BTCC: Another Exciting Season Ahead as BTCC Launches at Silverstone

2021 will be last season in BTCC with naturally aspirated engines before switching to hybrid technologies next year. © Jakob Ebrey

The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship took to the Silverstone circuit for it’s 2021 season launch, ahead of what looks to be another exciting year of tin-top action.

Eight vehicle manufacturers, and 29 drivers will take on a 30 race calendar, racing on 8 of the best circuits across the UK.

The season kicks off at the fastest circuit in Britain, Thruxton, over the weekend of 8/9 May.

Thruxton will remain behind closed doors due to the Coronavirus pandemic, however a five-week gap to round 2 at Snetterton aims to give more time for vaccine rollout and fans getting back at race tracks again.

Big names return

2021 will see the return of two legends of the sport, as double BTCC champion Jason Plato, and three-time champion Gordon Shedden return to the grid.

Plato returns to Power Maxed Racing after a year on the sidelines, as the team withdrew from the 2020 season.

The 53 year old, will be hoping to follow on from a successful season with PMR in 2019.

One win and three podiums led to a seventh place finish in the drivers championship for Plato.

Gordon Shedden makes his return after three years away, rejoining Halfords Racing with Cataclean’s.

Shedden had all his success with this team and with the Honda Civic, winning three titles.

Despite Honda pulling their factory support from Team Dynamics, the Scot will still be a threat in 2021.

Shedden and Plato join reigning champion Ash Sutton and four-time champion Colin Turkington as the former champions lining up on the grid this season.

However, it isn’t just the four previous champions who will be ones to watch this season.

Youth continues to fight the establishment

For many years, multiple young drivers have been fighting, not just for race wins, but for championships.

And 2021 is not different, as more young talents aim to topple the existing champions.

2018 title runner-up Tom Ingram has swapped his Toyota Corolla for an exciting new opportunity with Hyundai at EXCELR8, partnering Chris Smiley.

Taking his place at Toyota Gazoo Racing UK is talented Scottish race Rory Butcher.

Both Ingram and Butcher have won the Independent drivers title, but will want to challenge for the big prize in 2021.

Toyota will expand it’s outfit to two cars in 2021, as Sam Smelt returns to the series alongside Butcher.

Butcher leaves behind the Ford Focus, which is still being run by two teams in 2021.

MB Motorsport and Racing with Wera & Photon Group continue with the Ford Focus, MB taking on Jake Hill and Ollie Jackson, the latter taking his first ever BTCC win in 2020.

Racing with Wera & Photon Group cars will be piloted by Sam Osborne and Andy Neate.

Jason Plato is joined at PMR in 2021 by 2018 Croft winner with BTC Racing, Daniel Lloyd.

Gordon Shedden with be partnered at Team Dynamics by Dan Rowbottom, as Matt Neal finally hangs up his helmet after reaching an incredible milestone in 2020.

Three-time BTCC champion Neal, reached 700 race starts at Oulton Park, a remarkable achievement.

Reigning champion Ash Sutton and title runner up Colin Turkington take their places in two very strong lineups in 2021.

Sutton will lead Laser Tools Racing, alongside Scot Aiden Moffat and talented Carl Boardley.

While Turkington leads WSR and BMW’s charge, with race winners Tom Oliphant and Stephen Jelley partnering the Irishman.

New equipment for Ciceley and Team HARD

Ciceley Motorsport and Team HARD will be fielding new machinery for the 2021 season.

Ciceley move away from the Mercedes A45, taking on the BMW 330i M Sport as run by WSR.

The 330i M Sport will be piloted by experienced pairing Adam Morgan and Tom Chilton.

The team will hope this change will give them a better shot at taking the Independent title in 2021.

Also taking on a new car this season will be Team HARD, taking on the all new Cupra Leon.

Piloting this exciting new package will be the always exciting Jack Goff, Glynn Geddie, the returning Aron Taylor-Smith and Nic Hamilton, the latter running under the ROCKit sponsorship.

Despite no new machinery for 2021, there is a different cause for excitement at BTC Racing.

Josh Cook and Michael Crees continue to pilot the Honda Civic Type R FK8, but are partnered by someone exciting.

Jade Edwards will become the first full-time female BTCC racer since 2007, that being Fiona Leggate.

Edwards made her BTCC debut in 2020 with PMR, getting the opportunity with the team at Silverstone.

She was one of two female drivers to get a chance with PMR, with Jess Hawkins also getting a chance a Snetterton.

Jade also follows in the footsteps of her father Jim Edwards jnr, who himself was a class winner in BTCC.

Rick Parfitt jnr also makes his BTCC debut, partnering young talent Jack Butel at EXCELR8.

A look to the future

2021 will be the final season the BTCC runs it’s current engine regulations with hybrid power coming in 2022.

This season will see much more, and more intensive, on track testing ahead of the change.

An exciting development that will surely move BTCC towards a more eco-friendly future.

2021 will also see the return of the ‘Top Ten Showdown’ Qualifying system, which debuted at Snetterton in 2020.

The new system will make 3 appearances on the calendar, at Donington, Snetterton and Silverstone.

BTCC Chief Executive Alan Gow said it was a proud day as the season launched at Silverstone.

“To display such a high-quality, capacity field, despite all the challenges faced over the last 12 months, it testament to the huge enthusiasm, determination and professionalism of everyone involved”.

So with the season just 2 weeks away, it’s set to be another exciting year of tin-top action.