Pat Cranham, BTCC Correspondent
British Touring Car newcomers Thorney Motorsport have announced their exciting plans to compete in this year’s championship. This season's goals include a second car, which they hope to have out at the 4th round in Oulton Park, as well as a tie up with a major national newspaper, and adding some key personnel to the team.
After previously racing in the UK Britcar Championship the Vauxhall and BMW tuning team decided to enter the BTCC in a New Generation Vauxhall Insignia for the last race of 2011 with managing director and regular driver John Thorne at the wheel. Sadly for the team, they were restricted to just a few shakedown laps on the Sunday morning and a couple of out laps prior to the race.
This was the first time we put all that theory to the test and it surpassed our expectations.
Since then, the team first got the car out on track at Donington and have recently enjoyed a hugely successful test at Silverstone where Thorne said after, “A brilliant test, absolutely fantastic. Over the winter we've been shaking the car down on track, ironing out the wrinkles and working with team partners such as Lola to make sure we really got to understand the chassis. This was the first time we put all that theory to the test and it surpassed our expectations. We had technicians from Dunlop there so they could advise on set-up and tyre use and they appeared impressed on how well the chassis performed. Nor did we encounter any of the braking or engine cooling issues some of the teams running the newer Next Generation Touring Car specification of cars reported last season.”
Now, during an official launch of the team at Liverpool Thorney were able to announce a tie up with national newspaper, the Daily Mail on-line motorsport pages, and that they will enter a second car from Oulton Park onwards for BTCC rookie Rob Hedley.
Hedley is an unknown to most BTCC fans but the fellow former Britcar racer, who has also raced in the States in Mazda and Formula Ford single seater categories, is excited to be in the series and said, “I’m obviously delighted. It’s been a dream of mine as a schoolboy to race in the BTCC and to get a seat with such an established team as Thorney Motorsport running in a full NGTC car is way beyond my expectations.”
Thorne is also pleased to have Hedley on board, as well as the link up with the Daily Mail saying, “We are delighted to have Rob on board as not only has he shown considerable talent in a variety of championships but he’s also demonstrated sheer commitment to the drive and the team. I’ve never known a driver work so hard to impress us both on and off track. It’s admirable. “It’s fantastic to have the Daily Mirror on board – it already has some excellent motor sport coverage, but this partnership creates the chance to really let fans get an inside view of what happens in racing, not just behind the wheel but the whole spread of work that goes into it. And I promise it won’t be a weekly moan about the regulations… well, I hope not.”
The final icing on the cake for Thorney is recruiting two key personnel in the shape of Ricky Howson and Matt Upson, who have joined from Welch Motorsport RML to become its new chief engineer and technician respectively.
Thorne believes this is also another major capture for his team and finished off by saying, “Ricky is one of the few people in the BTCC who has extensive experience with the NGTC cars so we are delighted to have him on board – it means we are not starting the season trying to find set-ups that work but instead can concentrate on fine-tuning what we know already works with the Insignia chassis. Matt is also a crucial hire for us – he’s had some of the best training at one of the BTCC’s best teams so we are confident we can hit the ground running with his experience.”