By Mick Palmer
On this day 24 years ago Team Dynamics drained the coffers of Alan Gow and TOCA to the tune of £250,000. As an independent team in the Super Touring era of the British Touring Car Championship the very idea of a non-works outfit taking overall victory was almost an impossibility. After a number of seasons where the independents were relegated De Facto to the back of the grid as the grandees tore through superior tyres, fuel and cheque books, Dynamics had been a stand out, and as a result of a number of concessions for 1999 they were the favourites to – if the right circumstances conspired – take that quarter of a million at some point in the season. It wasn’t part of the plan for Matt Neal to win at the very first round of the year.
A year short of a quarter-of-a-century from that momentous day the stalwart outfit have announced that they will step aside from the BTCC for a season. The team will see their services on offer to One Motorsport (formerly BTC) who will also switch to a third engine in three years as they take up the Neil Brown Honda powerplants in place of the TOCA M-Sport Units raced in 2022. Dynamics will offer a support package to the team.
The financial fallout of Dan Rowbottom shifting his Cataclean backing to Motorbase – and more importantly – a financial reshuffle and cuts at main backer Halfords – who backed out of further sponsorship for 2023 – has left the team on the sidelines for this season. Incumbent three-times-champion Gordon Shedden has also confirmed that he will be missing from the grid this season as the decisions meant that he was left without enough time to acquire the funding needed for a place in the field.
The news comes as no surprise within the the world of Touring Cars with insiders knowing what the scenario was upcoming more than a month ago. Alongside that open secret multiple sources confirmed to MRUK that the team were close to a two car deal for the TCR UK championship, but that the funds required to run in that championship at the desired level were not forthcoming.
“I’ve been in the BTCC all my life and it has presented us with many fantastic opportunities and memories, so I’m extremely disappointed that we will not be directly involved and saddened for our dedicated employees, partners, fans and supporters. However, we still want to keep the Honda brand at the forefront of racing and ultimately winning races,” Matt Neal stated.
“Under our tenure, the car marque became one of the most successful manufacturers in the championship, second only to Ford in just half as many years, he continued. “So, we aim to put to good use our resources and developments made over the winter by supporting One Motorsport in 2023 and helping them to win races and challenge for the Drivers’ and Teams’ Championships. We would like to thank everyone involved in the BTCC, especially Alan Gow, who has supported us over the years. We wish all the teams and drivers, particularly One Motorsport with Neil Brown Engineering, the best of luck for the forthcoming season. We hope to actively be back in the BTCC in the future.”
The reveal of the planned sabbatical coincides with two family teams – Ciceley Motorsport, and the Moffat family incarnation of Laser Tools Racing – leaving the series. Aiden Moffat was announced as a One Motorsport driver earlier in the year, and will see the benefits of any tie up with Dynamics, and their equipment. Ciceley team leader Adam Morgan has taken the BMW machines run by the team to manufacturers WSR, where he will continue to run for 2023.
The off-season moves means the championship as of today with 25 drivers announced and two TBL entries still listed, with one of those being a a third Honda – expected to be announced ahead of the BTCC Media day next week.
It has been an admission by TOCA that the ideal grid size for the championship is 28 cars, and prior to the pandemic there were plans to squeeze this down through natural wastage, but prior to 2022 extra licenses were handed out, including to Dynamics, who returned the position prior to the start of the season. Although there are concerns that the current grid has been adversely affected by external financial influences there is a belief that the championship is still one that is desirable to racers and teams who want to step up the ladder with an entry price point that is still not unduly restrictive.