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BTCC Announces New Look BMR for 2015

The new look BMR team for 2015. Image Credit:

The new look BMR team for 2015. Image Credit:

A few days ago, the Touring Car world was treated to a much anticipated announcement regarding the fate of two former champions. In a video that echoed the shock factor of last year where Alain Menu returned to the grid, Team BMR announced that both Colin Turkington and Jason Plato would join the team alongside owner Warren Scott and Aron Smith. The reactions across the BTCC community have been massive, due in no small part to Turkington and Plato being two of the most popular names on the grid. Having immersed myself within these discussions now is the time for me to set forth my opinions on this unto you all.

Team BMR may have only been in the BTCC since 2014, but to say they have made a name for themselves in somewhat of an understatement. Almost a year ago, I found myself writing a very similar article regarding the BMR announcement which named a certain Alain Menu as one of the drivers for the 2014 season. As my all-time favourite touring car driver, to hear that Menu was returning to the championship where he made his name was huge; the rest of the BTCC paddock and fans all appeared to be in certain agreement. So when it came to 2015, BMR was going to have to pull something rather special out the bag to top their previous effort. And I think it is safe to say that they have more than risen to the challenge.

The majesty of the announcement was such that it was broadcast through the official BTCC channels. As the video played, the darkness was soon brought to light; Team BMR would be providing drives for both two time champion Jason Plato and 2014 champ Colin Turkington. This ended the months of speculation surrounding the two drivers; many feared Turkington would repeat his 2010 bad luck and be left without a drive despite winning the title the year before. And of course there were the rumours of Plato’s drive for this year, which were not helped after Plato’s on-going silence and recent tweet:

“Might have a year off”

The initial reactions to the news have taken the form of ‘Plato vs Turkington: who will come out on top’. There are those groups that are devote worshippers at the altar of Plato, but on the other hand there are those that see him as the human form of Satan himself. And as the reigning champion, Turkington is definitely not short of followers. Without diving headlong into the debate, both have proved themselves worthy of two championships to their name which therefore means that both have a considerable chance of excelling with Team BMR. However, what I would like to talk about is not their abilities to score good finishes, but their ability to work well together within Team BMR itself.

The final race weekend of the 2014 season saw a direct (albeit one sided mind you) battle between Colin Turkington in the eBay BMW and Jason Plato in the KX Momentum Tesco Clubcard Fuelsave How Many More Sponsors Does A Car Need MG. Throughout the season Plato had been complaining about the performance disparity between the RWD cars (read: the conquering BMW of Turkington) and the FWD cars. Turkington took the championship in the first race, with Plato not able to finish as high up the order as he needed. Race two ended for Turkington in typical Plato-maturity where he quite obviously took Turkington out at Paddock; it was almost comical at the time but such amusement quickly turned to sourness directed at Mr ‘It Wasn’t Me’ himself. I would also like to point out that in 2012 at Knockhill Aron Smith and Jason Plato had a coming together that ended both their races. Let’s hope all is forgotten now ey?

Will BMR face a fierce rivalry like that of Plato and Muller in 2001? Image Credit:

Will BMR face a fierce rivalry like that of Plato and Muller in 2001? Image Credit:

This leads me perfectly to my theory about the inter-team politics that may dominate the BMR garage this year. First of all, I would like to postulate that what may escalate is a situation similar to that of 2001, the infamous rivalry of Plato and Yvan Muller. In 2000, Plato had to play second fiddle to Muller in the Vauxhall team, which was often shown when Plato had to wave Muller through on numerous occasions. Therefore, for the 2001 season Plato got shared number one status with Muller so they were finally able to race themselves. One race of particular note was Silverstone where Muller was slowing down on the last lap and in Plato’s attempt to pass he hit Muller which damaged his car (apparently). On the podium Muller refused to acknowledge Plato in what was a truly immature display. The best part was, it turned out Muller was already suffering with a problem, yet he used the Plato overtake as an excuse as to what caused it. Plato did eventually take the title after Muller’s car gave up on him in the final race at Brands Hatch. Of course rumours flew that Plato’s engineers had done something to Muller’s car. Since then, Plato has always had the number one status in all the teams he has competed for.

If we now fast forward back to 2015, we are in a situation where there are two double champions in the same team, both of whom will be fighting for the top. Unless Plato’s sponsorship has given him weight in the team, I cannot imagine either of them settling for being number two to the other. Even in the announcement video, although it was all big news and playfulness, I definitely got a whiff of tension already between the two. Plato knows his status in the paddock, and one may get the impression that this gifts him the opportunity to be top man in any team. I believe that the 2015 BTCC season may play out in a similar fashion to the 2014 F1 season; Plato and Turkington will replace the Hamilton and Rosberg dynamic. Will there be any underhand play? Will the different sides of the pit garage be divided? Will there be more immature behaviour? If I am honest, I can see this coming more from Plato than Turkington. Turkington is a fast, consistent driver, but he has not been playing the game for as long as Plato. It should be fascinating to watch it play out.

Aron Smith impressed at BMR in 2014. Image Credit:

Aron Smith impressed at BMR in 2014. Image Credit:

While all of this is going on, I believe that BMR may have a secret weapon for this year. With the media attention falling heavily on Plato and Turkington, BMR can play their underdog joker and have the potential to kill it all stone dead. Aron Smith has always been a quick driver, but when you manage to gain more race wins than Alain Menu in a season you know there is something special there. I am going to put my money where my mouth and say that I am actually willing to bet that Aron Smith will out-drive the former champions this year and will be the one to beat. There will be no need for him to get caught up in any politics going on in the team; he can just go out and score consistent results and challenge for the title.

The only factor that will determine the course of 2015 for BMR is the performance of the car. In 2014, the Volkswagen cars were fast but I do not think they had the consistency that cars such as the MG, BMW and Honda had. However, building on their 2014 success the only way can be up. Since writing this the cars have been out testing at Thruxton and have been looking stunning. There is something about an all-black livery on the VW Passats that makes them look pure evil ferocity in a car.

What are your predictions for BMR for the 2015 season?

Follow me on Twitter for more of my motorsport ramblings @lewisglynn69

Keep Driving People!

Peace and Love!