The rear wheel driver Lexus IS200, which last raced in the BTCC back in 2001, could be set for a return to the championship next season.

The cars, one of which was run by ABG Motorsport in the first season under the new regulations, are available for sale from Trackcar Design and Development, with former owner Tim Blake confirming to that a number of teams are interested in using the cars in the 2005 BTCC.

While some would be sceptical that the car could still be competitive, Blake admits that it is now a drastically different machine to the one shared by Kurt Luby, Thomas Erdos and Steve Sutcliffe in 2001, with the actual body shell one of few things unchanged. Update kits are available for both cars which Blake believes would make them an attractive proposition for any team looking for a car.

"It is a miracle that it was where it was when I ran it," he said. "We weren't allowed to change anything on the car as Vauxhall wouldn't allow it - they were running scared. We picked the Lexus because we felt it was the best touring car, but we only got word from TOCA that we could run the car on 23 December so we lost two weeks straight away for Christmas.

"Then we didn't get a lot of the customer parts until just before the first race, when we were asked to bolt them on and run the car. When we put the starter motor in, it fired the engine backwards. It was like racing with your hands tied behind your back and it was very frustrating.

"We [at Trackcar] are currently working on three GT cars, based on the IS200, for racing in America and in doing this we have been able to find out lots of things that have allowed us to drastically improve the touring car. The suspension has been changed, we have improved the rear end of the car to improve the stability and we are working on an upgrade to the engine to get more power. The car is also about 80kilos lighter than it was when it first ran."

Blake also feels that the Lexus would not be at a disadvantage from being rear wheel drive, despite Edenbridge boss Peter Briggs saying earlier in the year that a rear wheel drive car couldn't win in the series after he withdrew his BMW from the championship.

"The car did suffer on the Goodrich tyres to get the temperature into them as we couldn't adjust the suspension," he said. "Now we have been able to look at the Dunlop tyre data and have designed the suspension to suit the tyres, so that it will be easier to get the heat into them. Hopefully that means the car wouldn't have the problems that the Edenbridge car did, as the BMWs that race in the ETCC appear better suited to the Michelin tyres."

With the car failing to reappear in 2002 because of behind the scenes issues, it appeared likely that the IS200 was destined to be assigned to the BTCC history books, but Blake is now confident that that won't be the case.

"There was a lot of interest in the car from Lexus dealers, who wanted it as a display model," he said, "but once we found out what we know now, about the geometry and the improvements that could be made to the car, we decided to offer it as a race car. However we just don't have the time to run it.

"There are two cars, one which is the race car and can have the update kit provided and one which is a new car that was never raced. Janspeed are interested in running both cars, and if they can find the drivers then I'm sure they'll do it. It would be great to see them [Janspeed] back in motorsport on their own, rather than with somebody else.

"There are a few other people interested in the cars, and I'd say it's pretty likely that they will be in the BTCC next season. Certainly in the case of Janspeed, and one of the other interested outfits, I feel that the updated car would not only be capable of winning races, but could also challenge for the title.

"They are like a different car and I honestly feel they could challenge anything in the field - nothing would make me happier than to see them back out racing successfully."