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BMW support is helping under the bonnet – Dick Bennetts

West Surrey Racing boss Dick Bennetts says the extra manufacturer support the team is receiving from BMW has already enabled them to unleash the German marque’s latest engine technology on track.

Up until this season, WSR’s three 125 i M-Sport machines have been running original 2.0 litre Super 2000 engines from 2007, converted from normally aspirated to turbos.

But the recently announced manufacturer backing from BMW has already borne fruit, in the shape of a new 2.0 litre turbocharged road car engine tuned for use in the BTCC by Neil Brown Engineering.

Speaking to TouringCarTimes at the BTCC’s media day launch, Bennetts said: “We’re very grateful. We’ve been running BMWs for 10 years now. We started off buying kits from Munich, with the Super 2000 3-Series. We started getting a little bit of help back in 2013-14 and they’ve shown a lot more interest in the last year.

“They can see the BTCC is a very good avenue for marketing their products, particularly the M-Sport performance brand.

“We’ve gone for this brand new BMW engine, that’s where a lot of the support has gone – technical and financial. The other engine was getting very old, it is an old-fashioned engine, whereas this is their latest technology.

“It’s a modular engine, so it’s designed as a two-litre turbo. It made sense to follow that route. We’ve engaged Neil Brown again to tune it for us. It still needs a lot of work to make it a BTCC engine, but it is a very good base engine.

“With the old engine we turbocharged the old 3-Series engine, it wasn’t designed as a turbo. It was a normally aspirated engine, whereas this one is a production turbo.”

Famed for attention to detail, Bennetts said it had been a busy winter at WSR HQ making changes to help the team remain competitive.

“We’ve been playing round with a few geometries, we’ve altered under the bonnet a bit to try and make it more efficient. Even though we finished second [in the driver’s championship] last year and won the teams, this BTCC the way it is you can’t stand still,” said Bennetts.

The New Zealander also commented on the team’s new driver line-up, with Sam Tordoff and Jack Goff departing, Andrew Jordan signing and Colin Turkington returning after two years at Team BMR.

He said: “It’s very good to have Colin back on board, plus with Rob and Andrew it’s a very good line-up. Sam decided to go and do sportscars and it was a shame to lose him. Jack was a really nice guy but we couldn’t afford to keep him on. I’m pleased he’s got a drive.”