Pat Cranham, BTCC Correspondent
Triple 8 go NGTC for BTCC 2012
Just a couple of days after James Nash took their first victory in over a year and a half, the multiple British Touring Car Champions’ Triple 8 Racing have announced that they will be the latest team to commit to the New Generation Touring Car regulations for 2012.
Triple 8 Racing were set up during the 1996 season by former F1 racer Derek Warwick and Ian Harrison, who remains in charge today with the sole purpose of running Vauxhalls which were first entered into the series in 1997. After a poor first season they won their first BTCC race in 1998 with Vauxhall legend John Cleland at Donington and competed in the series until the end of the Super Touring regulations in 2000.
“It’s fairly obvious now that the NGTC regulations are the future of the BTCC.
In 2001 they built the all conquering Vauxhall Astra Coupe to the new BTCC-spec regulations and dominated the series between 2001 and 2004 becoming Triple BTCC champions in all these years with Jason Plato, James Thompson twice and Yvan Muller taking the driver’s crown.
In 2005 they entered the Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch but Yvan Muller couldn’t quite stop Matt Neal for Team Dynamics winning the series. For 2006 Fabrizio Giovanardi joined the team although at times the Astra Sport Hatch was no match for the Honda’s and Seat’s wining just two races with the highlight of the season coming at Knockhill where Giovanardi took Vauxhall’s 100th race win in the series.
However for 2007 Triple 8 built yet another championship winning car with the newly redesigned Vectra and Vauxhall once again became multiple champions with Giovanardi taking the title in 2007/08. Neal joined Vauxhall in 2008 and in 2009 he took Triple 8 Racing’s 100th win in the series at Brands Hatch, however after the event it was announced that this was to be the last season with full work backing and they went on to narrowly miss out on a hat trick of title’s for Giovanardi losing in the last race of the year to Colin Turkington who drove for the team in 2005.
It was uncertain whether Triple 8 would return for 2010 however a late deal saw Giovanardi return to the team along with Phil Glew for the opening meeting of the year at Thruxton where Giovanardi promptly went on to take a double victory. Despite this their main sponsor Uniq decided not to extend their one race deal sponsorship for the season and out went Giovanardi and Glew. Nash came in for Rockingham and remained with the team for the rest of the season with his highlight being a third place at Oulton Park while a number of other drivers raced for Individual meetings.
Triple 8 once again entered the series in 2011 for Nash and Porsche ace Tony Gilham with their trusty Vectra now fitted with a brand new NGTC Turbo engine and have been a regular podium finisher this season. Sadly Gilham has departed due to budget problems however Nash has remained on form taking his first ever series victory just two days ago to claim the current Independent points lead and despite running just the one car the team have taken the lead in the Independent team trophy.
However for 2012 they have already committed to the new regulations although no details have yet been made on whether it’s to be a full works deal or what car they are set to design. Original founder and current Chairman Harrison said, “It’s fairly obvious now that the NGTC regulations are the future of the BTCC. It’s quite clear, too, that the future has already arrived, perhaps a bit sooner than we expected. While our complete plans have yet to be finalised, we’re announcing the switch from S2000 to NGTC now as a clear sign of our support of the BTCC going forward and where we have competed successfully since 1997. The NGTC cars look the part and will undoubtedly become more reliable and cost-effective over time, giving the BTCC a solid technical platform from which to grow the on-track aspect of the series."
Meanwhile a provisional calendar has been announced for 2012 with the exception of Donington Park which will be confirmed in the next few weeks and is as follows:
31 March-1 April, Brands Hatch (Indy)
28-29 April, Thruxton
9-10 June, Oulton Park
23-24 June, Croft
11-12 August, Snetterton
25-26 August, Knockhill
22-23 September, Rockingham
6-7 October, Silverstone
20-21 October, Brands Hatch (Grand Prix)