Motorbase Performacne’s stunning new livery
(Photo from: www.btcc.net)
It has been a busy final month of the year for the British Touring Car Championship which has seen new sponsorship deals as well as multiple driver announcements. As 2016 draws to a close, let’s go through all the major headlines from December.
The first announcement was by returning outfit BTC Norlin who are running two Chevrolet Cruze’s, previously driven by Power Maxed Racing. BTC Norlin last competed in the BTCC in 2014 with team owner Chris Stockton racing a Chevrolet Cruze Sport Hatch. The team confirmed Chris Smiley as their first driver after competing in the first half of the 2015 Championship with Team HARD, finishing the season in the Renault Clio Cup UK following budget issues.
The team have also named their second driver, 49 year old Dave Newham. Newsham, who achieved the cars best result last season at Knockhill while deputising for Kelvin Fletcher will partner Smiley in 2017. Newsham last ran a full campaign in 2015, with Power Maxed Racing in the Chevrolet Cruze, so he knows the car well and is hoping for further success on his return to the series.
Following Smiley’s announcement Motorbase Performance also announced that Mat Jackson would remain with the team for 2017. Jackson, who has raced for Motorbase since 2010, finished 3rd in 2016, a team best, and is hoping to challenge for the title. This ambitions is aided by the announcement of new title sponsor Shredded Wheat which showcases a stunning yellow livery. It is Motorbase’s first title sponsor since 2014, when they were sponsored by Airwaves with team boss David Bartrum confirmed it is a multiyear agreement with Nestle.
The final driver announcement was from Power Maxed Racing who revealed that Tom Chilton would be returning to the BTCC, completing their driver line up for 2017. Chilton, who last raced in the BTCC in 2011, will partner Senna Proctor in the manufacture backed Vauxhall Astra. Chilton returns to Vauxhall as a factory driver for the first time since 2007 where he raced a Vauxhall Vectra alongside eventual champion Fabrizio Giovanardi. The 31 year old has his sleights set on the championship however he is also hoping to remain in the World Touring Car Championship, where he has raced since 2012.
Although a deal has yet to be announced, this potential move will ensure Chilton is the first driver to race in both the BTCC and the WTCC in the same year.
With these driver announcements the 2017 BTCC grid is beginning to take shape and with the likes of Chilton returning to the series and young challengers such as Smiley and Proctor entering, it could prove to be another classic.