TALKING HEADS ON THE EVE OF SEASON OPENER
As drivers and teams arrive at Donington Park we have heard from several of the competitors on the eve of the 2022 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship season opener…
Tom Ingram said: “I’m really looking forward to the opening rounds as Donington is a circuit where I have gone well in the past, and one where I took a win on the road last year – so we know the Hyundai works round there.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised in testing in terms of how the car has felt with the extra weight of the hybrid system in when compared to the ballast last year, and I feel we’re in a good place. Saying that, when you are out testing, people don’t show what they really have, so we’ll only know for sure where we stand when we get into qualifying and the serious business begins.
“The hybrid will introduce a new variable into the racing and if we can go out there and fight for pole and a win to kick things off then I’ll be delighted, but we also want to maximise the points for the championship. Although it’s a long season, the races will come round thick and fast from this point on, so it’s important to hit the ground running.”
Dan Cammish said: “I’m looking forward to Donington Park. I’ve had a lot of success there and I do enjoy it as a circuit. I’m glad that it’s the first race of the year as I think it’s a good place to go. It’s the dawn of a new era for the BTCC with the new hybrid system and will be a day of firsts with my maiden race with NAPA Racing UK and Motorbase Performance.
“Pre-season testing has been good, and I think we’re fairly confident that we can be in the mix. I’m not saying we’re going to go out there and win, but we’re building from a sensible foundation, and I don’t see any reason why we can’t aim to be on the podium out of the blocks. That’s where we’ve got to be aiming for and then we’ll go from there.
“The hybrid system works as intended and I think it’s going to do exactly what was planned, which was to get people alongside and to mix up the racing. We won’t have to worry about taking the weight in and out anymore, and that’s got to be a good thing. The main thing now is getting the car in the window that I want it in. I’m working with a new engineer in James Monday, and trying to have not just a quick qualifying car, but a quick race car too.”
Colin Turkington said: “We’ve covered so much ground since the curtain dropped on the 2021 season, and we’ve made considerable strides forward in our understanding of the hybrid system the past month.
“I’m really excited by the newness of this season and motivated by the level playing field it has created. It’s going to be one of the toughest seasons to date but I’m fired up for the challenge.
“Donington Park is an awesome circuit and a superb venue for the season opener. It’ll be fascinating to see how qualifying plays out and how the new system operates in the races as it makes it racing debut. At this stage it’s impossible to know where we’ll be. I think we’re all keeping tight lipped about when and how is best to deploy the hybrid, but for sure it will be different for qualifying than it will be in racing conditions.”
Ollie Jackson said: “I’m really looking forward to getting underway this weekend with the new challenges brought by the hybrid and I’m excited to see how the racing will change.
“The team have worked immensely hard over the winter and the development work that has gone into the car, on top of the hybrid installation, has been unprecedented in my time at Motorbase.
“I’m looking forward to making the most of that hard work and put in a solid opening weekend. We finished the season last year firmly inside the top ten and I’ll do my best to make sure we can start again where we left off!”
Daniel Lloyd said: “A lot of hard work has gone in over the winter to put this deal together, and I’m looking forward to getting out on track this weekend to get the serious business underway.
“The off-season has provided some challenges with the various changes that have been made to the regulations, and it has made the running we’ve been able to do more important than ever. We’ve had a few teething issues, but we have been able to get on top of them quickly and I feel our testing as a whole has been positive and gives us a good base to work from.
“Because everyone is taking a step into the unknown a little for round one, we need to see where we stand when we get to qualifying, but I’m confident that we can run towards the sharp end this season and I can build on my results from last year.”
Jade Edwards said: “Going into this campaign, I have raised my expectations – my personal goals have lifted.
“The new regulations will mix things up and it is going to be interesting to see how everyone copes with that, but the atmosphere within BTC Racing is superb and us three drivers will be able to share knowledge and information across the board.
“Strong points race finishes across the weekend are my aim and I want to focus on qualifying well to give me the best springboard possible to land those results.”
Jake Hill said: “I’ve been desperate for the season to start ever since we wrapped up last year so I’m really excited to get going this weekend.”
“Our winter programme went well and that’s a real confidence boost as you head into a new season.
