The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship announced a record entry list ahead of its 2011 season today with the highest number of different makes and car models entered for the series in the two decades it has run as an all two-litre formula.
Ten makes of car representing Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Proton, SEAT, Toyota, Vauxhall and Volkswagen will all feature on this year's flourishing grid. Out of those, 13 different models will be gearing up for action including: Audi A4, BMW 320si, Chevrolet Cruze, Chevrolet Lacetti, Ford Focus, 'Global' Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Honda Integra, Proton Gen-2, SEAT Leon, Toyota Avensis, Vauxhall Vectra and VW Golf.
This beats the previous record (nine makes and 11 models in 1993) seen in the BTCC's two-litre era that began in 1991.
In total, 27 entries have been received for the 2011 season, the first event of which is staged at the Brands Hatch circuit in Kent in ten days' time on Sunday 3 April.
Notably, the Audi, Proton and Toyota entries are all for cars built to the BTCC's dynamic new Next Generation Touring Car technical regulations which provide dramatically reduced costs and have led directly to four new teams alone joining the BTCC for 2011.
Official 'factory' teams from Chevrolet and Honda also star on the entry list, while Toyota GB are funding an engine development programme for customer teams running its Avensis to the new NGTC regulations.
Further underlining the BTCC's importance to manufacturers as an ideal sporting arena in which to showcase products, the Ford Motor Company has chosen the championship to debut the competition version of its new 2011 Focus model, in the hands of the independent Team Aon squad.
Of the 27 entries, 17 drivers contested 2010's BTCC. They include the top five in last year's championship including the implacable rivals, reigning Champion Jason Plato and Matt Neal, the latter's team-mate Gordon Shedden, Tom Onslow-Cole – who has made a shock move to the tiny AmD-run VW Golf team – and Independent Champion Tom Chilton.
Of the new faces, two are reigning champions stepping up from the hotly-contested Ginetta GT Supercup and Renault Clio Cup categories that support the BTCC on race weekends - namely Frank Wrathall and Dave Newsham.
“I'm very, very proud about the way our 2011 season is taking shape,” said BTCC boss Alan Gow. “The fact our entry list includes ten different makes and 13 different models of cars – a record for the BTCC in the two-litre era – in what still remains a challenging financial period is, quite frankly, incredible. The BTCC is (by far) the most watched form of national motor racing in the UK – and for us to continue to reach new heights is terrific news for British motor sport as a whole. Full credit must go to all of our teams, drivers and sponsors for their incredible commitment.