We Look Ahead To The 2017 BTCC Season And Catch Up With The Teams Running Autoglym Branding
Last year delivered one of the most closely contested BTCC seasons in recent memory, with many drawing comparisons with the Super Touring era of the 1990s. 2016 saw the arrival of a new manufacturer to the UK’s premier tin-top series, Subaru, and the Japanese concern’s partnership with series stalwarts BMR gave rise to an intriguing battle with more established MG, Honda and BMW, plus ultra competitive entries from a whole host of relentless independents.
With the above in mind, and with the dawning of the new season very nearly in sight, we thought we’d catch up with some of the top teams, to see how they’ve spent the winter months and to work out who’s likely to be sitting pretty when the dust settles on the title scrap in October.
Team BMR, Subaru Levorg
The Team BMR-run Levorgs were the surprise package of 2016, partly as they looked and sounded so distinct, partly because of the remarkable upswing in competitiveness enjoyed by both Jason Plato and Colin Turkington midway through the season. The team will be hoping for more of the same in 2017, and the replacement of Colin Turkington with Ash Sutton, one of the star’s of last year’s MG package, no doubt stands them in good stead, as does the retention of James Cole. Series stalwart Jason Plato returns once again, and his experience means that he’ll no doubt be in contention for the title, providing the car is as competitive as it was towards the end of 2017 of course.
Bagging a pair of ex-works Honda Civic Type Rs evidently did Eurotech Racing’s prospects now harm at all, and the team was a regular points challenger last year, its driver pairing of Jeff Smith and Martin Depper providing a good mix of pure pace and reliability. Depper departs but has been replaced by Jack Goff, a highly rated youngster with a strong CV, while Jeff Smith, team owner and a passionate race fan, returns for another year of paint swapping in the UK’s premier domestic series. Smith will provide some much needed stability, allowing the team to grow and build upon its strong showing in 2016. Everyone at Autoglym wishes Eurotech Racing the best of luck, and we’re sure that it won’t be long until their perfectly prepared Civics are chasing points and podiums (and hopefully wins) once again.
A consistently competitive team and one that punches way above its weight, Motorbase Performance enter 2017 in a whirlwind of driver signings and press coverage, the latter no doubt helped by the eye-catching Shredded Wheat livery that will grace one of their 3 cars, and one that will no doubt stand out on the grid come April. The team will once again be running Ford Focus STs, an older package but a platform that’s proved to be both reliable and capable of scoring podiums. The team’s driver lineup is also one of the strongest of any independent team’s, with Luke Davenport and Martin Depper joining Matt Jackson, a race winner and consistent thorn in the side of the works outfits for years.
Matt Simpson returns to the BTCC after a successful 2016 season that saw him really get to grips with the Honda Civic Type R, and he’s well placed to build on this in 2017. The Civic has netted more than its fair share of tin top titles over the last few years, so Simpson’s decision to plump for the Type R last year was a good one, now he just needs to find the speed and consistently to challenge for regular points. Keep an eye out for Matt Simpson this year, he’s likely to put in more than a few surprise performances now that he’s had the time to mesh with the Civic, and because his performance last year was enough to persuade the factory Honda outfit to lend him some support moving forward.
Team Parker Racing
Team Parker Racing compete in an impressive variety of championships throughout Europe, and last year the team opted to step up to the BTCC with a Ford Focus ST for Alex Martin. The Dextra Racing stickered Focus struggled to match the pace of some of its more established rivals, yet there was no doubting its potential. Team Parker Racing have been hard at work over the winter developing the Focus, and all involved with the project will be hoping for a more fruitful 2017 championship. The team will no doubt be feeling a little more bullish thanks to the addition of Stephen Jelley, a highly rated driver (and previous race winner) who last graced the BTCC entry list back in 2009.
MG RCiB Insurance Racing
Last year saw the MG team make a very deliberate decision to pick youth over experience when it came to its driver lineup, and this will continue to be the case in 2017. An all new lineup underscores the team’s desire to promote fresh talent, and this year the MGs will be piloted by Aron Taylor-Smith and Daniel Lloyd. The former is something of a household name in the sport, the 27 year old having claimed a handful of race wins and notched up an impressive 150 BTCC races. He’s the ideal man to lead the MG team forward and help them build on the success it enjoyed last year. The Triple Eight run team’s other signing is Daniel Lloyd, the 24 year old having done enough in his handful of starts last year to land a plum, works drive.
Want to keep up to speed with all the teams competing within the BTCC? Then make sure you download the Autoglym BTCC app!