LPG and bio-ethanol have both been embraced by the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship in recent seasons and now diesel looks set to be added to the list of alternative fuels raced in the series after Rick Kerry confirmed that diesel is the fuel of choice for his debut in the BTCC in 2007.

The Kumho BMW champion will field a BMW 120d under the AFM Racing banner in his first year in the BTCC and revealed his plans to Crash.net...

Q:
Rick, we spoke to you about a month or so ago and since then, a lot of things have gone on. Just bring us up to speed on where we are at the moment...

Rick Kerry:
We've received the motorsport kit from BMW and at the moment we are about 70 per cent of the way through the build of the car. We've now formed our own team, AFM Racing, and we are going to run the car from here in Ipswich with the newly formed team. We've sent all the entry forms off for the BTCC, the budget is in place and we are moving forward.

Q:
You were struggling not to tell us what the car will run on last time we spoke to you, but now you can tell the world...

Rick Kerry:
That's right. We can now reveal that we will be running a diesel car. We are hoping to be the first diesel to run and unless something else comes in, then that should be the case. So for us, it's the BMW 120d that has been used in the VLN series and has raced in the 24 Hours of Dubai and at the Nurburgring.

Q:
We've seen alternative fuels in the BTCC, with Mardi Gras running LPG a few years back and then bio-ethanol coming into the championship in recent seasons so why did you choose diesel? Was it because the 120 is a car that has been running on diesel before?

Rick Kerry:
It was a bit of a strange one as we never set out to run a diesel car. We were looking to run the 120 as I told you before, as we saw it as being more nimble and better suited to British circuits and we knew that BMW made a motorsport package for the car. It was only when we looked into it that we realised that the package was a diesel. It's been raced against WTCC spec machinery in the Procar Series and has held its own fairly well despite being early in its development.

Q:
What do you see as being the pros and cons of running a diesel engine? Some people would look at the torque of the diesel engine as being a possible plus but how did you weigh up the pros and cons?

Rick Kerry:
BMW are putting a lot of research and development and a lot of time and effort into the diesel and Hans Stuck has been doing a lot of development on the vehicle. When we looked at it, it is something new that nobody has done in the BTCC and if you look at the cars on the road, more and more are diesel and diesels are becoming more developed. With the BMW 3 Series for example, the two litre diesel engine is quite a bit quicker than the petrol engine and it seems to be the way that things are going. The Le Mans 24 Hour winner is a diesel and we see that this is something at the beginning of its development that could be more common in the future.

Q:
Do you feel that running a diesel will lead to you needing to adapt your driving style at all?

Rick Kerry:
I think it will be a bit different. I also have to go from right hand drive to left hand drive as well as going from a pretty much standard M3 that I raced before to this. I'm going to have a wide power band range but it will be down at the bottom rather than at the other end of the scale like it would be with a petrol engine. I think there will be parts of the circuit where I'll be quicker and there will be parts of the circuit where the petrol engines will be quicker.

Q:
You said last time how excited you were about racing in the BTCC. Does the fact that you have such an interesting programme that will get a lot of attention from the media and from the fans raise the level of excitement that you are feeling going into the season?

Rick Kerry:
I still can't believe it is going to be true and I guess I'll believe it when the lights go out for the first time. It is still hard to get my head round as I never set out to be a British Touring Car driver. I think the diesel will create a lot of interest, it is difficult to get established in a series without having huge financial backing and we have to get out there and try and create something different for sponsors and we think that the diesel will help that.

Q:
You said the car is about 70 per cent there in terms of build, so when do you hope to hit the track? Is there a schedule in place?

Rick Kerry:
We are waiting for some parts that should arrive here from Munich on Tuesday [today]. The shocks should arrive soon and because the 120 uses the same suspension as the E90 WTCC car, the set-up should be similar. We've gone for the shocks I have bit of history with which is Moton and it's the same set-up that Andy Priaulx had and the person who helped developed his car is helping with ours. The car will then get towards being complete and we really want to be at the media day at Rockingham and I think we will be there even if the car isn't 100 per cent complete. It would be nice to have a shakedown first so we can do some testing in the afternoon and see how the car compares.

We don't want to get there driving the car for the first time and go out onto the circuit and have problems, which on a new car can happen. We're hoping we'll be on the circuit before the media day and I think we need to do quite a bit of testing before Brands, but we realise that time is running out and the time factor is the thing that we are currently fighting against.

Pics credit: Matt Woods

Comments

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment