A computer generated image of how the Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall Astra could look
(Photo from: www.touringcartimes.co.uk)
It has been two months since the 2016 British Touring Car Championship season came to a close with Gordon Shedden clinching the title in dramatic style however since then, news has been quiet as teams and drivers prepare for the New Year.
However that has not stopped drivers moving and teams confirming their intentions to race in the 2017 season.
Since the Brands Hatch finale Andrew Jordan has confirmed he will be joining West Surrey racing on a two year deal, effectively replacing Sam Tordoff who is leaving the series to race in the British GT Championship. The 2013 Champion will be hoping to continue the form he maintained throughout the 2016 season, on his way to eighth in the championship. However the 27 year old will be hoping for much more in the manufacture backed BMW, and with a team known for championship success.
Soon after the Andrew Jordan announcement, Team HARD revealed that they would be switching cars for the 2017 season, from the Toyota Avensis to the VW CC, the car Tony Gilham’s team originally developed. Team Principal Gilham confirmed he had bought two cars of Team BKR as well as a third and would update them to run RML parts. Since announcing the deal two drivers have been confirmed with the team. Michael Epps returns to the BTCC for a second season after impressing in his first and Will Burns makes the jump from the Ginetta GT4 Supercup, having finished second in 2016.
However it is not just Team HARD who are changing machinery for 2017. In one of the biggest announcements of the winter so far Power Maxed Racing have confirmed that they will be ditching their Chevrolet Cruze’s, which they have ran for the past two years, and replace them with a pair of Vauxhall Astras, with manufacture backing. It means Vauxhall returns to the BTCC as a manufacture for the first time since 2009 and increases the amount of manufactures in the series to five, the most it has been since 1999, although manufacture backing is a lot different now than it was during the Super Touring era.
Power Maxed Racing has wasted no time in announcing their first driver for 2017 as teenager Senna Proctor. Procter competed in the Renault Clio Cup in 2016, finishing eighth with a best finish of third at Oulton Park and has previously raced in the Ginetta Junior Championship, finishing second on count back of race wins to eventual champion Jamie Caroline. Procter is the second member of his family to race in the BTCC, his father, Mark, raced in the series in 2005 and 2006 for his own team Fast-Tec Motorsport.
Other than driver and team announcements TOCA has also revealed the 2017 entry list, of all the teams who have acquired TBLs for the coming season. The list has produced some surprises, gone are Team BKR and Welch Motorsport, after differing 2016 seasons, and in come BTC Norlin Racing, who are run by former BTCC driver Chris Stockton. He has two TBLs while AmD Tuning and Motorbase have expanded to two and three licences respectively. The official entry list will be released in march.
AmD Tuning – 2
BMR Racing – 4
BTC Norlin Racing – 2
Ciceley Motorsport – 1
Eurotech Racing – 2
Handy Motorsport – 1
Laser Tools Racing – 1
Maximum Motorsport – 1
Motorbase Performance – 3
Power Maxed Racing – 2
Simpson Racing – 1
Speedworks Motorsport – 1
Team Dynamics Motorsport – 2
Team Hard Racing – 3
Team Parker Racing – 1
Triple Eight Race Engineering – 2
WSR – 3
A look at the 2017 TBL distribution.
2017 is already shaping up to be a classic, with more manufacturers than ever before in recent memory and a even stronger grid, we could be in for a few surprises.