HMS Racing have unveiled the latest British Touring Car Championship challenger at the Autosport International show today (Thursday), with the team set to compete under the Duo Racing with HMS banner.
The reveal marks the return of the iconic Alfa Romeo brand to the BTCC for the first time in a decade, with Rob Austin getting behind the wheel of the new car in his third season for the outfit.
The car has been officially unveiled just over four months after news initially broke of the deal, which sees the Alfa Romeo Dealer Council for the UK supporting the campaign, which remains as an independent entry.
The team also took the opportunity to announce a closer cooperation with sponsor Duo, who will become title sponsors for 2018.
“We are so proud to finally be unveiling the new Alfa,” said Austin. “Everyone in our team has put in an incredible amount of work to keep the project on schedule while maintaining an impressive attention to detail.
“We also have to give a huge amount of credit to our fantastic technical partners, this is a very unique BTCC car and both Willie Poole Motorsport Services and ABS Motorsport have really gone above and beyond, on the shell and bodywork respectively, to overcome the challenges involved in such a unique design and still meet their deadlines.
“To see the Alfa here today is the result of the hard work and passion of so many people, and also the passion of our fantastic sponsors. We consistently work hard to provide them all with unquestionable value from their support year-on-year and, as such, our partnerships strengthen and grow.
“So, seven years into our partnership together with Duo, we are proud to be entering the 2018 British Touring Car Championship as Duo Motorsport with HMS.
“Duo have been a huge credit, not just to us but to UK motorsport for many years, supporting drivers all the way up the ladder to their own BTCC team. The passion for motorsport and desire to win that the Alfa Romeo brand is so well known for is equally prevalent in Duo as well as every member of the HMS team, so we are excited to see the three brands coming together to create something special like this.
“We are also excited to announce that we retain the support of business vehicle hire market leader Northgate after a very successful 2017 programme, and we have a lot more activities planned for the 2018 season. Additionally, we have entered an exciting new multi-season partnership with Close Brothers Asset Finance who will be featuring much more prominently on the new HMS Alfa Romeo BTCC car.
“So, we have lots of time to develop this car and give ourselves the best possible chance at starting the 2018 season where we finished 2017.
“This is the biggest and most important season of my 27-year career and I cannot describe to you how excited, motivated and determined I am!”
Team Principal Simon Belcher admitted that the experience of unveiling the car was an emotional one, having stepped out of the driving seat himself ahead of the 2016 season and focussed on securing the deals to move his young team forward in the BTCC.
“It’s very emotional to see the response to the Alfa Romeo we have designed and built ourselves from the ground up,” said Belcher. “I did a very hard thing in stepping out of the driving seat myself in the BTCC to spend more time overseeing the team’s progress and then developing such a stunning car.
“Our engineer Matt Taylor and the rest of the team have done an incredible job and I am extremely proud of what we have achieved. However, a beautiful car is only part of the journey – now we need to make it win!”