TEAM ES RACING
No.17 Dave Newsham – No.78 Chris James
If pre-season testing can be taken as any sort of form guide then Chris James' tiny team could make a lot of noise this season.
Last year Dave Newsham proved himself a solid BTCC driver in his tenure with Special Tuning Racing, and the adopted Scot shocked the gathered media on the series' launch test day by setting the fastest lap around the Silverstone National circuit.
James' Chevrolet Lacetti was hopelessly outclassed by the newer chassis last year but his newly acquired ex-Triple Eight Vectras should be on pace from the start of the season.
If – and it's an if that pervades through the outlook for 2012 – the new NGTC cars are slow to gain the pace and reliability to challenge for regular wins then both Newsham and James could reap rewards, in Newsham's case especially, very big rewards.
However, as the season continues the size of the team, and the fact the five previous years of the Vectra's BTCC life have turned the car into a “wrung sponge” – to steal Matt Neal's words from last season – should see them slip down the order.
Dave Newsham onâ€¦..lessens from a debut season
“These drive a lot different from a Clio Cup car – there's a lot more power here, so it's all about preserving the life of the front tyres so your lines are completely different. You've got really feed the power in a lot more gently, but in racing, you've just got to stay out of trouble I think. I don't think I finished many races last year with the car still pointing in the right direction, there were bits bent all over the place. So this seems like a really strong car, but the SEAT that was one of its Achilles Heals was it wasn't very strong.”
Chris James onâ€¦.any early advantage
“We're hoping it's a massive advantage but the teams up there [Honda, MG] all they do is drive around in circles and have money thrown at them. We're in a different universe on money and that's why we bought a proven car with a proven package and the data and set-up to go behind it. Yes, we're hoping in the first two or three rounds we can make hay while the sun shines.”