Andy Priaulx MBE admits that he is already marveling at his return to the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, having signed a deal with West Surrey Racing for the 2015 season.
The grinning former European Touring Car and three-time World Touring Car Championship title winner announced on Thursday at the Autosport International Show at Birmingham NEC Arena that he would be joining the current BTCC Teams’ champions, WSR, for the coming campaign, the IHG-backed driver racing a BMW 125i M Sport machine in 2015.
The Guernseyman spoke to TCF at the show about his return to the BTCC, saying: “I’m really pleased, it’s an exciting opportunity.
“To come back home is nice, I’ve driven a lot in plenty of formulas and this has given me the chance to go racing again.”
“I’ve won the European championship, I’ve won the World championship, now I want to win the British championship. I’m with the best team to do that.”
Priaulx made his debut in touring cars via the BTCC back in 2001 when he deputised for the suspended Phil Bennett at Egg: Sport, sensationally taking a maiden pole position as well as a podium finish that weekend. His heroics earned him a works Honda Racing drive in 2002, culminating in a win at Knockhill, plus three further podium finishes that took him to fifth in the championship before a switch to ETCC the following season.
The ETCC title arrived for Priaulx in 2004, prior to clinching a hat-trick of WTCC titles over the following three seasons with 18 wins to his name at world level, driving for BMW in all of these seasons fittingly in a trait he would not lose in his brief DTM foray.
Priaulx continued: “I wouldn’t consider it in any other brand at the moment! To get the chance to do what I’m doing this year – not just in BTCC but I’m also doing European Le Mans and racing in America. I’m used to juggling with all the commitments I’ve had in the past, so it’s going to be a busy, busy year, but at the same time, driving nearly every week is what I love to do.
“It’s why I’ve got a big smile. I think European Le Mans would have just been five races but for me, I’m still pushing and wanted to do more races, so at the moment that is what I want.”
Priaulx will not see his schedule hampered in BTCC it seems despite this, and praised the current state of the BTCC ahead of his return with the squad that clinched a second crown thanks to Colin Turkington in 2014.
“BTCC is on a high. It seems to be gaining a lot of momentum and I think it is going to be even bigger this year. Plus, the racing looked awesome; the last three races last year I watched and was keen to see Colin win the championship. I thought, ‘I like the look of this’, so I picked up the phone and here we are.
“Well…I wish it was just a quick call! We all wanted to do it but there’s the big matter of actually making it happen. We all had to work particularly hard to make it happen.”
Priaulx admits that he expects success to be hard to initially fight for, but maintains his confidence that he can be an instant front-runner in 2015 with his hunger for victories running high as ever.
He concluded: “I’m in a very good team. For me it’s not going to be about how good the car is or how good the team is, it’s the full package and you always need to keep an eye out for those around you. But yes, there is a strong opportunity here.
“Realistic goals are that I really want to win. That’s my goal. I’ve won the European championship, I’ve won the World championship, now I want to win the British championship. I’m with the best team to do that.
“I’m expecting anything though. Aim to win, plan to win, but expect anything.”