Another former champion is to join the burgeoning ranks of the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship grid, as Alain Menu will contest his first full season since leaving the series as champion at the end of the 2000 campaign. The Swiss driver is a veteran of over 200 BTCC contests and has scored 86 podiums and 36 wins since his debut in 1992.
Team BMR joined the BTCC for the first time in 2013, and over the winter period has expanded from a one-car operation to four cars, acquiring the remaining three Team Hard machines following the original purchase of the first Volkswagen Passat CC mid-way through last season.
Menu will pilot one of the Team BMR VWs, which is already a podium-winning car having scored a third and second place at Thruxton and a third place at Croft in its first competitive season last year. The team has made some significant personnel changes in the off-season to bring in experienced engineers, and now its sights are set on challenging for the Independent Teams’ and Drivers’ championships.
As the only driver to have won the BTCC Drivers’ title twice during the Super Touring era (in 1997 and 2000), Menu’s return adds to the wealth of former champions already expected on the 2014 grid. The BTCC veteran was last seen in the series in 2007 when he made a one-off appearance at Thruxton scoring two top six finishes. Between 2005 and 2012 Menu raced in the FIA World Touring Car Championship, coming second in that championship in 2012, and now returns to the BTCC with an up-and-coming team that scored four podiums last year.
Team BMR will also field another new driver alongside Menu for the full 2014 campaign – Irishman Aron Smith. Smith scored four podiums last season for Airwaves Racing, and took his first BTCC race win at Brands Hatch in 2012. The 24-year-old will drive the second of the team’s VW Passat CCs, while team owner Warren Scott will be switching to the Vauxhall Insignia for the start of the year.
For the first time in BTCC history, this landmark announcement was made via a video reveal on YouTube which can be viewed here.
Alain Menu said: “This is exciting. The best times of my career have been in the BTCC, and it’s going to be nice to see many people I’ve not seen for many years. I’m well aware that it will be different with a new team and new cars, but I’ve been watching the races, have spoken to a lot of people about it and the championship is really picking up at the moment. With lots of competitors, spectators and live TV, there are many reasons to be here.
“I got a call in early December – the plan all sounded good, so I came over to the UK around Christmas time to meet with Warren