Following the announcements throughout the winter and Media Day the BTCC have announced a capacity 32 car entry for the 2015 season, although how many make the first event at Brands in a little over a week’s time is still unconfirmed.
The addition of new teams, cars, drivers and rulings to the series looks to make 2015 another cracking season, here’s a guide to who is where, driving what and what is different about the 2015 BTCC season.
Team BMR, arguably the most improved team of 2014 surprised everyone a year ago when they announced Alain Menu as one of their drivers, did the same thing this year a few weeks ago by announcing both Jason Plato and 2014 Champion Colin Turkington as two of their 2015 drivers.
The 2014 seasons top two line up alongside two time 2014 race winner Aron Smith and team owner Warren Scott in the black VW CCs. Plato and Turkington seem to be talking to each other at the moment, it’ll be interesting to see for how long!
WSR Team JCT600 With Gardex:
The former eBay Motors squad line up with an impressive trio as Sam Tordoff joins from Triple 8 MG to partner Rob Collard. Series returnee and former World and European Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx drives the third BMW 1M under the title of IHG Rewards. But how will the new regulations hinder the rear wheel drive cars?
MG Triple Eight Racing:
Triple Eight MG also announce a strong, young driver line up for the 2015 campaign with 2013 champion Andrew Jordan – my tip for the 2015 title – joining from Eurotech Racing and Jack Goff arriving from the BMR stable, expect both cars to be at the front, often.
Honda Yuasa Racing:
Honda, are the only front running team to maintain their driver line up from 2014 but once again have a different car to compete in, the Honda Civic Type R unveiled as a replacement to the 2014 Tourer shaped Civic of 2014. Can this be the car to see Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden fighting for more titles?
Eurotech sees a familiar team to many touring car fans with Martyn Depper continuing from his 2014 season and Jeff Smith returning to the squad he last drove for in 2013 contesting the season, again in a pair of Honda Civics.
Wix Racing / Laser Tools Racing:
For 2015 there will be two of the Mercedes A Classes on the grid as Laser Tools Racings Aiden Moffat trades up his Chevrolet Cruze for a Cicely Racing built Mercedes A Class, hoping to emulate Adam Morgan in the similar Wix Racing car and help move the young Scot up the grid. Two good looking cars to watch!
Exocet Alcosense Racing:
Rob Austin Racing continues with the same driver line up of Austin and Hunter Abbott in the pair of rear wheel drive Audi A4s, again with the new regulations regarding success ballast it will be interesting to see how this affects the team as the season progresses.
Speedworks / Handy Motorsports:
Arguably the unluckiest driver of 2104 Tom Ingram stays with the Speedworks squad in the Toyota Avensis while Simon Belcher continues with his own sideline of the squad. Both will be hoping for more luck than they were delt in ’14.
Power Maxed Racing:
Former Clio Cup champion and 2014 Jack Sears Trophy winner Dave Newsham moves from the AMD Tuning squad to PMR alongside another Reanult Clio Cup graduate Josh Cook, Cook will be competing under the Racing For Heroes banner supporting the Help For Heroes charity. Newsham and Cook will contest 2015 in a pair of Chevrolet Cruzes.
Infiniti Support Our Paras Racing:
Another team promoting a forces charity the SOPR team will consist of a number of former and injured Paratroopers, while drivers Derek Palmer and Richard Hawken will compete in Infiniti Q50 cars, the team are entered as an official “works” entry and will therefore compete for the constructors championship, while the drivers, along with Josh Cook in the HFH Cruze will also compete for this seasons Jack Sears Trophy for the best placed rookie of 2015.
Dan Welch once again contests the series with his family squad running a pair of Proton Gen2s for himself and this time Andy Wilmot, despite competing in 2013 Wilmot will also be included in the Jack Sears Trophy standings.
Former Porsche Carrera GB cup racer Alex Martin joins the BTCC with the help of Team Parker racing in a Ford Focus that will be hard to miss out on track! Martin will also be a JST entrant.
Houseman Racing / Team Hard:
Another pair of Toyota Avensis’ but this time two separate squads, Houseman Racing’s Avensis, often associated with 2013 Jack Sears Trophy winner Lea Wood will this year be contested by Stewart Lines, while Tony Gilham’s Team Hard returns to the series with a car for former VW racer Kieran Gallagher.
AMD were one of the first to officially announce a driver for 2015 when they signed 2015 Clio Cup champion and former sometime BTCC driver Mike Bushell, plans had also been announced that the team were hoping to add a second car for ’15 but, until recently this looked unlikely. An announcement, leaked a week early by Downforce Radio much to a lot of peoples annoyance broke the news that AMD would indeed run a second car in 2015, while Bushell would compete in the familiar Ford Focus, it was announced that Nicolas Hamilton would compete the former Robb Holland Audi S3 with the squad. It was later announced that Hamilton will however only contest a part season in 2015.
And speaking of part seasons, on the same night as the Hamilton news was broken we heard of Motorbase’s plans for 2015, and, unfortunately it wasn’t all good, having lost tile sponsor Airwaves at the end of 2014 the Ford Focuses of Mat Jackson and newly recruited James Cole will not be venturing out until the second half of the 2015 season.
So that is your runners and riders for 2015, here are some of the new regulations.
The success ballast has been tweaked with now the top 10 cars carrying ballast pending on their finishing positions in the previous races, and championship positions based on arrival at a meeting as follows.
1st 75kg, 2nd 66kg 3rd 57kg 4th 48kg 5th 39kg 6th 33kg 7th 27kg 8th 21kg 9th 15kg 10th 9kg
The Audis of Exocet Alcosense racing (not AMDs S3) and the WSR BMWs will have to have their weight placed as far forward as possible in a bid to stop the teams using the extra weight to gain traction in the rear drive machines.
Race 2 Grid:
The grid for race two will be set by the lap times set during the first race, instead of the finishing order of R1, in theory should a competitor be spun out early in a race he would usually start towards the rear of the field, this new rule would mean that based on lap times done up to the point of incident he could still start in a decent position and not have a completely ruined race weekend. Any times set as a result of having changed tyres will not count towards grid positions.
A few seasons ago Dunlop and the BTCC introduced a soft tyre to be used at all events other than Thruxton, for the most part teams chose to keep the soft tyre until race three, especially if it looked like it would rain, now at the 9 relevant circuits each driver must start race 1 three times on soft tyres, race 2 three times on soft tyres and, yes you’ve guessed it, race 3 three times on soft tyres.
So the waiting is almost over, Easter weekend cannot come soon enough. BTCC 2015, see you trackside!