British Touring Car Championship series director Alan Gow says he believes the depth of quality in the 2017 field is the best it has been this century, following the unveiling of another capacity 32-car grid at Donington Park today.
Gow pointed to the fact that 16 of the 32 drivers have won a BTCC race, with a total of 329 race wins between them, while five of the grid have one or more championship titles to their name.
The field also boasts 10 makes of car, all running on full RML-specification standard parts as is now mandated by TOCA.
Speaking at the season launch in Leicestershire this morning, Gow said: “I don’t think, certainly this century, that we’ve seen the depth of quality we have through the field. Fifty per cent of the drivers [on the grid] have won races, which is an extraordinary figure.
“Among those drivers there’s 329 race wins and there’s probably not a driver on the grid this year who’s not capable of winning a race in their own right. It’s a fantastic testimony to the strength of the BTCC that we’ve got such quantity and quality of drivers.”
Gow also pointed to how many of the field had joined as rookies and stayed on in the BTCC, ahead of a season which will feature five new drivers.
“A lot of the rookie drivers from the last two or three years have stayed in the championship,” said Gow. “They can see the virtues of a career in the BTCC, and we hope they stay for a very long time. Maybe not as long as Matt Neal and Jason Plato, but hopefully for a very long time!”
The addition of manufacturer backing from BMW and Vauxhall takes the number of works teams to five in 2017, something Gow was also keen to praise.
“BMW haven’t been involved in the championship since 1996, so it’s great to see them back, and of course Vauxhall, one of the most successful manufacturers in the history of the championship. We’re delighted to welcome them back,” he said.