver, but he might just have what it takes to make a dent in the top 10.
Dan Welch – Welch Motorsport (Proton)
This will be Dan’s 5th year in the BTCC Championship, driving for his family run team Welch Motorsport. Last season didn’t see the best results for Dan, he was a constant back runner finishing the Championship 28th overall. If he can reduce the number of retirements he could improve on last year, but is not seen as a contender.
Andy Wilmot – Welch Motorsport (Proton)
Andy will be competing with Welch Motorsport following proving himself during the Rockingham rounds of the BTCC back in 2013. With no previous experience of the car he made significant progress over the course of the weekend to score three top twenty results. Now set to race a full season he is hoping to build on his brief taster session to a complete season, however not sure he will have the experience to fight against the big boys.
Jeff Smith – Eurotech Racing (Honda)
A previous Renault Clio Cup racer, Jeff has also spent 3 seasons in the BTCC for Pirtek Racing from 2011 before taking a break to race for BPM Racing in the British Endurance Championship in a Renault Megane V6 Trophy car last season. He makes his return to the BTCC after becoming part owner in the Eurotech Team. His result in his final season of the BTCC resulted in a podium and a number of top six finishes, so has the chance of being in the top of the pack by the end of the Championship.
Martin Depper – Eurotech Racing (Honda)
Returning to BTCC last year after a break of 4 years Martin will be looking to build on his rookie year with the Eurotech team where his best result was a pair of 12th place finishes. He will be hoping on fewer retirements this year, as they seemed to blight his last season, and aim for consistent finishes to move him up the overall ranking.
Adam Morgan – WIX Racing (Mercedes)
Driving for his family run Ciceley Racing team Adam is now in his 3rd BTCC season, changing from a Toyota Avensis to a Mercedes A-Class for 2014, he achieved a good end to the season with a 1st place in the final race at Brands Hatch. With a year running the Mercedes there is a good chance that Adam can improve on the 10th place finish he achieved in 2014.
Rob Collard – Team JCT600 with GardX (BMW)
Now in his 15th year for the BTCC Rob is an old hand at driving various makes of cars around the BTCC circuits. With his best series finish of 5th in 2012 he continues to be up with the best of them and achieved 7 podiums with 1 win in last year’s Championship. Although consistent I think he will struggle to maintain this form with the strong field of this year, and will do well to finish top 10.
Sam Tordoff – Team JCT600 with GardX (BMW)
This is Sam’s third season in BTCC he was a consistent front runner with Triple 8 MG Racing alongside Jason Plato. This season sees a move to West Surrey Racing BMW, which is a change to rear wheel drive for him, If he can get to grips early in the season with the new team and car he could well be up with the front runners.
Tom Ingram – Speedworks Motorsport (Toyota)
Progressing from Ginetta GT Supercup as Champion in 2013, last year was Tom’s debut in the BTCC series. Driving for Speedworks Motorsport he achieved a 15th place overall in the Championship, which is a very good start. In his second year for the team Tom has the ability to improve on last year, if things go his way he could quite easily break into the top 10 by the end of the season.
Nicholas Hamilton – AmD Tuning (AUDI)
Brother of F1 Champion Lewis, Nicholas has had 2 seasons in the Renault Clio Cup in 2011/12, where he had a modified car to enable him to drive it with Cerebral Palsy, and the European Touring Car Cup in 2013. Although he only achieved poor results in the Clio’s it has always been his dream to drive in the BTCC which he is rumoured to do this year driving for AmD Tuning. Not sure he will be a contender he just needs to concentrate on consistently finishing each race.
James Cole and Matt Jackson remain in the Championship with the Motorbase Performance Ford Focus, however due to lack of sponsorship the team are unlikely to race the whole season, with the
aim to get out on the track by Snetterton in August.
The BTCC season gets underway on April 4th at Brands Hatch for the Indy race circuit and runs through until October 10th finishing on the Brands Hatch GP circuit. The season calender can be seen here. Enjoy one of the most exciting sports around this summer!
Check out Severn Sport through out the season for more updates from the BTCC, and Mr & Mrs Stig.
MR & MRS STIG.