MB MOTORSPORT ACCELERATED BY BLUE SQUARE EAGER TO IMPRESS IN 2020
MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square will look to build on an encouraging pre-season test programme when the 2020 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship campaign finally bursts into life at Donington Park this weekend (1/2 August).
With the COVID-19 pandemic having led to an extended break since the conclusion of the 2019 season, the Donington Park weekend will kick-start a busy period for the team, with four meetings being held during August alone and a nine-round, 27 race schedule to be contested by mid-November.
The creation of MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square team over the winter after experienced team boss Shaun Hollamby joined forces with former F1 racer and Le Mans 24 Hours winner Mark Blundell has proven to be one of the biggest talking points of the off-season, with the Honda squad heading into 2020 being talked up as one of the teams to watch.
Rising star Jake Hill, a member of the BRDC Superstars programme for 2020, goes into the new season looking to build on his strongest season in the series to date in 2019, where he secured a breakthrough win at Knockhill and finished an impressive fourth in the Independents’ Championship.
Having been selected to spearhead MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square’s challenge this time around, Hill has wasted little time in getting up to speed at the wheel of his new Honda Civic Type R and posted the second quickest time when the field headed to Silverstone back in March for the official Season Launch.
Even when the coronavirus pandemic then brought all on-track activities to a halt, Hill was right on the pace again when the competing teams returned to action for a two-day test at Snetterton earlier this month – putting his Honda fourth on the combined timesheets.
Tipped as a dark horse by a number of experts for the season ahead, Hill now heads to Donington Park looking to build on the pace he has shown during testing, with the 26-year-old setting his sights firmly on the top positions when the racing actions gets underway.
Team-mate Sam Osborne will be embarking on his second season in the series, having viewed 2019 as very much a learning year, as he stepped into Britain’s premier championship for the first time.
Now with the race-winning Honda underneath him, Osborne goes into the 2020 campaign seeking to make forward progress up the grid and showed his potential with a solid performance during the Silverstone test in March.
There, the 27-year-old lapped little more than a second off the outright pace and finished ahead of a number of proven race winners, and he followed it up with a solid showing across the two days of testing at Snetterton when on-track action got back underway.
With Donington Park being the home circuit for the Worksop racer, Osborne also heads into the opening event of the season in an optimistic mood, with his goal being to challenge for points in the highly-competitive field across all three races.
“Heading into our first season running under the MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square banner, I feel we’re in a good position to build on the success we enjoyed last year,” said Team Principal Shaun Hollamby. “Commercially, our new relationship with Mark and his team has allowed us to bring on board some exciting new partners despite the challenges that we have faced as a result of COVID-19, and we have a driver pairing in Jake and Sam who I feel can do a great job for us on track.
“Jake is someone I have supported for a number of years and he really came of age as a BTCC driver with his results on track last year, where he did a fantastic job. He has already shown in testing how strong he can be in the Honda and I have no doubt that he will be right in the mix this weekend at a circuit where the car has been quick in the past.
“Sam has a lot of potential and I’m confident that this season, he will be able to take a step forwards up the order after learning the ropes last year. He has fit in well with the team and has worked really hard in the testing we have done, which has been reflected in the performances he has put in behind the wheel. I’m hopeful that he can enjoy a strong start to the season and show people what he is capable of.”
“You never really know what anyone else is up to in testing so you can’t read too much into the shadow boxing of it all,” said Hill. “We know we are in a good place, but a race weekend is a completely different beast and I know I am going to have to be really on it against an incredibly strong grid this year.
“I feel like every year I’ve been in the BTCC we’ve taken a step forward and this year has to be our biggest yet. I’m stepping into big shoes in terms of the Independent Teams’ and Drivers’ Champions, and there are plenty who are looking really strong this year.
“I’m confident and raring to go, and feel like I have everything in me – and around me – to make this year the most memorable of my career to date.”
“This is the year to push myself even more,” said Osborne. “Testing went really well, I learnt a lot about the car, and me and the team found a groove with each other right away.
“My first goal is to be regularly challenging for points which, from looking at how we did in pre-season testing, I think we have a really good chance at doing. We were in the mix around those points-places more often than not on the timesheets so it’s looking good from that perspective, but obviously you can’t read too much into testing times.
“Following on from that, I’d really like to be able to make a bid for the Jack Sears Trophy and, of course, help the team push for another Independents’ title.”
Following qualifying on Saturday afternoon, all three BTCC races on Sunday will be available to view free to air on ITV4, with the red lights scheduled to go out on the three 16 lap encounters at 11:10, 13:30 and 17:25.