The HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship has revealed its entry list for the 2009 season, featuring 21 confirmed entries but some notable absentees.
Jason Plato, Mat Jackson and Tom Onslow-Cole, all of whom won races last year, currently haven't signed up for the new season although with a couple of weeks remaining before the season opener at Brands Hatch, the trio could still secure their place on the grid for the start of the season.
The entry is headed by defending champion Fabrizio Giovanardi who again spearhead the Vauxhall challenge, with Matt Neal and Andrew Jordan alongside. Team RAC and Airwaves BMW are expected to be amongst Vauxhall's biggest challengers, while Team Dynamics – now with a confirmed line-up of Gordon Shedden and David Pinkney – will also hope to challenge.
Tempus Sport and Team Aon have two cars entered but only one driver each in the shape of Harry Vaulkhard and Tom Chilton while Cartridge World Carbon Zero Racing joins the field with its SEAT Leons.
Newcomers to the field come in the shape of Jonathan Adam as he joins Airwaves, while Liam McMillian will run his own Maxtreme outfit. Martin Johnson will step up from the Clio Cup with a Vauxhall Astra Coupe run by Boulevard Team Racing. Paul O'Neill also returns to the grid with Team sunshine.co.uk, while Dan Eaves is back with the Cartridge World outfit.
“Of course the current economic climate is also putting our sport through a very tough time, for everyone and at all levels. So it makes the entry of 21 cars, which is only a couple down on last years average grid size, particularly pleasing and impressive. I'm immensely proud of every entrant we have this year… there wouldn't be a single team that didn't go through a huge effort to put together their BTCC programme. In my book, that already makes them all 'winners'.
“Yet the competitiveness and professionalism of the BTCC in 2009 remain the envy of many other high profile forms of our sport. With six different marques represented, the variety on our grid is awesome. We also welcome four new teams into our paddock – among them Tempus Sport which will field the very latest specification Chevrolet Lacetti – plus big new team title sponsors such as Airwaves and also Aon with its very exciting Ford Focus project.
“Should Fabrizio Giovanardi achieve an unbroken run of three titles he will have thoroughly deserved it for the opposition is mighty – similarly if anyone stops him for they will have beaten arguably one of the very best touring car drivers the world has ever seen.
“In recent times the BTCC has proved itself as sound career choice for young drivers and I greatly look forward to seeing new talent, such as Liam MacMillan, Jonathan Adam and Andrew Jordan – who has now joined reigning champion outfit VX Racing – pushing to make a name for themselves.