After several months of driver announcements and pre-season testing, the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship is primed and ready to roar back into life this weekend (April 6/7) for the opening event of the season at Brands Hatch.
Billed as Britain’s biggest motorsport series, 2019 boasts another competitive 30-car capacity entry list – including ten different marques and an impressive 12 models of car. In addition, this year’s grid includes five former champions and 18 BTCC race-winners – further underlining the strength in depth the series possesses.
Having kicked off the new season at Hever Castle and Brands Hatch last week, where more than 3000 laps were clocked by the entire field, the talking is set to stop on Sunday as Rounds 1, 2 & 3 kick off proceedings.
Reigning champions West Surrey Racing enter the weekend bidding to ignite their title defence as they debut the BMW 330i M Sport. The manufacturer squad fired out a warning shot in testing with Colin Turkington and Andrew Jordan both on the pace, and Tom Oliphant was not far behind either.
Toyota’s long-awaited return to the BTCC has set tongues wagging and both Speedworks Motorsport and Tom Ingram will see where they stack up with its Corolla whilst the Halfords Yuasa Racing duo of Matt Neal and Dan Cammish will be keen to score points early on.
Power Maxed Racing boast one of the most experienced driver line-ups, with Jason Plato and Rob Collard returning to front-wheel-drive to spearhead Vauxhall’s championship charge. Elsewhere, Adrian Flux Subaru Racing have retained the services of 2017 champion Ashley Sutton and recruited race-winner Senna Proctor in a bid to regain their title.
Beyond the manufacturer entrants sits a raft of title contenders amongst the Independent ranks, with Motorbase Performance leading the way. Tom Chilton proved to be a worthy challenger in 2018 and will be keen to bounce back at the teams local circuit, with Ollie Jackson and Nicolas Hamilton also added.
BTC Racing have aligned themselves with Team Dynamics, secured to brand new Honda Civic Type Rs and signed Josh Cook to join Chris Smiley. If the cards fall their way, BTC Racing could become a force to be reckoned with over the course of the year.
Aiden Moffat, Adam Morgan and Daniel Rowbottom head up the Mercedes Benz A-Class entrants whilst Matt Simpson and Stephen Jelly will also be keen to move further up the order this year.
Team HARD. and AMD Tuning both class Brands Hatch as their local circuit and the two will be keen to make home advantage count. Both Sam Tordoff and Rory Butcher showcased what the AMD Hondas can do at last week’s test, with Tordoff topping the times under the official lap record. Jake Hill and former F1 racer Mark Blundell are also part of the AMD stable in a pair of Audi S3s.
Jack Goff, Bobby Thompson, Michael Crees and Carl Boardley have been selected to lead Team HARD and their quartet of Volkswagen CCs. Goff was the man to beat at the season-opener last year, storming to pole position and then victory.
Rounding off the grid this year will be Excelr8 Motorsport, who make their BTCC debuts with Rob Smith and Sam Osborne in the former race-winning MG6 machines.
With 30 drivers all geared up for the start of the new season, the stage is set for the BTCC to produce another unforgettable year of racing, with the fight to secure the UK’s biggest motorsport crown the focus of everyone.
ITV4 will once again screen every second of the season live with coverage for this weekend beginning on Saturday as qualifying takes place from 15:00 on itv.com/btcc. ITV4’s coverage on race day begins at 10:15.
For more information on this weekend’s opening event of the year, click here.