Alex Martin will not contest next season’s British Touring Car Championship after agreeing a deal to run in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB.
Martin will partner father Rupert in a two-car outfit with the continued technical support of Team Parker Racing, having agreed a deal to pass on both his Ford Focus ST and TBL (TOCA BTCC License) to an entry to be confirmed at a later date.
Under championship rules, TBLs cannot be bought or given to other entries, though with Team Parker expected to run Martin’s replacement, as the license holder the move is legitimate.
The 29-year old departs the championship having scored three points from a total of fifty-four starts. Martin cited his struggle in adapting to the front-wheel drive Ford Focus ST, a race-winner last season in the hands of Andrew Jordan and Mat Jackson, as a key factor in his decision to make the switch.
“It would be a waste, because I’ve just not gelled with the front-wheel drive, so I’m going to race in Porsche Carrera Cup and we’ve sold the car and the license,” he revealed to TouringCars.net.
“It’s a shame, I’ve enjoyed it, but I think it’s the right decision. I drove a Porsche last year and I felt straight away at home in the car. Obviously I wasn’t getting the most out of it [Ford Focus ST] because two guys were at the front getting podiums in an identical car and I was struggling to get a point. So I think it’s the right decision.”
Martin had previously alluded to the possibility of purchasing a rear-wheel drive car earlier in the winter to better suit his strengths heading into next season, but ultimately nothing materialised within the team’s budget.
Entries for the 2017 season must also be fitted with a compulsory upgrade to the latest-specification RML control components, something that would have further increased the costs of running any available rear-wheel drive options.
“Basically, anything we could get hold of would have been expensive and old-spec, not the NGTC ‘Gen 2’ if you want to call it that. So then we’d have to spend another £100,000 on it to bring it up to spec, so it was not economical.
“Just to buy a car would have been a year and a half’s worth of touring car budget. And if you were building your own car, unless you’re building one that somebody else has already made, you have to pay for the development of the bodywork. So we got into a situation where it just wasn’t going to work.
“If the right car had come up, for the right price, we would have bitten their hands off but it just wasn’t going to happen,” explained Martin.
Despite the move, Martin said his future plans include the BTCC, and insisted that an ear will be kept to the ground on available drivers within the championship in the future, should they meet his criteria.
“We’ll always be keeping an eye on it to see what’s available, but we made the mistake of coming in with a front-wheel drive car. I’ve never driven one before, so it was a total error. If I do [come back], it will be in a rear-wheel drive.”