The 2015 British Touring Car Championship is shaping up to be a cracker of a season.
A number of teams have already confirmed their driver line-ups including Honda Racing, West Surrey Racing and Team BMR.
Team BMR got everyone talking when they announced the drivers for their four car assault on the championship. Joining existing driver Aron Smith and team owner Warren Scott are none other than Jason Plato and reigning champion Colin Turkington. After eBay withdrew their sponsorship from West Surrey Racing, Turkington was once again left with an uncertain winter – a carbon copy of his previous title winning year (2009) when he could not compete the following year due to lack of funds and the team’s title sponsor pulling out.
West Surrey Racing have brought a World Touring Car champion and former BTCC driver back to the championship. Andy Priaulx – who last raced in the championship back in 2002 – has brought long term sponsor IHG with him to the team. He will join Rob Collard and Sam Tordoff at the 2014 championship winning team. Former WSR driver Nick Foster announced his retirement following the end of last season.
Honda Racing have maintained continuity with both Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden returning for another year. It is as yet unknown what car the pair will be driving. They have been testing in Thruxton with last year’s car.
Infiniti Support Our Paras Racing is a new team for 2015 who are racing to raise awareness and funds for Support Our Paras. They will be employing the services of injured paratroopers to work on the cars which will be driven by BTCC rookies Derek Palmer Jr and Richard Hawken. Both drivers have touring car experience and are aiming for points finishes and are even hopeful of a podium.
Perhaps the biggest shock of all in the off-season was the news that Andrew Jordan would be leaving Eurotech – the family run team with whom he won his 2013 championship – to join Triple Eight Racing, having previously raced with the team in their Vauxhall days. He will be joined in the other MG by Jack Goff.
Jeff Smith returns to the championship as a now part-owner of Eurotech Racing. He previously raced with the team as Jordan’s team-mate in 2013 but sat out the 2014 season.
Handy Motorsport will once again a Toyota Avensis in association with Speedworks Motorsport. Simon Belcher will drive the car having made his BTCC debut in 2014.
Team HARD will make a return to the championship with Kieran Gallagher who previously raced for the team at Knockhill during the 2013 season. Team HARD recently acquired a Toyota Avensis from United Autosports. The entry is subject to ratifying by championship organisers of the transfer of the TOCA BTCC Licence.
Aiden Moffat will continue to race with Laser Tools Racing and the team have a brand new car for 2015. Having previously raced with a Chevrolet Cruze, the team will run a Mercedes-Benz A Class built by Ciceley Racing, who became the first team to win with a Mercedes in the BTCC last year.
Ciceley Racing will once again enter one car driven by Adam Morgan. He took his first BTCC victory last season.
Rob Austin Racing are another team sticking with continuity with team owner Rob Austin continuing to drive alongside Hunter Abbott.
Andy Wilmot is another driver who has made a one off appearance in the BTCC back in 2013, racing for Team HARD at Rockingham. He is returning for a full season with Welch Motorsport driving a Proton. Dan Welch will continue to drive the other car.
2014 Clio Cup Champion Mike Bushell will make the step up to British Touring Cars this season when he races for AmD Tuning. As is the case with Wilmot and Gallagher, while Bushell has not raced a full season in the BTCC he has made a one off appearance. He drove a Chevrolet Cruze at Knockhill in 2013. Nicolas Hamilton will race a half season in the championship with AmD Tuning. He will make his debut at Croft in June following an extensive testing programme, driving an Audi. As he will be racing under a guest licence he will not be eligible for points.
Motorbase Performance – under the Dextra Racing banner – will run a Ford Focus with BTCC rookie Alex Martin at the wheel.
Power Maxed Racing recently changed ownership, with Chris Stockton selling his team BTC Racing – who raced under the Power Maxed Racing banner in 2014 – to Power Maxed (part of the Automotive Brands group). With Stockton choosing to focus on his distribution business instead of racing, the team have appointed Jack Sears Trophy winner Dave Newsham to drive for the team. He raced for AmD Tuning last year. 2014 Renault Clio Cup Vice-Champion Josh Cook will also race for the team under the #RacingforHeroes banner, the dedicated motorsport fundraising partner of the Help for Heroes charity.
Speedworks Motorsport have re-signed 2014 rookie Tom Ingram for their 2015 campaign. Ingram finished an impressive 14th place on his debut season and the team will be hoping to move up the order with their upgraded Toyota Avensis.
Stewart Lines will make his BTCC debut racing for Houseman Racing with Lea Wood set to take on a managerial role. Lines has previously raced in the Clio Cup, the Volkswagen Championship and Motocross, amongst other things.
The 2015 season will launch at Donington on the 24th of March with media day. Teams and drivers have all ready been in action at numerous tests, including Thruxton and Brands Hatch. With