Dave Newsham seals return to BTCC for 2017 season
DAVE Newsham has high hopes for the 2017 British Touring Car Championship after sealing his full-time return for next season.
Newsham made his return to BTCC official today by signing a one-year deal with championship newcomers BTC Norlin, a move which came about when it rapidly appeared he would be without a drive for the next campaign.
The Westhill racer last had a full-time drive in 2015 with Power Maxed Racing, as he took an ill-fated step into British Rallycross this season that was shelved after three races. He returned for a two-race stint in BTCC to cover for Kelvin Fletcher, who was on paternity leave, and outperformed Fletcher’s points tally for the entire season.
“To have been selected for this drive is unreal for me,” said the 49-year-old. “The team has some very solid foundations and there is a real desire to win from all parties. This will be the first time I will go into a season with a car that I know so I am full of optimism.
“There are some great people assembled at the team, including my engineer Steve Brady. The elements are there for us to take some real steps forward in terms of performance.”
BTC Norlin have taken over the Chevrolet Cruze car from PMR as well as retaining some key pit-crew figures, which Newsham hopes will make his transition to the start-line easier. The multi-year contract also gives him the security he has not had in his BTCC career to date, with each of his previous five campaigns split between five different teams.
Off-season testing in Portugal awaits Newsham in the Cruze, something he was not afforded at PMR. His new team-mate will be Northern Ireland’s Chris Smiley, who also had a part-season this year, and the target of winning the constructors’ championship has already been set.
“We will get some preseason testing done too and there are areas of the car that we can develop from my time driving it in 2016,” said two-time BTCC race winner Newsham. “I know I have got to go out there and perform – the pressure is on but I am ready for the challenge.
“I am very grateful to Bert Taylor and the guys at Norlin for the chance to get back on the grid. I am going to try my very best to justify their faith in me.”