Infiniti have today announced that they will enter the 2015 British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) with a pair of Infiniti Q50 cars, with a not-for-profit team intending to raise awareness and funds for the ‘Support Our Paras’ charity.
The team, which will be known as ‘Infiniti Support Our Paras Racing’ is being set up with the long-term aim of developing, training and ensuring that an injured Paratrooper is able to graduate through the racing ranks to become a BTCC driver in the future.
The team will be overseen by Team Principal Derek Palmer, and the cars will be prepared by a number of injured paratroopers throughout the season.
“We’ve set ourselves a number of significant, but achievable targets,” said Palmer. “Of course we are aware of the challenges ahead of us, but with the united forces of The Paras and Infiniti, we believe we have the power to deliver results in the BTCC.”
The announcement of the innovative new team also coincides with the merger of the two main Parachute Regiment charities. Both of the former Parachute Regiment Afghanistan Trust and the Parachute Regiment Charity will operate under the name of ‘Support Our Paras’ from 2015.
The two cars are to be driven by BTCC rookies Richard Hawken and Derek Palmer Jnr, who have both been active in Super Touring races this season. The team will be based out of newly refurbished premises at Leicestershire circuit Mallory Park.
The news also marks the first appearance of Infiniti in the BTCC, who will enter as a manufacturer-backed team. Steve Oliver, Infiniti Regional Director for North Europe, is excited to see the brand officially represented on the grid in association with a charity.
“To have an Infiniti on the starting grid in the BTCC next year will be an exciting event on its own, but to have the car represent the Parachute Regiment’s main charity makes it exceptionally worthwhile,” said Oliver. “Infiniti is establishing itself as a main player in the premium sector in the UK, with sales on the increase, a new design Centre in Paddington London and from next year we will manufacture the first Infiniti for Europe outside of Japan from the plant based in Sunderland.
“These race cars reinforce our commitment to the UK and provide an ideal platform to link together two truly British establishments, The Parachute Regiment and the BTCC.”
Hawken, who tested for current BTCC team Speedworks Motorsport in 2013, is delighted to be stepping up to the BTCC, having previously won in UK-based club-level championships.
“To have Infiniti support us in the BTCC is a dream come true,” said Hawken. “To know that I am doing something special, to raise the profile and awareness of the Support Our Paras Charity, is quite simply an honour and a privilege.
“These guys put their neck on the line for us every day in their normal duties. When they do get injured we should all collectively do what we can by way of a personal thank you and contribute to the charity, which helps to give them as normal-a-life as possible.”
Palmer has gained considerable touring car experience, having raced in historic Super Tourers and GT races for a number of years now.
“I’m extremely proud to be associated with the Parachute Regiment, honoured to work with, and be associated with, the guys and to be part of the team entering the BTCC,” said Palmer. “Infiniti’s aspirations perfectly align with those of the team.”
BTCC Series Director Alan Gow is pleased to be able to welcome a new manufacturer-backed entry into the championship – the first since MG backed Triple Eight for the start of the 2012 season.
“It’s fantastic to welcome a new manufacturer to the BTCC and particularly a premium brand such as Infiniti,” said Gow. “There’s a great initiative behind the team too, with the ‘Support Our Paras’ charity being such a worthwhile cause.
“The record-breaking 2014 BTCC season concluded in fine style at Brands Hatch last weekend and the interest in the series continues to grow year-on-year. These entries from Infiniti are further testament to that and we look forward to welcoming the team to Britain’s best championship in 2015.”