Photo: PSP Images

HMS Racing to miss 2019 BTCC season

The HMS Racing team has confirmed that it will sit out the 2019 BTCC season having been unable to commit to a programme in time for the entry deadline.

The Simon Belcher-lead squad had swapped to an Alfa Romeo Giulietta for this year and secured a podium finish first time out at Brands Hatch and was keen to try and build on the early promise shown by the car in the second season of the programme.

However, the team will now take a year out having elected to loan its TBL to Motorbase Performance, meaning no Alfa Romeo will feature in 2019.

“We are beyond disappointed HMS Racing will not be on the grid in the BTCC next year after five years of continual progression,” Belcher said. “Very unfortunately we have had hurdles placed in front of us which we simply can’t overcome in the timeframe required to meet the registration deadline.

“Rest assured, we will do everything in our power to overcome this setback to our long-term BTCC plans and have every intention to return for 2020. We remain totally committed to the BTCC, it is by far the best championship in the UK and is where we want to be, and where we should be. We’ve proven over the past couple of years we have the ability to be consistent front-runners and genuine challengers.”

The plans of driver Rob Austin are now unknown, with the former race winner saying he was keen to try and remain on the grid.

“This is heart breaking news, we worked so hard to bring the Alfa Romeo to the BTCC grid and have worked through the tough period of development that’s required with a new car,” he said. “We felt we were making progress and, with a solid winter testing programme, believe we could have enjoyed a strong 2019.

“For all that work not to reach fruition seems unjust. As a team we did all we could and working with Simon and the HMS Racing team these last three years has been an absolute pleasure, I would like to thank them all for their hard work and support. It’s quite late in the day, so I’m not sure what 2019 holds for me as a driver, but I certainly hope I can be a part of the future return of HMS and finish the work we started with the Alfa Romeo.”