A full run down of each time and what to expect from the 2021 British Touring Car Championship Season
After what feels like a very long winter, the 2021 British Touring Car Championship season is almost upon us and after a year with closed stands, this year will hopefully see the return of crowds trackside for the fans and drivers alike to enjoy.
Like the season before we have seen multiple changes over the winter, with both drivers and teams switching machinery. Numerous teams have also expanded and created technical alliances with each other, making the field even tighter than previous years.
Let’s look at all the news and preview each team ahead of the 2021 season.
Laser Tools Racing
Reigning Drivers’ Champion Ashley Sutton remains with Laser Tools Racing for 2021 alongside Aiden Moffat, however the duo is joined by former Team HARD driver Carl Boardley, bringing the amount of Infiniti’s on the grid to three.
Boardley improved during his second season in the BTCC and will be hoping to improve further now with one of the best teams on the grid.
Sutton will simply want to defend his crown and become only the fourth driver to be a triple champion.
Team BMW West Surrey Racing
After a year of being a two car outfit following Andrew Jordan’s 2020 pre season split with the team, Team BMW WSR return to a three car entry for 2021 as Stephen Jelley returns to the team after eleven years away to partner Tom Oliphant and four-time champion Colin Turkington.
Turkington will be hoping to become the first man in BTCC history to make it to five titles, having equalled Andy Rouse’s record in 2020. Tom Oliphant also returns for another season hoping to continue his upward trajectory after winning his first BTCC race at Brands Hatch last year ending the year sixth in the standings.
Both Turkington and BMW will be aiming to reclaim their respective crowns this season.
Toyota Gazoo Racing
Toyota enter 2021 as a two car entry for the first time since their manufacture return to the series, however they will not be with star driver Tom Ingram, who leaves the team on good terms. Ingram has been replaced by Motorbase’s Rory Butcher, who will be hoping to make a claim on the title in his first season with a manufacture.
Butcher will be joined at the team by BTCC returnee Sam Smelt, who spent a season in the championship in 2018 for AmD Tuning alongside Ollie Jackson. Smelt has since competed in the British GT GT4 Championship in a Toyota Supra run by Speedworks Motorsport.
The cars are certainly striking in a classic Toyota livery, the same one seen in the World Endurance Championship and the World Rally Championship. Since its debut in the series, the Toyota Corolla has gone from strength to the strength so it will be fascinating to see what Butcher and Smelt can do with the car in 2021.
For the first time since 2009, Team Dynamics enter the BTCC as an independent following Honda’s decision to withdraw from the BTCC as a manufacture.
2021 is also the first time since 1991 that Matt Neal will not be competing in the series, after taking a step back to help run the team his father created nearly 30 years ago. The withdrawal of Honda also meant Dan Cammish also lost his drive ensuring the team go into 2021 with an all new driver line-up.
It ensured that triple champion Gordon Shedden will make his long awaited return to the series after three years away competing in the WTCC. He will be joined at the team by Daniel Rowbottom who brings his Cataclean sponsorship with him, a welcome boost for the team.
There were rumours that Team Dynamics were aiming to run a third car however the idea was rejected by the other teams in the championship.
However this does not seem to have affected them as Gorodn Shedden took early season bragging rights as he ended the BTCC Media Day test top, beating the likes of Turkington and Sutton, ensuring 2021 could be a fascinating season with the Scot returning to the top.
Power Maxed Racing
After an enforced year on the sidelines, Jason Plato is back in the BTCC with Power Maxed Racing who return to the series full time after taking a partial sabbatical in 2020 following the issues caused by the pandemic. Plato is more fired up than ever, and with the field at the front going from strength to strength it will be fantastic to see how the double champion fares.
Plato will be joined by Dan Lloyd who makes his full time debut in the series having hugely impressed in his previous outings for BTC Norlin in 2018.
In arguably one of the strongest pairing son the grid, it will be great to have Power Maxed Racing back full time and adding an extra dimension to the fight for first.
