Proven and very popular motorsport team HMS Racing has today, Tuesday, 26th November, taken the frustrating yet necessary decision to confirm it will be absent from the Kwik-Fit British Touring Car Championship grid for a second year during the 2020 season.
When a primary sponsor contract ceased at the end of the 2018 season, despite an excellent campaign with its newly constructed Alfa Romeo Giulietta HMS had no option but to embark on a sabbatical from the BTCC with no suitable replacement partner able to be secured.
Even so, alongside participation in the new-for-2019 Dunlop Touring Car Trophy with Alex Day at the wheel of the ex-Rob Austin Audi A4, HMS continued to develop its rapid Alfa Romeo in testing with an eye on returning to the BTCC for next year’s campaign.
In July’s Dunlop tyre test at Snetterton in Norfolk, of course, Austin steered the Giulietta to the quickest time in the final session and the sixth best lap overall, which confirmed the fantastic steps made by the team.
But with participation in the BTCC not possible, the licence required to compete was loaned by HMS to another team to run Nic Hamilton, younger brother of six-time FIA Formula One World Champion Lewis. Unfortunately, Hamilton Jnr withdrew from the BTCC prior to the end of the season.
As a result, and 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.
Commenting on the team’s position, Simon Belcher said: “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.”
Belcher added: “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 [Hamilton] was unable to fulfil his commitment to the BTCC we had to either lose our licence or sell it.”
Club HMS, which was established at the start of 2019 to provide experiences for race fans, will continue to interact with racegoers and offer special prizes throughout next year. HMS will also offer its incredible hospitality unit for hire in 2020 with its Alfa Romeo show car, and Ford Mondeo Super Touring Car, available for event hire.
HMS continues in its role running parts sales and distribution for Legends Cars in the UK and Europe, and is also looking after the distribution of Retrojet Jet Ski performance parts. In the coming weeks, the team will launch a brand new website and will have a presence at the Autosport International Show in January at Birmingham NEC.