The HMS Racing team will not be present on the grid for the 2019 British Touring Car Championship season, due to unforeseen ‘hurdles’ which mean that the team’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta will not be in the field.
HMS Racing – formerly known as Handy Motorsport – has been present on the BTCC grid since the 2014 season, initially with a Toyota Avensis before switching to a self-developed Alfa Romeo for 2018.
However, the team, which secured seven podium finishes in its time in the BTCC, including one win in the 2017 BTCC season finale, will not be present on the grid in 2019, having loaned its TOCA BTCC Licence [TBL] to Motorbase Performance.
The team released a statement on Monday saying that it would not be on the grid and that “due to several factors, the team has been unable to commit to the 2019 championship in time for the BTCC registration deadline which passed on Friday, 30th November.
“Therefore, the difficult and frustrating decision to loan its TBL to another team and step back for a year has been taken in the long-term interests of the squad.”
Team Principal Simon Belcher was disappointed that his team could not commit and develop upon its 2018 season with the new Alfa Romeo.
“We are beyond disappointed HMS Racing will not be on the grid in the BTCC next year after five years of continual progression”, said Belcher.
“Very unfortunately we have had hurdles placed in front of us which we simply can’t overcome in the timeframe required to meet the registration deadline.
“Rest assured, we will do everything in our power to overcome this setback to our long-term BTCC plans and have every intention to return for 2020.
“We remain totally committed to the BTCC, it is by far the best championship in the UK and is where we want to be, and where we should be. We’ve proven over the past couple of years we have the ability to be consistent front-runners and genuine challengers.
“I would like to say a huge thank you to our sponsors, fans, all the team members and everyone that has played a part in what we have achieved so far as a small Independent team. It has been great working with Rob, he is a fantastic driver and we will do everything in our power to keep moving forward with our long-term goals.
“I would also like to say a special thank you to Alex from DUO whose continual support to help us achieve our ambitions is relentless. We want to be back, we’re determined to be back, and will be working flat out to achieve that for 2020.”
The team’s lead driver Rob Austin was devastated that the team, with whom he has partnered since 2016, will not be represented next year.
“This is heart breaking news. We worked so hard to bring the Alfa Romeo to the BTCC grid and have worked through the tough period of development that’s required with a new car.
“We felt we were making progress and, with a solid winter testing programme, believe we could have enjoyed a strong 2019.
“For all that work not to reach fruition seems unjust. As a team we did all we could and working with Simon and the HMS Racing team these last three years has been an absolute pleasure, I would like to thank them all for their hard work and support.
“It’s quite late in the day, so I’m not sure what 2019 holds for me as a driver, but I certainly hope I can be a part of the future return of HMS and finish the work we started with the Alfa Romeo.”