Returning double British Touring Car Championship champion Alain Menu feels he chose the right time to make his comeback to the UK, and awaits the opening round at Brands Hatch following a strong Media Day test.
The Swiss ace showed that his 2013 season free from touring cars had offered no side effects by finishing third in the day’s damp session at Donington Park on 18 March, and admits he is excited to be racing once again in the UK.
Menu, who won the 1997 and 2000 BTCC titles before competing in DTM and then later the World Touring Car Championship (between 2005-12), will grace the British circuits once again in 2014 racing under the BMR Racing banner in a Volkswagen CC machine.
Speaking to The Checkered Flag at Donington, Menu enthused: “I am excited to be back, mainly because I love racing and it’s still a passion for me. I was missing it and this was a great opportunity to come back in the UK and the British Touring Car Championship.
“The championship is on the up again so I think that it is a good time to come back, and I want to enjoy myself and hopefully win a few.
“I think that there will be more cars and drivers capable of winning races because of the rules, but, like I always said, any championship where you fight at the front is competitive, and this championship is very hard to win consistently.”
Menu and team-mate Aron Smith both showed impressive pace during the timed Tuesday session, finishing third and seventh in their Volkswagen CCs as rain affected phases of the test.
The 50-year-old kept his cards close to his chest however, and persuaded that instant success with the BMR Racing team should not be expected, with Brands Hatch very much an unknown for the entire field after the Donington Park test.
“I don’t think so at the moment but I hope that I’m wrong”, Menu added on his chances of success from the off. “The base is there and is good, but we need to improve the car before we are fully up to the level of the top teams.
“I think for me, Brands Hatch is like the toe in the water where we will just wait and see what happens, but I want to be fighting for podiums at some point this season.
“I don’t know where we will be at the moment; I’m not a dreamer, so we’ll see.”
Fresh from visiting Croft circuit the previous week for the first time since his championship-winning campaign of 2000, the double champion feels that the new season could potentially bring back the excitement factor of the championship’s golden 90s era, during which Menu made himself a star in the UK.
“I’m looking forward to most of the tracks, and the turnout is very good in the BTCC once again. There is a feeling of excitement just like how it used to be in the 90s, so I hope for the sake of the championship that it is a very good season.”