Double champions Colin Turkington and Jason Plato will compete for Team BMR in the British Touring Car Championship next season, joining team owner Warren Scott and Irishman Árón Smith for the 2015 campaign.
The pair – who were the class of the field in 2014, amassing 14 victories and 833 points between them with Turkington eventually claiming a second title after a third-place finish at Brands Hatch – will pilot two of the squad’s four Volkswagen CCs in 2015, it was announced today (Tuesday 17 February).
Despite their form, both Plato and Turkington faced an uncertain future heading into the new season, with a re-brand for Triple Eight confirming the former’s exit, while 32-year-old Turkington’s chances of staying at West Surrey Racing were jeopardised after the withdrawal of title sponsor eBay Motors, with his departure confirmed last Friday after it was announced that Rob Collard would retain his drive with the team alongside Sam Tordoff and Andy Priaulx.
But with Team BMR heading into their second full season as a four-car entry – having first entered the series in 2013 with an s2000 SEAT León – owner Scott was keen to recruit the duo, whose signings – alongside the already confirmed Smith and Scott – offer a daunting prospect for their competitors in 2015.
Turkington’s fate at WSR marked the second time that the Northern Irishman had lost his seat after winning the championship with the team, but the current champion was gleeful to have the opportunity to defend his title and admitted that he was looking forward to a new challenge with Scott’s team.
“I’m delighted to be defending my BTCC crown with Team BMR,” remarked the Ulsterman. “Getting behind the wheel of the Volkswagen is a fresh challenge after seven seasons in rear wheel drive machinery. I know that I’ll need to work harder than ever to get up to speed, but I’m extremely motivated to succeed.
“Team BMR is still a relatively young outfit in [the] BTCC, however there is a strong team of experienced personnel behind the scenes working incredibly hard to make sure we can challenge at the front from the off. The collective ambition, motivation and hunger to win made this the perfect opportunity for me.”
Plato, who holds the record for the most wins in the championship’s history, was eager to compete in the same machinery as Turkington and to see what his new team could achieve in 2015, with the car already having scored two victories last season in the hands of Smith.
“The decision for me to get involved with the outfit just became easier and easier,” he said. “It’s a fantastic team of people, it’s well funded and it has the right ingredients to bake the best cake there is!
“It’s something quite serious that Warren has put together, he’s not playing games. The driver line-up is right up there (with any I’ve been in), we’ve got two heavyweights in the same team from a technical point of view and the two guys who were the focus last year on track. I think it’s going to be amazing. The performance push that both of us will give will help everybody.”
Scott, whose team also caused a stir last season after signing former double-champion Alain Menu, felt that there was plenty to suggest that his outfit could consistently challenge at the sharp end of the grid in 2015.
“I am eager to get started on what will be a very exciting year ahead of us in the BTCC,” said the 43-year-old. “With the strong driver line-up that we have in place along with a superb team of engineers, mechanics and other members of the Team BMR family, I feel confident that we have the potential to be championship contenders in 2015.”
Photo courtesy of Jakob Ebrey Photography.