AmD Tuning has confirmed that newly-crowned Renault Clio Cup champion Mike Bushell will join the team for the 2015 British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) season, replacing Dave Newsham in the team’s Ford Focus ST.
Bushell, 25, actually made his BTCC début in 2013 when he replaced Andy Neate at Knockhill, scoring a best result of 17th. This year he raced in the BTCC-supporting Clio Cup, scoring four wins and four podium finishes on his way to the title.
Despite his earlier one-off appearance in the series, Bushell will still be classed as a rookie and therefore will remain eligible for the 2015 Jack Sears’ Trophy, which is set to be awarded to the top newcomer in the championship.
Bushell’s intentions to join the BTCC for a full season have been clear for some time, which were further reinforced when he tested for Motorbase Performance recently as his prize for winning the Clio Cup.
“Winning the Clio Cup this year was a massive achievement for me, and I can’t believe that I’m now sat here knowing that I’ll be in the BTCC next season,” said Bushell. “I’ve been speaking to Shaun [Hollamby, AmDTuning.com Team Principal] for a while and it’s fantastic to have agreed a deal so early in the off-season.
“I actually feel quite humbled to be joining the BTCC as there is no other championship like it out there. You only have to look at the grid this year to see it is full of drivers who have won championships, and I’m under no illusions about the challenge that lies ahead.”
Bushell has modest ambitions for his foray into the BTCC, adding that he believes the Focus is the ideal car for him to make the transition with.
“Early on, my focus will simply be on finishing races and building on the experience I gained when I did my one event in 2013, but I’m confident of quickly getting up to speed,” he added. “The Ford is a proven package and it felt quite suited to my driving style when I sampled the Motorbase car.
“The AmDTuning.com team has a skilled group of people working within it, so there is no reason why I can’t be competitive and push for some strong results as the season goes on. I’m very excited and can’t wait to get started!”
Hollamby admits to having been impressed with Bushell’s performances in the support series’ thus far and is pleased to be able to agree a deal for next season before the Winter arrives.
“We’re delighted to be able to agree a deal with Mike for 2015, and it is ideal for both parties to have an agreement in place so soon,” said Hollamby. “It’s given us time to work on finalising our sponsorship plans for next year, and we are keen to speak to people who want to support a young British driver who we believe can do big things in the BTCC next year.
“Mike is someone we have been keeping an eye on for a while, and he impressed me with the way he performed in the Chevrolet back in 2013. He was the class of the field in the Clio Cup last year, which is no mean feat, and is more than deserving of the opportunity to make the step up.
“If you look at the list of drivers who have made the move from the Clio Cup into the BTCC, I have no doubt that Mike has the talent to match them, and I’m delighted that we can give him his chance in touring cars. He has some experience of the Ford from his day with Motorbase, and I’m confident that he’ll be on the pace when we get our pre-season testing programme under way.”
Bushell’s arrival also signals the departure of Dave Newsham from the team, who has not yet announced his plans for 2015. Hollamby expressed his gratitude towards Newsham for his performances during the 2014 season, which saw the Essex-based squad score its first podium at Knockhill.
“While we are pleased to welcome Mike into the team, I want to put on record our thanks to Dave Newsham for the work he put in during 2014 as we moved up to an NGTC car for the first time,” added Hollamby. “His performance at Knockhill in particular, where he took our first BTCC podium finish, is one that I’ll never forget and we wish him all the best for the future.”