The double BTCC race winner is taking over the Team Parker Racing run Ford Focus formerly run by Alex Martin under the Dextra Racing banner.
Jelley won his two BTCC races driving a BMW 320i (S2000 spec) for West Surrey Racing in 2008 and 2009. Both wins came at Rockingham.
In the intervening seven years, Jelley has been racing in GT racing and most recently in the Carrera Cup GB where he finished fifth in 2016. Alex Martin will be returning there this season meaning the two have virtually done a swap of drives!
Jelley spoke about his BTCC return;
“It was always my aim to come back to the BTCC – I didn’t want to leave, but the finances weren’t there. Team Parker Racing can have a long future in this category and I want a long future here too, so we are looking to build together. I haven’t raced a front-wheel-drive car before so there will be a big test programme ahead of the season to get me up to speed.”
He also spoke about his targets for the 2017 season;
“As for my aims, I will wait to see where we are after the opening sessions before we can make a realistic assessment. We are just going to focus on our own performance first and foremost.”
Team owner Stuart Parker is very happy to have signed Jelley to drive the Ford Focus
“We are thrilled to have Stephen with us – he has driven for the team for four seasons in the Porsche Carrera Cup in his career and he is part of the fixtures and fittings at the squad.
“We have had two great years with Alex, who was learning all the time. Stephen is a proven race winner at this level and, although he will be getting to grips with front-wheel-drive for the first time, he can help us move forward.
“If we can be challenging inside the top ten, and then who knows what can happen with the reverse-grid draw. This will be an exciting year for us.”
It’s also been announced that Team Parker will be running Stewart Lines Maximum Motorsport Ford Focus but Lines faces a race against time to be fit in time for the start of the season.
Lines recently had a mountain bike accident which will leave him unable to drive for at least a month. On current timescales that will mean he is recovered in time for the launch day in March as well as the first round but any set backs or delays could see him sidelined for the first race.
As current BTCC rules mean that he will lose his entry licence if he does not compete, Lines is looking at the possibility of a stand in, possibly a young quick driver who may not currently have a drive.
With only a couple of months until the start of the season, most of the seats have now been filled. West Surrey Racing have so far only officially announced one of their drivers with Andrew Jordan driving the Pirtek Liveried machine. Rob Collard and Colin Turkington have been linked to the vacant seats in rumours but there has been no official statement.
BMR Subaru are yet to announce any drivers but both Jason Plato and James Cole were freely speaking at Autosport about driving the Subaru Levorg in 2017.
BMR sister team Triple Eight MG (They share a base) also are yet to announce any drivers. Their duo of Ashley Sutton and Josh Cook were successful last season but there has been no word on them returning despite all sides seemingly feeling happy with the arrangement in 2016. Some internet rumours put Ashley Sutton in a Subaru instead but once again there has been no official confirmation. By Marc Waller