2014 Renault UK Clio Cup champion Mike Bushell will make the step up to the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship next season, after signing a deal to race with AmD Tuning.
The 25-year-old recently tested a Motorbase Performance Ford Focus, fresh from clinching the UK Clio Cup crown with four wins and nine podiums to his name driving for Team Pyro.
Bushell will inherit the seat of former double BTCC race winner, Dave Newsham, although team boss Shaun Hollamby insists that the Independent squad intend acquire two TBL licenses and add a second Focus Focus ST machine to their roster for 2015 if possible.
“I’m very excited and can’t wait to get started!” said Bushell, who previously raced a Chevrolet Cruze in place of Andy Neate during a one-off appearance at Knockhill in 2013.
“I actually feel quite humbled to be joining the BTCC as there is no other championship like it out there. You only have to look at the grid this year to see it is full of drivers who have won championships, and I’m under no illusions about the challenge that lies ahead.
“Early on, my focus will simply be on finishing races and building on the experience I gained when I did my one event in 2013, but I’m confident of quickly getting up to speed. The Ford is a proven package and it felt quite suited to my driving style when I sampled the Motorbase car. The AmDTuning.com team has a skilled group of people working within it, so there is no reason why I can’t be competitive and push for some strong results as the season goes on.
Bushell came out on top during a frenetic final meeting of the Clio Cup season at Brands Hatch, adding: “Winning the Clio Cup this year was a massive achievement for me, and I can’t believe that I’m now sat here knowing that I’ll be in the BTCC next season,” he said. “I’ve been speaking to Shaun for a while and it’s fantastic to have agreed a deal so early in the off-season.”
The AmD Tuning team were successful in the Jack Sears Trophy last season, Newsham clinching the award for making up the most positions from his starting spots across the championship to earn silverware for the squad on their maiden campaign with the NGTC Focus.
AmD Tuning boss Hollamby said he had been keeping tabs on the Clio Cup champion over the year, adding that he is thrilled to welcome him to the Ford squad for 2015.
He said: “We’re delighted to be able to agree a deal with Mike for 2015, and it is ideal for both parties to have an agreement in place so soon.”
“It’s given us time to work on finalising our sponsorship plans for next year, and we are keen to speak to people who want to support a young British driver who we believe can do big things in the BTCC next year.
“Mike is someone we have been keeping an eye on for a while, and he impressed me with the way he performed in the Chevrolet back in 2013. He was the class of the field in the Clio Cup last year, which is no mean feat, and is more than deserving of the opportunity to make the step up.
“If you look at the list of drivers who have made the move from the Clio Cup into the BTCC, I have no doubt that Mike has the talent to match them, and I’m delighted that we can give him his chance in touring cars. He has some experience of the Ford from his day with Motorbase, and I’m confident that he’ll be on the pace when we get our pre-season testing programme under way.
Hollamby thanked his previous driver, saying: “I want to put on record our thanks to Dave Newsham for the work he put in during 2014 as we moved up to an NGTC car for the first time. His performance at Knockhill in particular, where he took our first BTCC podium finish, is one that I’ll never forget and we wish him all the best for the future.”