While SEAT may have withdrawn from the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship, a diesel-car will feature on the grid this season after AFM Racing revealed a late entry into the season-opener at Brands Hatch.
The team, which debuted in 2007 before sitting out last year, will return with its BMW 120d for the opening rounds of the new campaign, with Nick Leason set to make his first appearance in the car.
The team had intended to run two cars for Leason and Rick Kerry – who raced the diesel-powered machine during 2007 – but the current economic climate instead left the team battling to secure the funds required for a single-car entry for the season ahead.
Indeed, on two occasions during the winter, the team looked set to have secured the backing required for the new campaign only to see the deal fall through, with the old adage of third time lucky applying as the funding has now been put in place for the start of the season – although Leason admits more will be needed as the season goes on.
“We are not running on a shoestring budget, more like a flip flop budget! “ he said. “The whole team are just so happy to be out there this weekend and being part of the BTCC. We just hope we get our bit of luck, achieving some positive results to make the weekend worthwhile for the fans and everyone that has supported us so far.
"Team AFM had always known it would be a hard mountain to climb, but knew we could make it work. With the loss of sponsorship, the team were even more determined to get out for Brands, as we knew we had a smaller sponsor coming on board later in May. Hopefully this will be enough to enable us to continue till more funding is found. Finally there was a welcome break from an old colleague, who was willing to support us, enabling our entry into BTCC for the first couple of rounds. It's a shame we lost our main sponsor, but to be fair it's happening to a few teams.
“We would have liked to have finished developing the car fully before venturing on track, but need to be seen racing. It's a bit like the chicken and egg situation, when potential sponsors don't commit support until we are seen racing. We would have preferred to complete our development, then start racing.”
Kerry will act as team principal for the car as he hands over driving duties to his partner.