Richard Hawken, Chris Jones and Ian Loggie will join in with the big guns of the BTCC as they participate in this week’s two-day tyre test at Snetterton for Speedworks Motorsport.
With lead driver Dave Newsham unavailable, the Cheshire squad plans to try out the trio in one of its NGTC Toyota Avensis machines during the two-day official TOCA test, team principal Christian Dick saying: “These guys are all potential future drivers, and this is a great opportunity to get them in a car.
“We don’t intend to burden them with pressure in terms of workload or expectation of how quick they should be – it’s purely a chance for each of them to gain experience”, Dick continued. “It’s a case of getting our heads down and keeping the blinkers on to achieve what we set out to.”
Hawken is a three-time club level champion in an ex-David Leslie Nissan Primera, and had been a contender to race for Speedworks this season after holding initial talks with the squad, making his inclusion in the coming test a simple decision. “The meeting I had with Christian was the best one of a lot,” said Hawken. “When he asked if I wanted some seat time at Snetterton, it was an easy decision to make.”
The Surrey-based driver claimed the BRSCC SuperTouring Car Trophy in successive seasons driving the 1999 Primera – which took Frenchman Laurent Aiello to the BTCC drivers’ title in 1999 – as well as top spot in Class B of the Euro Saloons Championship, and remains with his eyesight fixed fully on a future in BTCC.
“I want badly to have a crack at this”, “The chance to have a taste of NGTC machinery takes me a step closer to what I’m working towards, which is to be a part of this great championship in the future. I’m ready to make the jump, although I acknowledge it’s a big one.”
For Jones and Loggie, class leaders after three rounds of the Britcar MSA British Endurance Championship in a Team Parker-prepared Porsche 911, this week marks a second stint behind the wheel of a Speedworks Avensis, the duo having sampled the NGTC car at Donington earlier this year.
Jones said: “I’ve loved the BTCC since I was small, so to be out testing with the likes of Jason Plato and Matt Neal is exciting as they were heroes to me as a youngster. It will be a bit like the first day at school for us, and one with lots of people watching, but I plan to learn as much as possible about the car. If I can help Speedworks collect some useful data along the way, then that would be the best way to say thank you.”
Loggie meanwhile raced for the first time two years ago in the BRSCC Porsche Boxster Championship before teaming up with Jones in Britcar, the 50-year-old adding: “I’m looking for a challenge, and that’s what the BTCC presents. It captures my interest for the high number of quality drivers on the grid, and inspires me to improve so that I might one day join them.”
The official test will start on Tuesday for the teams, regular Spedworks 2013 driver Ollie Jackson also taking part in the Dunlop-backed trial at the Norfolk 300 circuit.