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Old 31 Mar 2015, 17:18 (Ref:3522328)   #1
S griffin
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S griffin has a real shot at the podium!S griffin has a real shot at the podium!S griffin has a real shot at the podium!S griffin has a real shot at the podium!S griffin has a real shot at the podium!
BTCC Season Preview

With Brands Hatch just a few days away and an eagerly anticipated season ahead, let's look at the runners and riders and what to expect from them this year

Manufacturers/Constructors

MG (888)
MG back for this year with a completely new lineup, ex champion Andrew Jordan back with MG, a lot better driver than in 09. Bad luck, including injury, halted his charge last year, but with the reigning Manufacturers champion car, should have a better year. Hard to beat on his day, his must be considered a favourite for a title challenge. Team mate Goff has shown flashes of form in the past, like Brands Hatch GP R3 2013 and must build on that if he is to be a future star.

Honda (Dynamics)
Back with the third car in three years, but for the 6th consecutive year, with the same lineup of Neal and Flash. Last year the estate wasn't their best car and were hard done by boost regulations, plus got into a bit of trouble with the governing body. But there is hope with the new car although testing has shown that there may be a bit of work to do with the car. Flash was in the title fight, before going off the rails for various reasons, but a win at the final race should have given him a confidence boost. Expect him to come out fighting. Neal needs to show he's still got it week in week out, if it's not to be his final year

Infiniti (Pro Motorsport)
First new Manufacturer for three years, it will be a learning year at best. No running before Brands and doubts over whether they will have both cars running for the first race, mean it's an uphill struggle. But it's all in aid of a good cause, and both Palmer Jr and Hawken have experience of tin tops through the historic super tourers. Don't forget over manufacturer have had tough first years too.

BMW (WSR)
Upgraded to constructor due to their 'dominance', there is talk of a tough season due to the change in RWD regulations. The team has kept Collard for consistency, although despite his attacking never-say-die attitude, will probably not be the one to go for the title. Sam Tordoff is a rising star who last season got derailed by bad luck and having to play second fiddle to Plato. Now in his free environment could really flourish. Dick Bennets speaks highly of him, even comparing him to a young Colin Turkington. A welcolme return for Andy Priaulx, who despite not doing a full season, can help the team to remain winners, although there is caution after the returns of Menu and Gio last year.

Independents

BMR-VW
Hats off to Warren Scott, for proving he is no Tony Gilham or god help us Chris James and actually turning a private team into a professional outfit. And he has landed a real scope in signing the top two from last year. For Colin he returns to FWD for the first time since a one-off China WTCC and has adapted well. This season should show who is better him or Plato. Plato went back to his old ways last year, but still is one of the best drivers and should concentrate more on that this year. Already signs in testing that they can be title contenders this year. Aron Smith dominated Menu more often than not last year, but it will be tougher with Jason and Colin. He must be able to cope with their performance this year if he is to remain a potential champion. The boss himself is back driving another and when the car is good he is a half decent racer. Expect a few surprises from him.

Eurotech-Honda
How the mighty have fallen! Both Jordans father and son have left. Depper remains and Jeff Smith returns after a year off. The Honda Civic is starting to get a bit long in the tooth and there are unlikely to be fireworks. Jeff Smith showed he can be up there with the top guys, but the way he threw away a win at Oulton two years ago, shows he's probably never gonna be a winner. Depper had an uninspired year last year, but is hoping to perform better and testing times have shown that maybe he can make a step up to regular points.

WIX Racing-Mercedes
Adam Morgan was the underdog last year, pushing the Mercedes up to the front on a regular basis. Took a win last year, even if it was inherited, it was deserved and now needs to eliminate a few mistakes that still prosper. Only needs better luck than last year

RAR-Audi
Rob Austin is a fan's favourite and a half good racer too, even if it sometimes lands him in trouble. A bit underfunded means he is unlikely to be up there day in day out, but on the right circuit eg Rockingham, shows his true talent. Same, if slightly less so, of Hunter Abbott, who deserves and second year after a few top tens last year.

Speedworks/Handy-Toyota
Tom Ingram is back, getting the second year he deserves. Now with engineer Geoff Kingston, expect his talent to be developed this year. A first podium is possible, although a win is probably in the lap of the gods, but hopefully he is a star to come. Simon Belcher had a good finishing record this year, even with nil points, but is realistic and will probably be aiming for his first points finish this year.

Welch-Proton
To say last year was a disaster is an understatement. Engine problems after engine problems... for Dan Welch, he has got talent, maybe not in the top drawer, but he deserves a better season. Andy Wilmot's only race in the BTCC thus far was in 2012 in the merry-go-round that was TGR, so there's no knowing what he can do. We just have to wait and see.

Laser Tools-Mercedes
A switch to an ex-Cicely Mercedes, this could be the making of the 18 year old. Results did start to pick up for him in the Chevy towards the end of last year and testing have shown he could be a regular points scorer this year. His age and therefore lack of experience have meant progress has been a bit slow, but he should be alright now.

Power Maxed-Chevrolet
Taking over the reins of BTC Racing, which switces from hatchback to saloon with one car being an ex-Aiden Moffat car. Expect Dave Newsham to get it higher up than it should be as he starts the year with his sixth new team in five years. Rising star Josh Cook will maybe surprise a few this year, but don't expect fireworks.

Houseman Racing-Toyota
No more Lea Wood, gone to the managerial side, so ex motocrosser and one make driver Stewart Lines takes the seat. Don't expect them to do any better than last year unfortunately

AMD-Ford/Audi
AMD run a two car team with two different cars. Mike Bushell impressed in his one off outing at Knockhill two years ago and has been mega in Clios. Expect him to make an impact at some point. The big news not just for AMD but for BTCC in general is Nic Hamilton in the Audi, for selected rounds. Although not the best in Clios, he was competent enough to keep out of trouble most of the time and hopefully him competing in spite of cerebral palsy can inspire others, maybe, although not quite on the same level, like Alex Zanardi did.

TGR-Toyota
Tony Gilham is back, along with his curious ways. Taking over the ex-UA Toyota, don't expect much. Kieran Gallagher was another of the TGR merry-go-round of 2013, so again it's impossible to tell how good he is.

Team Parker-Ford
Originally a Motorbase entry, before dosh problems put paid to that, it's gonna be interesting to see how this new team goes in the BTCC, whether it can make the grade from Porsches like Motorbase did and how well ex-Ferrari driver Alex Martin goes.

Motorbase-Ford
Airwaves pulling out and no replacement sponsor means their plans are on hold. Due to join at Snetterton hopefully, it is blow for Mat Jackson, who probably had his best season last year, showing he could still be champion and James Cole, who has improved as a driver since 2013, where he struggled to outqualify the S2000 cars. It would be a shame to lose this team like this.

So that's the line up, let's hope for a great season ahead.
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Old 1 Apr 2015, 10:24 (Ref:3522644)   #2
Bramzel
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Bramzel should be qualifying in the top 5 on the gridBramzel should be qualifying in the top 5 on the gridBramzel should be qualifying in the top 5 on the grid
Nice write-up!
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