Team BMW are aiming for a record-breaking season in the British Touring Car Championship, which kicks off at the high-speed Thruxton circuit this weekend (May 8-9) with action guaranteed.
“When a new season is just around the corner, you feel that bit of extra adrenaline running through you, and 2021 is no different, especially since we’ve finished our pre-season testing,” commented Team Principal Dick Bennetts. “We’ve done quite a bit of running and hopefully found some ways to make the BMWs even better, but we also know that the competition hasn’t been standing still, so we’ll have to keep pushing as hard as we can.
“I think our driver line-up is one of the strongest, if not the strongest on the grid and that will be extremely important as we try to help BMW win a record sixth straight Manufacturers’ title and push Colin, Tom and Stephen into the Drivers’ Championship fight.”
The WSR-run team has claimed the BTCC Manufacturers’ crown for BMW for the past five seasons and could enable the German marque to become the first in the series’ 63-year history to win six in a row.
To do this, an expanded three-car line-up of Colin Turkington, Tom Oliphant and Stephen Jelley will race the team’s BMW 330i M Sports; each driver with their sights set on achieving this impressive target.
Colin is one of the BTCC’s all-time greats and has won a record-equalling four Drivers’ Championships with WSR; the most recent coming behind the wheel of the BMW 3 Series that will again form the backbone of his title charge.
Thruxton, which is the starting point for the season for the first time since 2010, is the scene of four previous BTCC wins for the Northern Irishman, including a milestone 100th in the series for BMW in 2017.
Tom was the BTCC’s breakthrough star of 2020 as the Leamington Spa-based racer scored a maiden victory at Brands Hatch and claimed his highest championship finish to date in sixth overall.
The 30-year-old aims to continue that progress as he begins his third season with Team BMW and WSR. He has finished in the top eight in each of his last nine races at Thruxton with a best result of fourth in 2019.
For Leicester-based Stephen, this year represents something of a homecoming. He made his BTCC debut in a WSR BMW 320si in 2008 and won twice during a two-year stint with the team before switching to GT racing.
He returns after three years behind the wheel of an ex-WSR BMW 125i M Sport in which he was also a BTCC winner and has set his sights on increasing his victory total in 2021.
Following 2020’s shortened season, the new campaign gets underway with some significant changes to the regulations; chiefly the increase of the maximum success ballast from 60 to 75kg.
There is also a change to the tyre rules with Goodyear’s ‘option’ rubber, which generally gives a higher peak performance, but less durability, than the standard tyre, available to use at four events (not including Thruxton).
The 2021 calendar comprises 10 events at eight venues the length and breadth of the UK. Each one of the 30 races will be screened live on ITV4 in HD and online via the ITV Hub, with highlights shown across the ITV network subsequently.