The 2007 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship looks set to be one of the most exciting of recent seasons, with a bumper field and numerous drivers capable of fighting for honours.

Ahead of the opening rounds of the season at Brands Hatch this weekend, we look over the 'runners and riders' for the season ahead...


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Drivers: Dave Pinkney, Richard Marsh Car: Alfa Romeo 156 Spec: S2000 They say:
"We have got two brand new cars with new chassis and new engines, it's all brand new. It's hugely important as anything that was learned on the WTCC circus last year will be on these two cars that are coming. Alfa Romeo will be watching us to consider possibly coming in as a works team in 2008 so the pressure is huge. This car, compared to the Honda, will be the latest spec and we expect to be fighting for podiums" - Pinkney We say:
With Alfa Romeo watching on, there is little doubt that the newly formed team needs to perform well during the coming season with its 2007 specification machines. Pinkney showed his pace last season in the Integra, while Marsh will relish the chance to drive a competitive car for the first time in his BTCC career. A lack of running means the early rounds could be tough, but as the year progresses, the 156 should be a points contender with the odd podium possible.

AFM Racing:

Drivers: Rick Kerry Car: BMW 120d Spec: S2000 They say:
"We've had a real battle just to get everything ready for Brands Hatch. We know that the car has potential but it is still very early days, so people shouldn't expect too much from us just yet. We could have missed the first meeting and focused on Rockingham, but after all the hard work we have put in, we want to be there. We are just treating this weekend as a big test session and aren't setting ourselves any big goals, but if we can not finish last then that would be great!" - Kerry We say:
Taking on the development of a new diesel car would be a big task for a works team, so Kerry and his little team should be commended for taking on the challenge. With a small budget, things will be far from easy, but if enthusiasm scored points, Kerry would be right at the front. One to watch with interest as the season progresses as the team attempts to move its way up the grid.

Arkas Racing:

Drivers: Erkut Kizilirmak Car: Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch Spec: BTC They say:
"The reason why I am here for this competition is the high level of competition and I am very happy to be here. It's just the beginning, the following seasons I will be more competitive. For this season I want to keep a low profile and keep out of trouble and try to finish the races - that is my aim" - Erkut We say:
A learning year for Erkut means he is keeping his feet on the ground, but with an experienced outfit in Techspeed overseeing the programme, the Turkish champion has a good package with which he will continue his BTCC education. While the Sport Hatch may have won its final race, Erkut could score the odd points finish during the year ahead if things go his way.

BTC Racing:

Drivers: Chris Stockton, Nick Leason Car: Lexus IS200 Spec: S2000 They say:
"Going into a Super 2000 car you still want to do the best job possible. The good news is that I know have a team-mate, it's a bigger team and a lot of work has gone into the car so there are some big expectations. They have done a lot of work over the winter months and we should be there or thereabouts. I think we will shock a few of the big boys" - Leason We say:
With only a few changes, the ex-SpeedEquipe cars were vastly improved in the last two rounds of 2006 and will hope to impress during 2007. A lack of running could work against the team in the early stages of the year, but two enthusiastic drivers and an ever improving car should see BTC running towards the fringes of the top ten by the end of the season.

J-Team Motorsport with Tech Tuning:

Drivers: Jim Pocklington Car: BMW 320i E46 Spec: S2000 They say:
"Hopefully we can develop it a little bit and we can make our mark. We have to be realistic and we know we aren't going to be running at the front with the age of the machinery, my age and the budget we have, but hopefully we can make a mark at the back. Now there are so many contenders in the BTCC, I feel that we are always going to get a race somewhere down the field, even if it is at the back. Hopefully it will be mid-way down the field and realistically it isn't going to be in the top ten but from there down there is a good array of people and machinery that we are going to have a race with. So I feel good about that" - Pocklington We say:
With an outdated car, J-Team will find the going tough in terms of results - but Pocklington admits that he will be happy to be out racing in the BTCC for the first time. While points finishes aren't too likely, the team is a welcome addition to the grid and Pocklington seems set to be one of the characters of the 2007 campaign.

Jackson Motorsport:

Drivers: Mat Jackson Car: BMW 320si E90 Spec: S2000 They say:
"I feel confident we can at least give them a run for their money. The BMW is a proven winner on the world stage and it will be interesting to see how the car fares against the SEATs, Hondas and Vauxhalls now it's on the Dunlop tyres that are used in the BTCC. I'm not making any predictions as you just never know, but my aim will be to avoid any silly incidents, score well and come away in the championship hunt" - Jackson We say:
Jackson brings a big reputation into the BTCC and is a real dark horse for the upcoming campaign. Testing has gone well and the SEAT Cupra champion is one of the most talented drivers joining the grid. The only question is whether the team can get the best from the WTCC title winning car. If they can, then a fine year lies ahead.

