Following successful tests at both Brands Hatch and Snetterton, Tech-Speed Motorsport has confirmed that it will run a pair of Chevrolet Cruzes in the 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, to be driven by fans' favourite Paul O'Neill and John George.
Tech-Speed heads into the new season off the back of a stunning 2010 campaign, during which it continually punched above its weight running older BTC-spec Honda Integras. However, it will now compete in 2011 with the cars that were raced by the works Chevrolet team last year, and which carried Jason Plato to his second BTCC crown.
Title sponsorship from mobile phone retailer Go Mobile – marking the company's first full year of BTCC involvement, having joined Tech-Speed in an associate capacity midway through 2010 – sees the team enter into the new season under the GoMobileUK.com with Tech-Speed banner. Previous title backer Sunshine.co.uk remains on-board as a team sponsor for 2011.
“It's good to be working with Go Mobile for the year ahead and also to be continuing our relationship with Sunshine.co.uk after the success we have had in recent years,” said Tech-Speed chief Marvin Humphries. “It might take us a little while to get used to the new cars, but we are optimistic about our chances for the year ahead and are looking forward to working with RML, who have enjoyed huge success with the Cruze both in Britain and in the World Touring Car Championship.
“It's too early to say how we will perform during the season until we see where everyone is, but with a proven race-winning car, we hope to be in contention near the front of the field.”
For former Vauxhall factory star O'Neill, 2011 represents his best chance to return to the top step of the podium for the first time since 2003 after securing a number of top three finishes over the past two seasons. The 31-year-old's agreement to compete with GoMobileUK.com with Tech-Speed has been made possible thanks to continued personal backing from Sunshine.co.uk, which has purchased the car that took Plato to glory last year in order to allow him to launch his own championship challenge.
“I'm over-the-moon that the deal has finally been done,” he enthused. “In testing, the Chevrolet has been everything I expected from a title-winning car and now I just need to make the most of the time available in the car before we get to Brands Hatch for the season-opener.
“There is a lot of potential for us to explore in the Cruze, but this season we have to be targeting consistent top six finishes and race wins. We don't have the big budgets of some of the top teams when it comes to the overall championship, but there is no doubt that my sights are set firmly on fighting for the Independents' title to reward Tech-Speed, Go Mobile and Sunshine.co.uk for putting the deal together.”
Team-mate George will go into the new season armed with the most competitive package he will have driven since making his BTCC debut back in 2004. Having been one of the most improved drivers on the grid last year with a series of impressive performances, the Cornishman – 51 yesterday – says his target for the year ahead is to become a consistent points-scorer and to aid the team in its quest for both overall and Independents' honours.