Come out of hibernation briefly to share some media day joy.
So, after a intense winter of speculation, here's the entry list. Not the 30+ cars as some were talking about, but a 25 car entry list (with two TBAs) is very healthy:
No. Driver (NAT), Hometown, County, Team/Car
1. Jason Plato (GBR), Oxford, Silverline Chevrolet/Chevrolet Cruze
2. Matt Neal (GBR), Droitwich Spa, Worcs, Honda Racing Team/Honda Civic
5. Tom Chilton (GBR) Reigate, Surrey & Poole, Dorset, Team Aon/‘Global’ Ford Focus
7. Mat Jackson (GBR), Henley-in-Arden, Warks, Airwaves Racing/Ford Focus
8. Robert Collard (GBR), Hook, Hants, WSR/BMW 320si
11. Frank Wrathall (GBR), Preston, Lancs, Dynojet/Toyota Avensis
12. David Pinkney (GBR), Harpenden, Herts, Rob Austin Racing/Audi A4
13. TBA, Rob Austin Racing/Audi A4
14. James Nash (GBR), Newport Pagnell, Bucks, 888 Racing with Collins Contractors/Vauxhall Vectra
17. Dave Newsham (GBR), Inverness, Scotland, Geoff Steel Racing/BMW 320si
18. Nick Foster (GBR), Odiham, Hampshire, WSR/BMW 320si
20. Alex MacDowall (GBR), Carlisle, Cumbria, Silverline Chevrolet/Chevrolet Cruze
22. Tom Boardman (GBR), Preston, Lancs, Special Tuning Racing/SEAT Leon
28. John George (GBR), Par, Cornwall & Guernsey, GoMobileUK.com with tech-Speed/Chevrolet Cruze
29. Paul O’Neill (GBR), Widnes, Cheshire, GoMobileUK.com with tech-Speed/Chevrolet Cruze
34. Tony Gilham (GBR), Dartford, Kent, 888 Racing with Collins Contractors/Vauxhall Vectra
42. Daniel Welch (GBR), Fleet, Hampshire, Welch Automotive/Proton Gen-2**
43. Lea Wood (GBR), Hereford, Central Group Racing/Honda Integra*
44. Andy Neate (GBR), Aylesbury, Bucks, Team Aon/‘Global’ Ford Focus
50. Tony Hughes (GBR), Knutsford, Cheshire, Speedworks Motorsport/Toyota Avensis
52. Gordon Shedden (GBR), Dalgety Bay, Fife, Honda Racing Team/Honda Civic
55. Jeff Smith (GBR), Wellingborough, Northants, Pirtek Racing/Vauxhall Vectra
66. Liam Griffin (GBR), Essendon, Herts, Airwaves Racing/Ford Focus
77. Andrew Jordan (GBR), Lichfield, Staffs, Pirtek Racing/Vauxhall Vectra
78. Chris James (GBR), Luton, Beds, Team ES Racing.com/Chevrolet Lacetti
99. Tom Onslow Cole (GBR), New Malden, Surrey, AmD Milltek Racing.com
TBA. TBA, TBA, Team Aon/‘Global’ Ford Focus
Lea Wood will be entering at Oulton, whilst Daniel Welch's Proton Gen-2 will make its debut at Snetterton.
Some great stories emerged from the time I've been absent, such as Tech Speed's deal to run Chevrolet Cruzes for O'Neill and George. I'm so looking forward to see what Paul can do in a brand new car after a couple of years in the old Integra. Certainly a contender for race wins and the championship right there.
Chevrolet will return as a manufacturer with Jason Plato defending his championship, whilst Alex MacDowell will join him for a second year. Collard remains at WSR, joined by rookie Nick Foster who's been racing in the BMW CSL cup. After a car that had very few sponsors on the side of it alst year, EBAY Motors steps up as the team's main sponsor.
Tom Onslow-Cole makes a move to AmD Milltek in a move that some, but not all, saw coming. It surprised me. I was expecting him at either AON or Special Tuning Racing. A mention must go to Shaun Hollamby, who's taken the decision to step away from driving to focus on the day to day operations of the team. If there's a guy who can get the Golf up there though, it's Onslow-Cole.
Andy Neate moves to AON to partner proven race winner Tom Chilton in the new Ford Focus. The car looks stunning, will it go as well as it looks?
Honda Racing practically won everything apart from the driver's title in 2010, and return in 2011 with the same pairing of Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden. In Neal they have a two times champion and with Shedden they have a driver of championship potential. With Pioneer and Yuasa on board, they also have heavy financial backing.
2010 Clio Cup champion Dave Newsham joins 2010 Ginetta G50 champion Frank Wrathall to move up to the BTCC in a Geoff Steel Racing (returning after an absence of a couple of years) BMW and an NGTC Toyota Avensis respectively, two promising drivers who are more than capable for challenging for points and podiums this year. Tony Gilham is another to progress to the BTCC with a Triple 8 Vectra. He moves from the Porsche Carrera Cup where he secured points and regularly competed for class victory.
Veteran Dave Pinkney returns for another year to drive an NGTC spec Audi A4. His team mate is yet to be confirmed. Chris James, a former Mini racer, will race a former STCC Chevrolet Lacetti.
As for the TBAs, it looks as if Phil Glew is favourite for the third AON seat. I sincerely hope it works out for him. He's a class act and it was a huge shame that he didn't do the full year last season. The RAR A4 is a difficult one. Rob Austin has ruled himself out of driving duties, so it is hard to say who could get that ride.
Forster (previously said they would be there)
Bamboo Engineering (Vaulkhard twittered that they hadn't yet got a package together)
Second Geoff Steel Racing BMW (Newsham said last night people should find his team mate out today)
2-3 Special Tuning Racing (Previously said they could run up to 4 cars this year, so strange to see that only Boardman's entered)
Pictures from the day (from btccpages.com, touringcartimes.com and btcccrazy.co.uk)