BTCC 2014 – Team by team preview

BTCC cars (photo by Marc Waller)The 2014 British touring car championship startrs again this weekend at Brands Hatch in Kent and with a record 31 entries at every round it looks set to be a classic season.

There’s not only a record in the number of entries but also the number of champions with seven competing. Alain Menu returns for the first time since 2000 and Fabrizio Giovanardi is another big name returning. They join 2013 champion Andrew Jordan, and the other BTCC big names of Jason Plato, Matt Neal, Gordon Shedden and Colin Turkington.

Here we’ll go through each team entered for 2014

Pirtek Racing
Pirtek (photo by Marc Waller)The 2013 champions are unchanged in terms of machinery for 2013 with the Honda Civic again challenging. But Jordan gets a new team mate with the returning Martin Depper. Jordan will be looking to take back to back titles and has an excellent chance but it certainly won’t be easy. Depper struggled previously in the BTCC but excels in club racing and so if the team can help his pace he might spring some surprises. His initial aims will be points and then to get as close as he can to team leader Jordan.

Ebay Motors (WSR)
This team has an unchanged line up with former champion Colin Turkington leading the team. He is joined once again by Rob Collard and Nick Foster. The car has been improved with Ebay Motors (photo by Marc Waller)upgrades on the aero side. Turkington was winning by the second meeting last year and so with a year’s development now behind the car he should fly from round one. Collard had a poor 2013 by his standards, barely making the podium and he will be hoping to return to winning form. Nick Foster improved last year and ran team mate Collard a lot closer but still never looked like winning. He’ll be hoping to make further steps forward in 2014 and maybe a return to the podium he last stood upon in 2012.

Honda Racing (Team Dynamics)
The works Honda outfit has a new car this season in the form of the Civic Tourer, the first estate in the BTCC for twenty years. (The last being the Volvo 850 estate which ran for a Honda Racing (photo by Marc Waller)season in 1994.) They have had some issues in testing but are now reported to be on top of them. If they genuinely are now competitive then a shot at the title for either driver is possible but with a season as competitive as this one looks likely to be, any issues are likely to put them out of contention. Brands Hatch will provide the answers to this one. 


Motorbase Performance (Running as Airwaves Racing and Crabbies Racing.)
The team continue with their self built Ford Focus after a disappointing 2013. Mat Jackson returns after a late announcement halfway through media day. He is joined by Fabrizio Giovanardi. After several years away from the championship, the Italian is eager to get back to one of his favourite places to race! He admitted he initially had issues getting used to the car but is now well on top of things. Airwaves will be looking to him to take the team back to the front of the field. Whether he can remains to be seen.

Airwaves (photo by Marc Waller)Motorbase are also running a third car for Jack Clarke under the Crabbies racing banner. Jack Clarke’s career has been in single seater’s up until now but has always been quick. If he can adapt to the very different handling of a touring car while retaining his speed he should be another front runner. With former BTCC driver Julian Bailey as a step father, he certainly has expert help as he adapts to the BTCC!


888 (MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save and Quantel Bifold Racing)
MG KX Clubcard Fuel save is the slightly less than catchy name of the works MG squad this year. Both the car and the driver line up reamin unchanged. Jason Plato and Sam Tordoff were both in condfident mood at the season launch and felt their MG6 was in thebest shape it’s been so far. They also have their strongest opposition yet though. They could well be front runners or they may find themselves pushed down the field depending on how well the sizable opposition shape up.

MG KX Clubcard Fuelsave (photo by Marc Waller)Like Motorbase, 888 also have a third car driven by a former single seater ace. This time it’s Marc Hynes who beat Jenson Button back in their F3 days. He stopped racing altogether for a while working in Formula 1 as a driver coach instead but now he is back with Quantel Bifold racing’s MG6. He has been testing all winter to get used to the car so if the car is competitive he should be right up there with Plato and Tordoff fighting for wins.

