The five manufactures battling it out in 2017
(Photo from: www.btcc.net)
After a six month winter break, the British Touring Car Championship is ready to kick back into life this weekend at the season opener at Brands Hatch in Kent, in what is shaping up to be one of the most competitive seasons in years.
For 2017, the calendar remains the same for the sixth consecutive season with Brands Hatch hosting the opening round of the season since 2011. Brands Hatch originates back to the 1920s as a dirt course for bikes, which occurred up to the Second World War. Once the war ended, racing resumed again and the circuit was eventually equipped with a tarmac surface in 1950.
Since then the circuit has gone onto become one of the most well recognised in the world and has played host to whole variety of major championships such as Formula, World Superbikes, Champ Cars and of course the BTCC.
Leading into the first race of the season various changes have occurred with both the regulations and the drivers. The most notable change is that Vauxhall have re-entered as a manufacture for the first time since 2009 with Power Maxed Racing who will run two Vauxhall Astras for rookie Senna Proctor and BTCC returnee Tom Chilton. Chilton enjoyed huge success in the series between 2002 and 2011 before moving to World Touring Cars, where he will still compete this season in what will be a duel campaign for the 32 year-old.
Other changes up and down the grid include the return of BMW as an official manufacture for the first time since 1996 with Colin Turkington returning to the team after two years with Team BMR. Turkington, who won both his titles in 2009 and 2014 with WSR, will be joined by Andrew Jordan and Rob Collard, who celebrates 10 seasons with WSR. The return of BMW also means that there will be five factory backed manufactures on the grid for the first time since the super-tourer era.
Other major team changes include Ashley Sutton moving from MG to Team BMR Subaru as well as Aron Taylor-Smith and Daniel Lloyd moving to MG to replace the departing Sutton and Josh Cook.
There are also five rookies on the grid in 2017. Senna Proctor will be joined by Luke Davenport who will be driving for Motorbase, Team HARD’s Will Burns, Josh Price in a Team BMR Subaru and the reigning Renault Clio Cup champion Ant Whorton-Eales, who will be driving for AmD Tuning. With two rookies in manufacture backed teams and the other three all in very competitive independent outfits, the Jack Sears Trophy this year may be one of the closest in history.
There have also been minor technical changes ahead of the season opener. The size of wheels has been altered slightly which sees tyres increase in width as well as size.
With eleven manufactures on the grid the variety for 2017 is as large as ever which includes sixteen race winners, this year could be a classic. One thing that is for certain, the BTCC is predictable unpredictable.
The complete 2017 Dunlop British Touring Car Grid
|West Surrey Racing||4||Colin Turkington|
|Pirtek Racing||77||Andrew Jordan|
|Silverline Subaru Team BMR
Honda Halfords Yuasa Racing
|Simpson Racing||303||Matt Simpson|
Power Maxed Racing
Triple Eight Engineering
|Handy Motorsport||11||Rob Austin|
|Speedworks Motorsport||80||Tom Ingram|
|Laser Tools Racing||16||Aiden Moffat|
|Wix Racing||33||Adam Morgan|
BTC Norlin Racing
|Maximum Motorsport||66||Josh Cook|
|Team Parker Racing||7||Stephen Jelley|