BTCC: 1997 Entry list 97-02-24

NEWS FROM THE AUTO TRADER RAC TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP 24/2/97 OFFICIAL ENTRY LIST RELEASED No fewer than five former British Touring Car Champions appear on the official entry list for the 1997 Auto Trader RAC Touring Car...

NEWS FROM THE AUTO TRADER RAC TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP 24/2/97 OFFICIAL ENTRY LIST RELEASED No fewer than five former British Touring Car Champions appear on the official entry list for the 1997 Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship, released today (Monday). Heading the challengers for the most prized title in world touring cars is reigning champion Frank Biela, the 32-year-old German returning to defend his and Audi's crowns. But Biela is unlikely to have things all his own way when the season blasts into action at Donington Park on Easter Monday (Mar 31) 1995 champion John Cleland leads his pursuers in the Vauxhall Vectra, with '94 title-holder Gabriele Tarquini returning to the championship after a season away to join the Honda team. 1992 champion Tim Harvey will be trying to break Peugeot's win-less streak in the series, while Will Hoy, titlist in 1991, joins Ford for its renewed thrust for glory. The champion names don't stop there: double FIA World Cup winner Paul Radisich will partner Hoy at Ford, while former Formula 1 star Derek Warwick returns to racing after a season's sabbatical to race alongside Cleland at Vauxhall. With two-car entries also received from Renault (Alain Menu and Jason Plato), Volvo (Rickard Rydell and Kelvin Burt) and Nissan (David Leslie and Anthony Reid), the prospects for a closely fought 1997 season among the eight manufacturer teams could not be better. It's the same story with entries for the Total Cup for Independents, with reigning champion Lee Brookes returning to defend his crown, this time in a Peugeot 406. He is joined in the hunt for the 60,000 top prize by 1993 and '95 title holder Matt Neal (Ford), Swede Jan Brunstedt (Opel Vectra), Jamie Wall in a Mint Motorsport Vauxhall and young Scot Colin Gallie, who is BMW's only representative this season. Alan Gow, Chief Executive of championship organiser TOCA Ltd, said: "The breadth of talent on the official entry list is awesome; it augurs well for a fantastic season of racing ahead. The expanded interest in the Total Cup is most encouraging, and we expect to add a couple more names to that list before the season starts."

The Auto Trader Championship is the main focus of the BBC's televised coverage of motor sport this year, with six races to be covered live on BBC Grandstand and the remaining 18 races to receive expanded coverage in addition.

------- Official BTCC97 website www.demon.co.uk/racing/

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