As one of the most famous voices in British motorsport, Ben Edwards gets to commentate on BTCC, F3 and British GT - with many fans hoping that he could also get the chance to commentate on Formula One at some point in the future.'s Matt Salisbury was lucky enough to prise Ben away from the Motors TV camera crew at the Autosport International for long enough to sit down and discuss what fans can look forward to in Britain's three premier race series in 2005...
Ben this is just a chance for us to have a quick look forward to 2005. Obviously British Touring Cars, British F3 and British GT are all championships that you cover, I just wonder where can we expect to hear you this season?

Ben Edwards:
Well I don't know for sure yet Matt, but I hope much the same as I was doing in 2004, with the touring cars and F3/GT. It's been great being involved with the premier race series here in the UK and being able to work across all of them. For me they all have something slightly different to offer and I enjoy all of them, each in their own way so I'm looking forward to it very much.

I've seen a few people here at the show to get an idea of what is going on, touring cars looks exciting. SEAT obviously are really going for it this year as we expected, they came in strong last year, but this year they want to go out there and win the championship and they want to win the manufacturers championship, and stop Vauxhall who have been dominating it for a few years in row now. They've got Luke Hines on board, Jason Plato and James Pickford who takes over from Rob Huff as the winner of the SEAT Cupra Championship. That is a strong team, there is no doubt, and we all know how strong Jason was last year so I'm really looking forward to that. They aren't messing around, last year was a bit of a time to see how things go, but now they really have to make it work.

Vauxhall, with the new car, it could be a bit tricky to get that car developed as quickly as they want to at the beginning of the season, but Yvan Muller and Colin Turkington are two very very effective peddlers and I think the Team Dynamics Hondas, the Integras, should be very fast too with Matt Neal and Dan Eaves. The car will look slightly different to the Civic of course and if they can get rid of any new car niggles as quickly as possible then they'll be right up there as well.
Now one of the reasons why Dynamics have swapped to the Integra is the drag factor that there was with the Civic. Dan Eaves pointed out to us that Vauxhall have switched to the new Astra which is quite similar in shape to the Civic and might encounter the same problems compared to the Astra Coupe that it replaces. Do you think that's something that could pull Vauxhall back this season rather than help push them forward?

Ben Edwards:
Well it's quite possible and until we get the cars on track we won't really know. Until they go to the press day I don't think anybody will really know for sure because you know what it's like in testing where everybody does a time at a different time of day on different tyres and with a different fuel load so until you get them all together on the same day it's very, very hard to tell.

On the other hand, that Vauxhall team is a very aggressive and ambitious team and the fact that they have won a lot of races in recent years will not make them complacent. Ian Harrison, who runs that team, is one of the most competitive people that I know and his spirit goes right through the team, they all want to win so desperately and I think they will be right up there again.
You commentated on some great racing in 2004, right from the start of the season at Thruxton when Jason came out and took a very unexpected win for SEAT right up to the very last race, and indeed the very last lap, of the championship at Donington Park where it was a case of 'Can Yvan hold Jason off?' and 'Whose going to clinch the title?'

Do you think there is any way that 2005 can better the 2004 championship?

Ben Edwards:
I do because I think, although we were looking at Jason being very successful and winning more races than anyone else, he was never really a factor in the championship chase. Well he was a factor, but he wasn't ever quite there with James [Thompson] and Yvan. They had their private battle going all year long but it always looked like the champion would be one or the other, whereas I think this coming year I think the destiny of the championship may not just be between two people, it may be between three or four people.

If that goes all the way through until the end then we might not just have two guys on the last lap of the last race, we might have four guys going for the title and that would be pretty amazing.
One of the drivers you mentioned near the start who is no longer in British Touring Cars, Rob Huff has of course signed for Chevrolet in the WTCC and everyone is expecting James Thompson to, at some point, be announced with Alfa Romeo. What kind of impact do you think Huff and Thompson can make on the world scene?

Ben Edwards:
They are both great drivers and I think they'll make a good impact. I mean look at what Andy Priaulx, what a star he was last season winning the championship. I know he was in the BMW but James will be in the Alfa which is a very strong car. Of course Rob's car is not proven yet, but Rob has everything it takes, there is no doubt. He showed that last year, he is still a young touring car driver but he has everything that it takes. James Thompson is one of the world's best, a two time BTCC title winner now, and I think they will make a big impact.
Looking at the F3 and GT package. There are changes in F3 for this season, we no longer have the Scholarship class which has now been replaced by the National class to bring in more competitors, what can we expect from Formula Three in the upcoming season?

Ben Edwards:
I think we can expect a lot, it is a very open championship coming into this season, which is the way that you want it. Last year, although funnily enough it didn't turn out quite as we had expected in the beginning of the year, we all thought Nelson Piquet would come in and wipe the floor with everybody. He didn't early on, but as the season progressed he got his act together and won the championship.

This year I do think it is very open, you have some young guys who are coming into the series who will be fast right from the word go. There's a few international races they have to cope with and big tracks that they need to deal with which is fantastic for their careers and it really helps that they will be racing on those circuits so I think it will be wide open and that's what I like, not being able to predict who will win the championship so we all have to watch and see what happens, I love it!
Also an interesting season in prospect in the GTs, in 2004 we saw Scuderia Ecosse come in with the Ferrari and there was the battle with the Gruppe M Porsche which, again nearly came down to the end of the season, and it's something we can look forward to again in 2005.

Ben Edwards:
Yeah I think so, and there is a huge amount of interest in the championship generally, so I think there will be a lot of strength in depth this year. I think you'll see quite big grids, the two classes are going to be fought hard and it's going to be very interesting. Mike Jordan has teamed up with Michael Caine now and that is a fairly formidable driver line-up sharing the John Guest Porsche, we aren't quite sure what Scuderia Ecosse are doing just yet, they might be back. There are some beautiful cars lining up, the TVRs of Lawrence Tomlinson, and the drivers we have coming in, Warren Hughes and Johnny Kane. The standard of drivers and the whole level of the British GT championship is climbing leaps and bounds.



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