Former Formula 1 driver and 1992 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Mark Blundell has formed an alliance with the current Independents’ Champions AmD Tuning which will see the West-Thurrock squad be rebranded as MB Motorsport ahead of the forthcoming campaign.
Blundell, who retired from full-time racing earlier this year will take up a new role as the team’s Sporting Director.
The former F1 driver endured a difficult maiden campaign in the series last year with the Trade Price Cars Racing squad, finishing a lowly 28th in the driver’s standings. Despite this, Blundell admitted that the popular tin-top racing series left a huge impression on him and made him realise his long-held ambition.
Speaking to the official BTCC website, Blundell said; “I made no secret of how impressed I was with the British Touring Car Championship as a platform last year. As I found out quite clearly, it is fiercely competitive, and if you ask anyone involved, it’s that unpredictable race result that is a huge attraction.
“Last year, together with my team at our sports management and marketing agency, MB Partners, we proved the value that the series can have for a number of major global brands, and the forming of MB Motorsport this year will allow us to further these partnerships and build on those relationships.
“Having reached this stage of my career, I love being involved in motorsport and this opportunity is a new challenge for me and one that opens channels for our managed driver portfolio at MB Partners and many of our commercial partners. I have a huge amount of respect for Shaun (Hollamby) and his team who run an excellent operation, so working with them and forming MB Motorsport together provides us with a huge platform to build from both on and off the track.”
Team Owner and Team Principal Hollamby will continue in his roles within the team and is excited about what the future holds for the West-Thurrock based outfit, coming off of a hugely impressive 2019 campaign.
“Working with Mark and MB Partners last year was of huge benefit to us as a team, and this announcement signals the start of a new and really exciting chapter of our time in the BTCC. Mark found out first-hand just how tough this Championship can be, but he brought with him a new level of detail, processes and the highest of standards to our operation.
“I have known Mark for a number of years, and we have always spoken about how we could work together – now we are finally getting the chance to do so formally. Our hope is that combining our pedigree within the BTCC, Mark’s experience and profile, and MB Partners’ commercial expertise can really take our whole operation to a new level and it is one we cannot wait to get started with.”
Blundell’s teammate from last season, Jake Hill, will pilot the first of two Honda Civic Type R FK2’s with Sam Osborne driving the other car following his impressive debut season in the series.
Hill took his maiden win in the Championship last year and is eager to carry that momentum forward into this year’s campaign.
“I had a fantastic year with Trade Price Cars Racing and am hugely grateful to [team boss] Dan [Kirby] and the whole team for all their support and the opportunity to race with them,” said Hill. “For next season, it’s a different challenge. I now know what it takes to win in the BTCC.
“I have worked hard in my career to get myself into a position where I deserve a race-winning car and I truly feel like I am ready for it now. I want to emulate the success that Rory (Butcher) had with the car in 2019.
“That has to be my goal going into this new season and to reward the faith that the team has shown in me.”
The Honda Civic Type R is the most successful Touring Car in the current NGTC era in terms of race wins, this is something which Osborne is hoping to capitalise on.
“I’m ecstatic about this deal and can’t wait for the new season to get underway,” said Osborne. “To be honest, it hasn’t really sunk in yet, but this is a fantastic opportunity for me and one that I want to try and grab with both hands.
“From the moment I first spoke to Shaun, I knew that this was the right deal for me and I’m hoping that this can be the start of something long term with the team. There is little doubt that my rookie season had its challenges, but I’m hopeful that the Honda is a car that will be better suited to my driving style and that I can work with the team and with Jake to learn as much as possible and make progress up the order.
“To regularly challenge for points finishes is the first objective and if I could then make a bid for the Jack Sears Trophy, it would be fantastic.”
The team will unveil further plans for the up-coming season in the coming weeks, ahead of the official pre-season test at Silverstone on the 17th March before the first round of the year at Donington Park on the 29th/29th March.
By Jordan Hollands.