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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Watson joins Toyota crew Speedworks

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As a BTCC rookie, the Northern Irishman received the 2023 version of the Jack Sears Trophy, the sub-division for drivers who’ve by no means scored an general BTCC podium earlier than the season. He scored two podium finishes with the Energy Maxed Racing Vauxhall Astra squad, in rain-affected races at Knockhill and Silverstone.

Now 29-year-old Watson has grow to be one-half of Speedworks’ two-car Toyota Gazoo Racing UK line-up. It will run alongside two an identical Corolla GR Sports activities entered beneath the LKQ Euro Automobile Elements with Synetiq banner, and for which Josh Cook was confirmed final week.

Watson is a part of the Mark Blundell-fronted MBP administration secure that additionally takes care of West Surrey Racing BMW star Jake Hill, and he was linked with a possible transfer to the Sunbury squad instead of Carrera Cup-bound veteran Stephen Jelley for a return to rear-wheel-drive competitors.

“After we first got here into the championship, Speedworks had been one of many folks we spoke to and had our eye on,” Watson instructed Autosport.

“However having my first 12 months at Energy Maxed was the appropriate place for me.

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“It was by Mark and Alex Watts [MBP managing director] and their crew that they obtained again in contact with Speedworks.

“When either side of the coin need to do it, it makes it a lot simpler for it to occur.

Andrew Watson, CarStore Energy Maxed Racing Vauxhall Astra

Photograph by: JEP / Motorsport Images

“We spoke to West Surrey in addition to Speedworks – they had been the 2 main contenders.

“However I believe, in a approach, that the Toyota being front-wheel drive was a consideration – I’ve learnt front-wheel drive now, and hopefully I can push ahead.”

Watson, like {Cook}, expects to get his fingers on the Toyota to start a testing programme in March.

“There’s nonetheless growth work occurring,” he stated. “We need to be certain we don’t rush that, and the crew are flat-out on that side.

“If all of the items come collectively, it needs to be an excellent 12 months.”

Watson additionally laughed when it was put to him that, as an ex-WEC racer, he would have dreamed of a Toyota Gazoo Racing seat.

“It’s all about being a part of the household,” he stated. “Our relationship with Toyota is de facto good.

Rory Butcher, Toyota GAZOO Racing UK Toyota Corolla GR Sport

Rory Butcher, Toyota GAZOO Racing UK Toyota Corolla GR Sport

Photograph by: JEP / Motorsport Images

“I might go so far as to say that it’s in all probability the most effective producer relationship on the grid.”

Speedworks chief Christian Dick stated: “It’s an actual coup to draw Andrew to the crew for 2024.

“Though he was under no circumstances a rookie within the wider motorsport sense when he joined the BTCC final 12 months, he was very new to each front-wheel drive and the distinctive type of racing within the sequence – however proper from the beginning, you’d have been hard-pressed to inform, so spectacular had been his efficiency, tempo and racecraft.

“We additionally noticed that the talents he acquired earlier in his profession allow him to adapt in a short time to any given state of affairs – a key attribute within the unpredictable world of the BTCC.

“He’s a particularly achieved racer and clearly a really particular expertise who seems to be destined for excellent issues within the championship. We are able to’t wait to get going!”

Speedworks is but to verify the second drivers for both of its TGRUK or LKQ line-ups, however is understood to be fielding an all-new quartet.

Of its three drivers from 2023, Rory Butcher has already announced a sabbatical from the BTCC, Ricky Collard is known to be switching to the British GT Championship, and George Gamble is linked with a return to sportscars.


Rory Butcher, Speedworks Motorsport Toyota

Rory Butcher, Speedworks Motorsport Toyota

Photograph by: JEP / Motorsport Images

The BTCC has lined up its official pre-season exams, which might be open freed from cost to spectators.

Testing kicks off on the Manufacturers Hatch Indy Circuit on 3 April, earlier than the lengthy trek north to Croft on 10 April.

The operating finishes at Donington Park on 16 April, which would be the BTCC Season Launch, and takes place simply shy of two weeks previous to the opening spherical of the championship on the identical venue on 27-28 April.

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