The 2007 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season looks set to be one of the most closely fought in recent seasons with a number of drivers capable of fighting for race victories over the course of the year.

Almost half of the 27 cars entered can realistically be classed as contenders for the coming season on an entry list that series director Alan Gow admits has exceeded his expectations.

Crash.net Radio caught up with Alan to look at the entry list, the TV deal and more - including the killer question of who would the boss put his money on for the season ahead...

Q:
Alan, how happy are you with the entry list assembled for the coming season?

Alan Gow:
It's a great entry list and has exceeded what I expected this season. I expected maybe 22 or 23 cars so to start with 27 is fantastic, although they obviously aren't all here today as teams are building cars late. It's a great entry with a great variety of cars and the part that interests me is that we have 21 S2000 cars and only six of the old BTC-spec cars. I never expected that kind of ratio.

Q:
How surprising was that for you, as some people would have thought that that switch would be more gradual as there may have only been a limited number of S2000 cars around?

Alan Gow:
Unfortunately motorsport is one of the sports where the doomsayers like to get involved. I expected around 16 Super 2000 cars with the rest being BTC, but everyone has stepped up to the plate. There are S2000 cars around and there are teams designing and building cars - like the Lexus, the Honda and Vauxhall. There are products around and people can buy cars if they wish.

Q:
How pleased are you with the variety as well. The first round of the WTCC features four different types of car but in the BTCC we have many more.

Alan Gow:
I think there are seven or eight different types of car, something like that, and it is good to see. It's the beauty of the regulations that you can build a car to local homologation - like the Vectra and the Civic - that wouldn't appear in the WTCC. I think it underlines the direction in which we have taken the championship in the past few years when we announced what we wanted to do - and it's worked.

Q:
You must also be pleased that there are probably more drivers on the grid who are capable of winning a race than drivers who can't win. We appear to have some real strength in depth for 2007.

Alan Gow:
I think it's fair to say that there are a dozen drivers or cars out that can win a race on their own merit, without any luck involved. Again, this underlines the strength in depth of the cars and equipment that they are using. They are very good drivers and those who have graduated from the Clio Championship and Cupra Cup have proven that they have the ability to do it and aren't just here to make up the numbers. They have got very good cars and Mat Jackson is a good example of that.

Q:
In your role as series director, and also as chairman of the MSA, how pleasing is it to see people like Mat Jackson, Matt Allison and Tom Onslow-Cole who have come through the junior formulas, making the step into the BTCC?

Alan Gow:
As far as the series is concerned, it is good that people can see it as a progression and realise that they can start in the lower formulas and move up. The important part is that the step from a Cupra Cup car into a BTCC car isn't that huge, either in costs or in the type or car it is. If you go back to the 1990s, the difference was millions and now it isn't. They have shown that the move can be made and that the jump isn't too big for people to make.

Q:
The TV package has been announced for 2007. We knew that Motors TV weren't going to be there anymore, but ITV have shown their commitment again and the BTCC will feature on a number of channels during the coming season. How happy are you with the package you've put together?

Alan Gow:
I'm really happy because it expands our coverage over and above where we have been before. We are now seen on four channels, the Motors TV coverage has been largely taken over by Setanta so people can sit and watch all of the days racing if they wish to and a lot of people had expressed disappointment that they wouldn't be able to watch the Clios, the Porsche and the FBMWs - and that has now been taken care of. As far as the BTCC is concerned, we are on all the platforms. We are on terrestrial, digital - both Freeview and digital, we have highlights and live coverage and there are tons of opportunities to watch the BTCC, more than ever before.

Q:
And how much of a commitment do you feel it is on the part of ITV that they are bringing Louise Goodman and Ted Kravitz over from their F1 coverage to present the BTCC programme?

Alan Gow:
That is what we said in our press release - it shows how they have expanded their commitment. They are bringing Ted and Louise over to help give the show some more gravitas. That can only be good for us.

Q:
What do you think is the biggest thing that fans can look forward to from the BTCC in 2007?

Alan Gow:
I think it will be totally unpredictable. There are so many new cars and we have seen from testing today that the Vauxhall is on the pace of the SEAT so far, so is the BMW. There is such a variety of cars as we mentioned before and that will bring the unpredictable racing. It's anyone's call at the moment.

Q:
We ask you this question every season and you always refuse to answer - but we'll try anyway. If you were a betting man, who would you put your money on for the title?

Alan Gow:
Ok, I'll answer this year. If I was a betting man, I would bet on the SEATs, because they should - in theory - be able to hit the ground running this year with a known car, they have all the data from last year and the continuity that none of the others teams have. They should be able to get early points in the bag before others maybe get their cars developed further. So I would put my money on the SEATs but I could be wrong.

Q:
The joys of the BTCC almost mean predictions count for nothing...

Alan Gow:
Exactly. Last year people said the SEATs were going to win and look what happened. As I said, just looking at testing today and how some of the cars are running and I don't know how secure my prediction is. Its going to be interesting because of the variety of cars and circuits we go to, we go from tight and twisty circuits like Brands Hatch Indy to the fast and flowing Thruxton and Rockingham - and that variety of circuits means that some cars are better suited to certain tracks than others are. That is what will put the cat amongst the pigeons.

Q:
One last thing before we wrap it up, the BTCC has been a pioneer in regards to alternative fuels in recent seasons with Mardi Gras on LPG and then a number of teams on bio-ethanol. This season we have diesel with Rick Kerry - how pleased are you to see his car coming into the series?

Alan Gow:
I think it's fantastic. I've been saying for years that I didn't know why someone hadn't done it and hats off to Rick - he is going to struggle and he is a pioneer. What's the old saying? 'Pioneers get lost and explorers get eaten by the natives' or something like that. He'll find it tough but he will get a lot of publicity from it. Again it shows that we have been open to people who want to run diesel or LPG or bio-fuels. There is a lot of talk of the green and environmental issues in motorsport and I'm proud that going back to 1993, we were the first championship to have catalytic converters as standard - and quite a lot of championships still don't have that. We have always been at the forefront of that kind of thing and have been open minded about it and this is another example of it. It will be interesting to see Rick develop that car, and I hope everyone gets right behind him.

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