In 2004 it was Mardi Gras motorsport, but in 2005 it looks set to be VLR which 'cooks on gas' in the British Touring Car Championship.

Having sat out the 2004 season, team boss Vic Lee has announced plans to enter a two car Peugeot 307 team running on gas power - with one car set to be driven by BTCC gas pioneer John George.

"We were introduced to the gas idea by John George after selling him the 406 cars and it's an interesting concept," Lee told "When we see how badly it was being done by just buying a road kit conversion and bolting it onto a racing car, we started looking behind the scenes. Obviously in the late 90's Vauxhall did a one off gas car for the Vectra Challenge which was very successful and was able to compete with the other cars running on normal fuel so if you understand the make-up of the gas car, it shouldn't lose any performance.

"We got talking to Nicholson McLaren - who are a very well renowned engine design, development and rebuilding company who have been in F1 and sportscars for a number of years and also have a very good gas business - and we've done a joint venture with them so that instead of converting an petrol racing engine we will build an engine to run on gas so it's a slightly different approach. Because everyone is concerned about environmental issues with fuel we are getting lots of interest."

With money in short supply in the BTCC, Lee also confirmed that the costs involved in producing the gas car are not that different to a regular petrol powered car.

"To run the gas car is very similar," he said. "There are certain components we have to make and they are bespoke for the gas car, whereas a lot of the teams running in touring cars have to run stock parts like fuel cells and certain ignition packs, so we have to supply those ourselves but running costs are very similar. Nicholson McLaren see a big marketing ploy in it so we've been very fortunate that they are also able to absorb some of the development costs which is saving us quite a bit of money."

Lee also admitted that the gas powered car could be a race winning machine if it had manufacturer backing to help support the project.

"If it was properly supported by a manufacturer rather than by private funding then I'd say it's possible [it could win]," he said, "but we have to careful. We haven't got an endless pot of money to run this on and really I'd like to think, podiums are possible, a win would be fantastic but I think in its first year that is something we can only dream of."



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