Wow!! Well we've had a cracking week of announcements for the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car season which is due to kick off at the end of March and the hype is just building and building!!
So, heres what we have...
1. Motorbase/Airwaves Racing have announced that they have signed 2007 & 2008 Double BTCC Champion Fabrizio Giovanardi. He will pilot one of the teams NGTC Fords whilst his two team-mates will be announced in due course.
Team boss Dave Bartrum admitted he's tried to sign the Italian driver since he lost his drive with Triple Eight in 2010. Giovanardi confirmed on Twitter today that he will be testing out his Ford Focus on Thursday next week...
2. Aiden Moffat has confirmed that his family run team will compete as Laser Tools Racing this season in the NGTC Chevrolet Cruze they purchased from Andy Neate. Moffat has also been testing the Cruze as well.
I'm picking this driver/team combination as my dark horse for some cracking performances during the season...
3. Pirtek Racing have had their first 2014 test at Brands Hatch this week. 2013 Champion Andy Jordan and his 2014 team-mate Martin Depper completed testing on the Indy Circuit, looking to further improve the setup on the NGTC Honda Civic and allow both Jordan and Depper to further hone their driving skills with the car.
4. The 2014 BTCC driver market is due to take another twist in the coming weeks with the expected driver announcement from eBay Motors/West Surrey Racing. They were due to announce the lineup on Thursday, this has now been postponed whilst driver negotiations continue. They have also dropped a hint that its possible they could sign a former Australian V8 Supercars driver as part of the lineup.
Current fan speculation has various drivers suggested for the lineup, including Colin Turkington, Rob Collard, Nick Foster, Tom Onslow-Cole, Stephen Jelley, Alex MacDowall and the mystery V8 Supercar driver...
5. BTC Racing, who are fielding the NGTC Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback, have confirmed that Chris Stockton will drive for them this season. They have also announced via their twitter feed that they will be announcing a title sponsor in the next few days...
6. Finally, Frank Wrathall who drove for the family run team Dynojet has been sentenced to 21 months in prison after being found guilty to death by careless driving. Wrathall was involved in a fatal collision with a cyclist on May 14th 2012 near his home in Preston. He has also been disqualified from driving for four years.
The team confirmed that it sold its assets and TBL's to new BTCC entrant United Autosports.
So we have some good points and some bad points. Regarding the news about Frank Wrathall, I will not give opinion on this matter. However I will say it is a shame when someone involved in motorsport is brought to the headlines in this way. For those of you who have long memories, I am sure you will be reminded of the circumstances surrounding Vic Lee and his Vic Lee Motorsport squad.
As for the signing of Giovanardi at Airwaves, this brings the total of BTCC Champions taking part this season to six!! With the return of Alain Menu announced at Team BMR and championship stalwarts Jordan, Plato, Shedden and Neal confirmed to return, the BTCC has taken a step forward in regards to driver quality and the draw of the UK's biggest domestic motorsport series showing such a good show that the best Touring Car driver talent in the world want to race in the BTCC.
Giovanardi is a mutiple European Touring Car champion, having won Italian, Spanish, European and British Touring Car titles during his career. His battles with Jason Plato for BTCC titles are as legendary as Plato's battles with Matt Neal. However Gio has made it clear he's going for BTCC Title No.3 this year to join Matt Neal as Triple BTCC Champion.
Make no mistake. This season there will be no quarter asked and none given. Bumpers will be torn off, Wing Mirrors will fly and door panels will be dented. The driving talent announced so far this year is so high already and the competition being so close that people are talking of how the 2014 season will be reminiscent of the driving talent that the Manufacturer Teams brought in during the Super Touring/FIA Class 2 days from 1991 to 2000.
I think we are in for an amazing season that will offer amazing racing and epic highs and lows with the man who becomes 2014 British Touring Car Champion knowing that he will have beaten the best to the title in a field that is the best of the best.
I can't wait!!!