Photo: PSP Images

BTCC officially unveils capacity 32-car grid for 2017 season

The British Touring Car Championship has officially unveiled a capacity 32-car field for the 2017 season at its annual media launch at Donington Park, with five manufacturers and five former champions on the grid for the new campaign.

All but one of the line-up was known ahead of this morning, with the final piece in the jigsaw coming in the shape of Renault Clio Cup graduate Josh Price, who will race the fourth of the Team BMR Subaru Levorgs.

The reigning and back-to-back champion Gordon Shedden returns to defend his crown with Team Dynamics, once again partnered alongside Matt Neal in their factory-backed Honda Civic Type-R machines. And the reigning teams’ champions West Surrey Racing will be enjoying manufacturer backing from BMW for the first time in the modern era, with Colin Turkington returning once again to partner new signing Andrew Jordan and team stalwart Rob Collard.

Turkington departs from the Team BMR setup after two seasons, with last season’s vice-champion Sam Tordoff departing the series altogether to concentrate on a sportscar career.

Jason Plato will spearhead the Team BMR line-up, with standout 2016 rookie Ash Sutton joining the team from Triple Eight MG. James Cole returns for a second season in the Levorg, with the aforementioned Price completing the four-car line up following team boss Warren Scott’s decision to stand down from driving duties.

With Sutton and 2016 team-mate Josh Cook both departing the works Triple Eight squad, Ian Harrison’s outfit will be sporting an all-new line up for 2017 in the shape of Árón Taylor-Smith and Dan Lloyd. And the fifth and final manufacturer is a familiar name, with Vauxhall returning to the series for the first time since 2009 to partner up with Power Maxed Racing with a pair of brand new Astras.

At the wheel will be Tom Chilton, back in the BTCC for the first time since 2011, and rookie Senna Proctor, who steps up to touring cars after establishing himself on the TOCA support package. Chilton is set for a busy year, dovetailing his BTCC campaign with a fifth consecutive season in the World Touring Car Championship.

Independent champions Motorbase Performance are expanding to a three-car outfit in 2017, with Mat Jackson again returning to lead the team alongside two new signings, Ginetta graduate Luke Davenport and former Eurotech Racing man Martin Depper.

Replacing Depper alongside Eurotech team owner-driver Jeff Smith is Jack Goff, who moves back into front-wheel drive after a year in the West Surrey Racing BMW, while another driver switching teams is Josh Cook, who picked up a reprieve from Maximum Motorsport after MG decided not to retain his services. Also back in another Civic Type-R is Matt Simpson, who will run his car out of the Team Dynamics stable.

Another team returning to the series in 2017 is BTC Racing, running a pair of Chevrolet Cruzes for Dave Newsham – himself back after a year out – and Chris Smiley, who competed for Team HARD at the start of 2016.

Tony Gilham’s squad have upgraded their ageing Toyota Avensises for three ex-Team BMR Volkswagen CCs, with Jake Hill and Mike Epps returning for a second season alongside another new face, Ginetta Supercup vice-champion Will Burns.

Joining Chilton back in the series after an extended break is Stephen Jelley, who last raced with West Surrey Racing in 2009. He’ll be in familiar surroundings at Team Parker Racing, taking on front-wheel drive for the first time in the team’s Ford Focus ST.

Back for an eighth season in the BTCC, AmD Tuning are expanding to a two-car team for 2017. The retained Ollie Jackson is set to partner reigning Clio Cup champion and series rookie Ant Whorton-Eales in two Audi S3s – one a former Robb Holland machine, and the other newly constructed by Shaun Hollamby’s squad.

And completing the grid are four drivers who haven’t changed anything over the winter – Tom Ingram at Speedworks Motorsport; Rob Austin at Handy Motorsport; Ciceley Motorsport’s Adam Morgan and Aiden Moffat in the sister Mercedes A-Class machine.

The changes over the winter means the series bids farewell to seven drivers from 2016 – Sam Tordoff, Stewart Lines, Mark Howard, Hunter Abbott, Kelvin Fletcher, Alex Martin and Dan Welch.

2017 British Touring Car Championship entry list

No – Driver – Nat – Team – Car – Engine

2 – Tom Chilton – GBR – Power Maxed Racing – Vauxhall Astra – Swindon/TOCA
3 – Mat Jackson – GBR – Motorbase Performance – Ford Focus ST – Mountune/Ford
4 – Colin Turkington – GBR – Team BMW – BMW 125i M Sport – Neil Brown/BMW
5 – Rob Collard – GBR – Team BMW – BMW 125i M Sport – Neil Brown/BMW
7 – Stephen Jelley – GBR – Team Parker Racing – Ford Focus ST – Mountune/Ford
10 – Ant Whorton-Eales – GBR – AmD Tuning – Audi S3 – Swindon/TOCA
11 – Rob Austin – GBR – Handy Motorsport – Toyota Avensis – Swindon/TOCA
12 – Michael Epps – GBR – Team HARD – Volkswagen CC – Swindon/TOCA
16 – Aiden Moffat – GBR – Aiden Moffat Racing – Mercedes-Benz A-Class – Swindon/TOCA
17 – Dave Newsham – GBR – BTC Racing – Chevrolet Cruze – Swindon/TOCA
18 – Senna Proctor – GBR – Power Maxed Racing – Vauxhall Astra – Swindon/TOCA
20 – James Cole – GBR – Subaru Team BMR – Subaru Levorg GT – Mountune/Subaru
22 – Chris Smiley – GBR – BTC Racing – Chevrolet Cruze – Swindon/TOCA
23 – Daniel Lloyd – GBR – Triple Eight Racing – MG 6 GT – Swindon/TOCA
24 – Jake Hill – GBR – Team HARD – Volkswagen CC – Swindon/TOCA
25 – Matt Neal – GBR – Team Dynamics – Honda Civic – Neil Brown/Honda
28 – Josh Price – GBR – Subaru Team BMR – Subaru Levorg GT
30 – Martin Depper – GBR – Motorbase Performance – Ford Focus ST – Mountune/Ford
31 – Jack Goff – GBR – Eurotech Racing – Honda Civic – Neil Brown/Honda
33 – Adam Morgan – GBR – Ciceley Racing – Mercedes-Benz A-Class – Swindon/TOCA
40 – Árón Taylor-Smith – IRL – Triple Eight Racing – MG 6 GT – Swindon/TOCA
48 – Ollie Jackson – GBR – AmD Tuning – Audi S3 – Swindon/TOCA
52 – Gordon Shedden – GBR – Team Dynamics – Honda Civic – Neil Brown/Honda
55 – Jeff Smith – GBR – Eurotech Racing – Honda Civic – Swindon/TOCA
61 – Will Burns – GBR – Team HARD – Volkswagen CC – Swindon/TOCA
66 – Josh Cook – GBR – Team Parker Racing – Ford Focus ST – Mountune/Ford
77 – Andrew Jordan – GBR – Team BMW – BMW 125i M Sport – Neil Brown/BMW
80 – Tom Ingram – GBR – Speedworks Motorsport – Toyota Avensis – Swindon/TOCA
99 – Jason Plato – GBR – Subaru Team BMR – Subaru Levorg GT – Mountune/Subaru
116 – Ashley Sutton – GBR – Subaru Team BMR – Subaru Levorg GT – Mountune/Subaru
300 – Luke Davenport – GBR – Motorbase Performance – Ford Focus ST – Mountune/Ford
303 – Matt Simpson – GBR – Simpson Motorsport – Honda Civic – Neil Brown/Honda