Team boss Dick Bennetts says he hopes to be able to name the drivers who will be at the wheel of the new eBay Motors BMW 1 Series cars ‘within a fortnight’.
The West Surrey Racing-run team is currently building up its first NGTC-spec cars for the upcoming BTCC season and has retained backing from eBay Motors for 2013, although it has yet to make any announcement on who will be at the wheel of the new BMW when it makes its debut in the season opener at Brands Hatch.
Tom Onslow-Cole has already been ruled out of a drive after switching to Team HARD, although both Rob Collard and Nick Foster are widely expected to return for a third successive season.
Talks are also ongoing with a number of other drivers, with Colin Turkington – who won the title with WSR back in 2009 – amongst those linked to a drive after revealing he is working on a return to the championship for the first time since his title-winning campaign.
“Hopefully we’ll be making an announcement in the next two weeks,” Bennetts said, although he refused to comment when quizzed on specific names. “As we speak, we have one driver signed and we are getting close with two more – but until they are signed, they aren’t done. However, we are getting there and once everything is in place we hope to make an announcement – I’d say within a fortnight.”
Whoever ultimately ends up at the wheel of the 1 Series will be driving the first car designed and built in-house by WSR since the MG ZS.
Work on the car continues apace at WSR’s base in Sunbury on Thames, with extensive investigations having gone into the 1 Series before the decision was ultimately taken to use it as the basis for the team’s first NGTC machine.
“We have had a few little hiccups that have slowed us down, which you would expect, but we have a target date in mind with the cars,” he said. “We might be a few days late with that but we have a lot of guys working hard on them and there are a lot of parts coming through the door – it’s almost like a second Christmas at the moment.
“It isn’t hard to work out that a smaller car is lighter, and with a bigger car, you’d have to work to get it down to the right weight. That takes money and looking at the rules, you shouldn’t actually be able to get much weight out of it. The weight of the two road cars was certainly a factor, and the new 3 Series is bigger and heavier than the old car. We did our homework in terms of weight, length, height – all that kind of thing – and we decided to go with the 1 Series.
“We got the green light from BMW and from eBay Motors to go ahead with the plans, and we have to be thankful to eBay Motors as without their support, we wouldn’t have been able to build the NGTC car. We know it will be a challenge and there is a lot of work involved when you are building a new car from scratch, but it should be a fantastic season.”