The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, the country’s premier racing series has been a firm motorsport fans favourite for decades and this year its popularity is set to increase even more. With the one of the biggest line ups the championship has seen in its history, 31 teams will fight it out to be crowned champions over a gruelling 10 rounds.
Not only does this year’s grid boast incredible strength in numbers it is also technically advanced as all BTCC machines will run to NGTC (Next Generation Touring Car) specifications for the very first time. Thanks to the NGTC rules the diversity of cars fans will see on the grid means a staggering 14 different models from 11 manufacturers represented in 2014. This coupled with the total number of cars on-track it’s expected to be the largest in the series’ 2-litre history, making this weekend’s season opener at Brands Hatch to be one for the motorsport history books.
As any motorsport fan will tell you, a team can have the most technically advanced cars in the world but it’s the partnership between car, driver and team which can win or lose a championship. Whether it’s promising young guns starting out in their first ever BTCC season or a seasoned pro, confidence is high in the pits with ambition taking centre stage amongst these 31 eager drivers. None more so than the titled Magnificent Seven, a group of seven former championship winners including reigning supremo 24 year old Andrew Jordan who looks to defend his title in the Pirtek Racing Honda Civic.
Making up these seasoned decorated pros are 2012 champ Gordon Shedden and three time winner Matt Neale both remaining at Honda Yuasa Racing, Jason Plato looking for a championship hat trick in his MG and Colin Turkington who was in title contention in the 2013 season narrowly missing out in his BMW.
But the big news in 2014 is the return of a pair of BTCC heros, two time double-championship winners Alain Menu and the flamboyant Fabrizio Giovanardi. Menu, a legend of the much loved Super Touring-era will be driving a VW Passat for Team BMR this time around, whilst Giovanardi will be spearheading the challenge from Airwaves Racing.
Another legacy will continue as global tyre manufacturer Dunlop remains title sponsor in a new multi-year deal further continuing its partnership with the BTCC since its inception in 1958. Dunlop’s involvement doesn’t just stop at title sponsorship, as sole tyre supplier to the championship Dunlop continues to develop its tyre technology. This year will see the introduction of an all-new construction across all of its Sport Maxx range, offering improved driver feedback and confidence.
As per 2013, every driver will have to nominate one of the three races on each weekend (except Thruxton) in which to run the soft compound instead of the medium construction. A team decision which could turn out to be critical as each team battles to lead the pack.
At the recent season launch, BTCC Series Director Alan Gow enthused the gathering press highlighting the 2014 championship as the golden age of motorsport. He commented that he had “no doubt that 2014 will prove to be one of the most exciting and competitive season’s in the illustrious history of the BTCC.” We for one can’t wait to see the drama play out on the track and see who will reign victorious in this landmark BTCC season.
Written by Anna Stanley @ Dunlop www.dunloptyres.co.uk