Today (23rd March) we saw the official unveiling of the 2010 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car where it was announced that there would be a bumper grid with seven different marques racing in 9 different models of cars. It will be headed by the two manufacturer entries from Chevrolet and Honda.
Heading the entry must be Chevrolet who enter as a full manufacturer team for the first time in the BTCC. They bring with them the Cruze, which successfully raced in the WTCC last year and indeed scored a 1-2-3 in the opening race this year.
Jason Plato returns to the team, as does Silverline as title sponsor and as a result, the team will run under the name Silverline Chevrolet with youngster Alex McDowall partnering Plato.
2001 champion Plato, who is just seven wins short of the all time record held by Andy Rouse, is clearly looking forward to the prospect of returning to a fully supported works entry and said, "I always had confidence that teaming up with RML again last year would mean wins - the Chevrolet Lacetti of 2009 was a formidable piece of kit. Now in 2010 we have manufacturer support from Chevrolet, continued support from Silverline and a very exciting new car in the Cruze. We are very motivated to make this our year, the opposition better be ready! Roll on Thruxton."
At the other end of the scale McDowall, last season's Clio Cup runner up and at just 19, is delighted just to be in the BTCC especially with such a high calibre team and teammate, "To compete in the BTCC has been my goal for some time and it's a great feeling to not only be entering the series this year but to being doing so with such a competitive and experienced team as RML is a great opportunity for me. I'm really excited for the season ahead - the Cruze has proven its pace and reliability in WTCC and from the initial test last week there's no doubting that it will translate well in the BTCC. I've no doubt I'll have a lot to learn in my first season, but with RML, the works-backed Silverline Chevrolet Cruze and the expertise of Jason, I think we'll have one of the strongest teams on the grid."
Mark Terry head of Chevrolet UK admitted it was an easy decision in the end to join the BTCC saying, "The Cruze has already shown itself to be a superb racing car in the World Touring Car Championship, so the decision to enter it in the most high profile series in the UK was made much easier. We're looking forward to an exciting season, and one that will raise the profile of both the Chevrolet brand and the style and dynamic appeal of the Cruze - a car that has already proven to be a success both on and off the track."
Motorbase announced last week that Airwaves had rejoined the team as title sponsor but remained tight-lipped about their driver line up. It was today unveiled, as expected, that Mat Jackson and Stephen Kane will drive in 2010 for the Wrotham based team.
Jackson who previously ran BMW's in 2007/08 before driving a Chevrolet Lacetti for RML last season said, "It's fantastic to be back in a BMW and with Airwaves on board its definitely time to kick up a gear! It would be an understatement to say that exciting times lie ahead. I feel this could be a great partnership - all of the team have the same focus and mine is no different... to win. With our new team partner Moneyshop.tv, I just hope that we can be cashing in as early as round one at Thruxton!"
Kane previously ran for the team in 2008 scoring several podiums following both his and the teams step up from the Porsche Carrera Cup. It is clear that he is delighted to be back in the BTCC as he was quoted as saying, "It's great to be back in the BTCC, especially with Motorbase Performance and Airwaves BMW - the last time I raced the BMW at Brands Hatch, I finished second twice... time to kick up a gear and start winning!"
Team boss Dave Bartrum is also delighted by his driver line up, "Frankly, I couldn't be happier. We know Steven's potential well, having worked with him in the Carrera Cup before the BTCC, but then the chance to add Mat to the line-up was something really worth working for - his record in just three seasons in the BTCC speaks for itself."
As previously reported though one driver who is missing out this year will be current champion Colin Turkington. Turkington in a recent interview with the Belfast Telegraph explained, "It is a huge disappointment, but I suppose it is just a reflection of the difficult times all businesses are experiencing. It means I won't be defending my title when the season starts at Thruxton over Easter weekend. I'm devastated to be honest - it will be the first time since 2003 I haven't been racing in the BTCC."
Despite this Turkington's name still remains on the side of the WSR transporter and there are hopes that he might be on the grid at some point during the year with WSR. He said, "Teamboss Dick Bennets has made it clear he wants me back in the team it has to be paid for and we haven't been able to come up with the money. I'm still trying my best to find the funding and West Surrey have a car there for me if something can be sorted out for later in the season, but even if that happens I wouldn't be in a position to fight for the championship. After the highs of winning last season it is hard to get your head round the fact it is all over - for now at least."
Although not present at today's media day, Triple 8 have announced a two- car team aptly numbered with cars 88 and 888. No drivers have been announced yet although both Phil Glew and Dean Smith have tested for the team at Rockingham.
It is likely that last year's Clio champion Glew will indeed join the team with his previous sponsors WD-40 but it looks Smith will continue pursuing a career in single-seaters.
With one seat still to be filled there just so happens to be an ex double champion who still remains with out a drive for 2010. That man in question is Fabrizio Giovanardi and rumours are starting to emerge that we could see a dramatic Plato-like announcement being made prior to the opening round at Thruxton. Stay tuned for more information as it breaks.
Elsewhere there were no other surprise entries or announcements. Sadly Adam Jones and Mickey Doyle are not on the entry list but below is a full list of the runners and riders in 2010.
So that's how the BTCC shapes up for 2010 after media day. Stay tuned for all the latest news, regarding Triple 8 or any other BTCC news, on the build up to the opening rounds of the championship on the 3rd/4th April at Thruxton on Motorsport.com