(Photo from: www.btcccrazy.co.uk)
As the 2017 British Touring Car Championship season looms ever closer, teams, drivers and mechanics will all be preparing themselves for a new season with their tried and tested routines however there are some drivers who enter their first season into the series. Four currently confirmed rookies will be competing in the BTCC for the first time in 2017 and are eligible for the Jack Sears Trophy, where the rookie with the most points at the end of the season wins the prestigious accolade.
All four drivers have racing pedigree behind them and have reached the BTCC in a variety of ways. In no particular order we shall now continue with Ant Whorton-Eales.
To the experienced TOCA support race fan, Ant Whorton-Eales has been around for a long time and it is incredible to think that this is his first opportunity in the BTCC having been a front runner in the Renault Clio Cup for a number of years. It is also incredible to think that despite his cast experience he is still only 22 years-old.
Whorton-Eales first joined the TOCA package in 2012 with Westbourne Motorsport at just seventeen having previously raced in the Mini Challenge Championship and oval racing. In his first season he finished eighth in an incredibly strong field which included current BTCC drivers Jack Goff and Josh Cook.
For 2013 Whorton-Eales joined leading team Scuderia Vittoria with the KX Academy, a then sponsor of Jason Plato in the BTCC. He went onto finish seventh in which he achieved three podiums and his maiden win. His upward curve continued the following year where he finished fourth achieving a best result of second and six podiums.
However 2015 was really where Whorton-Eales started to make progress. With five consecutive podiums, including two wins, from the first five races, he was on course for a championship challenge. This challenge went down to the final two races at the Brand Hatch Grand Prix circuit and despite his year being hampered slightly by a change in team mid season he had a real chance of claiming the Clio Cup crown. However a retirement and a DNS meant that he finished third.
2016 was billed as a pivotal year for Whorton-Eales, remaining in the Clio Cup for a fifth season and with the top two from 2015 moving on, he was seen as the pre season favourite. This pressure can often make a driver crack however Whorton-Eales asserted his dominance from the start. Despite only achieving an eighth and sixth from the first two races at Brands Hatch, he was the standout driver, having starting from the back pulling fantastic moves all race long to claw his way through the field.
He then went on a run of five wins from six races with his only blemish in this spell being at Oulton Park where he finished second. The championship went down to the wire with former champion Mike Bushell though it was Whorton-Eales who came out on top.
AmD Tuning confirmed the signing of Whorton-Eales at the Autosport Show in January with Team Principal Shaun Hollamby saying “we’re delighted to have been able to a deal with Ant to fill the seat,” He continued by saying “Even before winning the Clio title last year, he had shown his potential on track and we’re confident that he will be a strong addition to the grid this year”
It ensures Whorton-Eales goes up against Will Burns, Senna Proctor and Luke Davenport for the Jack Sears Trophy.