Thorney Motorsport Pull Plug On BTCC Plans

by Dan Mason

Former BTCC squad Thorney Motorsport have been forced to currently can their dream of a full-time return to the series, with John Thorne calling the situation ‘a fruitless exercise’.

The team faced a baptism of fire in their BTCC debut season in 2012, with Thorne struggling in the newly-introduced Vauxhall Insignia built to NGTC specification before handing control of the cars to Tony Gilham and his Team HARD organisation.

Gilham was one of several drivers that took over the driving duties of the Insignia during 2012, the team scoring three points in their maiden season before calling time on their BTCC life at the end of the season.

Team principal and manager, Thorne, recently discussed is squad’s current situation on their official website, and described the’ ‘heart wrenching’ decision to call off the team’s BTCC project – predominantly surrounding the subject of budget concerns.

Thorne stated: “In the last few months we’ve been trying to gain some sponsors for the BTCC project but it’s proved a fruitless exercise and we’ve decided that empty promises just lead to raised and then dashed hopes so we’ve decided to pull the plug on any future plans to come back into the BTCC.

“It is heart wrenching, we all worked so hard to achieve what we did but ultimately we failed, we failed to achieve what we really wanted and that was a full team entry into the best touring car championship in the World.

“From a driving perspective I never drove a single fast lap in racing, all my driving was in testing getting the car to a point that it could be sold which we eventually did.

“From a business perspective the costs of the program were way in excess that what were reasonably expecting and the whole program got very close to bankrupting us as a business. The bottom line is that we didn’t have the funds to execute the program as required so we had to bail on the first two cars and now are having to bail on the idea of carrying on at all.”

Winner of one particular episode of the TV reality show Come Dine With Me, Thorne called praise on the support that his team recieved during their BTCC efforts, and added that Thorney Motorsport will continue their numerous racing programmes away from the BTCC in full health.

“As well as the general disappointment at being unable to continue I have to say what I will miss the most are the fans, a more committed friendly bunch of spectators you will not find in any sport and even when we were down the number of supportive messages kept us going, thank you to you all.

“We will be back on track in 2014, we are launching a new Astra GTC race series and will continue to race our Arctic Cat Wildcat and Polaris RZR900 in various off road racing championships here and abroad but for the moment the BTCC dream is gone.”

Thorne also admitted that his team formulated a unique plan to run a modified Range Rover Evoque equipped to adhere to current NGTC (Next Generation Touring Car) regulations; the project (pictured below), although innovative and visually kind on the eye, did not continue however.

The team drew up plans for an NGTC Range Rover Evoque (Photo: Thorney Motorsport)

The team drew up plans for an NGTC Range Rover Evoque (Photo: Thorney Motorsport)

Thorne said: “One idea we had was to run a Range Rover Evoque, with a monocoque chassis, composite boot and bonnet, common roofline for 2 door and 4 door it was the perfect donor car for the NGTC rules (remember the suspension mounting points are all located on the common subframes) and we thought it looked stunning but sadly was not to be.

“Sponsors were keen and had the budget but JLR said no – it would interfere with their feminine lead marketing strategy so the idea is destined to stay a mock up. They couldn’t stop us as such but made it very clear that we shouldn’t pursue the idea and I’m not about to pick a fight with JLR!”

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