Kartworld Racing:

Drivers: Jason Hughes, Fiona Leggate Car: MG ZS Spec: BTC They say:
"As we have known the cars for a few years and know it is capable of being up there, that was why we stayed with it, as we can look at what is good and what is not amongst the new cars and maybe switch to S2000 for next season. But we might as well stick with what we know and it should go well in the first few rounds, Brands and Rockingham for sure, and we know it goes well at places like Knockhill. There are just a few circuits where it maybe isn't as good but we can get round that" - Hughes We say:
On its day, the MG should still be capable of some decent results with Hughes having picked up some strong finishes in recent seasons. Leggate will take some time to get used to the car but as the year goes on, the pair should be regularly finishing amongst the leading BTC runners and could pick up some points.

Motorbase Performance:

Drivers: Gareth Howell, Matt Allison Car: SEAT Toledo Spec: S2000 They say:
"It's been hard work and a steep learning curve, but I'm absolutely over the moon with the work everyone has put in to get us here. I think we've got two excellent drivers. It's a very young team compared to some. I think Gareth's a star that hasn't has his chance and Matt is a very talented young driver. I'd love a podium of some sort at Brands, but I really don't know how realistic that is. We just need to make a good start and go from there!" - David Bartrum We say:
With proven cars and two good young drivers, Motorbase will be there or thereabouts throughout the year. A full blown title bid might be too much to expect in only the second season in the series, but both Howell and Allison - despite the latter's rookie status - are more than capable of taking to the top step of the podium.

Quest Racing:

Drivers: Eoin Murray Car: Alfa Romeo 156 Spec: S2000 They say:
"I'd like to think top six results are achievable but I need to see what every one else's car can do. There so many quick cars and drivers this year and it's going to be tougher than in 2006. My Alfa isn't 2007-spec like the new A-Tech cars, but there's not that much difference and I should have a few updates in time for Rockingham. I also think that there's no team on the grid that could prepare the Alfa better than Quest so I'm very happy to be sticking with them" - Murray We say:
Murray is a strong driver and the Alfa Romeo is a good car - as was shown on occasions last season - but the small budget could be a hindrance. Although he may have to hold back on occasions, Murray will be a regular points finisher during 2007 and will add to his growing reputation.

SEAT Sport UK:

Drivers: Jason Plato, Darren Turner, TBA Car: SEAT Leon Spec: S2000 They say:
"We definitely have to win all three Championships this year. SEAT is the classiest manufacturer on the grid by a long way; it does things with a certain style which is the measure of the paddock. We won the Manufacturers' Championship last year and now we want the Teams' and the Drivers' titles this year too. I think it's fair to say that if I hadn't made a few mistakes last year, and the team hadn't also made a few mistakes, we could have won the Drivers' Championship as well as the Manufacturers'. We did have our fair share of bad luck along the way but had those mistakes not been made it would have been very close. If we perform at the level that I know we can perform at, and I expect us to perform at, then I know without a doubt that we can make a clean sweep and have a tremendous year" - Plato We say:
This is the season for SEAT, who start the season with the continuity that all their rivals lack. Two of the best drivers and one of the best cars mean they are many peoples favourites for title honours and both Plato and Turner will be regular podium finishers and title challengers during the year ahead.


Drivers: Simon Blanckley Car: Honda Integra Spec: BTC They say:
"I'm very much looking forward to it. I think it's a bit daunting to be honest and is certainly a step-up from what I'm used to championship wise. I've raced Supertourers in the past which are a bit quicker in a straight line but these things take some driving so I'll have to learn how to drive it! I think, if we can get into the top half or top ten then it would be absolutely fantastic but it won't happen in the early races" - Blanckley We say:
Another driver looking to have some fun on his BTCC debut, Blanckley will benefit from the experience of Graham Hathway Engineering in running the Honda Integra. Everyone knows what the car is capable of, and it now remains to be seen if Blanckley can achieve his aim of breaking into the top ten - it could happen during the season if things fall his way.

Team AirCool:

Drivers: Adam Jones Car: SEAT Toledo Spec: S2000 They say:
"There are a lot of cars on the grid and I don't think the BTCC has had this many cars at the start of the year for a long time. At Brands Hatch, a short circuit with a lot of cars, if we can have a good qualifying session and come out of the three races unscathed with some points then I'll be more than happy with that. I don't know how competitive it will be yet. But on paper, I think we can hopefully be the dark horse" - Jones We say:
Although only doing seven of the ten rounds, AirCool could be a real dark horse for some podium finishes during the season ahead. Jones is one of the more under-rated drivers on the grid and few teams have been as successful with the SEAT as WTCC Independents' title winners GR Asia - a package that should surprise.


