This weekend will finally see the much-anticipated return of the former Formula One star and 1992 Le Mans 24 Hour champion, Mark Blundell, as he prepares to make his debut in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship (BTCC).
In one of the biggest and most discussed stories in British motorsport this year, Blundell will take to a competitive touring car field for the very first time, as he makes his much-anticipated return in the UK’s highest-profile domestic racing series, the BTCC.
Running with the newly formed Trade Price Cars racing team operated by Shaun Hollamby’s AmD Tuning outfit, Blundell will be getting behind the wheel of the HP Audi S3 saloon this weekend as the season gets underway at Brands Hatch on the shorter ‘Indy Circuit’.
The 52-year-old, who is competing with support from global technology giants HP and Intel, has tested at a number of circuits during the off-season to get up to speed in the Audi. Blundell displayed his competitive pace when the full field hit the track at Brands Hatch last week at the championship’s Media Day.
Given the demands of learning a new championship, a new car, a new team, whilst also dusting off the cobwebs ahead of his first full season of racing since 2000, Mark was pleased to have gained valuable and successful track time during the winter break.
“Although it would have been nice to have a bit more dry running ahead of the season opener, the team has done a fantastic job to get us out testing and I’ve been learning every time I’ve gone out on track.”
“Whilst I have a lot of experience of racing at the highest level, the Audi is totally different to anything I’ve driven before. I’ve been used to racing with more power, less weight and a lot more downforce so it requires a different approach. It’s like a golfer who has played for 30 years and then has to change their swing; it needs a bit of time.”
Despite his vast experience and numerous successes within the motorsport arena, Mark goes into the season opener at Brands Hatch with realistic targets for himself and the team.
“Being completely honest, I know there is more to come from me but that is down to time in the car. Do I expect to go out at Brands Hatch this weekend and fight with the big boys? No, because that isn’t realistic. But I do think we can get involved in the pack, and I just want to get stuck in and enjoy myself.”
“It’s a long season and this is only the first event so I have to use it to keep learning as much as I can. There are a lot of elements that are going to be new to me, like the three races in a day and the challenges that come from managing the tyres on a front wheel drive car, but I’m really looking forward to it and can’t wait for the weekend to get underway.”
Mark’s return to racing will be televised live on ITV4, as well being able to stream via the ITV website, with qualifying scheduled for 15:10 on Saturday (6th April). Followed by all three races taking place on Sunday (7th April), beginning with the opening race at 11:20, followed by Round 2 at 14:15, with the final race of the weekend scheduled for 17:05.