The AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing team will look to enter a new era on a high this weekend when the 2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season kicks off at Brands Hatch.
The BTCC’s 60th anniversary season sees AmD embarking on its most ambitious programme in the series to date, with the two ex-works MG6 GTs being moved to the West Thurrock-based team over the winter – forming a four car team alongside AmD’s existing Audi S3s.
Both MGs have been completely stripped down and rebuilt over the winter, with the team working hard to make improvements to the race-winning chassis ahead of the season opener on home soil.
The Brands Hatch weekend promises to be a big one for drivers Rory Butcher and Tom Boardman, both of whom will be making their debuts at the wheel of the MG.
Despite being the penultimate driver on the 32 car grid to be confirmed in his seat, Fife racer Rory has quickly got up to speed in his new car and showed impressive pace in both wet and dry conditions during testing at both Donington Park and Brands Hatch.
The 31-year-old will hope to build on that early promise as he embarks on his first full season in the series after a part campaign in 2017.
Team-mate Tom rejoins the grid for the first time since 2011 at the wheel of the sister car, with the Forton-based racer also having enjoyed a solid – if short – testing programme.
Having used tests at Snetterton, Donington and Brands Hatch to get back up to speed ahead of his racing return, the former BTCC race winner will be keen to put points on the board at the circuit where he made his touring car debut all the way back in 2001 in the Production Class.
Rory Butcher, #6 MG6 GT, said:
“You have to take the results of testing with a pinch of salt as you don’t know what programme people are running, but I’m happy with where we stand going into the opening rounds of the year.
“Considering that the Media Day test was pretty much a shakedown for my car, we’ve shown decent pace straight out of the box and I’ve soon got a feeling for the MG and what it can do.
“I think we head to Brands Hatch with a good platform to work with and the target has to be to fight for some points. If we can do that considering the strength of the grid then I think it’ll be a good weekend for our first outing with the car, and hopefully we can start to build some momentum to push our way forwards up the order.”
Tom Boardman, #12 MG6 GT, said:
“The testing we have done in recent weeks has gone really well, and I think we are ready to go when we get to Brands Hatch regardless of what the weather will do as we’ve had the chance to run in both wet and dry conditions.
“I’m really looking forward to the season getting underway and I’m hopeful that we can pick up some good results and put some solid points on the board.
“I’ve got to give huge credit to the team for the work they have put in in the last few weeks to get the cars ready for testing and the first round, and I’d love to reward them now with three strong finishes.”
Shaun Hollamby, AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing team principal, said:
“From the moment we took delivery of the MGs we have worked hard to evaluate what they needed to get them back into top condition and [team manager] Rob Tickner and the boys have done a fantastic job to prepare the cars for the new season.
“The cars are now in arguably the best shape they have been in for some time, and thanks to the support of our title sponsors AutoAid and RCIB Insurance, we’ve been able to get two high quality drivers onboard for the new season. We’ve also been able to attract a number of other backers, such as Carbon Clean, who share our excitement about the year ahead.
“Although testing has been limited because of the way in which the deal came together, we’ve shown solid pace on track and it will be interesting to see where we stand this weekend.
“Both Rory and Tom have quickly got to grips with the car and I think it would be a good start for us if they could both bring home some points this weekend. The key for us at this stage is to gather as much data as we can so we can make the cars quicker and move forwards, but I’m optimistic about a good start to the season.”
Pictures - Marc Waller