Alfa Romeo BTCC squad HMS Racing to sit out 2019 season

The HMS Racing Alfa Romeo British Touring Car Championship team will sit out the 2019 campaign, but plans to return to the category in '20

Alfa Romeo BTCC squad HMS Racing to sit out 2019 season

The Swindon-based team introduced Alfa's Giulietta model to the grid this year, but due to "several factors" the squad and its driver Rob Austin will now take a sabbatical.

Its TOCA BTCC licence (TBL) is on loan to Motorbase Performance for next season.

"We are beyond disappointed HMS Racing will not be on the BTCC grid next year after five years of continual progression," said team principal Simon Belcher.

"Very unfortunately, we have had hurdles placed in front of us which we simply can't overcome in the timeframe to meet the registration deadline [December 1]."

Driver Rob Austin added: "This is heartbreaking news, we worked so hard to bring the Alfa Romeo to the BTCC grid and we worked through the tough period of development that's required with a new car.

"We felt we were making progress and, with a solid winter testing programme, believe we would have enjoyed a strong 2019.

"As a team we did all we could and working for Simon and the HMS Racing team for the last three years has been an absolute pleasure, I would like to thank them for all their hard work and support.

"It's quite late in the day, so I am not sure what 2019 holds for me as a driver."

Handy Motorsport, which became HMS Racing in 2018, was formed by Belcher while he was racing.

Belcher competed in Legends and contested three years of the Renault UK Clio Cup, before switching to the British Touring Car Championship in 2014.

He was 27th in the standings in '15. Austin joined the team in 2016, taking over at the wheel of the team's Toyota Avensis, which was initially overseen by Speedworks Motorsport.

HMS then branched out on its own in 2017 and Austin won the final round of that year's contest for the team.

Austin scored two podiums in the Giulietta - which was built by HMS Racing - on his way to 14th in last season's standings.

HMS Racing's absence from the championship was confirmed when TOCA announces its TBL allocation for 2019.

2019 TBL allocation

Aiden Moffat Racing 1
AmD/Cobra Exhausts 2
AmD/Trade Price Cars 2
BTC Racing 2
Ciceley Motorsport 2
Excelr8 Motorsport 2
Motorbase Performance 3*
Power Maxed Racing 2
Simpson Racing 1
Speedworks Motorsport 1
Team Parker Racing 1
Team BMR 2
Team Dynamics 2
Team Hard 4
West Surrey Racing 3

*including one TBL on loan from HMS Racing

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Series BTCC
Teams BTC Racing
Author Matt James
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