HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship boss Alan Gow has praised the entire field for the way in which is battled through a 'bloody hard year' to ensure a 'sensational' season for the series.

Despite being faced with the most difficult economic situation for a number of years, the series continued on a upward trend in 2009, with increased spectator numbers, strong grids and a TV deal with ITV which saw the BTCC - and its support series' - receive well over 100 hours of coverage during the course of the year.

The fight for the title went all the way to the 30th and final race of the season at Brands Hatch before Colin Turkington managed to secure his maiden championship at the expense of Jason Plato and Fabrizio Giovanardi and Gow admitted that the whole paddock could be proud of the way it had battled through the 2009 campaign to provide fans with a memorable season of racing.

"This was going to be a terrible year," official series website BTCC.net quoted the Australian as saying in his speech during the annual Night of Champions awards ceremony. "We were in the midst of the worst recession we will probably ever witness, things were looking really bleak and we would struggle for competitor and spectator numbers. Or so the experts said...

"Look at what happened instead. Our TV broadcast figures reached new highs, our TV audience figures went up, our trackside spectator figures set new records and our grid numbers were up.

"Just as importantly, the excitement level in the championship was up. It was a fantastic title fight that culminated in that amazing last round in front of a record crowd. In short, we had a sensational year."

Gow added that the way in which the field had pulled together during 2009 was a sign of the continued strength of the series which he insisted could continue to weather the storm.

"We all know it was a bloody hard year," he said. "In these challenging economic times, teams and drivers had to do extraordinary things in order to pull their budgets together and keep their cars on the grid. For that I sincerely thank you because through it all you demonstrated your very deep commitment to this championship.

"Yes the economy will still challenge us all for a bit longer, but as we demonstrated this year the BTCC is such a strong and iconic championship that it can weather these storms a lot better than most."