The rear-wheel drive cars of West Surrey Racing and Rob Austin Racing will be ones to watch when the British Touring Car Championship kicks off next weekend, according to championship hopefuls Motorbase.
Team manager Oly Collins reckons it will be a close fight this year but the eBay Motors-backed BMWs and Wix Racing Audis could be the cars to have in 2013.
WSR are a year behind key title rivals Honda, MG and the Airwaves-backed Fords, though Austin’s Audi has been around since 2011, and Collins says they have been allowed rule breaks which could give them the edge.
“WSR will get to grips with their car very quickly and with the format and rule breaks they’ve been allowed will be very strong,” he told theCheckeredFlag.co.uk. “Also don’t rule out Rob Austin as they’ve been given the same rule breaks as WSR.
“I think RWD will be the thing to have at a lot of circuits this season.”
Motorbase driver Aron Smith shared the opinion that the rear-wheel drive cars will fight at the front from the start, but said it would be unwise to read too much into what happens at Brands Hatch.
He added: “They are going to be starting off very strong. I think it might be a case where they have to be reined in. One thing I learned from last year is you have to take each race weekend. If the best you can do is 10th that’s where you finish. You can’t just write off your year after one weekend.”
Yesterday’s official pre-season test at Donington Park saw Honda, MG and the independently-run Toyotas of Adam Morgan (Ciceley Racing) and Dave Newsham (Speedworks Motorsport) in the top five.
Collins says it will be close at the front but is optimistic Motorbase can challenge for the title after Mat Jackson won in their NGTC Focus’ third event last year.
“It’s going to be a great season that’s for sure,” he said. “You just have to look at yesterday’s results to see evidence of some of that. Sure the main contenders over a whole season are likely to be ourselves (we hope), Honda, MG & Eurotech. The Toyota’s were very strong toward the end of last season and proved yesterday they’ve improved further this winter.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence that both Aron & Mat will be pushing each other right from the word go. We hope they’ll both be fighting for the wins at Brands. Aron proved his ability & maturity in the second half of last season and we all know what Mat can do given half a chance.”