Dave Newsham out for extended run in BTCC ahead of 2017 return
A RETURN to the British Touring Car Championship will not be a brief one if Dave Newsham has anything to do with it.
The Inverness racer rejoined the Championship this year with BTC Norlin Racing and wants to ensure he earns his spot on the grid for next season.
Newsham has long craved some consistency, with his five previous seasons in BTCC coming with a different team each season. With that comes the challenges of learning a new car setup and how each team works, aside from the off-track worries of wondering where he will race for the following campaign.
However, with a car and pit crew that he is familiar with, there is little to stop him this season from making his stay at BTC a longer one.
“It can be a multi-year deal – the team have got to make sure I’m going to get the results for them and there’s no reason why I wouldn’t,” he said. “I think we would all like to stick together for two or three years but it’s up to me to prove myself.
“If I don’t then I’d be happy to say to them ‘you can look for someone else’, so it’s up to me to make sure they don’t need to look elsewhere.
“I’ve missed the feeling of winning races and I want to be up there challenging. Qualifying in pole position will be a big ask but it’s something we’ve got to work towards – it makes your whole weekend easier.”
Newsham’s deal with BTC was confirmed before Christmas, giving him his first full-time drive since 2015. He spent his second season with Power Maxed Racing last year but in their British Rallycross team, which was scrapped mid-season due to spiralling costs.
BTC purchased PMR’s two race licenses and the Chevrolet Cruzes, giving Newsham a familiar base to start with. He filled in for two BTCC weekends last season when Kelvin Fletcher was on paternity leave and quickly got to grips with the change in parts manufacturer, which switched from GPRM to the RML Group in 2016.
Like his last season in BTCC he will race alongside a rookie driver. Chris Smiley did half a season last year for TLC Racing but failed to finish higher than 16th, before switching to the Clio Cup for the remainder of the campaign. Newsham has had plenty of conversations with the 24-year-old and is happy to play the mentoring role for his younger colleague.
“Chris is very competitive and is going to be quick,” said Newsham. “He’s a good guy and very ambitious; he admits openly that last year wasn’t his best half-season and sees this as a fresh start. I’ll do all I can to help him.
“I’m getting towards the end of my career and he’s at the start of his. If I can transfer him some of my knowledge to him then I’ll get a kick out of that.”
The 49-year-old will meet up with Smiley and his fellow BTC colleagues, some for the first time, at the Autosport Show in Birmingham next weekend.
The team will fly out for pre-season testing at the end of next month to Barcelona, which will prove invaluable for the coming season.
“The team are throwing some decent tyres at it as well, so it won’t be a case of holding back to protect them,” said Newsham. “They’ve got a decent budget to do the job properly. I’m starting with a car I know and one of the best engineers I’ve worked with. A lot of the staff have moved over from Power Maxed. It’s the first opportunity I’ve had to step into a car with a package I
“The track (in Barcelona) is one I’d never seen before but I’ve watched plenty of on-board footage. It’s a figure-of-eight track and looks a great place to test. We’re out there with the works Honda team to, so that will give us a good benchmark.”
The ambition for the team is to challenge for the independents’ title in their first season back in the sport. Their initial run, from 2006 to 2015, was under the BTC Racing moniker, but their revamped 2017 team now has the backing of hoteliers Norlin.
“A top-three finish would be brilliant for us. We’ve got to set ourselves a target,” added Norscot Vending managing director Newsham.
“The hard work has already started for the team as they’ve started redeveloping the car and its components.
“It’s usually a hard slog at this time of year for me but I can sit back and relax. I’ve got the easy job – driving the car.”