Chrome Edition Restart Racing and RCIB Insurance Racing
These two names make up the merged Team hard and BMR Restart racing teams from last season. Bought by driver and team boss Warren Scott, the cars and the team have undergone significant changes over the winter with a new combined base where BMR were based last year. Tony Gillham remains with the team running things while Warren Scott is on driving duty. The self-deprecating Scott said on media day that it’s nice to have three decent drivers in the team plus himself! The lead of these 3 is Alain Menu, returning to the BTCC in a move that shocked many. He drives one of the team’s revamped VW CC’s, a car which last season scored a podium. Renowned engineer Geoff Kingston has been bought in to reengineer the cars and they Chrome edition restart racing (photo by Marc Waller)look quicker than ever. Menu will be joined in the VW side by Aron Smith. The other half of the team consists of the former Thorney Motorsport insignia, Warren Scott drives one and Jack Goff returns for a second season. With both cars scoring podiums last season if the improvements have brought more speed the team has it’s best ever chance of running at the front. Menu has been playing down his pace so far but has been quick in testing. Smith on the other hand has been sounding very confident and is aiming to be at the front from the very start. The two Vauxhall Insignia’s are likely to be further back, Goff’s RCIB Insurance car likely to be the lead one of these with Warren Scott in the other car running under the chrome restart banner with his car matching the VW CC’s colour scheme. Scott is unlikely to trouble the front runners but the other three quarters of this team should all be capable of podiums and the occasional win at least.

Rob Austin Racing (Fast Exocet Racing and AlcoSense Breathalysers Racing)
If any driver could claim the title of fan’s favourite it’d have to be the popular Evesham based driver, Rob Austin.He returns in Sherman, his popular Audi A4 this time sponsored by fuel additive maker Rob Austin racing (photo by Marc Waller)Exocet. He is aiming for at least podiums at every race and he should certainly be a front runner. He is joined in the second car by long time friend and former British GT team mate, Hunter Abbott. Abbott is perhaps most famous for a massive accident in 2008 in a Ginetta G50 at Oulton Park. He has a strong, if not spectacular racing record and should be quick once he adjusts to the touring car. Initially he will be a driver aiming for points but podiums are a possibility especially later in the year.

Wix Racing (Ciceley Motorsport.)
With Adam Morgan’s family run team picking up the former Rob Austin racing backer, they have strong support to try and remain at the front this season. Although without a win in 2013, Morgan was always somewhere near the front and now has a new car in the form of a Mercedes A Class. The car has looked quick in testing and it’s down to Morgan to push the car to podiums and ideally wins. The title is probably a long shot but wins should definitely be possible.

AMD Tuning
After a disappointing season last year, AMD bounce back in 2014 with a new driver in the form of Dave Newsham and a new car in the form of a Motorbase built Ford Focus. With a priven race AMD Tuning (photo by Marc Waller)winner and support from Motorbase, the team look set for their strongest season ever in the BTCC. Newsham is looking to compare himself to Giovinardi. Another team that could and should get wins although unlikely to be able to go for the overall championship. Regular podiums will be the aim. Girlracer will be working with the team in 2014 to bring a new feature which you’ll see the first of soon.

Speedworks Motorsport
With the team returning to run one Toyota Avensis, they have signed up multiple Ginetta champion Tom Ingram. The team has always looked like they ccould be front runners but have never quite managed to push through. With a driver as quick as Tom, 2014 could be the year they start winning. It’ll depend on how quick Tom can adjust but winter testing times suggest that he has.

Handy Motorsport
This is where the second Speedworks Toyota Avensis has gone. Simon Belcher’s team moves up from the Clio cup. Although Belcher had success in the class for older drivers in the clio’s, he was never a regular runner right at the front. Belcher himself admits he has lots to learn and says that this will be a learning year. With 30 rivals points may be hard to come by and will be as good as a win initially. They will have technical support from Speedworks which should mean they at least have a head start on getting used to the car and especially with set up for each circuit

STP Racing with Sopp&Sopp (Welch Motorsport)
The team has a new name for 2014 and updated Proton Gen-2’s. Dan Welch is the lead driver and is joined by the popular Ollie Jackson. The team has come close to podiums a few times in it’s time in the championship but have never quite done it. Welch is confident it’s revamped cars will be the ones to finally propel them to the front. But, the cars are being finished just in time for the first weekend and so have had no time for a wwinter testing program. This may put them behind at least initially. Jackson has always looked like he could do well in the BTCC but so far hasn’t had the results or the luck. He will be hoping that 2014 will be his breakthrough year.

