In his own words. Colin answers the key questions about the exciting new challenge he faces in the 2015 BTCC as he switches to Team BMR from West Surrey Racing:
Q: How did your deal with Team BMR come about?
Colin: It has been a long time in the making. I tested Team BMR’s Volkswagen Passat at the end of 2013 and I guess loose discussions with team chief Warren Scott started then. Then once the 2014 season finished he pursued me quite relentlessly. We talked right through the winter and in the end we were able to come to an agreement that suited us both.
Q: But of course most of your success has been with WSR. It must be a wrench for you to leave…
Colin: For sure I am stepping outside my comfort zone. I’ve been with WSR for all but one of my seasons in the BTCC and had my two championship successes with them. But aside from that I just felt I was ready for a new chapter, a new challenge and the extra motivation that comes with that. I absolutely loved it at WSR but it just felt the time had come to bring that period to an end. At the same time things conspired to make it impossible for me to continue anyway after they lost their title sponsorship from eBay Motors. Also my engineer over the last couple of years, Kevin Berry, moved across to Team BMR at the end of last season. So I guess that gave me extra confidence to make the switch and to believe I can do well.
Q: You will be team-mates with Jason Plato, Aron Smith and Warren Scott. Plato in particular has been one of your fiercest rivals over the years but now he is a team-mate. How are you going to handle that?
Colin: I would never have dreamed at any stage last year that Jason and I would be partnered in a team this year. But that’s the crazy world of motorsport. In truth I think it’s good for me. I have a lot to learn moving to a front-wheel-drive touring car from a rear-wheel-drive and I think I can harness Jason’s experience in that area. We are two very different characters but they say opposites attract. I’ve no idea how the relationship is going to work out but the important thing is that there are four quick drivers in the team and the goal is to get the VW up to the front.
Q: Plato will still be a rival, though…
Colin: Yes, but then so is everyone else! We are all there to win and your team-mate is your benchmark. But beating Jason will not be my sole focus. I am not going to Team BMR to prove a point. It’s just the next chapter in my career.
Q: How do you get on with Plato?
Colin: Believe it or not, fine. We haven’t spent a lot of time together as we have been in different teams but we have common interests in touring cars and winning so I’m sure it will be a healthy rivalry. There is mutual respect. We have both been at the top of our game for some time and although we go about it in different ways we have both achieved results and are both double champions. It will be really interesting for both of us to see how the other works.
Q: Your success has been achieved mainly in rear-wheel-drive BMWs. Can you be as fast in a front-wheel-drive VW?
Colin: People forget I have done it before. Until 2007 my whole career was based on front-wheel-drive touring cars and I came close to taking the championship in 2006 in an MG ZS. So there is no reason why I cannot be competitive again. Given the resources and quality of people at Team BMR, I wouldn’t be going there if I thought I couldn’t do it. As for the VW, it might take a little time. The car had flashes of speed last year but lacked consistency. But with the foundations of a quick car and a season that looks very open because of so many driver/team changes, I definitely think there is a good chance of a championship challenge.
Q: Have your backers crossed to Team BMR with you?
Colin: Yes, I am glad to say I have retained the support of Tourism Ireland, Lafarge Tarmac, Fane Valley food and the Todds Leap activity centre, for which I am very grateful. I’m also ready to announce a new backer too. Watch this space!
Q: The 64,000 dollar question. Can you win this year’s BTCC?
Colin: That’s my goal. I’m back to defend my title – that’s what I am here to do. I am not entering the season thinking that if I finish in the top three I’ve done well. I am here to win. I understand the enormous challenge that lies ahead but I am going to work hard and give it my best shot, as I always do.
Q: Apart from Plato, can you tell who will be your biggest rivals?
Colin: As I said, I think this season will be more open than ever. But Andy Jordan will be strong in the MG. It’s a bit unclear what Honda are doing but they never come out with a slow car. And of course there’s the trio of WSR drivers. They’re in the championship-winning BMW and I think all three – Andy Priaulx, Sam Tordoff and Rob Collard – will be very strong. Probably at the start of the season the BMW will be the car to beat.
Q: And finally, how proud are you to have the number 1 on your car this year?
Colin: Y’know, it is a dream really. I know how incredibly hard I had to work last year to get the number 1 for this year. When you win eight races and climb on the podium 19 times it looks like you have it easy. But in reality it was harder than ever so I’m very proud to be the current champion. I wasn’t able to defend the title I won in 2009 so it’s a great honour to be able to do it this time.
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