Drivers: Martyn Bell Car: BMW 320i E46 Spec: S2000 They say:
"The test in Spain could well have changed our season. It may seem to have cost us a lot of money now, but by the middle of the year we will see how it has been money well spent. Kelvin has really helped us to dial the car in and we now have a good car to work with, I'm very pleased that we have him onboard. I'm full of confidence for the season ahead, more confident than I've ever been and I think we are further on with our preparations than many of the others" - Bell We say:
The input of former works driver Kelvin Burt should help the team make moves forward, while Bell has worked hard over the winter to get both himself and his car in shape for the coming season. While a strong grid means points finishes won't be easy, the chances of Bell finishing in the top ten on merit are stronger than a year ago.

Team Eurotech:

Drivers: Mike Jordan Car: Honda Integra Spec: BTC They say:
"I can't wait to get stuck in. We've had our learning year and now it's time to get our sleeves rolled up. The car is sitting there ready to go and I can't wait to get on with it. It's been a long winter and now I just want to get out there and get racing!" - Jordan We say:
He may be running older machinery, but Jordan will be a regular contender during the season ahead. Even when things go wrong, the former GT racer is smiling, and his Integra will continue to be a thorn in the side of the bigger teams.

Team Halfords:

Drivers: Matt Neal, Gordon Shedden Car: Honda Civic Spec: S2000 They say:
"I think the others should write me off at their peril. I'd have to put myself down as a bit of an outsider at the moment because we've got a brand new car with very little mileage on it, but on the other side of the coin it looks like a fantastic motor so I could argue both cases. The potential in this car is massive - it's just up to us to get it out" - Neal We say:
The Civic is a totally unproven machine going into the new season and the team has worked hard to even have two cars ready for the first round of the year. Dynamics have beaten the odds in the past but it could be tough for Neal to make it three titles in a row during 2007. However, if the team can hit the ground running, then both he and Shedden shouldn't be discounted in the race for honours.

Team RAC:

Drivers: Colin Turkington, Tom Onslow-Cole Car: BMW 320si E90 Spec: S2000 They say:
"I'm confident we can challenge from the first meeting. This is a very strong car and is a proven race winner. We want to hit the ground running at Brands Hatch and go for podiums and wins straight away. It won't be easy by any means and the competition will probably be even stronger than it was last year. It's not only the manufacturers you need to worry about, there are some strong Independents' and it will be a real fight. We just need to be consistent and give 100 per cent and we can't be far away with that" - Turkington We say:
A new driver and a new car starts a new era for WSR, although Turkington returns to lead the RAC backed outfit. Both drivers are capable of fighting at the front and Dick Bennetts and his team will be amongst those fighting for the title.

TH Motorsport:

Drivers: John George Car: Honda Integra Spec: BTC They say:
"The car is really good and handles infinitely better than the Peugeot ever did. It's very strong and very powerful, the gearbox is very strong and it handles in a totally different way to the Peugeot. Realistically, I'd like to finish one race on each weekend inside the top ten and we'll go from there. In the first few rounds, with everyone developing new cars, I think it will be a lottery and we'll have to see" - George We say:
George is thrilled to be back in the BTCC and will be more competitive than when he 'cooked on gas' back in 2004. Like Blanckley, he has the car to do the job and the question now is whether George can achieve his aim of breaking into the top ten. It might not happen every weekend like he hopes, but the results will come on occasions.

VX Racing:

Drivers: Fabrizio Giovanardi, Tom Chilton Car: Vauxhall Vectra Spec: S2000 They say:
"I think the team has done a really good job over the winter because building a new car is not easy. I tried to give my experience to avoid losing time getting things wrong as I have lots of experience with the brakes, and gearbox and I could tell them what I thought, but the car has been built by the team and I think that they have done a great job. If I look at the last part of 2006, my performance was higher than at the start of the year and I hope to start this season in the same position I ended the last one. I won races and was close to winning others and I think that from the beginning of the new season that I will be fast" - Giovanardi We say:
Having lost the manufacturers title, 2007 is a big year for Vauxhall with the new Vectra. The initial pace of the car looks good and with two drivers who are more than capable, a return to the top could be in the offing. Wins should come more often during the new season which the team is tagging 'a new era'.