BTCC PRE-SEASON RECAP: JANUARY
With driver and team announcements galore, January was jam-packed with news about the upcoming Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship, keeping fans on their toes throughout the first month of 2021.
Here’s a quick recap of all the key information revealed in January…
Hollamby and Osborne acquire Motorbase Performance
The first BTCC story of the year saw AmD Tuning’s Shaun Hollamby and Pete Osborne acquire Motorbase Performance, as well as the squad’s race-winning Ford Focus STs. Since the announcement, it’s been revealed that two of the four machines will run under the MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square banner.
TOCA confirms full grid for 2021
Series Organiser TOCA’s annual TBL announcement, as always, produced a great deal of discussion, as fans reflected on a full grid for the upcoming season. Two hot topics included West Surrey Racing retaining a third TBL and Speedworks Motorsport increasing its BTCC attack to field a two-car team.
Chilton completes Ciceley Motorsport line-up
Following the exciting announcement that the Lancashire squad would be fielding a pair of BMW 330i M Sports in 2021, Ciceley Motorsport confirmed Tom Chilton would be Adam Morgan’s new team-mate. Chilton makes the switch from BTC Racing and brings a great deal of experience to the team as he heads into his 15th BTCC campaign.
Later in January, Chilton and team-mate Morgan hit the track in the BMW 125i M Sport at Donington Park prior to the arrival of the 3 Series’, where the pair used the opportunity to acclimatise ahead of their move to rear-wheel drive machinery.
Edwards to undertake maiden full BTCC campaign
Having tackled her first foray in the BTCC last year at Silverstone, Jade Edwards has made her intentions on a full-time drive in the championship clear and 2021 marks the year she’ll be making that dream a reality. BTC Racing, which announced entries Josh Cook and Michael Crees in late December, confirmed its final driver in one of its Honda Civic Type R FK8s would be none other than the 29-year-old, making Edwards the first woman to contest a full season in Britain’s elite motorsport series since 2007.
TOCA announces revised calendar
Two weeks into the new year, Series Organiser TOCA announced a revised 2021 calendar, with the campaign kicking off at Thruxton on 8/9 May, five weeks later than initially scheduled. The revision, which was made to maximise the opportunity for spectators to attend events, will see the Season Finale held on Brands Hatch’s Grand Prix circuit – as previously planned – on the later date of 23/24 October.
EXCELR8 Trade Price Cars names Smiley and Ingram
EXCELR8 Trade Price Cars confirmed two more drivers during January, which will see Chris Smiley and Tom Ingram join Jack Butel in three of the squad’s four Hyundai i30s. The news bolsters Northern Irishman Smiley remaining with the team for a second consecutive year, while this move for 2021 sees Ingram’s first-ever team change in his BTCC career, having raced with Speedworks Motorsport for his previous seven campaigns.
Goodyear BTCC partnership to run until 2026
Another championship announcement in January was the extension of the BTCC’s title sponsor and tyre supplier partnership with Goodyear. The news will see the company continue its long-standing alliance with the BTCC through to the end of 2026 and includes the introduction of hybrid power to the championship in 2022, as the relationship hits such accolades as a third decade of continuous partnership.
Plato returns with Power Maxed Racing
Power Maxed Racing announced BTCC stalwart Jason Plato’s 12-month sabbatical from racing would come to an end in 2021 as the 53-year-old will be back behind the wheel of one of the squad’s Vauxhall Astras. Plato will kick the year off with his 600th BTCC race at Thruxton as the fan-favourite continues to strive towards that 100th win.
Speedworks unveils driving duo
The final breaking news of the month came in the form of a full line-up unveil from Toyota Gazoo Racing UK, having confirmed a two-car attack on the BTCC in 2021. The announcement revealed Rory Butcher and Sam Smelt would be the duo steering the squad’s Toyota Corollas in the coming season, with Smelt making his BTCC return having not raced in the championship since his 2018 debut. Butcher’s move to the team off the back of his most successful campaign will see the Scot hit the milestone of his 100th race in the series in Speedworks Motorsport-backed machinery.
With the grid looking fuller by the day, keep an eye on btcc.net as well as the official BTCC social media accounts for further updates, announcements and breaking news.