Reid optimistic about MG debut
|Friday, September 7th 2001, 16:17 GMT|
The all-new MG team makes its long-awaited British Touring Car Championship debut at Silverstone this weekend, and, according to lead driver Anthony Reid, could be right in the fight with the dominant Vauxhall Astra Coupes.
Although the West Surrey Racing-run ZS EX259s of Reid and team mate Warren Hughes have been hampered by poor weather during testing, a huge amount of progress has been made by the team in a short amount of time.
Few comparisons have been available with the rest of the BTCC pack in terms of laptimes, but Reid is confident that the package is right.
"The main battle we've had is the weather," he said. "We've got ourselves into a good position, though and we're pleased with where the car is. I'm confident that we will be competitive."
Former single-seater ace Hughes, who is also making his BTCC debut this weekend, is similarly optimistic. He said: "Every time we run the car, we take huge steps forward I have a lot to get my head round, but I'm adapting quickly. I can't wait to get going."
MG is not the only team planning to give the Vauxhall Astra Coupes of title rivals Yvan Muller and Jason Plato a run for their money though. Peugeot has made massive strides with its 406 Coupe in recent weeks, and lead driver Steve Soper almost won the Feature race at Oulton Park two weeks ago.
The team is confident that the faster sweeps of Silverstone this weekend and Donington Park, in two weeks' time, will better suit the 406 Coupe.
"The car felt fantastic," said Soper. "It was a shame we couldn't finish, but we've made great progress. Although Vauxhall still have an advantage, they will be in for a shock."
Although Plato and Muller have their own private battle for the title, they are conscious that the rest of the pack could, for once, get in their way.
"Although I am 10 points behind Jason, it is still possible for me to win the title this year," said Muller. "But it could be tricky if two drivers clash on the track and only one of them is in the title fight. If it is Jason fighting, fair enough, but it would be a shame if Peugeot or MG decided it."
The battle for the Production class is even closer, with HTML Peugeot 306 drivers Simon Harrison and Roger Moen split by the Barwell Honda Accord of James Kaye. All three are separated by just 10 points and the title could go to any of the trio in the last three double-headers.