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Clio champ looking forward to BTCC graduation

Mike Bushell will follow a long line of Clio Cup graduates when he takes on the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship in 2015 and the Kent racer is looking forward to every second of it.

Despite many team/driver announcements still to be made ahead of the new season there’s every chance that the number of former Clio Cup drivers on the grid will reach double figures.

Former BTCC champion Andrew Jordan is arguably the standout name but Sam Tordoff, Aron Smith, Dave Newsham and of course Mat Jackson have all gone on to win multiple races in Britain’s premier series having previously cut their teeth in the popular feeder series.

The most recent Clio Cup champion to have made a successful graduation to the BTCC is Jack Goff, who followed up his title-winning season with a podium grabbing campaign in the BTCC.

“Many drivers have come from Clios into the BTCC so it seems to be a very good route,” said Bushell. “It hasn’t actually sunk in yet if I’m honest and I think I’m quite modest about it all. It’s great to have won the championship but moving up to touring cars now – well I didn’t quite expect to be here. I’ve just sort of followed a path and it has taken me to some great places.

“Going into the BTCC as a Clio champion maybe shows that I’ve earned a place on the grid – it’s much better to have done it that way and to feel like a proven driver as such.”

Bushell has already contested a one-off weekend in the BTCC, driving the newly built Team Club 44 Chevrolet Cruze at Knockhill back in 2013. The young talent performed well, despite admitting he wasn’t entirely ready for the step-up, as he qualified the car in 17th before narrowly missing out on the points in the opening two races. He also had a run in a Motorbase Ford Focus back in October as part of his prize for winning the Clio Cup.

“When I did the BTCC event previously I think I was still a little naïve but I feel much better prepared this time around,” claims Bushell. “I like to be calm and follow a specific routine and thought process, which has stood me in good stead so far in my career. It helps having had a taste of the BTCC and if I can approach it in the same way as I have done with Clios then I should be okay. Touch wood I can have a good year.”

His rookie season will take place under the stewardship of AmDTuning boss Shaun Hollamby, whose invaluable experience both behind the wheel and on the pitwall is likely to be vital. The Essex-based team developed its Ford Focus throughout 2014 with Dave Newsham’s Knockhill podium being the highlight of the season.

25-year-old Bushell admits rostrums are a long way from his mind at this moment in time, with his main focus being to get some test mileage under his belt.

“It’s nice to see the car finished and it looks great,” he concluded. “I haven’t driven it yet but I’m looking forward to getting some testing done. Once I get the first run completed then I can progress. I haven’t set any targets and if I’m honest I have no idea how I’m going to do.

“I’m hoping to do three or four test days, including the BTCC Media Day, but it all depends on budget. I’m really looking forward to the year.”

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