West Surrey Racing team boss Dick Bennetts has admitted that the current economic climate is making things tough as the defending Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship title winners look to finalise plans for the year ahead.
The team confirmed today that it has signed Andy Neate for the 2010 campaign but has yet to agree a deal that will see Colin Turkington return to defend his title.
While the team has made no secret of its desire to retain the services of the Northern Irishman, Bennetts admitted it was proving to be difficult to find a replacement title sponsor after RAC elected to scale back its sponsorship for the year ahead.
“We won the championship last year and we have yet to secure a title sponsor,” he said. “It just goes to show how tough it is out there!”
“We are very pleased to continue our Technology Partnerships with Ceravision and Castrol, but also welcome on board eBay Motors as a new partner for the 2010 BTCC.
“With incredible ITV coverage, and big crowds that the BTCC attracts, it's a very good platform for all fields of industry to use as a marketing tool.”
While Turkington has yet to re-sign with the team, he was on hand to test the team's BMW 320si at Thruxton last week, with Neate and Clio Cup racer Alex MacDowall also on track.
“It was wet and greasy early on and Andy did a good job just building up his pace and keeping out of trouble,” Bennetts said of the test. “In the next two sessions he hardly got a clear lap because of the sheer number of cars on track and numerous red flags. We'd just put new rubber on in the last session when it started snowing, so Andy never had the opportunity to set a representative time”
“Colin was there mainly to help Andy, try out a new set-up and to get the rust out of his system, not having driven since last October. Typical Colin performance really; he was on the pace within three laps when it was wet and then set a very competitive time on just one new tyre run.
“Alex did very well in the limited time he spent in the car. He set a very good time on used tyres, however, like Andy, didn't get a run on new rubber because of the snow.”
Funding permitting, WSR could run as many as three cars this season.