Today it was announced that reigning Clio Cup Champion Phil Glew will be joining Fabrizio Giovanardi on the sidelines and will not be present at Rockingham Motor Speedway or, for that matter, in the British Touring Car Championship for the...
Today it was announced that reigning Clio Cup Champion Phil Glew will be joining Fabrizio Giovanardi on the sidelines and will not be present at Rockingham Motor Speedway or, for that matter, in the British Touring Car Championship for the immediate future.
Triple 8, the men who had run Vauxhalls since 1997, put together a late deal to run both Giovanardi and Glew for Thruxton after receiving sponsorship from Uniq. The team would have ran under the name of Uniq racing with Triple 8. Despite Giovanardi winning two of the first three races at Thruxton, Uniq had only agreed to a one-event deal.
They declined the offer for the season. A spokesmen from Uniq told UK's Autosport that, "We severely underestimated the impact that our brand exposure would have on the demand for certain products and services in the UK market, so to maintain sponsorship with Triple 8 would actually present us with a series of business problems."
It had already been confirmed late last week that Giovanardi would not race this weekend in Corby, England with the announcement that James Nash would be in the Triple 8 car. Nash ran in five meetings last year for RML in a Chevrolet Lacetti. It comes as a major surprise that Glew will also not be present, as he had been confirmed for the season.
Glew brought in his own sponsorship from long-term partners WD-40 and he put on an impressive debut at Thruxton. He said, "I'm devastated to be out of the car at this early stage in the season." But he still hopes he will be back on the grid soon and went on to say, "My main efforts are now focused on putting together a concrete package which suits WD-40, myself, and our other sponsors to enable us to begin racing again and continue our fantastic relationship."
WD-40 also confirmed that they would do all they can to continue their relationship with Glew and head of marketing David Whittome said, "We fully support Philip and recognise his fantastic potential in motor sport and will be working hard to find ways in which we can continue to work with him in the future."
There will be definitely one Triple 8 racing Vectra on the grid as mentioned already, driven by Nash, and today it was confirmed that he will be sponsored in a one off race deal by Movie Blockbuster Avatar, which gets its UK release date this Monday on DVD and Blu-Ray. Nash got his first experience earlier in the week in the Vectra after he was given special permission to test the car at Silverstone from the BTCC,
Nash said, "Instantly you notice it has a lot more front-end bite to it which will be of great use when going for a passing manoeuvre. I can also see why Fabrizio was so consistent in this car. It's a very smooth drive and if you ever watch him driving it he doesn't have to work too hard at the wheel - it's the sort of car that does a lot of work for you."
Nash clearly is eager to make a good impression of himself. "My ultimate aim is to impress Triple Eight. I want to be their next driver when hopefully they get a new factory deal with a manufacturer. Rockingham and Brands Hatch are coming up back-to-back, on consecutive weekends, so I've definitely got a great chance to make an impression inside eight days or so."
There are some rumours that Nash only has enough sponsorship though for the next few meetings; nevertheless he finished off by saying, "Whether I can actually work my way into the title race I don't know. Missing the first three races at Thruxton makes that incredibly hard. But if I do my job in every race, every weekend it could become possible."
Despite the withdrawal from Uniq, Triple 8 have already lodged their official entry under the name of Uniq Racing with Triple 8 and therefore will be unable to change their name and will be forced to continue to race under that banner to ensure their points are carried forward from the opening rounds.
After the demise of Giovanardi, Jason Plato in the Silverline Chevrolet Cruze is now the clear favourite for the title and for wins this weekend. He has a clear objective ahead of the weekend's races and said, "I've got a very clear target for Rockingham and that's 40 points. I'm going there with the mindset of winning races but, as a team, we have to keep reminding people that, just as in 2009 and as I also did with the diesel SEAT in 2008, we're effectively starting with a car that is new to the UK's circuits and Dunlop tyres. We still need to understand what makes it tick."
One driver who is determined not to let Plato have it is own way is Tom Chilton. Chilton shocked everyone last year to secure Team Aon's first ever podium in the Ford Focus and now clearly only wants one thing and said, "I will not want to leave without a win this time round. I'm expecting big things from this weekend. If we can get a victory it will be the first win for the car and team and the first that the Ford marque has had in the last 10 years in the BTCC which would be a great achievement."
Airwaves BMW driver Mat Jackson also feels that it is wrong to give Plato the title and said, "Any talk about giving the trophy to Jason now just because Fabrizio is gone is very wrong, We've only done three races - there are 27 left. It'd be a very brave man who walked into the bookies and put all their money on him at such an early stage of the season."
Jackson who made his BMW return at Thruxton, having driven last year for Silverline Racing in a Chevrolet Lacetti after previously driving a BMW for his family run team in 2007 and 2008, believes that there are up to 12 cars fighting for victories this weekend but believes he has a better chance than most and said, "The Airwaves BMW is the best-sorted BMW I've ever driven around Thruxton and that's with very limited testing. Myself, Steven and Robert Collard in the WSR car should all be thinking the title is on. Remember, WSR's BMW won twice at Rockingham last year but I don't know if that's an accurate guide for what's in store this weekend."
Sadly there will be one less BMW on the grid though for this weekend of Martin Depper. He was due to make his BTCC debut this weekend for Forster Motorsport after the team missed the opening meeting due to engine issues in testing. Depper will miss out due to unforeseen circumstances. The 2008 John Cooper Challenge winner was enjoying a family holiday in Florida where he still remains stranded following the volcanic eruption in Iceland and the following flight ban in the UK.
Although that ban was lifted on Wednesday, Depper still has been unable to return to the UK due to the backlog of travelers trying to get home. He will be forced to postpone his BTCC debut although he hopes to be back in time to cheer on his team mate and team manager Arthur Forster who will make his BTCC debut this weekend.
So that's how the BTCC now heads into Rockingham for rounds 4, 5 and 6 of the 2010 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship. Stay tuned to Motorsport.com for qualifying reports tomorrow and then race reports and images following the weekend.