Callis Grange Nursery and Junior school in Broadstairs got the week off to a thrilling start today (Monday 9th March) thanks to a specially-arranged visit from local British Touring Car Championship racer Michael Crees, and the BTC Racing team.
The local authority community school, which teaches children between the ages of three to seven years, invited Michael along to take part in an ‘inspiring’ morning celebration. With Michael’s two children both pupils at the school, he and BTC Racing team worked in conjunction with Head-Teacher Alison Marshall to pull together a unique and interactive event to help inspire the children to follow their dreams.
The morning’s activities began with a short introduction from Michael during the school assembly before the children moved outside for a close-up look at the squad’s race-winning BTC Racing Honda Civic Type R touring car and a tour of the trailer used during race weekends.
Each pupil also has the chance to win race day tickets for their family at Brands Hatch on April 12th, where they will be welcomed as VIP guests of the BTC Racing team and receive full hospitality, including paddock access and a personal garage tour from Michael himself.
The local press were in attendance throughout the morning, with BBC South East today covering the proceedings for its early evening broadcast which is scheduled to be shown on BBC 1 at 18.30 tonight.
Callis Grange Head-Teacher Alison Marshall commented; “What a fantastic day! Michael has been an inspiration to the children. He has shown that if you work hard, practise, and take advice from those that are there to help you, you may achieve your dream.
“With Michael as a parent at the school, it has clearly demonstrated how parents and the school can work together to provide special, memorable experiences for the children. I cannot thank the BTC Racing Team enough.”
Michael Crees, #777 driver for BTC Racing added; “The kids were absolutely amazing. They were so well behaved; each and every one of them got involved and interacted with us. They were a credit to the school. When they came out to see the car, their faces lit up. A few of them knew about racing, but it was something completely different for the majority, so it was a great experience for them all.
“Every single pupil has entered the competition to win the VIP race day passes. I’m sure that we’ve picked up a few new BTC Racing and BTCC fans along the way!
“Thank you to Alison Marshall and all of the staff at Callis Grange for making us all feel so welcome and to the local press and BBC for coming along to support us.”
The BTC Racing team heads to Brands Hatch this afternoon, ahead of tomorrow’s pre-season test day at the Kent circuit with Michael Crees, Josh Cook, and Tom Chilton all in attendance.
Tom Chilton will compete as part of the expanded three-car BTC Racing line-up for its 2020 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship challenge after penning a deal to join the Brackley-based outfit over the winter.
The 2010 Indy Champion has enjoyed a hugely successful BTCC career since making his debut back in 2002. At the time, he was the youngest driver to ever make the grid at just 17 years old and he made an instant mark on the series, taking 5th in the Independents’ standings.
Works drives for Honda, Vauxhall, and Ford followed as Chilton established himself as a rising BTCC star before switching to the World Touring Car Championship stage in 2012. Returning to the UK in 2017 after a stellar five-year stint in the WTCC, where he secured the Independents’ Title and placed third overall in his final season, Chilton quickly re-established himself as a serious title challenger.
With an incredible 14 outright BTCC race wins and 57 podiums under his belt the 34-year-old has been a consistent championship contender during his impressive tin-top career, coming close to clinching the Drivers title in 2018, where he finished third overall, and as Independent runner-up.
Chilton brings a wealth of experience to the fledging BTC Racing squad for its 2020 title challenge, piloting one of the Dudman/Taylor-owned team’s race-winning Honda Civic Type R FK8 machines, alongside Josh Cook. BTC Racing ended last year’s maiden season running the FK8s in 4th place overall in the Teams and Drivers Championships, and as runners-up in both Independents Standings.
“I’m incredibly excited about joining BTC Racing;” said Chilton. “The team did a sterling job last year. To have ended the season 4th overall and as Independent runners-up in their first season running the FK8 chassis was an outstanding achievement.
“I can’t wait to get testing underway. I have a great history with Honda, and I’m really looking forward to getting back into one again, and behind the wheel of the FK8.
“Josh is a great driver, and I like having good team-mates to push me. I’d like to think that with my years of experience I can bring something new to the team and help to push them on at the sharp end of the grid.
“BTC Racing is a relatively young team, but their attitude and performance caught my eye last year. I like their approach and professionalism. I’m optimistic about the future that we can build together, not just for this season, but hopefully for many years moving forward.”
Joint team Principal Bert Taylor added; “Personally I couldn’t be happier to have captured Tom. You only have to look back over his racing career to see what a true talent he is.
“Tom’s signing is another part of our plan to push forward and challenge for the BTCC title in 2020. He brings a wealth of experience and talent to the team, and I have no doubt that his knowledge will help to develop the Civic further this season.
“We have two great drivers confirmed in Tom and Josh with a 3rd to be announced soon. We have come a very long way in a short time. I feel that we have one of the strongest line-ups on the grid this year for what will be only our 4th season in the BTCC.”
BTC Racing and Josh Cook will carry their successful partnership into a second season, as the Brackley-based outfit sets its sights on the 2020 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship title.
The five-time race winner enjoyed the most successful BTCC season of his career in the squad’s Honda Civic Type R (FK8) last year, taking three race outright wins and four podiums on his way to claiming 4th in the overall standings and 2nd in the Independent standings.
Having penned a late deal to pilot the brand-new Type R just weeks before the start of the 2019 season, the 28-year-old claimed a stunning victory in the opening race at Brands Hatch to mark the #66 machine’s debut, following up with a podium finish at Donington Park just three weeks later.
Two further wins followed at the former Jack Sears Trophy winners’ home track; Thruxton, with the Bath-based racer reaching the top step at each of the series’ two visits to the Hampshire speed bowl.
Notching up more race wins than the manufacturer-backed Honda team, 2019 also signalled a best-ever season for the BTC Racing squad, which recently confirmed an expanded three-car assault on the 2020 title.
With the benefit of an extensive pre-season testing programme in place, coupled with a years’ worth of experience and data, Cook is confident that a second year in the BTC Racing line-up offers up his best chance-to-date of clinching the coveted BTCC crown.
“Continuity is so important in this championship. I’ve never had the chance to have two seasons in the same team and car, and it’s such an important piece of the puzzle;” said Cook.
“We didn’t really manage to get any testing in last year. We just rocked up and won the opening round. That was great but each weekend we just had to work it out on track rather than having any knowledge. So the fact that we get to go into this year with all of that data and some winter testing along with our developments should hopefully take us a step forward.
“We went full guns for the overall title last year; we didn’t have an eye on the Independents until the main one was out of reach. We’re there to try for the overall title. That’s been my aim since I came into the BTCC in 2015, and that will always be my aim. We took more wins than the factory team with no testing. The team were mega and it was a great achievement. We’re arriving with more knowledge this season, and there’s no reason why we can’t take that extra step.”
Joint team Principal Bert Taylor added; “After a stellar 1st season with the team last year, it couldn’t be a better start to 2020 for BTC Racing in securing Josh for our campaign. He showed his talent beyond any doubt in a new car, and with a new team, finishing 4th in the most competitive touring car championship there is.
“To achieve that with no testing is a testament to the ultimate professional Josh is. I’m excited to see what 2020 holds of him and the team. We have our sights set high, and it is all about winning.”