UK Renault Clio Cup racer Mike Bushell will get his first taste of BTCC machinery next week, testing for Club 44 as regular driver Andy Neate aims to extend his own Independent outfit for the future.
KX Akademy-backed Bushell has been a podium finisher in his maiden season in the one-make Renault series last year and has been a consistent front-runner in 2013, but he will now try out Neate’s Club 44 Chevrolet Cruze in a test session next Tuesday at Snetterton (August 20) as he aims at a future in the BTCC.
The Scuderia Vittoria driver admitted his excitement at testing the Cruze at the Norfolk venue for the first time, while also remaining conscious about keeping the machine in prestine condition for Neate’s next event at Knockhill on August 24-25.
“That I thought was just a dream could now become a reality,” the 24-year-old told btcc.net. “When I sat in a Fiesta for a trackday just over two years ago I could never have imagined this sort of career progression. I seem to have got quicker and quicker personally, but I must also thank Westbourne Motorsport and then the KX Akademy for raising my profile too. It has helped hugely to bring things to this point, and it really feels like all my birthdays have come at once!
“It will be the fastest thing I’ve ever driven on a race track and I’m sure I’ll be screaming to myself with excitement on the first lap or two,” he enthused. “Of course I’m a racing driver that wants to push myself to the limit, but I’m conscious of the fact that Andy [Neate] will need the car for Knockhill a few days later so I’ll need to show a lot of maturity with the run.”
Bushell also admitted that a future in the BTCC is firmly on his radar, hopeful that a deal can fall into place for the Clio driver in the following two seasons.
“Ultimately we want to be on the BTCC grid for next year or 2015. The level of supporters and overall exposure in Clios is great but the BTCC is just on another level – it’d mean the world to me to race in the series.”
Returning to the series and undergoing a clean debut outing for the new squad at Snetterton, Neate confirmed that he intends to run a two-car outfit next season, and aims to provide a strong opening for new drivers on their path towards a career in Britain’s premier saloon car series.
Neate said: “Mike’s a good peddler and I hope he enjoys the test. I didn’t stop grinning for a week after my first BTCC test so it’s great to be able to provide a similar moment for someone else. He’s assessing his options for next season and we’d obviously like to work with him.
“We’ll be running at least two cars next year, but may run three if possible. The remainder of the 2013 BTCC season is a good shop window for us and we’ve had a lot of interest following our performance at Snetterton, so we’re showing drivers that we’re a good competitive option for 2014.”