Autosport International 2015 gets underway with the BTCC taking the headlines again

Malcolm Wilson and Petter Solberg open today's show (photo by Marc Waller)This year’s Autosport international sees the show celebrate it’s 25th anniversary and in what seems to be becoming a yearly tradition at the show,

Thursday’s first day was dominated by news, announcements and launches from the British touring car championship.

First up was the launch of the Support our Paras Racing Infiniti which will race if a black blue and red livery. The drivers are still as first reported, Richard Hawken and Derek Palmer Jr despite internet rumours attempting to link various other drivers to the seats!

Next up, Aiden Moffatt Unveiled his 2015 Mercedes A Class. The car was built by Ciceley Motorsport who run Adam Morgan’s Wix car. They will also look after the car between races but Aiden’s own family team known as Laser Tools Racing will run the car at the meetings. Aiden and the team will be hoping to progress from last year’s first full season which saw him move from tail ender to mid-field runner. This year’s target is regular top ten finishes.

Andrew Jordan unveiled his MG6 he’ll be racing for Triple 8/Pirtek Racing this year. Triple 8 have hinted that Marc Hynes may return but haven’t given any clues on who will be in their other MG6.

BTCC driver interview session (photo by Marc Waller)Priaulx (photo by Marc Waller)Moffat's Mercedes launch (photo by Marc Waller)WSR announced that they have signed multiple world touring car champion and former BTCC driver Andy Priaulx to drive one of their BMW 1 Series. He joins Sam Tordoff who was already announced at the team last year. The Priaulx deal had been worked on for a while by team boss Dick Bennetts;

“The deal didn’t really come together until Christmas.” He said on the Autosport stage, he also said the 3 times wtcc joining was “A big coup for the BTCC”

Priaulx has also recently signed a deal to drive in the ELMS (European Le Man Series) and the he North American Endurance Cup that operates within the Tudor United Sports Car Championship. He said that the ELMS will be the priority if any races clash.

Currently the only BTCC clash with the ELMS is Rockingham and Priaulx will miss it to head to Paul Ricard. Croft clashes with his US commitments but he said that in this case it’s likely the BTCC will be the priority.

A driver for the third car will be announced in the near future. Rob Collard has said that he is in contention for the seat but only if Colin Turkington is unable to raise the funding to rejoin his 2014 team or if he decided to go elsewhere. If Turkington does join Priaulx and Tordoff, Collard will be forced to look for a seat elsewhere in a season where he says he has the most backing he’s ever had. He is already talking to other teams but he would prefer to stay at WSR.

Jason Plato was also at the show today. He said he had several options for the BTCC this season and that it’s where he’d rather be. But he also said that these depend on him raising the required funding which hasn’t yet been confirmed.

Tom Ingram is also looking for more sponsorship after loss of a sponsor left his once confirmed Speedworks deal in doubt.

Honda Racing confirmed Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal will drive for them again this season. It was Neal who made the announcement during which he also said that the team will use a different car this season, likely to be either the new Civic type R or the soon to be facelifted standard car. The NGTC rules mean that whichever car they use, the mechanical parts will be mostly identical.

Jordan's new car (photo by Marc Waller)Infiniti launch (photo by Marc Waller)WSR Launch (photo by Marc Waller)Handy Motorsport’s Simon Belcher whose Toyota Avensis is run in co-operation with Speedworks confirmed that he is returning and would be getting a new spec Toyota Avensis but that this would be after one or two rounds and that he would run his old car before then. Belcher’s Toyota is one of the older Toyota’s that has raced in the championship and there have been several improvements on the latest cars, most notably with weight so the new car should give him a boost towards his aim of top ten finishes in his second season.

Rob Austin confirmed him and his team’s participation in the 2015 championship today. When questioned on who his team mate would be he said it was “A Surprise” but it looks likely to be 2014 team mate Hunter Abbott who said at the close of last season that he would like to return. If Abbott has the required budget it seems unlikely anyone else will be in the second car.

Jack Goff has said that he would like to return to the BTCC in 2015 but that he doesn’t currently have a deal. He is another driver that needs to confirm enough budget to run in 2015.
Lea Wood hopes to return in his Houseman/Team Wood Racing Toyota Avensis but this is also conditional on raising enough budget.

There were several other notable launches today at the show in other areas. Radical launched a new flagship model, the new RXC Spyder. Formed in 1997, the company, who are based in Dorset have grown in a relatively short time to become the world’s largest racing car manufacturer Powered by a 3.0-litre V8 engine producing 440bhp, the RXC Spyder is “the most advanced, powerful and aerodynamically-developed open racing car yet.”

Offering close to Le Mans Prototype levels of performance, the RXC Spyder is full of the latest technology including a new seven-speed, paddle-shift gearbox from regular supplier, Quaife. The chassis is a carbon tubular steel space-frame construction meaning that the total package weighs just 860kg. The larger cockpit dimensions enable a greater range of driving aids and functionality as well as better access for the driver.
“We’re delighted with the response to the new Radical RXC Spyder, with a fantastic crowd on hand to witness the unveiling,” said Roger Green, Radical Cars Head of Sales & Marketing.

Handy Motorsport Avensis (photo by Marc Waller)Radical Launch (photo by Marc Waller)Goodbye to the Tourer (photo by Marc Waller)It's a Sin! (photo by Marc Waller)“Already, the interest has been incredibly strong with enquiries and potential orders. Alongside the rest of the Radical range, we’re looking forward to that continuing for the rest of the show.”
Just a year after making its public debut at Autosport International, Zenos Cars have returned to reveal a second lightweight sports car model. With 12 months of development, the new E10 S features a 250bhp turbocharged, 2.0-litre Ford EcoBoost engine.

At just 725 kg, the E10S is expected to cover 0-60mph in less than four seconds and features the company’s E-series chassis platform; a unique aluminium extrusion ‘backbone’ and recycled carbon composite tub.

“Launching the production-ready version of the E10 was something we committed to doing 12 months ago when we were here at Autosport International 2014. I can’t believe it’s a year on,” Zenos Cars co-founder Ansar Ali said.

Also on show for the first time are the Renault Sport RS 01 a spectacular new car for the Renault Sport Trophy.

Sin cars are showing their Sin R1 GT4, a new GT car ready to race in any championship allowing Gt4 spec cars such as British GT.

Autosport International continues on Friday with trade registration available on the door for £29, before doors open to the public on Saturday and Sunday. For more information visit By Marc Waller


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