BTCC suffers manufacturer blow

Two manufacturers the BTCC had been hoping to snare for the new-look 2001 season have revealed they have no plans to build cars to the new low-cost formula recently unveiled by British Motorsport Promotors. BMP, who took over the running of the series from TOCA earlier this year, has pledged to have six manufacturers on board by the time the revised series kicks off next year. However, only Vauxhall has so far offered its commitment to the championship

BTCC suffers manufacturer blow

Audi and Toyota have ruled out returning to the series, in which both have had considerable success in the past. Audi's UK importer has played down talk of its involvement, saying there was never any dialogue with Audi itself. A further blow has been dealt by Toyota, who admitted to having looked at an entry but decided against joining the series for now.

Toyota was high on the list of potential entrants, as the UK arm of the Japanese giant was said to be interested in the restricted running costs of the new rules. Since Toyota pulled out of rallying last year, the maker has not had a car from its road car range represented in motor racing. However, a spokesman for the Japanese concern ruled out a BTCC entry, as this would clash with Toyota's desire to pour all of its efforts into its Formula 1 entry in 2001.

"We were approached by several teams and looked into the possibilities," admitted the spokesman, before adding "we're not going to return to the BTCC at the moment. It would have been a change in what we'd planned to do."

A possible factor in the reluctance of manufacturers to commit to the series is the uncertainty over new car prices in Britain; this is currently the subject of a Government investigation, and manufacturers fear being forced to cut profit margins, which would reflect on the amount of money available to spend on national racing programmes.


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