West Surrey Racing boss Dick Bennetts said that Thursday’s Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship test at Donington Park was all about bedding in their all-new BMW engine ahead of the Manufacturer’s return to factory status in the series.
The reigning Teams and Constructors/Manufacturers’ Champions introduced a new bespoke engine developed by BMW to their 125i M-Sport during the official Media Day test, held at Donington Park on 16 March, running in Rob Collard‘s machine.
Replacing a normally-aspirated engine developed since 2007, WSR overcame early teething troubles in the afternoon as Collard finished 12th overall ahead of team-mate, Colin Turkington.
Team Principal Bennetts said that it was a no-brainer to implement the new powerplant for 2017, expecting any bugs to be ironed out in further tests prior to the season opener at Brands Hatch in April.
“It’s been the first time it has run, so we’re busy sorting out those little teething troubles early on”, Bennetts told The Checkered Flag during Donington’s Media Day test.
“The previous engine is very old – basically the old 3-series engine we started with in the 320si back in ’07, which was normally-aspirated up until 2012 when we turbocharged that.
“With BMW’s new engine, it makes perfect sense to move to that and it’s where they came along to help us out. It’s a new generation, so we’ve stuck with Neil Brown Engineering to develop it into a race engine.”
“At the moment there’s three BMW 1-Series’ BTC-spec, and three or four of these new engines. We’re late getting it out, but hopefully any bugs will be ironed out before Brands Hatch.
“We will be out for more tests before then”, added Bennetts on the prospect of more outings prior to the season opener. “We’ll find somewhere to go.”
BMW will run as a Manufacturer entry for the first time in the BTCC since 1996, a deal that Bennetts had been working on for several seasons.
“Very pleased. We’ve been with the BMW now for 10 years and, to now be enjoying Manufacturer support is very good. We had been chipping away at it for two or three years, something suggested by Sam Tordoff previously.
Reuniting with double champion Turkington was another decisive factor in securing the factory deal according to the New Zealander, Turkington looking for a third BTCC crown with WSR after clinching spoils in 2009 and 2014.
“We spoke to BMW about the possibility of partnering with Colin, which certainly helped it work out. Having Andrew Jordan on board too just makes it better.”