Defending champions RML Silverline-Chevrolet have confirmed their participation in the 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC), with the returning partnership on the driving front of ever-popular tin-top legend Jason Plato and rising young star Alex MacDowall.
The pair will get their hands on the 2010 FIA World Touring Car Championship-winning Chevrolet Cruze for the battle ahead – set to rev into life with the Brands Hatch curtain-raiser over the weekend of 2-3 April – with the full livery due to be officially unveiled on BTCC media day at Silverstone next week. However, following a positive test behind the wheel of his new contender around Brands' short Indy layout, Plato is bullish about his prospects of adding a third series crown to his glittering CV.
“I'm delighted to once again be working with Silverline Chevrolet and RML,” enthused the man currently tied atop the BTCC records table with Andy Rouse on 60 triumphs apiece. “The team proved last year that it could provide the hardware to win the championship and, with a newer and more advanced development of the already incredible Chevrolet Cruze to campaign with, I expect we'll be in for a dramatic and exciting season.
“Will I win the championship again? I wouldn't be here if I didn't think it was possible – but there are some other good teams out there who have come on in leaps and bounds since last year, meaning we're in for one of the most competitive seasons ever. That's great news for fans of the best racing series in the UK, and for the drivers who compete in it. It's going to be a thriller.”
Having already ticked off his maiden pole position and podium finish with the team in 2010 en route
to eleventh spot in the final standings, meanwhile, series sophomore MacDowall is now palpably eager to achieve the next milestone in his burgeoning BTCC career with his breakthrough victory, too.
“Last year was a big learning curve for me,” the 20-year-old acknowledged. “I achieved some great results and in 2011 I'm confident I can really build on that and achieve my first BTCC win, especially with a car as good as the Cruze, a team as professional as RML and a team-mate as experienced as Jason to work alongside.”
“The 2011 season will be a very exciting one for RML as we return to defend our titles in the BTCC, WTCC and Le Mans Series,” concurred RML CEO Ray Mallock. “Looking ahead to the BTCC, we welcome continued support from Silverline, Chevrolet UK and ECM as we enter with the ex-WTCC 2010 Cruzes this year – which are, of course, proven championship-winners on the world stage.
“I've no doubt that we are in for a tough battle to defend our title, however I am confident that with such a committed team at RML and with Jason and Alex on-board, we can achieve our goal of championship success with both the drivers' and manufacturers' titles.”
“Silverline are delighted to confirm our continued partnership with Chevrolet and RML for the coming BTCC season,” added Silverline director Darrell Morris. “Last year we had the perfect end to a thrilling season, with Jason clinching the championship ahead of stiff competition. We fully expect the coming season to be just as competitive and just as exciting, but we're confident we can bring home the championship title once again in 2011 and are raring to get back on the grid for the first race. Let battle commence!''
“In 2011, Chevrolet celebrates its centenary year and, right from the start, racing has been part of the brand's DNA,” concluded the American manufacturer's UK managing director, Mark Terry. “Having won the drivers' championship in our first full year – a truly remarkable achievement – we're back for more in 2011.
“As a platform from which to generate interest and support for our range of fabulous new cars, the BTCC is a perfect partner, and I look forward once again to seeing the Cruze fend off its rivals on-track. We've a great team and a brilliant driver line-up – it's going to be a fabulous season, with plenty of action for fans both trackside and watching on the television.”