Former F1 star, Le Mans & IndyCar winner Mark Blundell joins BTCC
Former Formula 1 star, and Le Mans 24 Hours and IndyCar winner Mark Blundell will make his elite-level racing return with a maiden Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship season in 2019, completing Trade Price Cars Racing’s driver line-up.
The move, which sees Blundell behind the wheel of an Audi S3 Saloon alongside team-mate Jake Hill in what will be his first ever touring car campaign, extends a long and distinguished career in motorsport into its 32nd year.
The Hertfordshire driver has represented the likes of McLaren, Brabham, Tyrrell and Ligier in Formula 1, taking multiple podiums across a 61 Grand Prix career. His success extends to claiming top spot at the 1992 24 Hours of Le Mans as well as being one of only a handful of English drivers to have tasted victory in a 500-mile oval race during his multiple race-winning IndyCar career.
Touring cars have not yet figured on his racing CV but 2019 will mark a first foray into the discipline, with competing in the BTCC a long-held ambition. Combining the new challenge of a full racing calendar with his ongoing role as CEO of MB Partners, Blundell is excited for what lies ahead and feels it will complement his work alongside MB Partners’ stable of managed drivers.
“Once the opportunity arose to get back behind the wheel, it was something I was very keen to make happen,” said Blundell. “The British Touring Car Championship is a fantastic series that I have always wanted to race in but it has never been possible until now.
“I have been lucky enough to have had a fantastic motor racing career to date and to have been a part of British motorsport for many years. The sport is in a fantastic place across the UK at this current time and the BTCC and the overall TOCA package is a major part of that, providing an excellent platform for top-level professional drivers and many bright talents behind the wheel.
“The strength of the series is shown by the thousands of fans that join trackside up and down the country and the millions more that tune in from home on ITV.
“It is going to be a new challenge for me but one I am really excited by. Alan Gow and I have been chatting for a number of years about taking part in the BTCC and I’m delighted that the time is right to finally make this step. At my age, I want to make sure that I am taking on such a prestigious championship while I am still geared up to do so competitively.”
With the season-opener at Brands Hatch less than two months away, Blundell is looking forward to revealing further significant news shortly.
“My participation in the series has come about due to a hugely exciting partnership that we are looking forward to announcing in the coming weeks. It has been a long process to get to this point so I do want to thank my Chairman and my fellow directors at MB Partners as well as many friends from across the sport in making this all possible.
“It will be fantastic news for the BTCC, bringing a global brand onto the grid, and myself and the MB Partners team can’t wait to get to work on many of the exciting plans that are already in place.”
Dan Kirby, Trade Price Cars’ Managing Director, feels the recruitment of Blundell affirms the team’s ambitions for its BTCC programme.
“We’re absolutely delighted to be able to announce Mark, completing the driver line-up for our debut season in the BTCC. It’s a signing that reflects all the work that has been going on behind the scenes, and shows how serious we are about this programme.
“There is no doubt that this is a big deal for us, and we are massively excited to have Mark onboard for the season ahead.”
Team Manager Shaun Hollamby echoed Kirby’s thoughts.
“Having concluded a deal early to sign Jake Hill, we’ve been working hard to secure the right driver to complete our driver line-up, and are pleased to have now agreed a deal with Mark Blundell.
“To attract a driver who has been on the podium in F1, and who has won at Le Mans and in IndyCar, is a big coup for us as a team, and we are delighted to bring him on-board.
“With the testing programme we have in place, we’re confident that Mark will be up to speed by the time we get to Brands Hatch, and that he will work well with Jake to give us an exciting driver pairing in the Audis for the year ahead.”
Photo credit: Indira Flack