West Surrey Racing has confirmed that Rob Collard will complete its driver line-up in this year’s Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
The team has already added young race winner Sam Tordoff and triple World Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx to its ranks and has now re-signed the experienced Collard for a sixth consecutive season.
Collard, who has taken eight race victories in his BTCC career to date – all with WSR, finished sixth in the overall championship last season and helped the squad win both the teams’ and independent teams’ titles.
The Hampshire-based driver has been part of the BMW 1 Series programme since its inception in early 2013 and has gone on to enjoy one victory and a further seven podiums in the all-conquering 125i M Sport WSR designed and built machine.
Collard brings with him continued support from the Duo Group and Hitachi Construction Equipment.
WSR commences its pre-season testing with two days of running at Thruxton next week (18/19 February) where its refined cars will come up against much of its tin-top opposition. All three drivers are expected to be in attendance with further test dates planned during February and March before the BTCC Season Launch takes place at Donington Park on 24th March.
The opening three rounds of the 30-race season will get underway at Brands Hatch on 5th April. Every race throughout the season will be screened live and exclusively on ITV4.
Rob Collard said: “I am delighted to be racing for WSR for the sixth consecutive season and it’ll be my eighth in total with the team in the BTCC. We have had some great memories together and I believe there are many more to come. I am looking forward to getting back behind the wheel during testing over the coming week as we prepare to defend our titles in 2015.”
Dick Bennetts, WSR Team Principal, said: “Rob has been a mainstay of WSR for a number of years and we’re extremely pleased to have him signed up for another season. It’s great to welcome the talents of both Andy Priaulx and Sam Tordoff into the team but we felt it was vital to have some continuity in our driving ranks. Rob’s speed and experience are there for all to see and he will, as ever, play a key role in helping WSR challenge for more titles.”
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Triple World Champion Andy Priaulx MBE will make a sensational return to the BTCC in 2015 after joining West Surrey Racing.
The long-time BMW driver has previously won the European Touring Car Championship (ETCC) and World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) for the German giant and will now be looking to add a BTCC crown to his illustrious list of achievements.
Having last raced in Britain’s premier motorsport series during the 2002 season, taking one victory, Priaulx later joined BMW’s assault on the ETCC. The Guernseyman claimed the title the following year before going on to take a hat-trick of World Touring Car Championships between 2005-2007. His unparalleled triumphs were then officially recognised in 2008 when he was awarded an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
A move to the DTM followed and in recent seasons the factory BMW driver has competed in top-level sportscar racing across the globe, winning legendary races at both the Nürburgring and Sebring.
Priaulx’s adaptability in driving many different machines throughout his career will stand him in good stead during the upcoming season where he will dovetail his BTCC campaign with his ongoing sportscar commitments.
In a return that the man himself has hailed ‘unfinished business’, the IHG-backed driver will race one of WSR’s all-conquering BMW 125i M Sports in 2015 – a car that claimed all four BTCC titles it was eligible for last season.
Following today’s (8 January) historical announcement at the Autosport International Show in Birmingham, Priaulx will commence an intensive BTCC test programme before the opening round of the season at Brands Hatch on 5 April.
The BTCC is enjoying one of the most successful eras in its long history with capacity grids and record trackside attendances. TV viewing figures are also at an all-time high with every race being screened live and free-to-air across the UK. No fewer than seven former champions entered the bumper-to-bumper action last season, where WSR driver Colin Turkington eventually claimed overall honours.
With the level of competition being greater than ever Priaulx recognises the challenge that lies ahead in 2015, and it’s a challenge that the tin top legend is looking forward to immensely.
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