Pat Cranham, BTCC Correspondent
Former double BTCC champion James Thompson will make a surprise return to the series for the final meeting of the year at Silverstone driving the third Airwaves Racing Ford Focus.
The seat Thompson will take was driven by Michael Caine in the last two previous British Touring Car Championship meetings in a bid to help Mat Jackson and Airwaves Racing claim Independent titles from James Nash and Triple 8; ironically the men behind Thompson’s two championships in 2002/04 whilst Jackson also still has slim hopes of taking the overall honours.
I’m here to lend support to Mat and the Airwaves team...
Thompson sits tied 4th in the all time BTCC win record with 36 wins with Alain Menu and Yvan Muller while only Jason Plato, Andy Rouse and Matt Neal have more wins.
Thompson was last seen in the series racing for Team Dynamics, who hope to wrap up a hat-trick of titles this weekend, during a part season in 2009 where he took 3 victories although did not race at Silverstone. Thompson is delighted to be back in the championship although he knows his main aim this weekend is to support and said, “I’m genuinely excited to be coming back to compete in the finale of the championship. I’m here to lend support to Mat and the Airwaves team in their quest for the title and try not to cause too much mischief out on the track!”
Thompson is set to get his first taste in the Focus today (Wednesday) and said, “The test will be my first time in the Airwaves Focus and, although it’s never easy to step straight into a new car, it’s still got four wheels and a steering wheel like the rest of them so I hope that all my years of racing will deliver a great result for the team at Silverstone.”
Team boss Dave Bartrum is also delighted to have a driver of Thompson’s calibre in the car although was also quick to praise the efforts of Caine and said, “We’ve got to support Mat and give him the best chance in the last three races. It’s not over for us in the overall points as the top three drivers are sure to battle with each other. We hope that James can jump in the car and get straight onto the pace of the front-runners. Michael has had a taster of the BTCC to help him with his plans for next year. I’m delighted with the progress he’s made; he had a mountain to climb in a very short time with no testing.”
Speaking of next year Motorbase (Airwaves Racing) currently have all three Ford Focus’ for sale despite only buying them for this season, with the likely hood of the team running to the New Generation Touring Car format next year.
Thompson’s inclusion ensures a bumper, star studied grid of 30 cars for the season finale. So for full details of who will be on the grid along with quotes from the drivers involved in what promises to be a dramatic ending to the season, where 3 drivers are just separated by 5 points, be sure to keep an eye out for a full preview to the event on Motorsport.com.