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10 reasons why the 2014 BTCC season will be the best yet

Wednesday, January 29 2014

The 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season gets underway at Brands Hatch on 29/30 March, exactly two months from today (Wednesday). Here are ten reasons why it's set to be the most anticipated for several years:

1 - Full NGTC grid expected
One of the first announcements for the 2014 season came last year, with a new licence system aimed at encouraging a full grid of NGTC cars. Regular entries were given priority and licences can be lost through non-appearances. It looks increasingly likely that the aim will be realised too, with two-thirds of the field already confirmed.

2 - New teams
Amongst the new teams, United Autosports has caused the biggest stir. Headed by Zak Brown, who several years ago was being tipped as a potential successor to Bernie Ecclestone, the squad has gained an impressive reputation in GT racing. Its impending participation in the BTCC confirms the championship's strength. Meanwhile the additions of Robb Holland's Rotek team and Simon Belcher's Handy Motorsport shows just how busy the field will be in 2014.

3 - New drivers
United Autosports will be powering Glynn Geddie's BTCC debut. Success in GT racing at a young age - he won the British GT Championship in 2011 - makes him an exciting prospect for the future. Meanwhile the return of 1999 British F3 Champion Marc Hynes is as surprising as it is tantalising. Both deserve their places and it will be fascinating to see how they fare.

4 - New cars
There will be plenty of variety on the grid at Brands Hatch, and whilst the NGTC regulations have already provided a lot of different shapes, expect to see more this year. Cicely has the Mercedes A-Class, whilst staying on a German theme, Rob Austin's Audi A4s will be joined by Rotek's S3. But most fans will be looking out for the new works Hondas, with Team Dynamics having switched to the Civic Tourer - the first works BTCC estate car since the 1994 Volvos.

5 - More champions
Andrew Jordan joined the growing champions' club last October. With Colin Turkington expected to continue for a full assault on the title, they'll both be fighting Matt Neal, Jason Plato and Gordon Shedden for honours.

6 - The return of Alain Menu
Make that six former champions, for 1997 and 2000 winner Alain Menu recently confirmed that he'll be making his comeback this year. It's hard to know what to expect from him, but he's a class act, having won races on the world stage until very recently, and the VW Passat that he'll be driving impressed in Tom Onslow-Cole's hands last season.

7 - MG now the equal of Honda
MG already had a car to match, even beat Honda in 2013. On some weekends it was unstoppable, with Tordoff forming a harmonious partnership with Plato. If this was a match for the works Honda pair, then the addition of Hynes in a satellite car should counter Jordan too. Expect both squads to go head-to-head in 2014.

8 - More improved teams and potential champions
Are you thinking that with six champions on the grid, no-one else will get a look in? Think again. Expect Motorbase to bounce back from a tough 2013, given that they ended the year in much better shape. They have yet to announce their driving strength, but it's likely to be a strong one. WSR should have their line-up confirmed soon for a second year with the 1-Series, whilst amongst the others, Rob Austin is expecting to announce a second driver and have a much better handle on the Audi.

9 - Back to the full Oulton Park layout
One of the most anticipated rounds of the year will be at Oulton Park in June as the International layout will be used for the first time in years. The last occasion when BTCC drivers tackled the banked Shell Oils hairpin, the race was contested by Supertouring cars and they'll be back too, as the new Super Touring Trophy has been added to the support bill for the weekend. Expect BTCC legends John Cleland and Patrick Watts to be on the grid for that race, whilst it shouldn't take much for Tim Harvey to put his microphone down for half an hour.

10 - More still to come
The best reason of all? There's much more to come. Announcements from WSR and Motorbase are due, the latter of which has lost Aron Smith to Team BMR. They'll want a worthy replacement. Meanwhile there are rumours that another former champion is interested in a drive. Seven champions? That would be something to savour!

Tickets for the 2014 rounds at Brands Hatch Indy, Oulton Park, Snetterton and Brands Hatch GP are now on sale from £26 and you can find out more and order them by clicking the links for each circuit. Money-saving season passes are also available. Click here for more details.