A full capacity grid of 32 cars was announced for the 2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at the series’ official media day, held at Donington Park on Tuesday 24 March.
The arrival of Nicholas Hamilton, younger brother to Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, in an AmD Tuning Audi S3 meant that the grid reached its maximum number of entries for the season of 32.
29 are expected to enter the opening round of the the season at Brands Hatch on 4/5 April as Hamilton will only participate as early as the fifth meeting of the year at Croft circuit (27/28 June), while Motorbase intend to enter two cars for Mat Jackson and James Cole from the Snetterton round onwards in August.
2015 will be the second all-NGTC (Next Generation Touring Car) field, featuring a new manufacturer in Infiniti joining the championship and becoming the 12th marque to be represented in the NGTC era. The team will run a pair of Support Our Paras Racing Q50s for series rookies Richard Hawken and Derek Palmer Jr.
Teams’ champions West Surrey Racing enter a trio of BMW 125i machines once again with a new line-up, Rob Collard joined this season by former MG man Sam Tordoff and multiple World Touring Car Championship title winner, Andy Priaulx. The BMW squad will also challenge for Constructor honours within the Manufacturer/Constructor Championship this year, having previously been an Independent outfit.
Honda Yuasa Racing return with a venerable-looking Civic Type-R for 2015 with triple BTCC champion Matt Neal and 2012 title winner Gordon Shedden again behind the wheel of both, while Triple Eight‘s new MG line-up features 2013 champion Andrew Jordan and former Renault UK Clio Cup champion, Jack Goff.
The grid contains five BTCC champions, double champion Jason Plato and the current holder Colin Turkington both finding solitude at Team BMR Racing. Last year’s top two will race a pair of Volkswagen CCs, alongside team boss Warren Scott and three-time race winner, Aron Smith.
Providing a silver lining for the Clio Cup UK series are champion Mike Bushell, who joins AmD Tuning in a Ford Focus ST, plus vice-champion Josh Cook who teams up with Power Maxed Racing alongside the championship’s former title winner, Dave Newsham, now at his sixth different team in five BTCC seasons.
Toyota are represented by both Tom Ingram and Simon Belcher under Speedworks Motorsport, as well as Team HARD‘s Kieran Gallagher and fellow Volkswagen Racing Cup rival, Stewart Lines (Houseman Racing).
Mercedes meanwhile is represented by Adam Morgan, the newest BTCC race winner supported by Aiden Moffat who swaps his Chevrolet Cruze for the Silver Arrows.
Jeff Smith has become a shareholder in Eurotech Racing and returns to driving duties alongside Martin Depper, while Rob Austin Racing return with Hunter Abbott and Rob Austin in a pair of newly-liveried Audi A4s.
Team Parker Racing also join the BTCC for the first time, running one of the Motorbase Performance Ford Focus STs for newcomer Alex Martin. Andy Wilmot takes over the second Welch Motorsport Proton Gen-2 from Ollie Jackson, joining regular driver, Dan Welch.
Gow – We’re Set For A Titanic Battle
BTCC series director Alan Gow said: “The BTCC is renowned for its extreme competitiveness, and the levels of unpredictability seem set to reach new standards in 2015. There have been several key and very interesting moves in the driver market over the winter, which ensures we’re in for yet another unmissable campaign.
“Your guess is as good as mine when it comes to predicting an eventual champion but what is for sure is that we’re in for another titanic battle – I, just like our millions of fans, can’t wait to get started.
“The levels of success do not come easily of course and it is testament to the tireless work from everyone involved in the series that we’re able to again announce such a great grid for 2015.
“Our impressive entry list continues to demonstrate the stability of our regulations whilst the new tweaks made to our format also show we’re always committed to moving forever forwards. Improving the show for our fans and competitors alike is paramount to everything we do here in the BTCC and we believe these evolutions will prove successful.
“The longevity and loyalty of our major partnerships, including Dunlop, ITV, Intercontinental Hotels Group and more, far exceed industry standards and their support is hugely valued.
“The trackside and TV audiences continue to reach new highs proving exactly why the BTCC is Britain’s only show in town – here’s to another hugely competitive and successful season ahead.”
The new season gets underway on Easter weekend at Brands Hatch Indy circuit across 4/5 March.
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(* due to join from Snetterton)
(** will enter at Croft/Snetterton/Rockingham/Silverstone/Brands Hatch GP)