Derek Palmer Jnr will be the driver who makes Infiniti’s début in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) this weekend at Brands Hatch, with Richard Hawken sitting out the season opener due to his lack of track time in the car.
Palmer drove the team’s completed Q50 at Mallory Park on Wednesday, where it was revealed that due to a late technical issue the outfit’s second car would not be in a position to race at Brands Hatch. At the time, no decision was made on which driver would make the team’s BTCC début.
After Brands Hatch it is anticipated that Hawken will resume a normal testing program ahead of his début at Donington Park two weeks later.
“The natural route to take was to put Derek in the car, as he has the experience of driving one of the cars earlier this week at Mallory,” said Team Principal Derek Palmer Snr. “Richard will be in the team’s second car at Donington.”
Missing out on the opportunity to drive for Infiniti Support Our Paras Racing [ISOPR] at Brands Hatch has left Hawken disappointed, but able to find positives in the situation.
“Naturally I’m disappointed to not be behind the wheel at the season opener. Having not driven the car yet due to technical issues faced earlier this week, and the BTCC a championship rarely being kind to the unprepared driver, I’ll now learn from the data we will collect over the weekend and head to Donington in a stronger position in two weeks’ time.
“We’ve already come so far as a team in a relatively short space of time. The Paras, as we expected, have learned their craft fast.
“It’s just amazing how they’ve switched their expertise from ‘rifle to ratchet’, testament to the continued training they receive at ISOPR HQ.
“I for one, along with many of our sponsors present at the weekend, will be cheering both the Paras and Derek Jnr on from the pit wall as he debuts the first of our stunning Q50 BTCC racers.”
For Palmer Jnr, he is not underestimating the challenge of stepping up to the BTCC, having previously raced in GT cars.
“It’s a big step up, not just for me but for the whole team,” said Palmer Jnr. “I’ve raced all over the world in many forms of car, but there is nothing quite as competitive as the BTCC.
“For the guys as well, this is a completely new challenge to them, a new form of combat if you will. But this is something we have taken on willingly, knowing full well what and who we are up against. And believe me, we’re more than up to the challenge. I’m just excited to get started and to work with the guys.
“Realistically, three finishes would be fantastic. We want to ensure we maximise the opportunity to learn about the car and what we have underneath us, and how to utilise it as best we can.
“It’s the BTCC and you can never predict how it’s going to go, so I’ll just go out there and do the best job I can and let’s see where we end up.
“This is the first step on a very big adventure for the whole team and I’m just so excited to get out in the first Free Practice session on Saturday morning.”