Photo: Trade Price Cars Racing

MINI Challenge champion James Gornall to debut with Trade Price Cars Racing

Reigning MINI Challenge champion James Gornall will make his debut in the British Touring Car Championship this season after being named as the second driver at Trade Price Cars Racing.

Gornall, who also has the 2008 British GT Championship title on an impressive resume, will partner Bobby Thompson in a revised two-car line-up for the Audi team after Jake Hill switched to an AmD-run Honda and Mark Blundell took the decision to retire from active competition.

The 35-year-old sampled BTCC machinery for the first time late last year with a run at Snetterton in a Motorbase-run Ford Focus, which was part of his prize for securing the MINI Challenge title in what was his first full season racing a front-wheel drive car.

Despite being a series newcomer, Gornall will hope to build on the results secured by Hill in 2019, which included a first win for the team at Knockhill as well as a podium at Brands Hatch.

“When I decided to enter the MINI Challenge last season, it was with the aim of learning the skills required to move into British Touring Cars in the future, as I’d never raced in front wheel drive before,” he said. “The test I did in the Focus as a reward for winning the title only increased my desire to join the grid, as I felt comfortable straightaway and knew that I would be able to do myself justice.

“I’ve known [team owner] Dan Kirby for a few years from our time racing against each other in the BMW Compact Cup, and we had a chat about his plans for the touring cars with the Audis twelve months ago at the Autosport Show. I’ve kept a keen interest in how things have been going since then, and it’s great that I’m now going to be part of the team for my debut season in the BTCC.

“As a driver you always want to win races and if you don’t go into a new season feeling you can win, then you won’t do. The team has shown that it can fight for victories and that has to be my target in 2020; to fight for silverware and to challenge for both the Independents’ title and the Jack Sears Trophy.

“I’m looking forward to working alongside Bobby and think we can have a lot of fun during the season ahead. A huge thanks to Dan and the team for making this deal happen, and I can’t wait to get started.”

Team owner Kirby also backed his new signing to impress.

“I’m really pleased to welcome James into the team,” he said. “I’ve raced against him in the past, and you only have to look at the success he has enjoyed in his career to date to see what a talented driver he is.

“As a newcomer to the series, James is a driver who fans might not be too familiar with. However, I’m confident that they will soon see what James can do when the season gets underway as you don’t become a six-time British champion in a range of disciplines without being a quick driver. James has a winning mentality, and I’m looking forward to seeing him make his mark on the BTCC during his maiden season.”

Entry list – 9 January:

No – Driver – Nat – Team – Car

1 – Colin Turkington – GBR – West Surrey Racing – BMW 330i M Sport
4 – Sam Osborne – GBR – AmD Tuning – Honda Civic Type R
15 – Tom Oliphant – GBR – West Surrey Racing – BMW 330i M Sport
16 – Aiden Moffat – GBR – Laser Tools Racing – Infiniti Q50
19 – Bobby Thompson – GBR – Trade Price Cars Racing – Audi S3
21 – Mike Bushell – GBR – Team HARD – Volkswagen CC
24 – Jake Hill – GBR – AmD Tuning – Honda Civic Type R
25 – Matt Neal – GBR – Team Dynamics – Honda Civic Type R
27 – Dan Cammish – GBR – Team Dynamics – Honda Civic Type R
31 – Jack Goff – GBR – Team HARD – Volkswagen CC
41 – Carl Boardley – GBR – Team HARD – BMW 125i M Sport
66 – Josh Cook – GBR – BTC Racing – Honda Civic Type R
77 – Andrew Jordan – GBR – West Surrey Racing – BMW 330i M Sport
116 – Ashley Sutton – GBR – Laser Tools Racing – Infiniti Q50
TBC – James Gornall – GBR – Trade Price Cars Racing – Audi S3

Race numbers subject to confirmation when official entry list is revealed