It is looking increasingly likely the Honda marque will be returning to the BTCC in 2002, with a pair of Touring Class Civic Type Rs. Regulars in the championship for six years with the Accord, until the end of the 2000 season, the return of the Japanese manufacturer would raise the number of 'works' entries to five for next season - a healthy state for a series in only the second year with a new rules package.

Arena Motorsport - whose BTCC experience consists of running an Independent Renault Laguna for Russell Spence and latterly Will Hoy in 1999 - are being linked to the deal. This season the team have been involved in sportscar racing, running Stefan Johansson's Gulf Oils backed Audi R8 and claiming the ELMS title.

No drivers have as yet been linked to the team, but James Thompson - who drove this year for the Egg-Sport team - was a star performer for Honda, and a pre-season favourite for the 2000 BTCC title before being sidelined after shunting his Accord at the opening round. The Yorkshireman would no doubt relish a return to a number one seat, the Egg-Sport Astras always playing second-fiddle to the Vauxhall Motorsport entries despite being run by the same team.

It is thought the Honda deal may be dependent on the TV deal that BMP can put in place for the series. Having recently turned down the BBC's offer of the same package as used this season, BMP are talking to other UK terrestrial channels, and are seeking a consistency of programme duration and transmission time that the Corporation's Grandstand programme could not guarantee. With viewing figures for the televised races doubling when they are shown regularly in early afternoon, BMP are determined to offer entrants a more regulated TV package.

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