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BTCC to embrace diesel with AFM entry

1 January 1901

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship is set to get its first diesel powered car after Rick Kerry confirmed that the BMW 120 he plans to campaign for his debut season will be powered by a diesel engine.

Kerry, who won the BMW Kumho Series last season, was originally set to enter the car with West Suffolk Racing but has now formed his own team – AFM Racing – to run the 120d, which has previously competed in the German based VLN series before being converted into Super 2000 specification for its BTCC debut.

“We can now reveal that we will be running a diesel car,” an excited Kerry told Crash.net. “We are hoping to be the first diesel to run and as far as I am aware – and unless something else comes in - then that should be the case. So for us, it's the BMW 120d that has been used in the VLN series and has raced in the 24 Hours of Dubai and at the Nurburgring.

“We've received the motorsport kit from BMW and at the moment we are about 70 per cent of the way through the build of the car. We've now formed our own team, AFM Racing, and we are going to run the car from here in Ipswich with the newly formed team. We've sent all the entry forms off for the BTCC, the budget is in place and we are moving forward.”

The 120d will be the first diesel car to compete in the BTCC, although a number of cars have previously run on alternative fuels in the BTCC – the majority on bio-ethanol during the last two years and Mardi Gras on LPG back in 2004.

However, Kerry admitted that he hadn't actually planned to campaign a car running on diesel and it was only when he looked into the package available from BMW for the 120 that he realised it would be running on something other than petrol.

“It was a bit of a strange one as we never set out to run a diesel car,” he said. “We were looking to run the 120, as I told you before, as we saw it as being more nimble and better suited to British circuits and we knew that BMW made a motorsport package for the car. It was only when we looked into it that we realised that the package was a diesel.

“BMW are putting a lot of research and development and a lot of time and effort into the diesel and Hans Stuck has been doing a lot of development on the vehicle. It is something new that nobody has done in the BTCC and if you look at the cars on the road, more and more are diesel and diesels are becoming more developed. With the BMW 3 Series for example, the two litre diesel engine is quite a bit quicker than the petrol engine and it seems to be the way that things are going. The Le Mans 24 Hour winner is a diesel and we see that this is something at the beginning of its development that could be more common in the future.”

With parts due to arrive from Germany this week to complete the car, Kerry will now look to get out on track testing for the start of the season, although he admitted that time would be the deciding factor as to when the car makes it first appearance on track.

“We really want to be at the media day at Rockingham and I think we will be there even if the car isn't 100 per cent complete,” Kerry continued. “It would be nice to have a shakedown first so we can do some testing in the afternoon and see how the car compares.

“We don't really want to get there driving the car for the first time and go out onto the circuit and have problems, which on a new car can happen. We're hoping we'll be on the circuit before the media day, and I think we need to do quite a bit of testing before Brands, but we realise that time is running out and the time factor is the thing that we are currently fighting against.”

Pics credit: Peter Still


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