Subaru will join the British Touring Car Championship grid for the 2016 season as a full Manufacturer entry after signing a three-year deal with Team BMR, running at least three Levorg estates.
Mounting a touring car campaign is something of a departure for Subaru, a marque inextricably linked with rallying despite the fact it last competed at World Championship level in 2008.
Paul Tunnicliffe, MD of Subaru UK, said: “We’re very excited to have teamed up with BMR for the 2016 championship, the first time a Subaru has competed in the BTCC. We were keen enter out new Levorg Sport Tourer as it offers class leading aerodynamics and handling prowess in standard form. It can be easily developed into rear-wheel-drive to comply with the BTCC regulations so we can’t wait to see how it goes up against very established competition.”
Those rear wheels will be powered by trademark Boxer engines, built by Mountune.
Team BMR only joined the BTCC in 2013 and has expanded rapidly, winning last year’s Independent championship. Team boss Warren Scott said: “Ia m extremely delighted that BMR are to become a manufacturer team in only our 4th of competing in the BTCC.
“I have had aspirations of becoming a race winning team factory support from the very beginning and I am immensely proud of the team for giving Subaru the confidence in partnering BMR.”
Jason Plato and reigning Independent Drivers champion Colin Turkington will handle the Levorg, with Scott in a third. A fourth car could added to the line-up, as well.
Plato, the most successful driver in BTCC history, was instrumental in putting the deal with Subaru together after joing BMR for the 2015 season. He said: “Part of my role when joining BMR was to help secure a manufacturer deal. The iconic Subaru brand has always been right at the top of my wish list.
“It goes without saying that I am very excited about our future together and I’m confident that BMR will produce a fantastic package for me to fight for the championship.”
Turkington added: “I can’t wait to get started with the development of the new Subaru Levorg BTCC race car and I’m more motivated than ever to win. This announcement is huge news for the championship and equally for me.”
The BMR-Subaru entry brings the number of manufacturer-backed teams in the BTCC up to four, alongside Team Dynamics-Honda, Triple 888-MG and WSR-BMW.
BTCC head honcho Alan Gow said: “We are delighted to welcome another manufacturer to the BTCC and particularly one with such an incredible motorsport heritage. Subaru is an iconic brand with a huge following and its introduction to the BTCC is certain to excite our many fans around the world.”
In other BTCC news, a club-level series for 2011-2015 NGTC cars is being planned for the 2016 season, to act as a stepping stone to the main series. The B-Tec Development Series, headed by Triple 888 boss Ian Harrison, has been given the blessing of BTCC organiser TOCA, but has no formal link. Rob Austin Racing has already committed its pair of Audi A4s, which were retired from the main series at the end of 2015.
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By Only Motors