New Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship recruit Stewart Lines spoke to The Checkered Flag about his expectations for 2015, the rookie saying he expects his working partnership with Houseman Racing to be a strong three-year plan.
The ex-Volkswagen Cup and VAG Trophy race winner, who raced with the likes of fellow BTCC rivals Martin Depper, Andy Wilmot and Kieran Gallagher in the former, put pen to paper with Houseman Racing last week in a decision that he said fit just right.
“It probably wont sink in until media day!” Lines told TCF when asked of his excitement at joining the BTCC grid for the coming season, adding that the deal was a late one at that.
“We are really busy sorting out our VW Cup and VAG trophy race teams with maximum motorsport, plus the day job of running our telecoms company, maximum group.net.
“It was all very last minute”, added the Lines on securing the deal after much deliberation prior.
“I had been approached by a couple of other teams before but it didn’t feel the right thing to do, then I had a call from Rob Houseman and the job seemed more realistic and achievable. Plus, my gut feeling is that Rob and myself could work together well.”
The strength of the BTCC continues to show with another sublime grid of 29 cars set to grace the opening round of the season at Brands Hatch’s Indy circuit on 4/5 April.
Lines is no stranger to tough competition having raced on both two and four wheels, but admitted that a step into the BTCC was a personal goal in his racing career.
“Yes, definitely. It must be every driver in the UK’s ambition to get to BTCC”, he said.
“I feel very fortunate to get on the grid and I really hope I can do the seat justice. I’m lucky to have Lea Wood to guide me through the next few weekends so fingers crossed for an enjoyable year!”
Former Jack Sears Trophy champion Wood, who raced the team’s Toyota Avensis last season, has now taken on a senior role within the team and will help mentor the 50-year-old in his maiden season.
Toyota meanwhile have only claimed one race victory in the BTCC with their NGTC Avensis model, although the machine has provided the opportunity for many rookie drivers to shine on their maiden venture into the championship, such as former multiple Ginetta champion, Tom Ingram.
Lines will be the latest to step into the chassis which, last year, former driver Wood piloted to a best finish of 13th at Donington Park. Expectations for the rookie are understandably realistic when thrown into the deep end, but long-term prospects are what he is focused on.
“Expectations are pretty low to be fair. It would be nice to snatch the odd point but, realistically, I’m looking at this as a three-year project with improvements each year.
“I have had some great results in VW’s, plus a lot of bad days, but I’m hoping my front-wheel drive experience will help me out in the Toyota.”
When asked when he expects to grace the circuits for a first test of the Toyota Avensis, Lines commented: “Media day, which is a big ask; however, we will be testing for the rest of the week to get up to speed.”