HMS Racing Forced To Sit-Out 2019 BTCC Season
After five consecutive, and highly successful, years in the British Touring Car Championship, race winning squad HMS Racing has to confirm it will sit-out the coming season – but plans to try and make a swift return to the UK’s biggest category for 2020.
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.
Since the conclusion of the 2018 campaign, HMS Racing’s first with its podium-finishing Alfa Romeo, a huge amount of hard work has been taking place to put the required package together to continue taking the fight to the manufacturer backed teams, as the Swindon squad has done in recent years.
“We are beyond disappointed HMS Racing will not be on the grid in the BTCC next year after five years of continual progression”, said team principal Simon 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.”
Over the past five seasons HMS Racing has fielded three different drivers in the BTCC. Team principal Simon Belcher raced a Toyota Avensis in 2014 and 2015, with American driver Robb Holland making selected outings in place of Belcher during year two.
In 2016, HMS Racing entered into a partnership with proven BTCC race winner Rob Austin who initially piloted a newly constructed Avensis for two years. Achieving two Independents Trophy wins and several outright podiums in 2016, the following year Austin made history for the team by taking its first ever BTCC race victory during the season finale at Brands Hatch.
This year, HMS Racing brought the Alfa Romeo brand back to the BTCC for the first time since 2007 after building a brand new Giulietta. Enjoying success on track with multiple podiums, the headline grabbing first coming on the opening weekend of the campaign, off-track the team also launched a brand-new state-of-the-art hospitality unit, unrivalled by any other team in the paddock.
Austin said: “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.”
In summary, Belcher added: “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.”