Airwaves BMW has sprung what is indubitably the surprise of the 2010 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season ahead of the Brands Hatch finale next weekend, with the announcement that it is to field a third car alongside regular drivers Mat Jackson
and Steven Kane
– and you'll never guess who for...
Some say he is illegal in 17 US states and that he blinks horizontally, some say he's wanted by the CIA and that he sleeps upside down like a bat, and some say he gave up a cushty little number at the BBC
by revealing his identity in his new autobiography The Man in the White Suit
, but all we know is that he used to be called...The Stig.
Off the back of a blaze of publicity – both good and bad – of late, Ben Collins is to make his touring car debut with David Bartrum's outfit at the team's home circuit, and whilst the 35-year-old former Top Gear
star has never previously competed in the BTCC, he is familiar with the car, having track-tested a Motorbase Performance-run BMW 320si at Brands Hatch just under a year ago. He will next become acquainted with it on Friday during a test at Snetterton.
“It's fantastic news to be confirmed in the Airwaves BMW line-up, and I'm looking forward to my first outing in the BTCC which should be an action-packed finale for Britain's premier racing series,” enthused the man who will carry the #12 on his car in Kent. “I had a test with Motorbase Performance last year in the BMW, and they are clearly a highly-professional and highly-motivated team that I'm really keen to work with.”
In a career spanning some 15 years, Collins has competed in a wide range of categories, winning races along the way in F3 and British and FIA GT and most recently taking to the track in the Europe-based Le Mans Series at Silverstone in an RML-run Lola sportscar.
The Bristol-based ace has dovetailed his racing activities with work as a precision and stunt driver, with credits including doubling for Daniel Craig in the latest James Bond film Quantum of Solace
, and for Nicolas Cage in National Treasure: Book of Secrets
– and Bartrum is palpably thrilled to have recruited a driver of Collins' calibre to come on-board as Airwaves bids to overhaul Team Aon to clinch the independent teams' crown.
“We're delighted to be working with Ben again, or is it James Bond, I'm never really sure!” he quipped. “After he had a run in one of our BMWs at Brands Hatch last year, we tried to put something together for a full season, but it didn't quite come off...so we're glad it has for the final round. Ben is a great driver, and this is an excellent chance to see him mix it with the rest of the BTCC grid in an Airwaves BMW.
“It's also good for Motorbase to be running three competitive BTCC cars as well as six Porsche Carrera Cup cars – it will be a busy weekend for all of us, but what a fantastic way to end the season at our home circuit!”