Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher hunting home advantage
Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher will be looking for home advantage to play a part in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season opener this coming weekend, with the squad aiming for a title challenge in 2018.
With an unprecedented 17 race winners confirmed and a capacity 32-car grid, the BTCC’s 60th anniversary is all set to be a season to remember and Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher is aiming to make its mark early on.
Tom Chilton, 2010 Independents’ champion, joins the Kent-based team fresh off the back of a successful World Touring Car Championship season where he clinched the Indy title and finishedthird overall against a number of manufacturer-backed competitors. In the BTCC, Chilton counts 12 race wins, 45 podiums and 12 pole positions to his name.
James Cole also makes a return to the Motorbase fold after last racing with the team during its part-season campaign in 2015. Cole has spent the last two seasons as part of the Subaru-manufacturer squad where he took his maiden BTCC pole and race win at Rockingham last season.
It’s been 25 years since the iconic RS badge last competed in the BTCC and Motorbase Performance’s Focus has benefitted from a series of upgrades during the close season and now bears the distinctive styling of the latest RS. The reworked machines have impressed during their pre-season outings, with Chilton setting the second-fastest time during the first official BTCC test at Donington Park last week.
Motorbase has enjoyed many successes on its home circuit over the years and has a great history on the Indy loop. The team celebrated its first ever BTCC win there back in 2009 and with the squad’s sights set firmly on challenging for the coveted BTCC crown, podiums and silverware are high on the agenda for the opening rounds.
“A new look car, two new drivers, a lot of hard work from the team over the winter and we’re ready for Round 1,” said Team Manager Oly Collins. “We’ve done more testing than ever – over 5,000 kilometres cumulatively across the team and more detail in the workshop means that we feel more prepared than ever before.
“It’s been a very busy winter. There has been a lot of change to the look of the team. The fresh approach from the drivers has been outstanding and we’ve had a very productive test program supported by impeccable reliability from the technical team behind the scenes.
“James and Tom have settled in really quickly and it feels like they’ve been here for ages. The atmosphere in the camp is a very positive and happy one. The pace of the new RS looks positive from the official testing we’ve done, but we only know what we’re doing, not what everyone else is up to! We’ll only find out where our rivals are at about 4 o’clock on Saturday. One thing is for sure, as is always the case in the BTCC, it will be very close and qualifying will be key to a strong weekend at Brands Hatch.”
“The car is in a sweet spot at the moment which is every drivers dream,” said Chilton. “We’ve had a great pre-season testing programme, and we’re all working together really closely as a team. The relationship within the team is really strong already and team spirit is high.
“It was great to be at the top of the timing sheets on media day, and although you can never read too much into that I think we are in good stead and it’s a positive position to be in heading into the first race weekend.
“Brands Hatch is my favourite circuit, it’s both mine and the team’s local circuit and I’ve held lap records there for over 3 years so I’m really excited to start the season off there this weekend.”
“It was great to be out running against the rest of the grid for the first fully competitive session last week,” said James Cole. “Overall, it was a great afternoon’s running for us and although you have to take the results with a pinch of salt on media day, our pace in the wet especially showed the potential of the package we have.
“I’m really excited about this season. I’m in the best position I’ve been in since coming into the BTCC. The RS has really come on leaps and bounds from the ST days and I can’t wait to get to Brands Hatch and show our true potential.”