This season saw youngsters Aron Smith, Adam Morgan, Howard Fuller and Aaron Williamson make their BTCC debuts, each impressing in their own way. Much is made of money in motorsport but talent talks too, and here, theCheckeredFlag.co.uk reporters Scott Mitchell and Simon Paice have spoken to five drivers we believe could cut the mustard in Britain’s premier motor racing championship. After speaking to Clio Cup stars Jack Goff and Josh Cook, our attention has switched to the Ginetta’s with Junior front-runner Niall Murray ……
Murray has shown his potential as a future BTCC star whilst competing in Ginetta Juniors for the last three seasons. After winning the 2010 Ginetta Junior Ireland, Murray headed over to the UK in 2011, taking two race wins on his way to fourth in the standings in his rookie season.
This campaign, Murray has been a championship contender throughout, taking five wins on his way to third in the championship. The 17 year old now has aspirations to move into the Clio Cup next season if he can find the budget, a move that will be the perfect stepping stone for a future graduation to the BTCC, however he is considering many different options at the moment.
“Well my first aim would be to try and stay on the BTCC package. I’d like to do Clio Cup like my brother Eoin did so successfully in the past, but at this early stage we are looking at every option available to us. Obviously it which ever series I move to, I would like to run as competitively as I have done so far in my career.”
While his immediate future is unclear, Murray has clear goals to progress into the BTCC in the future. Over the last three years, Murray has shown a superb determination to win, tremendous raw pace and a strong overtaking style that means he would fit perfectly into the BTCC.
“I think for anyone racing on the TOCA package, racing in British Touring cars has got to be one of your primary goals, and I’m no different. I’ve got first hand experience of just how difficult it is to achieve that goal with my brother Eoin [Murray]. However with the new NGTC regulations proving to make the BTCC a much more achievable prospect, I would certainly take any opportunity to race in the BTCC with both hands!”
Eoin competed in the BTCC in 2006 and 2007, securing a best finish of sixth in his Alfa Romeo 156, while there’s currently Irish interest with Aron Smith, who capped off his maiden full campaign in 2012 with a first race win on the final weekend at Brands Hatch, success that spurs on Niall to become the next Irish BTCC star.
“Obviously seeing any Irish drivers doing well will always be an encouragement. Aron has had a fantastic season which I would like to compliment him on, but my brother Eoin was a little unlucky on more than one occasion and didn’t get the results he deserved. But yes, it would be pretty cool to see the brother of a former BTCC driver on the grid some time in the future and hopefully that can be me some day!”
With just three seasons of junior Ginetta racing under his belt, Murray does not believe he is quite ready to make the progression into the BTCC just yet. The Dublin-based racer does feel though that with the new NGTC regulations in place, he has more chance of being successful if he joins the series.
“Well I possibly may not be fully ready right now, having just come out of the Ginetta Junior car, however I am confident the only experience I would be lacking would be of a much faster car. Ginetta Junior is a very competitive and close championship, not unlike BTCC in that regard, so in terms of race craft I would be quite confident. I think if everything comes together and I can make it onto one of the faster support package grids in 2013, I will be getting very close to feeling ready for a BTCC car.
“Now that there are so many competitive teams and cars available, I’d like to think that once I got there, I would have a competitive car capable of winning. We’ve seen winners from both ends of the pitlane this year, which is fantastic and is unlike previous seasons when it was a manufacturer-dominated championship.”