AmD Tuning‘s new recruit Mike Bushell spoke of his eagerness to get testing underway in preparation for a maiden Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season in 2015, a deal which he told The Checkered Flag had been in progress from as early as August’s Snetterton visit in 2014.
Bushell makes the jump to a full-time BTCC campaign with the AmD squad that ran a Ford Focus for Dave Newsham in the previous 12 months, having supremely clinched the Renault UK Clio Cup title during a frenetic finale at a damp Brands Hatch GP circuit.
The 25-year-old is however no stranger to BTCC machinery, having previously raced an NGTC machine when he replaced Andy Neate for the Knockhill meeting of 2013 in a Chevrolet Cruze for IP Tech Race Engineering, a 17th place following a strong qualifying effort on that debut.
Bushell admitted to TCF at the Autosport International show that he is brimming with excitement for his BTCC foray, saying: “I’m just over the moon, and a bit overwhelmed by the chance. To end up here is quite surreal!
“It’s certainly more in the public eye that’s for sure”, he added in comparison to his Clio Cup years. “But I just race to enjoy the racing of it.”
“Its going to be tough. I just can’t wait to get testing and get a feel for the car.
– Mike Bushell
Limited testing in the one-make series did not appear to hamper Bushell’s progress on his way to clinching the title, escaping a near-miss on that final day of the season when a spinning James Colburn almost collected him before a frantic race ensued in tricky conditions.
A similar scenario in terms of testing availability is expected in the winter build-up to the 2015 BTCC season by Bushell, as he aims to acclimatise himself to the Ford Focus which he has already driven in anger as a reward from Motorbase Performance last year.
Heading into the unknown, Bushell continued: “I have no idea how it is going to go. It’s going to be tough, but I just can’t wait to get out testing and get a feel for the car – it’s just all about getting comfortable with it and then we can go and see what round one brings.
“I did limited testing in Clios last year, what with budget restraints and more. It will be a similar situation here as well where I’ve got to cram in as much as I can in such a short space of time and make the most of all these early days.”
While Bushell was jostling with Clio Cup rivals Josh Cook and Jordan Stilp for the championship, the deal itself for 2015 was being planned much deeper in advance down the line – as early as the sixth BTCC meeting of the season in August at Snetterton.
“The team is local to me so I’ve got a good rapport with them already. In fact, I first spoke with AmD about this at Snetterton. We were doing okay in Clios by then and in fact I wasn’t really in a championship position at that time, so we were looking at whether to stay in Clios or move onto the next stage.
“Having already had a taste of BTCC I started speaking to Shaun [Hollamby] (AmD Team Principal) then and obviously the result got better and better, then ultimately fell into place. When you set out a plan for everything, it often works out.”
Team boss Hollamby himself still has intentions of introducing a second car to the Independent squad, formerly having run a Volkswagen Golf in the series before claiming a podium at Knockhill last year, although Bushell himself says that his sole entry is the main focal point at this stage.
“It’s just one car for now. There’s still time [to add a second car], but at the moment we’ll just have to see.”