The new-look VX Racing team will line up for the opening round of the 2005 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park next weekend as the record-breaking triple title holders. But with a new car, the VX Racing Astra Sport Hatch, and new drivers, the team will have fresh challenges to keep ahead of the competition.
The VX Racing Astra Sport Hatch will make its race debut at Donington Park, Leicestershire. The conversion of the road-going car to the striking touring car took a little over three months, and since its track debut in January, the team has worked hard to ensure it will be on the pace from the start of the season.
Also making their VX Racing debut at Donington Park are new signings Colin Turkington and Gavin Smith. Turkington, 23, from Northern Ireland, joins the team for his fourth BTCC season, with a reputation for speed and consistent points finishes. He is eager to add to his two wins (scored at Mondello Park in 2004 and Brands Hatch in 2003), "It's a fantastic opportunity for me to race for VX Racing. They've got a huge amount of experience at winning races and championships. I'm getting on well with the team, and I hope I'll be able to continue their winning streak."
Yvan Muller, remaining with the VX Racing team for a sixth season, has been impressed with the performance and handling of the car so far, "The base car is very good, and the race car has a lot of potential. We have spent a lot of testing time trying to iron out potential problems. We should be quick, but you never know until the start of the season. Of course, I'll be looking to win races from the beginning, but you can never tell until you get to the first race."
Gavin Smith, 27, from Dublin, graduates from the Seat Cupra Championship and was confirmed as the team's third driver only two weeks ago, "Signing for Vauxhall was a big step forward for me, and the team has been great. The tests so far have been learning experiences for me, and there's a lot more speed in both myself and the car. The first races will be hard as we don't know for sure the performance of the other teams, but I'll be going all out to post some good results on the board."
Last year VX Racing started its championship campaign in style, taking two race wins and three podium positions at Thruxton, the 2004 season opener, and ultimately took the spoils in the manufacturers', drivers' and team championships for the fourth successive year. In 2005, the 30-race season begins at Donington Park on 9 and 10 April and finishes at Brands Hatch on 1 and 2 October.
The road-going cousin of the VX Racing Astra Sport Hatch, the Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch, will go on sale to the public at Vauxhall dealerships the same weekend as the opening round of the BTCC season
Colin Turkington celebrated his 23rd birthday at the final VX Racing test session at Magny-Cours at the end of March. The team presented him with a bottle of champagne and PlayStation game GT4 to mark the occasion, and to really put his driving skills to the test!
Yvan Muller contested the Andros Trophy ice racing in the break between BTCC seasons. He was crowned champion for a record-breaking ninth time, and is now so invincible that organisers are threatening to make him run with success ballast next time out!
VX Racing newcomer Gavin Smith makes his race debut for VX Racing at Donington Park, but it is not his first time in a BTCC car. The Irishman contested his home race at Mondello Park last year with GA Motorsports, finishing an excellent ninth position in round 14 to score two points.Published 4 April 2005