“Donington is one of my favourite circuits, having finished second here last time out in September. I love the challenge of some of the fast, sweeping corners like the Craner Curves and the technical elements like the chicane.”
Ash Sutton said: “I’m really looking forward to finally kicking off the season at Donington Park. We’ve had a really productive pre-season and whilst we have seen lap times being posted over recent weeks, nobody truly knows where they stand until qualifying on Saturday afternoon so I’m excited to see where we stack up compared to our rivals.
“I’ve been impressed with the hybrid system; we had a small issue in the beginning but it was fixed quickly and since then it has ran well, both in the pit lane and out on track. Although we’ve been using it during testing we don’t fully know how much of an impact it will have until we’re racing – strategy is going to be key with it.
“Making the switch back to front-wheel-drive has been fun too. The Motorbase Ford is already a well-sorted car but me and my engineer (Antonio Carrozza) have been trying a few things to see if we can unlock more from the package, with some bits working and a few not.
“Heading into the year the goal is the same as it always has been and that is to win the title. I’ve said before that I want to go down as one of the greats of the BTCC and clinching a fourth title will be a big part of that. I’ve got a great car and great team around me so there is no reason why we shouldn’t be in the mix from round one!”
Jack Butel said: “Like a number of our rivals, we’ve had some setbacks during pre-season testing and although the team has worked as hard as ever to get them sorted out on my car, I’m heading to Donington Park on the back foot.
“Because I’ve only had limited running, I know the weekend is going to be a massive challenge, and I’m not going to get carried away setting any big targets about what I want to achieve.
“We can see the potential that is there with the car from the times that the other three drivers were able to set in testing, but on a personal level, I need to keep my expectations in check and play the long game. If I can get three good finishes this weekend then I’d be happy, and then we can look to push forwards in the meetings to come.”
Michael Crees said: “Finally, here we are – the start of the new British Touring Car Championship season! I can’t wait to get going at Donington this weekend, it really feels like a proper homecoming after a year away and I’m hungry to be back as part of the cut and thrust of the BTCC. Our pre-season hasn’t been as smooth as we’d like, and the new hybrid is still a bit of an unknown quantity, but we’re ready to go.
“It’s great being part of a new challenge with CarStore Power Maxed Racing. I’m looking forward to working with Ash [Hand] as well, he’s a quick young driver and a good laugh – having fun is a big part of why we go racing in the first place!
“Obviously, I wouldn’t be here without my amazing partners, so a huge thank you to them and my management team for getting this deal together. We’re back!”
Tom Chilton said: “I feel we’re as ready as we can be for the opening rounds, although I think everyone on the grid will feel a little apprehensive as this is the first weekend where we’ll have used the new hybrid system, so we are taking a bit of a step into the unknown.
“On a personal level, I’m pleased to be back in a front-wheel drive car as it is what I know and I’m feeling a lot more comfortable in the Hyundai on the back of my final test at Brands Hatch, where we spent a lot of time looking at the set-up to get it more suited to my driving style.
“All credit to the team as they have worked really hard over the winter and we’ve done a huge amount of work in a short space of time, but it’s still early days and there is more still to do. Three top ten finishes this weekend would be a good start and give me a platform to build on in the coming rounds.”
Sam Osborne said: “I’m really looking forward to this weekend, I love Donington and I can’t wait to get going so starting the season here is great.
“Testing has been mainly very good and it’s been a steep learning curve for me as a driver working with the new hybrid technology, but I think I’ve got my head round that and the feel of a heavier car as well. We will always want more days in the car as a driver but at some point the preparations have to stop as we get ready for the racing, which is the fun part at the end of the day!
“Great job by all the guys and gals at Motorbase to get us here and hopefully we can get the results we all deserve. I’ve got some great team-mates around me who I’ll be learning from and I feel sure we can all work well together to get those results.”
Josh Cook said: “We know from last year’s attack with BTC Racing that it is going to be all about making sure you score consistently over each of the 30 races.
“Three strong points finishes has to be the aim and we will grab the chance for any podiums or wins when they come along.
“We have a lot of variables thrown at us, particularly with the hybrid. I am looking forward to getting to grips with that for the first time, but it is an unknown quantity for everyone on the grid.”