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James Nash eyeing TCR for return to touring cars

James NashFormer World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) racer James Nash is considering the TCR International Series for a return to touring car racing, having spent the past two seasons competing in GT racing.

Nash moved to the Blancpain Endurance Series for 2014, sidestepping away from touring car racing at the same time as the introduction of the TC1 regulations into the WTCC.

Competing for the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, Nash helped the team to take the Endurance Series title, including leading the Spa 24 Hour race after six hours and ultimately going on to score a podium for the team in the event.

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For 2015, Nash moved with the team to the Blancpain Sprint Series, partnering Frank Stippler in the team’s Audi R8 LMS. A difficult season saw the duo break into the top ten just four times over the course of the year, ending the year 19th in the championship as a result.

Nash explained to TouringCars.Net that his reasons for changing series each time were due to the changes in regulations, which he felt necessitated a switch.

“We moved away from the British Touring Cars because of the regulation changes and the uncertainty around which car would be good,” explained Nash. “It was a good moment with Ford to progress into World Touring Cars [in 2012] – and later Chevrolet, which we had some good success with.

“Again, regulations started to stipulate a move; there were a lot of uncertainties as to which teams or cars were going to be good, and that wasn’t the correct position for me. I needed to be sure that I was going to have a really strong team that could either allow me to get third [in the drivers’ championship] again, or improve, and I couldn’t come across any of those teams.

“My early career had lacked some downforce experience and the GT route was a good option with an amazing team, WRT, who are one of the best in the paddock. It was a good opportunity to learn downforce and to try and progress a career in GT option for later on as well.

“It’s been a couple of very hard, learning years, but without a doubt it has improved my driving. The level within GTs, Blancpain especially, is phenomenal. You can’t knock that. The team, WRT, are another step up as well so I think I’ve taken away a lot and it’s made me a better, more rounded person in terms of driving, and I want to get back into the touring car scene.”

Nash admitted that he is actively exploring options within the new TCR series, which he believes offers the best value for drivers who are not backed by manufacturer outfits.

“I think TCR is probably one of the best options. The motor manufacturers don’t want to spend the money, and that’s who World Touring Cars is aimed at. We do have a few – Citroën and recently Volvo – but other than that you need big, deep pockets.

“Sponsors are hard to find, so the TCR concept gives you lower budget racing but it gives you the same effects and the same results as the World Touring Car Championship. With the BeNeLux championship and the German championship [for example], it’s viable for the teams to go around the countries in Europe.

“World Touring Cars has, in terms of technology, to be at the top but it could be quite quickly knocked off its pedestal by number of viewers, people involved and spectators, and I think that’s what it centres around. It’s the racing that’s important for people to come and watch and ultimately the sponsors, not the cars themselves.”

The 29-year-old Brit also emphasised his desire to continue competing on the international stage, despite the relative success of the BTCC in recent years.

“NGTC has to be at a similar level to TCR, but I think the concept of TCR being national and international is far better than the British championship.

“I’ve always wanted to position myself into world championships. When I did the British Touring Cars it was one of the best championships I ever did – I really enjoyed it. I wouldn’t mind going back, but on top of that I would want to do a world championship .I want to be on the world stage, in world racing with world class drivers. I’m not saying the drivers in the British Touring Car Championship aren’t, but I want to be in international racing.”

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