VX Racing On Track For BRTCC Titles Defence
Thursday 18 March 2004--//VX Racing hit the track at Donington Park this week for an all-team test and unveiled its new livery for the assault on the 2004 MSA Green Flag British Touring Car Championship. The VX Racing drivers dominated the time sheets and proved to be considerably quicker than the previous BTCC lap record set under the current BTCC regulations.
With the time for the 2003 pole position standing at one minute, 14.610 seconds, VX Racing driver James Thompson showed blistering pace on the newly re-surfaced track and was almost a second quicker, notching up a time of one minute 13.793 seconds. Team mate, and current BTCC champion, Yvan Muller was just two tenths of a second behind, and Luke Hines in the third Vauxhall Astra Coupe finished the day seventh quickest.
The defending triple-triple champions, VX Racing, is preparing for strong competition this season, not only from other manufacturers, but also from within the team. In 2003 Muller and Thompson battled right down to the wire for the victor's spoils, with Muller eventually taking the drivers' title from his team-mate at the final race weekend of the season.
Muller returns to compete for VX Racing after spending time during the off-season competing in The Andros Trophy. The Frenchman beat his compatriot, former F1 world champion, Alain Prost to claim his eighth victory in the French ice racing championship. Thompson, currently training hard for the London Marathon, again joins the VX Racing line-up, with new recruit, and 2003 BTCC production class champion, Luke Hines in the third Vauxhall Astra Coupe.
The team and drivers have worked hard during the winter to develop the already successful Vauxhall Astra Coupe, to ensure they will be on the pace for the first round of the championship at Thruxton in April.
VX Racing is not only aiming to help develop the careers of young drivers such as Hines, it is also aiming to retain its championship titles. If this feat is achieved, Vauxhall will become the first manufacturer in the history of the BTCC to secure the team, manufacturers' and drivers' championships for four consecutive years.
"I'm pleased to be with VX Racing again in 2004, the team knows me and I know them. In a way we grew up together, we have developed and become successful. Some people may think that I'm not motivated because I've already won the championship, but now I've done it, I want to do it again. The feeling I get from racing is different from when I first started, I suppose it's partly to do with age, but I still get a buzz. This is my 24th season in motor racing, and if I want to keep my job, I have to be good."
Today went well for us, the only hitch I had was loosing a wheel. My rear wheel over took me at one stage, but it was the only thing that managed to all day, so it wasn't too bad! Psychologically it's good to be fastest in testing, but I know that it's the races that count. As always, I will be doing everything I can to secure championship points for myself and VX Racing. I have been training hard over the winter in preparation for the London Marathon. I'll be running with a couple of the boys from VX Racing, so as well as the on-track racing, we'll be trying to complete the marathon in a respectable time, as well as raising money for Marie Curie Cancer Care in the process."
"After my success in the production class in 2003, I had talks with Vauxhall and a couple of other teams, for this year. VX Racing was my first choice, I wanted to be with the best team, and luckily the team wanted me. My goal this season is to win, but I know that I've got two of the most experienced and strongest team-mates in Yvan and James. I'm going to try and learn as much as I can from them."
Mike Nicholson, VX Racing Operations Manager
"VX Racing is once again going into the season as triple champions, and we will be working hard to defend our titles. We are expecting strong competition, but are fully prepared for the challenges. The developments we have made to the car should mean we have made a big enough step forward to be able to win races again in 2004."