BTCC | Off Season Driver News... So Far

The racing may have finished for the year, but plenty is happening at the various teams as British Touring Car racing heads into the winter break.

Taking the title in the most dramatic of circumstances in the final round of the 2019 British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch back in October, Northern Irishman Colin Turkington has confirmed he will remain with the Surrey based WSR BMW squad for another season - the second year for the brand new NGTC specification BWM 330i.

“Going into 2020 with Team BMW will mark my 16th season in the BTCC and I couldn’t be happier” Turkington said of the new deal. "Remaining with the team was never in doubt and we are excited to be defending our titles together once more".

2019 would see Turkington take his fourth championship success in the premier racing category in the UK, drawing level in the all-time record books with series legend Andy Rouse, taking an impressive five victories en route to a final round championship deciding weekend at the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit.

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Turkington has spent much of his career with the West Surrey Racing team in the BTCC since making his debut in 2002, taking all but 11 of his race victories for Dick Bennetts squad - something the 37-year-old is keen to continue heading into next season;

“Becoming a four-time champion was a very special moment, but I am motivated to keep striving for more. Racing with this team gives me the best chance to achieve further success, and I’m so thankful to both BMW and WSR for these golden opportunities.
“The consistency of the car and personnel is a great boost and further motivates me as we get to see what the potential of this car actually is. There was a lot of ‘new’ to contend with in 2019 in terms of the car and my engineer, so familiarity of environment should only enhance things.”

Turkington has often struggled for budget despite being one of the stand-out drivers in modern touring car racing, and to confirm his plans for next year so early into the off season can only spell trouble for the remainder of the BTCC grid in 2020.

Also confirmed at WSR for 2020 is young 2015 Ginetta GT4 Supercup champion and 2019 WSR driver Tom Oliphant. The 29-year-old Englishman retains his drive with the dominant squad for a second season, following signs of solid improvement over the course of last year that led to podium finishes and a strong top 10 qualifying record.

“I couldn’t be happier to be continuing with Team BMW for the 2020 British Touring Car Championship season,” he said of the announcement.​

“I loved every second racing with them this year, they are a fantastic team and have really helped me develop as a driver. With the experience and expertise of the WSR team behind me, I feel I made good progress as a BTCC driver across the campaign".
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Despite often lacking the outright pace of his BMW teammates Turkington and Andy Jordan, Oliphant had what can be described as a solid second year in the championship last season, taking two podium finishes and three fastest laps en route to 11th overall in the title standings.

“Getting onto the overall podium a couple of times were the highlights of the year, and I can build on those performances for 2020. In Team BMW and the BMW 330i M Sport, I am racing with the best package on the grid. We’ve got an extensive pre-season testing programme scheduled for the new year and I’m confident I can hit the ground running and challenge for victories from race one onwards.” added the Cheshire born driver.​
2019 would see WSR run three of their new BMW 330i M Sport NGTC cars for the duration of the season, the third machine running under Pirtek branding for former champion Andy Jordan. Sadly, following the withdrawal of Jordan's long time sponsor at seasons end, the future of the 2013 BTCC champions with the team remains uncertain.

Further down the grid, WSR machinery will be the car of choice for Team Hard and their driver Carl Boardley. The squad are planning to run a former WSR BMW 125i M Sport for the Hot Rod champion next year, after acquiring the car from WSR during the off season.

Team Hard have plans to enter four cars into the series next year, contesting three ageing VW Passatt CC's the team have run in previous years - however with a race winning 1-Series under the team name next year, the potential for solid results remain a tantalising prospect for the ambitious team;

“I’m over the moon to be back in the BTCC for 2020,” said Boardley. “I will admit that the 2019 season had its demons, but we used it to find our feet and understand the workings of the BTCC.
“The car has the potential to mix it at the front, so when this opportunity became available, I just had to jump at the chance. There were several options available but when WSR mentioned the availability of an established race-winning car, I couldn’t help but take an interest.
“I have a great working relationship with Tony and his Team HARD. Racing squad, so this is a fantastic fit for everyone involved. I’m really looking forward to trying the BMW 1 Series out over the coming months as we aim to hit the ground running at the Donington Park season opener.”

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Also in the Team Hard camp next year will double Renault Clio champion Mike Bushell. Having spent the last few years with part campaigns for various BTCC teams during his short stay in the top flight of UK motorsport, Bushell will content the coming season in one of the three VW Passatt CC cars prepared by Team Hard.

2019 would be a difficult season for the Kent driver, having found himself only returning to the BTCC fold for the final three rounds of the year, where a solid sixth place finish at Brands Hatch would prove to be the largest success for the 30-year-old. Having secured a full season with an experienced team, and so early into the off season at that, Bushell is confident of making progress once the action kicks off in March next year;

“I am looking forward to returning to Team HARD Racing for the 2020 BTCC season so I can carry on with the progress that I made during 2018,” Bushell said. “Unfortunate circumstances meant I was unable to take part in the 2019 season and instead I spent my time helping to engineer Rory Butcher to the Independents’ Drivers title. A short spell as a substitute for Sam Tordoff for the last three events in the Honda Civic re-kindled my desire to race.

“With help from Fox Transport, I am able to return to the grid full-time for 2020 and Team HARD. Racing can offer me a chance to be involved in the engineering side as well as driving. A year on the sidelines has helped with my technical understanding and I look forward to extracting the most out of the VW CC once again.”

