The 2013 British Touring Car grid is full to the brim. At some point this season 32 cars will line up together and be let loose on Britain’s best tracks. But the reason we have a sold-out series is down to the new-for-2013 Jack Sears Trophy, a cup for drivers racing in older S2000-spec machinery, while the majority of the grid pilots cars built to the championship’s NGTC regulations.
Six drivers in five different makes of car will contest the trophy – named after the first ever series’ champion – and here, we look over who could enter the BTCC history books.
James Kaye – AmDTuning.com – VW Golf
The venerable James Kaye returns to the BTCC hoping to make it a hat-trick of second-tier championship successes. Twice an Independents’ champion in the 1990s, Kaye last raced in the series in 2010 and takes over from Oliver Jackson aboard the popular VW Golf. Kaye and team boss Shaun Hollamby have spoken confidently about their chances of Jack Sears success but much will depend on whether the team can extract extra performance from the car. Last season was trying at times and its best results came in the wet at Rockingham and the Brands finale – if it stays dry, Kaye might have his work cut out for him.
Liam Griffin – Addison Lee Motorbase – Ford Focus
Despite announcing his BTCC retirement last year Liam Griffin sticks with what he knows in a bid for some silverware. The Addison Lee boss, who remains with Motorbase in the tried, tested and successful Ford Focus, knows he has the equipment to succeed – of the five cars, the Focus is a known quantity but has the best track record in recent years. Griffin said himself he is not a head-turner for ability but his experience should stand him in good stead alongside the likes of Warren Scott, Joe Girling and David Nye. He should mix it with Wood for outright honours this season.
Lea Wood came so close to securing an NGTC drive for 2013 – the venerable Vectra was up for sale for a while. Unfortunately, it didn’t come off, and with a lick of paint, the Vectra is back. Wood should be the fastest driver out of the S2000 runners and has a car which, in the hands of Dave Newsham, won twice last season, and he should have been on the podium himself in 2012 – only a mechanical failure stopping him getting on the rostrum in race three at Snetterton. A star in the wet, the Vectra could well mix it with the top ten if the heavens open – but if it stays dry, the improved performance of the NGTCs for this year will mean even cracking the top 20 will be a tough ask. A successful Jack Sears campaign should ease the pain of that, though.
Warren Scott – BMR Restart – SEAT Leon
After just one season racing in cars, former bike racer Warren Scott has taken the plunge – and then some. Arguably facing the toughest test of all the S2000 runners, Scott will need to get to grips with the car and the series fast. However, the return of the popular SEAT Leon is good news and the team should be up to speed with the car fairly swiftly. It will probably be too much to ask for regular Jack Sears success but at the very least Scott will be hoping to challenge fellow rookies Girling and Nye.
Joe Girling – M247 Racing – Chevrolet Cruze
Next to Scott, 22-year-old Joe Girling has one of the toughest campaigns of any driver coming up. The Production Touring Car Trophy racer is making a huge step up for 2013 but with the combined efforts of Tech-Speed Motorsport and Finesse, he has a team behind him who know a thing or two about top-level tin top racing. When you add to that the car he will be driving, Girling’s task becomes slightly easier – as easy as racing in the BTCC can be. The Cruze is a very, very good touring car and if Girling can get to grips with life in the championship quickly, there’s potential for a few very good results.
The popular Welch Motorsport team expands to two cars for 2013 with the addition of David Nye. The Ford Fiesta Cup race winner has plenty of experience behind him but is aware of the steep learning curve that awaits. Nonetheless, in the Ford Focus (ex-Motorbase, the same as Griffin) the 55-year-old has the perfect platform to break into the BTCC. Racing around at the back may not be confidence-inspiring but in that car at least he has the equipment to fight for Jack Sears victories – once he’s up to speed.
Photo Credits: BTCC.net, PSP Images and Octane Photographics.