L&T Motorsport

Alan Hyde talks BTCC 2017 – Part Two

Alan Hyde is the trackside voice of the British Touring Car Championship and we caught up with him at Autosport International to find out why you should be excited for the 2017 season.

In part one of the interview, Alan talked about the reigning Renault Clio Cup championship winner and 2017 BTCC rookie Ant Whorton-Eales, Andrew Jordan’s move to West Surrey Racing and speculated about where Colin Turkington could be driving this season after the shock announcement that he had left the Subaru’s of Team BMR.

Let’s not forget that there’s an opportunity at Eurotech because Martin Depper has gone to Team Shredded Wheat – Motorbase.

Could Dan Lloyd be in the frame for the Eurotech after his impressive performances last year?

Dan Lloyd has already had, Jeff (Smith) told me yesterday, an interview. Not only has Jeff spoken to him on the phone, he’s also had a face to face conversation.

Dan was great for Eurotech last year. He was amazing and Jeff appreciated it. The phrase that Jeff used yesterday was, ‘if the numbers add up then yes I’ll have him doing it.’

We haven’t even mentioned the champions in the field yet; Matt Neal, Gordon Shedden, Jason Plato. Can Plato and Team BMR still be competitive even with the regulation changes?

I think they can.

And the Honda Civic is a proven winner over a number of seasons.

Whenever we talk about the various options, so often we overlook Team Dynamics because we expect just naturally to be at the front. We almost take it for granted and I feel a bit sorry for the drivers that we do that because we don’t talk about them as much as we do other teams because they are always there. They’re always at the front.

Two drivers, six titles between them – that’s amazing!

Shedden’s consistency is second to none. He’ll bolt a whole season together, including DNF’s – last year he had some very problematic races and in the middle of the year I’d written him off. I thought, well OK that’s not going to happen, but the second half of the year, consistently scoring point in all three races, that was what was absolutely critical to winning his third title. He’s at the top of his game!

He’s like Colin (Turkington). Last year Colin proved that, once the car was where he wanted it to be, there’s few drivers in the world that can touch him when he’s on a role.

Have Turkington and Shedden taken over from Plato and Neal as the two driver’s to beat in the championship?

That is interesting. Never write-off Plato or Neal. On their day they are world beating drivers without a shadow of a doubt but you’re right. Certainly as the second half of last year was concerned, the drivers to beat with pace and consistency were Colin and Gordon without a doubt.

It hurt Jason last year that Turkington got the first pole, the wins – how much will that fire him up for the coming season?

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He’s always fired up!

You would assume that he’ll be the number one driver at Team BMR but he hasn’t even been announced as one of their drivers yet!

It’s a really good point. We don’t know any of the BMR drivers yet – none of them. We’re assuming that JP will be back there but we assumed incorrectly that Turkington would be back there so anything could happen.

One things for sure, Warren Scott will be there but whether he’s driving or not, who knows? They’ve still got four cars, I think. Drivers without a drive are potentially looking at Team BMR, WSR, Eurotech, Team HARD – they’ve got one car that we don’t yet know – an I think that’s all. There are only a few more slots left on the grid. Oh and MG, we don’t know who’s there yet.

The majority appear to be predicting Ash Sutton and Josh Cook to continue with the team but we’ve been proven wrong already with predictions.

We shouldn’t assume anything now. After Colin it’s a dangerous game but these are top drives! The MG drives, the Subaru drives – top top drives.

Power Maxed Racing have had a complete change and look as though they’re really going to go for the big prizes now.

I say Martin Broadhurst yesterday, the guy that runs the team, and he’s really fired up, he’s pretty confident that the car’s going to be ready by February so they’re going to have a pre-season test programme as well – like you’d expect from a works team, a manufacturer team. So that’s another variable.

They’ve got Tom Chilton, huge amount of experience, returning to the championship after five years of competing in the World Touring Car Championship.

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Tom was at the final meeting at Brands Hatch at the end of last year and I thought, what’s he doing here? My ears pricked up so I wasn’t hugely surprised when I found out that he was coming back and I’m pleased he’s back! He’s a big character and a race winner.

Since he came into the championship at 17 years old, he’s never questioned his own ability, has supreme confidence in what he does and rightly so. He’s a race winner, he knows what he’s doing and he’s also tremendous value.

Are there any former drivers that you’d like to see make a return to the grid alongside Chilton?

There are two drivers that I miss tremendously for their racing skills and personalities and sadly both of them are no longer with us so it’s not Tim Harvey! He can stay in the commentary box because he does a great job in there.

David Leslie and Will Hoy are two people I miss. Will Hoy was a great bloke and a gentleman around the paddock and so too David Leslie.

I’ve copped out and not upset anyone in the driver market but they are two people who I miss.

 

Sam Hall

An FIA accredited journalist. I cover Formula One for Autoweek, a bit of everything for L&T Motorsport and have been published by numerous other outlets.

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