The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) has today (Thursday 21 March) announced both a record – and capacity – 32-car entry list for the upcoming 2013 season.
The BTCC also boasts four champions on its 2013 grid plus a new multi-year television contract with ITV – securing the current vast ITV coverage until at least 2017. A new ‘soft compound’ Dunlop tyre has also been introduced to add a new strategic element to each team’s race weekend. This year’s BTCC will again comprise 30 races across ten events at nine venues around the UK, with the season commencing at Brands Hatch on 30/31 March.
The UK’s most popular national motor sport series is preparing for one of the biggest and most competitive seasons in its illustrious 56-year history with a record 18 teams entering a total of 32 cars. This figure eclipses the largest grid in recent BTCC years, which stands at the 30 cars entered into the final round of the 2011 season at Silverstone. The BTCC limits the maximum number of entries to 32 cars, in accordance with the MSA track-licence for Brands Hatch (Indy), Oulton Park and Knockhill circuits.
Four Champions There will be four champions on the 2013 grid, with returning 2009 victor Colin Turkington joining reigning champion Gordon Shedden and multiple title winners Matt Neal and Jason Plato.
Turkington spearheads the three-pronged eBay Motors line-up in the promising new BMW 125i M Sport prepared by former champion outfit West Surrey Racing. Shedden and Neal return for the all-conquering Honda Yuasa Racing Team which clinched Drivers’, Manufacturers’ and Teams’ Championship in 2012. Despite taking his record BTCC wins tally to 74, Plato had to settle for third place overall in 2012 in what was an impressive debut season for the new MG KX Momentum Racing team.
As well as the four BTCC champions, a chasing pack and growing contingent of young guns have also set their sights on championship glory. Arguably leading this challenge are former runner-up Mat Jackson in his Airwaves Racing Ford Focus and last year’s Independents’ Champion, Andrew Jordan, in his Pirtek Racing Honda Civic.
Makes and Models
With 13 different models from 11 different marques, the BTCC has one of the largest and most varied touring car grids in the world. Official manufacturer entries from Honda Yuasa Racing and MG KX Momentum Racing are joined by a host of independent teams entering cars from Audi (WIX Racing), BMW (eBay Motors), Chevrolet (BTC Racing, M247 Racing, Team Club 44), Ford (Addison Lee Motorbase, Airwaves Racing, Welch Motorsport with Sopp + Sopp), Honda (Pirtek Racing), Proton (Welch Motorsport with Sopp + Sopp), Seat (Team BMR Restart), Toyota (Ciceley, Dynojet, Speedworks), Vauxhall (RCIB Insurance Racing, Wheel Heaven/Houseman Racing) and Volkswagen (PPCGB.com/Kraftwerk Racing) – the latter two will be represented by their respective Insignia and Vectra and Golf and Passat models.
Having broadcast the BTCC since 2002, ITV has announced its further commitment to covering the championship until at least 2017. ITV will continue to screen around seven hours of live free-to-air coverage from each event on both its ITV4 and ITV4 HD channels as well as the itv.com website, which also streams qualifying sessions live. Adding to the coverage are 60-minute edited race highlights repeated three times after each event on ITV and ITV4 as well as their respective HD channels and ‘simulcast’ on itv.com. In total more than 230 hours of the BTCC will be broadcast across the ITV network each season.
The Goodyear Dunlop group begins its tenth year of title sponsorship and official tyre supplier to the BTCC. Dunlop is also celebrating its own 125-year anniversary in 2013. At nine of this year’s ten events (the exception being Thruxton), drivers in NGTC-spec cars will have one set of a new ‘soft compound’ Dunlop tyre at their disposal, which will offer a variation in performance to the standard compound tyre. These tyres must be used in one of the three races at each event and teams must nominate, prior to Saturday's qualifying session, which particular race they elect to use them.
Jack Sears Trophy
The BTCC will present a special cup to the highest S2000 finisher in each race, with the driver who claims the most victories over the course of the season winning the inaugural ‘Jack Sears Trophy’. The trophy is named after racing legend Jack Sears who won the inaugural BTCC title in 1958, before adding a second crown 50 years ago in 1963. S2000 cars will no longer enjoy strict performance parity with the greater number of NGTC machines, so the introduction of this trophy is seen as a tangible reward for drivers continuing their progression through the BTCC ranks.
BTCC Series Director Alan Gow said: “The record entry list that we've announced today is a great validation of NGTC technical regulations and real testament to the continued success, growth and stability of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
“The current health of the BTCC is absolutely fantastic and even more staggering, perhaps, with the challenging economic climate. Our teams have worked incredibly hard and have demonstrated real commitment to this championship – particularly as the majority have invested in the latest specification NGTC machinery. We continue to evolve this bright new era of the BTCC and all the teams have benefitted from the success of the championship.
“Our trackside attendance has increased year-on-year over the last decade. The ITV audience figures and airtime reached all-time highs last year and we have now proudly announced an important new contract with them until 2017. We’d also like to thank our other partners, not least of which is our title sponsor Dunlop – these companies recognise the importance and value of being involved in the BTCC.
“We have a huge grid – including four champions in the line-up – culminating in fresh colours, cars and stars in the BTCC. The strength in depth continues to rise along with the undoubted professionalism and turnout of our loyal and committed teams. That is why the BTCC is so firmly cemented as the UK’s premier and most popular motor sport series.”