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What’s On The Menu for 2014

The 2014 British Touring Car Championship has been blown out of the stratosphere with an announcement to end all announcements. Team BMR has been teasing fans and media alike for some time with rumours regarding the identity of its four driver line up. Throughout the day, the phrase ‘Double Champion’ was thrown around. And only a few minutes ago, fans of the BTCC were given the greatest gift they could ever have asked for.

Joining Jack Goff, Aron Smith and Warren Scott for Team BMR is the absolute legend of motorsport, Alain Menu.

Alain Menu is one of the greatest living touring car drivers. He managed to conquer the BTCC twice during the Super Touring Era, which can be described as the galactic emperor of touring car racing. Success in the BTCC during the 90s gained international recognition; to win a championship propelled you into the history books as one of the great racing drivers. To win this title twice in this time, this was more than your average champion.

The distinctive No.2 Renault Laguna of Alain Menu defined the BTCC in the mid-90s

The distinctive No.2 Renault Laguna of Alain Menu defined the BTCC in the mid-90s

I first became aware of Menu in 1992 in which he drove a BMW, with little success. From 1993, Menu began his love affair with the Renault team. The Renault 19 seemed to only really work in the rain, which in Britain is never a bad thing. However, it will not gain you championship success. In 1994, the 19 became the Laguna, and for 3 years in a row Menu finished second in the championship. That is three times coming so close to ultimate glory. And then in 1997, the Williams Renault team and Menu had had enough. Not only did he win the championship, but he absolutely annihilated the competition, securing himself the championship just over half way through the season. Never before had such a dominant display been shown without accusations of cheating. (I am of course referring to the 1994 Alfa Romeo challenge, but that is another story). In 1998, Menu was still the best driver on the grid (in my humble opinion) but due to a run of bad luck, his championship challenge left him 4th overall.

This is what you call bad luck…

It must have felt so good to finally have No.1 on the side of his car after 3 years of near misses

It must have felt so good to finally have No.1 on the side of his car after 3 years of near misses

In 1999, Menu joined the flagging Ford team with Anthony Reid and together gained significant success with the new name. However, it was in 2000 that Menu proved the flame was still very much alive. In a Ford team with the two other legends of Rickard Rydell and Anthony Reid, Menu proved that he was still the one to beat. However, unlike in 1997 the title went down to the final race at Silverstone.

The Super Touring Car era was over. And what a moment to end it on. The greatest touring car driver winning the final Super Touring championship in the greatest manufacturer to have ever been involved in the sport. It was an emotional moment I have to say. Especially because it was a night race.

The multi-million pound Ford Mondeo brought Alain Menu his second BTCC championship in 2000

The multi-million pound Ford Mondeo brought Alain Menu his second BTCC championship in 2000

From 2005 t0 2013, Menu made the move to the World Touring Car Championship with the Chevrolet team. When he first joined, the team was driving the Lacetti, soon to be replace by the Cruze. By 2011 and 2012, Menu was back to his winning ways, finishing 3rd and 2nd respectively. As great an achievement as this is, by this stage the FIA had once again ruined yet another racing series and Chevrolet was the only team that really mattered in the WTCC. It was clear that Menu wanted a fresh new challenge. While Menu was travelling around the world, the BTCC was recovering from its early 00’s slump to become something magical again. The BTCC is his home. No one can resist its charm. Let alone the true God of the sport.

The Chevrolet Cruze defined the WTCC in the last few years. And for Menu it proved successful

The Chevrolet Cruze defined the WTCC in the last few years. And for Menu it proved successful

Alain Menu defines what it means to be a Touring Car driver. He has the speed, the consistency and the regulated aggression needed for greatness. He knows how to race on the limits of what is possible without having to break the rules to get what he needs. He is one of the few drivers who can race and pass others cleanly without feeling the need to push him out the way to get what he wants. He possesses talent, a rare and indeed powerful ally for any race car driver.

He also has one of the most infectious personalities on the BTCC grid. Always smiling, always there with a cheeky wink. I have met the man twice and he is seriously one of the nicest men you will meet. Always willing to chat and have a picture with you. When asked who they think will win the 2000 BTCC season, only he could get away with…

“If I had to pick anyone, it has to be me, eh?” *cheeky wink*

Hearing that my favourite living race driver is returning to my all time favourite race series has made me the happiest person I could be. I was already excited for the upcoming season, but this has just taken it to a whole new level.

Good luck Menu, it is time for you to show these people what racing really is once again.

Menu will be driving the Volkswagen Passat CC. Only the Season Launch at Donington Park in March will reveal the look of the car that will seat the great man himself.

The stage has been set. The legend has returned. Here we go…

The face of a legend. Oh that smile...

The face of a legend. Oh that smile…

Keep Driving People!

Follow me on Twitter @lewisglynn69

Peace and Love!

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