Motor Racing: pounds 100,000 boost for drivers

Click to follow
Would-be touring car racers received a major boost with the launch yesterday of a pounds 100,000 championship. The winner of the Vauxhall Vectra Challenge, a one-make saloon series which will run with all rounds of the popular British Touring Car Championship, will also be loaned a Vectra race car for use in the 1998 series.

The championship, aimed at young British drivers who want to build a career in touring cars rather than aim for the few seats available in Formula One, is expected to attract a capacity 30-car field in its first season. Replacing Formula Vauxhall, the company's waning single-seater series, the contest is likely to regularly race in front of crowds topping 30,000. In addition, both terrestrial and satellite television will cover the event. A celebrity car will also be entered in each of the races.

"The cars will be fast, they will sound great and the series will act as a valuable stepping stone into the BTCC," Vauxhall's Mike Nicholson said. The new race-prepared machines, which will be developed by current touring car driver James Thompson, will use new 2.5-litre V6 engines producing more than 200 horsepower.