A new team, backed by Finnish international goalkeeper Peter Enckelman, is set to debut in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship in 2007 running a brace of BTC-specification Vauxhall Astra Coupes.

The team will be based in workshops in the Salford Quays area of Manchester and aims to use 2007 as a learning year ahead of the 2008 campaign.

Crash.net spoke to team principle Ed Tilley to find out more...

Q:
Ed, this is something of a bolt from the blue with the announcement that Encke Sport is planning to come into the BTCC. Just tell us a little bit about your plans.

Ed Tilley:
Basically we are looking at running two Triple Eight built Astra Coupes in the championship this year. Obviously we are a new team so don't have high hopes of winning a championship, but we want to be as reliable as possible and learn as much as we can. We have long term plans for the team so we will see how we get on this year.

Q:
Something of interest and one of the main talking points is the involvement of the Blackburn Rovers goalkeeper Peter Enckelman. How did his involvement come about?

Ed Tilley:
I actually live next door to Peter and our friendship has developed quite a lot over the past twelve months. Peter has a massive love for motorsport, just as I have, and he decided that he wanted to have his own touring car team after watching to the round at Brands Hatch last season.

Q:
You've gone with the Astra Coupe as you mentioned. What was the thinking behind that choice of car?

Ed Tilley:
We looked at all different options and there were a lot of the cars from last season that were available to buy. The Astras were cheaper than the others and were a cheap option for us to find our feet in the championship, to learn more about the drivers and the team and to learn about the cars. Then hopefully, we can field two new cars for 2008.

Q:
In that respect, 2007 with the older car becomes a year to get all the infrastructure in place and build the team rather than a year when you go out chasing results.

Ed Tilley:
Exactly. We could spend all day throwing money at it but we aren't going to win the championship in the first year. We are looking at putting everything in place for 2008 to run competitive cars and maybe look at being in the top few in the championship.

Q:
The team itself is at a very early stage. What's the current situation?

Ed Tilley:
We have a team manager on board, Carl Ayriss, who has been in Motorsport for 36 years and we have Ray Grimes who is also onboard as a driving instructor and operations manager. We are still looking for key personnel like race engineers and mechanics. As far as the workshops are concerned, we are fully kitted out. We have all the equipment that we need, we have the trucks and the awnings and are ready to go, bar all the staff.

Q:
From a driver point of view, do you have anyone lined up or are you still actively seeking drivers?

Ed Tilley:
We're speaking to a number of drivers and I'm considering driving one myself. We are talking to five or six drivers at the moment but it depends on whether they are happy with us and whether the budgets are in place. But we should hopefully be testing drivers in the first week in February.

Q:
This is a learning year, so what do you hope to achieve on track?

Ed Tilley:
Being in the gravel or parked in the pitlane won't score us any points so we want to aim for reliability and just learn as much as we can. The more laps we are doing, the more data we are gathering and the more it will help us for 2008. We just need to start as high up the grid as we can, finish as many races as possible and see how it goes.