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Bushell will be joined in the sister Passatt CC by the highly rated former race winner Jack Goff, who returns once again to the BTCC with a Team Hard entered VW. Goff has shown himself to be one of the quickest drivers on the grid in recent years, however a mix of bad luck, poor judgement and less than competitive machinery have restricted the 28-year-old to just five overall victories during his seven year career in BTCC racing.

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One of the biggest moves of the winter so far has to be the confirmation of 2017 champion Ash Sutton transferring to the Laser Tools Racing Infiniti Q50 - moving from the Subaru factory effort as the Japanese brand bows out of BTCC racing following a largely successful time in the series. You can catch up on the Sutton to Infiniti move by reading our previous article, here. Sutton will be partnered by current Laser Tools Racing driver Aiden Moffatt, again racing for the team run by his father, Bob.

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Over at consistent title challengers Honda Team Dynamics, the driving strength will once again remain unchanged with Matt Neal and Dan Cammish lining up in the Honda Civic FK8 for another season together. Recent news of WTR pulling out of WTCR competition next season will cause something of a quandary for the works Honda team, as long standing driver Gordon Shedden finds himself back on the driver market once again. With three BTCC titles to his name, it will be interesting to see if either Team Dynamics, or another BTCC team make a bid for the quick Scottish driver.

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Another driver staying put next season is Matt Simpson in his own Simpson Racing Honda squad - the former race winner will once again line up in the now old, but still incredibly rapid Honda Civic FK2 that took the likeable driver to overall race victory at Oulton Park back in 2018.

The other big news of the winter so far is the debut of a new manufacturer in British Touring Car racing. Following years of speculation, 2020 will finally see Hyundai line up on the grid with a brace of i30 Fastback N Performance cars set to be run by the Excelr8 team. Having made their debut in the BTCC last season with a pair of MG3 GTs for Rob Smith and Sam Osborne.

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Although results were understandably modest considering the now near ancient machinery the team ran last year, Excelr8 are one of the most ambitious teams on the current BTCC grid, and having secured support from some of the key players within the Hyundai UK Dealer Network, the team are intent on hitting the ground running next year and fighting for top results.

Excelr8 have yet to reveal who will be driving the new cars next season, and with Hyundai performing so well across various touring car categories throughout the world, expect competition for the two drives to be fierce!

Last but not least, Toyota will again be present with the Speedworks prepared Corolla NGTC. As per the last few years, the team will be spearheaded by Tom Ingram in the single car outfit, entering their second year with the Toyota UK backed machine, and undoubtedly looking to improve on what was already a spectacular debut season for the new car.

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Plenty more news to come over the next weeks and months - stay tuned!


If it has wheels, and you can race it, head over to the Motorsport sub forum and discuss it with the awesome RD community! Start a thread and get in on the discussion HERE.

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RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief, occasional YouTuber, commentator and broadcaster, with a passion for motorsport on both the real and virtual racetrack.

Paul Jeffrey

RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief
Staff
Premium
Strange as it sounds, considering his results, I'd like to see Mark Blundell back next season. Awesome to have a former F1 / Cart driver on the grid, and he's an interesting bloke.

I can well see him getting the elbows out if / when he can get further up the grid...
 

Cussco

50RPM
Premium
Strange as it sounds, considering his results, I'd like to see Mark Blundell back next season. Awesome to have a former F1 / Cart driver on the grid, and he's an interesting bloke.

I can well see him getting the elbows out if / when he can get further up the grid...
I don't. I do not know why but I cannot stand the bloke. I just don't trust the guy. Never have for some reason. Let new blood take his seat, he has had his day a long time ago. Mind you having said that I would like to see some older drivers back like Tiff.

Jordan is a shame but least I will not have to see him be a cry baby again. Jez I must of got out of the wrong side of bed today.
 

Paul Jeffrey

RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief
Staff
Premium
Where is the article about Norbert Michelisz?
As I'm always criticised for writing about race happenings and thus spoiling it for those that haven't seen the race yet, I've steered away from that sort of thing in the last few months..
 

Dobermann92

100RPM
As I'm always criticised for writing about race happenings and thus spoiling it for those that haven't seen the race yet, I've steered away from that sort of thing in the last few months..
You don't need to spoil the individual races, just mention who won the WTCR Cup, and about Norbi :D It's already Tuesday, so those who didn't have time to watch it probably don't have time to complain here :D
 

Tardy Tony

250RPM
Premium
Being an Infiniti driver, I am overjoyed with the Q50 and the expansion of Laser Tools. Really looking forward to 2020.
 

Cussco

50RPM
Premium
Andrew will drive the third WSR Beemer in new livery as per yesterday's news. Glad he's in!
Oh no that mans I have to see him be a cry baby again. Don't get me wrong BTCC is better off with him. Jez early in this season i recall he already said his championship was ruined (cry baby) and then in final rounds he is in contention.
 

4 8 15 16 23 42 108

Only the 5th-most famous race driver from Kerpen
Oh no that mans I have to see him be a cry baby again. Don't get me wrong BTCC is better off with him. Jez early in this season i recall he already said his championship was ruined (cry baby) and then in final rounds he is in contention.
So in the end he was right. Without that he would have won the championship. ;-)
 

Wachu

1RPM
If I remember correctly Jordan was injured and went to the hospital due to the crash early this season. Anyway, just imagine how big would be gap between Turkington, Jordan and rest of the field if WSR drivers were not involved in so many accidents (look at 4 last events of the season and see how many times Turkington had to go through whole grid after being pushed of track). And with every BTCC race watched I dream about racing online with all the cars from NGTC era.
 
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