Rotek Racing
This team is new to the BTCC and has a new car, the Audi S3. Robb Holland is the one part of the team that isn’t new to the championship having done various races over the past few seasons. Rotek (photo by Marc Waller)It’s a huge cliché but if his car goes as well as it looks the team will be right at the front! Realistically though, the first US driver to do a full season in the BTCC is unlikely to be at the front to start with. The car is all new and has only just been finished. The team is new to the championship and will be commuting from Germany. Holland is still relatively inexperienced too so the combination of all these things is likely to mean that the team initially will be in the second half of the grid. If all goes to plan though they won’t stay there all season!

Houseman Racing
This is the 2013 Jack Sears Trophy winner Lea Wood’s family team. He is back for 2014 with a Toyota Avensis. He has always sprung surpises in his cars before and generally gets higher up the gird Houseman Racing (photo by Marc Waller)than you’d expect him to be. Now he has more equal equipment it’ll be interesting to see how far up he can get. If the team can get to grips with the car expect regular points finishes.


United Autosports
A top team for many years in GT racing, Richard Dean’s team join the BTCC with two Toyota Avensis. Their drivers are new to the BTCC Glynn Geddie and James Cole who di a part season with team Hard last season before leaving due to differences with the team. Geddie has raced on BTC weekend’s before in the Porsche Carrera cup GB and has had success in GT racing but he is new to the BTCC. He is certainly quick but it remains to be seen how he’ll adapt. Points finishes are likely to be his minimum target. James Cole appeared to struggle last season. It was clear he put this down to the team so he’ll now have another chance to show what he can do. Being up against a quick driver like Geddie in the same car, even if the United autosport (photo by Marc Waller)team aren’t front runners we’ll get an idea of what Cole can do. The team have always been quick in everything they enter and there’s no reason to think the BTCC will be any different. Geddie is likely to be the lead driver and the first to get results for the team.


Laser tools racing
Aiden Moffat is the youngest ever BTCC driver. Ahead of his debut part way through last season at the age of 16, people were saying he wasn’t ready. Moffat aquitted himself well though and after a change of car by the end of the season he had scored his first points. Having raced cars isnce the age of 12, Moffat has already had plenty of race experience. His car is the Chevrolet Cruze entered by Andy Neate’s Ip tech engineering last season. With a huge amount of input from RML (One of the industries acknowleged touring car experts with multiple world titles) the car should be a good one. Moffatt also has backing from Laser Tools so all the elements are there for success. It’ll be one of the interesting elements of the season, watching to see if Moffatt can captialise on his undoubted talent and succeed in the BTCC

Power Maxed Racing (BTC Racing)
Chris Stockton returns to the BTCC with his regaulr team, BTC racing this season in a Chevrolet Cruze hatch. Despite also being developd by RML the car is surprisingly different to the other RML Power Maxed Racing (photo by Marc Waller)prepared Cruze of Moffat. With the car only recently finished, Stockton himself admits that they have a lot to learn. Initially they are likely to be tail enders but they will be hoping to move up the grid. With the opposition as good as it is this year it’s a tough task but Stockton and the team are determined.

As you can see, this season has by far the most spectacular line up we’ve seen for many years and the biggest grid ever. With the new rules that say that every team must contest every round we should see this massive grid at every round. On short circuits such as Brands Hatch Indy and Knockhill it’ll be particularly spectacular. As well as being the biggest field for ages it should also be one of the closest fields. With all teams now running to the NGTC rules (Now just to be known as British Touring car rules.) the playing field is perhaps the most level it has ever been. Picking a winner for each race never mind a champion is incredibly hard. It’s likely we’ll see a champion from one of the seven former champions on the grid. The one total certainty is that we are about to have a great season!

If this has tempted you to come and watch live, tickets are available at the gate this weekend at Brands Hatch. If you can’t make it down you can watch it on ITV4, who are increasing their coverage this year and will again show the support races as well. And of course you can read all about it as usual on GR! By Marc Waller

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