After making the move to sportscars at the end of the 2013 season, having raced in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters for two years, Guernseyman Andy Priaulx MBE, had still kept his options open with regards to a return to touring cars.
2015 will see his return to the British Touring Car Championship after a 12-year absence, having raced with Egg Sport in 2001 and Honda the following year. Priaulx now joins Dick Bennett’s championship-winning West Surrey Racing team alongside Sam Tordoff for the forthcoming campaign, which kicks off in April at Brands Hatch.
It will be a busy season for the 3-time World Touring Car Championship champion, as he will also compete in the European Le Mans Series and the North American Endurance Championship, driving a BMW Z4 GT3 for Marc VDS and Turner Motorsport.
With the way that the BTCC and WTCC excites many of its loyal followers, Priaulx explained to TouringCars.net yesterday just what made him decide to return to a series that has more than just its fair share of drama last year: “Heading to Bathurst with Mattias Ekström at the closing end of 2013 really reignited the feeling of being behind the wheel of a touring car. It’s where you’ve got a mechanical car that requires mechanical grip through the feeling of the car and the tyres itself.
“That’s where I’ve just honed all my skills over the years, and having followed BTCC over the past few seasons, it’s just gotten better and better, as well as having bigger grids and harder racing.“
Racing over in the Tudor United Sportscar Championship with Team RLL last year was a great experience for him, driving at iconic tracks like Daytona and Sebring, but the allure of crossing the line, first, being number one and leading a race in a full-on fight was just too much to resist.
“In touring cars, everyone has a chance, which is what I love about BTCC and WTCC, as there is no real strategy involved, as it’s a case of starting and finishing the race with interruption,” said the 40-year-old veteran, who will also start to test and develop BMW’s forthcoming M6 GT car that will make its competitive debut next year.
Andy is also aware that he will need to adapt to the rules, especially with the performances that two-time BTCC race winner Tordoff has had over the past two years with MG, placing 6th in 2013 and 7thlast year.
“Sam is going to be very quick, as he proved to be a challenger to Jason Plato in the MGs, especially last season,” he explained, understanding that he will learn a lot more about his new team mate as the season progresses.
But the bigger challenge will be adapting to working with the Next Generation Touring Car platform for the first time to see how things progress, but he knows that he has a quick teammate that knows how to get the best out of it: “I may be learning quite a bit from him, rather than him from me, as he knows the scheme of things in this series, so I’ll be looking forward to seeing where he’s at and what we can do at WSR.”