Having made their debut in the championship last season in a pair of Honda Civic Type-R FK2’s, MB Motorsport have strengthened over the winter as they enter 2021 with a pair for Ford Focus’ the same cars which Motorbase will be using.
Jake Hill remains with the team now finding himself with the best chance yet of challenging for the BTCC title. He will be joined by former Motorbase driver Ollie Jackson, who will be hoping to continue his climb up the order.
Heading into 2021, Hill will have to learn his new machinery fast if he is to mount a title charge, while Jackson could begin to ruffle a few feathers.
Motorbase Performance return in 2021 under new ownership as former owner David Bartrum sold the team he founded to AmD Tuning boss Shaun Hollamby and businessman Pete Osborne, father of Sam.
In one of the most anticipated moves of the season, Sam switches from MB Motorsport, who have an alliance with Motorbase, to Motorbase while Andy Neate remains with the team.
The team will be hoping to continue their fine form they showed in 2020.
Team HARD enter 2021 in arguably the best position they have ever been in. After forming a technical alliance with Laser Tools Racing over the winter, the team has improved dramatically both on and off the circuit.
Gone are the aging VW CC quartet which have been replaced by four striking new Cupra Leon’s.
Jack Goff remains with the team and has already shown excellent pace in pre-season testing, finishing the BTCC Media Day test second only behind BTCC returnee Gordon Shedden. Goff is joined in the team by Aron Taylor-Smith who also returns to the series having last raced in the BTCC in 2017 for MG.
The other two cars are filled by fellow returnee Glyn Geddie who joins the BTCC full time for the first time since 2014 when he raced for United Autosports and Nicolas Hamilton who also remains with Team HARD in the final Cupra Leon.
It is always great to see new cars on the BTCC grid and it is rare a new car hits the ground running as well as the new Cupra. It will be fascinating to see if it can remain at the front as the season develops.
After 7 seasons with the Mercedes A Class, Ciceley Motorsport have retired their former challengers and instead switches to the BMW 3 Series, one for regular driver Adam Morgan and one for Tom Chilton, who switches to Cicely from BTC Racing.
It will be the first time the team has switched to rear wheel drive, however Morgan is no stranger to rear wheel drive cars having won the Ginetta GT Supercup which guaranteed his drive in the BTCC back in 2012. For Chilton however it will be the first time he enters the BTCC with rear wheel drive machinery, although pre-season testing has been extensive in an attempt to hit the ground running.
With new sponsorship from Car Gods, the team also brings a new look to the series. It will be great to see what Morgan and Chilton can do in proven championship winning machinery.
BTC Racing continue with Josh Cook for a third season, who will be hoping to return to the front of the series after a disastrous 2020 in which he found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time all the way through the season.
Cook will be joined by Jade Edwards, who makes her full time debut in the championship and becomes the first woman to compete in the series full time since the Production Class was still running in 2002. The team is yet to confirm its full time third driver after it was confirmed that Michael Cress would leave the team on the eve of the season starting. Former Honda driver Dan Cammish is due to guest appear for the team at Thruxton this weekend however he is currently committed to the Porsche Carrera Cup GB for 2021.
However, it will be great to see Cook and Edwards back in the championship and with BTC Racing now one of two independent Honda outfits, it will be interesting to see which team comes out on top.
Ecelr8 Racing with TradePriceCars
The final team to look at is Excelr8 Racing who team up with TradePriceCars Racing to form a four car team of Hyundai i30’s.
Excelr8 have seen a rapid rise up the order since making the debut in 2019 and bring in star name Tom Ingram for 2021 as well as his backing from Ginsters.
Ingram will be hoping to remain at the top of the timesheets heading into the new season after being a title contender for the past four years. He will be joined in the team by Chris Smiley, who remains with the team for a second season as well as Jack Butel who switches from Cicely Motorsport.
The final Hyundai seat goes to BTCC rookie Rick Parfitt Jr, who makes his debut in the championship having won the British GT Championship in 2017.
It will be fantastic to see how he and indeed the entire field get on into the new season. With so many cars so close to each other, it is certainly going to be an unpredictable season. Classic BTCC!