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Andy Priaulx happy on having a “strong year”

After the final race of this year’s British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch, IHG Rewards Club Racing’s Andy Priaulx was a happy man, as he looked back on an impressive return to the series after a 13-year absence.

Having made the announcement that he would be joining Dick Bennetts’ West Surrey Racing back in January, the three-time World Touring Car champion instantly showed his calibre, taking pole position at Brands Hatch Indy back in April, as well as doing the same at Knockhill.

“I wasn’t looking at the championship this year. I had eight podiums, two wins and two poles. And that was what mattered to me most of all,” explained the 40-year-old to after the final race of the year.

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“We had strong performances on tracks that have suited us, where we have been very competitive. At tracks we’ve not been competitive at, we’ve struggled. At Silverstone two weeks ago, it was the first that WSR have had there since 2008, so basically, I’ve had a strong year.

“It gives us a lot to build on, and I can look back and say I wasn’t one of the big names that got screwed over and made to look average, but I’ve been a front runner. A lot to be happy about.”

When asked about whether he will return to the BTCC next season, he was uncertain about it: “I don’t know, to be honest with you. We’re trying to put it all together, as it is difficult.

“There’s a lot of jigsaw pieces to put together, but this year, it slotted into place nicely and it came quite late. I’ll have to see what BMW want to do with me, as well as IHG.”

He went to state that everyone that has been involved with the series this year has been delighted with the outcome, which saw the BMW driver finish eighth overall in the standings on 247 points, 20 behind Ciceley Racing’s Adam Morgan.

“But there are no works drives here in BTCC, which I’ve got to monitor in the future,” added the Guernseyman, who has been a very busy man all round, which includes racing in the European Le Mans Series finale this coming weekend.

“It’s very important at the end of the day to have that, as I’ve been a top-level works driver for a long, long time, and I’m still performing very well.

“So that’s what I need, which is a proper works contract and I have some nice possibilities going forwards for next year, so I just need to look at all the pieces and see where we go.”

Even with the fact that the BMWs did struggle at the weekend, which saw the West Surrey driver taking three top ten finishes at the end of the season, Priaulx has always enjoyed the Kent-based track and its challenges.

“It’s been a very good circuit to me and kind to me, and I’ve always driven well around here. It’s a very flowing, momentum-based circuit, which suits my style,” he explained, having won there previously in the WTCC in 2007 and 2010.

“Unfortunately, today and yesterday, we didn’t have the pace. The cold conditions and a very hard tyre factored into it, along with the fact we had no real top speed.

“We were bottom on all the speed traps, all the crucial ones, so I think when we put the lap together on all the corners, we lose half a tenth, but then we go three tenths down, due to two straights, so that is tough to see.”

There is a possibility that he could end up racing stateside in sportscars again, having done so in the past two seasons. This is along with the fact that he has also been a big help in the development of the new BMW Motorsport M6 GT3 car, which makes its racing debut early next year.

But he admitted that there are many possibilities that need to be looked over, before making a final decision about next year.

“I really need to sit down and look back at the season, reflect on what I’ve enjoyed, and what has got the potential to give me the best opportunity, and then make my choice from there.

“I wouldn’t say it’s uncertain, its actually very certain, but it’s down to what we want to do, really, right now going forward.”

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