Defending champions West Surrey Racing have announced the signing of Andy Neate for the 2010 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season.
Neate, who made one outing in the 2005 season finale at the wheel of a Vauxhall Astra Coupe, will make his return to racing after an accident that almost cost him his career in 2008.
That accident, at the start of the Britcar 24 Hours at Silverstone, saw Neate suffer a broken neck and other multiple injuries, with the 35-year-old spending two weeks in a coma in hospital before being released to start his long recovery.
Neate had planned to move into the BTCC last year with the team before the accident occurred but has now recovered enough to conclude a deal which will see him drive one of WSR's BMW 320sis this season.
“For me as a pure racing spectacle it doesn't get any more exciting on track as touring cars," Neate said. "It's always been my dream to one day make it to the BTCC with a top team, it's something that I've aspired to do my entire racing career. I've raced in a number of single make tin top championships and enjoyed a lot of success along the way; includeing taking the title in the hard fought Fiesta series. With all this experience in my locker I'm not shy to this type of hard door to door racing and cannot wait to line up on the grid with some of the best touring car drivers in the world.
"I do not underestimate the level of competition and quality in the BTCC field and acknowledge I've got a huge learning curve ahead of me; however I'm not on the grid to make up the numbers and just for something to one day tell the grandkids.
"I've got one of the plum seats on the grid in the WSR BMW so I owe Dick Bennetts and the team a huge deal of gratitude for giving me this opportunity. I see this as a multi-year plan and I hope to develop as a touring car driver over the coming season and beyond."
Team boss Bennetts was pleased to welcome Neate into the team and said his new driver only had to look to the success of 2009 title winner Colin Turkington to set his aims for the year ahead.
"We have known Andy for several years and were planning to run him in 2009, however due to his unfortunate accident in a Britcar event at the end of 2008, we were unable to," he said. "We are now very pleased to see that he's made a remarkable recovery and is now ready to step up to the BTCC, which is the biggest and best motorsport championship in the UK.
"Andy has watched Colin progress from Ford Fiesta champion to become the 2009 BTCC champion with WSR, so as a former Fiesta champion, he has set his goal to try and emulate Colin's success."