HMS Racing blames Brexit for continued BTCC absence in 2020

HMS Racing blames Brexit for continued BTCC absence in 2020

HMS Racing
Photo: Jakob Ebrey

HMS Racing has confirmed that it will not return to the British Touring Car Championship grid in 2020, citing ‘huge financial implications’ placed upon the team requiring it to sell its TOCA BTCC Licence.

The team developed the new Alfa Romeo Giulietta for the 2018 BTCC season, with Rob Austin giving the car two podium finishes in its début season.

The team then took a sabbatical from the 2019 season after the loss of a primary sponsor contract at the end of the previous year and no new sponsor joining in time for the season.

It’s TOCA BTCC Licence [TBL] was loaned to Motorbase Performance, which ran Nicolas Hamilton in a third Ford Focus in 2019.

Whilst HMS Racing continued to work on its car during the 2019 season, also taking part in the mid-season tyre test at Snetterton where Austin was sixth fastest overall, it worked on plans to return to the grid in 2020.

However, the team has now confirmed that it will not be present next year, having sold its licence and failed to find a new backer for the project.

A statement from the team released this morning said “with strict conditions surrounding touring car licences and their use, huge financial implications were placed upon HMS and so team principal Simon Belcher had no other option than to sell the licence.

“HMS still has a burning desire to return to the British Touring Car Championship as soon as it possibly can, particularly with so much unfinished business with the Alfa Romeo project.

“But with its licence now relinquished – and with a difficult climate surrounding new sponsorship – it is currently unknown when the team will reappear in the UK’s premier touring car category.”

Team Principal Simon Belcher blamed some of the decision on Brexit impacting the ease of gaining new sponsorship.

“Being in the BTCC is absolutely where HMS wants to be and where we believe the team should be, we’ve more than confirmed our ability in the championship and we’re all working hard to make a return a reality in the near future.

“Due to the fact we had to sell our licence though, and with the current Brexit uncertainty creating additional issues around the raising of the necessary sponsorship, it is unlikely our BTCC return will be imminent.

“The full infrastructure of the team is still in place and one of the newest cars on the grid, our Alfa Romeo, is sitting ready to race should a suitable commercial partner be found.

“We have been offered the lease of another licence, so there is certainly the possibility of a return in the future if everything can be put in place – but it’s unlikely anything can be put together in time for 2020 due to the increased costs of leasing a licence, over owning one.

“It is a great shame we can’t return in 2020, as we’d planned to, but with the financial implication which followed after Nic was unable to fulfil his commitment to the BTCC we had to either lose our licence or sell it.”