Barwell Motorsport have today confirmed that they will run ETCC-spec Honda Civic Type R's in the 2004 British Touring Car Championship.

With the European-specification 'ETCC' cars being allowed into the championship for the first time, the 2004 BTCC will feature an incredibly exciting head-to-head battle between teams running these cars and the existing 'Touring Class' teams.

Barwell hope to be right in the thick of this battle as they are upgrading their current Production Class-leading Civics to ETCC specification, and hope this will once again allow them to challenge for outright victories.

"The Honda Civics have already shown great potential in the European Touring Car Championship," comments Barwell MD, Mark Lemmer, "and we strongly believe that our Civic Type Rs will be capable of winning races in next year's BTCC."

As well as the Barwell Honda Civics, there are also likely to be teams running ETcC-specification BMWs, Alfa Romeos and SEATs, and these cars will be pitched directly against the existing Touring Class machines from Vauxhall, Honda, MG, Proton and Peugeot.

Any current difference in performance between the two classes of cars will be equalised by the BTCC's technical officials, probably through a system of weight ballasting.

With the Production Class being dropped, the new-look BTCC will thus feature a simpler 'one-class' format, with all cars competing against each other on an equal footing. The only sub-division of this will be the Independents' Cup which, as before, will be a points championship for non-manufacturer backed teams. Barwell's team of two cars will again be eligible to contest the BTCC Independents' Cup, and having narrowly missed out on the 2002 title with Aaron Slight [in a Vauxhall Astra], will be planning to go one better in 2004.