Rover tipped to join BTCC next year

According to paddock rumours Rover is set to join the BTCC fray with a car built by Lola Cars in next year's new-look British Touring Car Championship

Rover tipped to join BTCC next year

The revived British car maker is said to want to field its 45 model in 2001 with Lola building the car as the Huntingdon-based constructor is part of the Phoenix Consortium which bought Rover from BMW earlier this year.

"There is lots of speculation surrounding Rover and motorsport and there are a number of opportunities open to us," said a Rover spokesman. "There are many possibilities in the wide spectrum of motorsport and there is every chance of us doing one of these exciting possibilites. At the moment we are enjoying the excitement of choice." No comment was available from Lola.

It is still unclear how many manufacturers want to be involved in the 2001 BTCC, though several are believed to be considering their options. Vauxhall has already announced plans to compete, while its current rivals Honda and Ford have yet to commit to a definite programme.

William de Braekeleer, motorsport boss at Honda Motor Europe commented: "I think the new rules are a good way forward, but the decision is not taken yet. We are having discussions with Honda UK, as they would be more involved in any future programme."

Ford is believed to have lobbied for a slight reduction in the minimum length requirement for 2001 (From 4.2metres to 4.1metres) which would allow its Focus to compete, but its spokesman said: "We haven't decided yet."

Potential series returnees, apart from Rover include Peugeot and Alfa Romeo. Peugeot motorsport manager Mick Linford says that he has already put a proposal to his board for a 2001 BTCC programme. If a budget for that is signed off he would aim to run a two-car works challenge and build a further two cars to sell as a basis for a junior or supported team. Former BTCC racer Gary Ayles, whose team is running two Alfa 156s in the National Saloon Championship this year is working hard to put together an Alfa BTCC programme for 2001, using either the 156, or the new 147.

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