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British Touring Car Championship squad Team BMR have produced a front-engined, front-wheel-drive kart to essentially train drivers ready for tin-top racing.
Team BMR have built a FWD kart along with a more traditional rear-engined machine for its junior and senior classes with tin-top racing planned within a new motorsport academy.
This particular scheme is due to start in 2016 and will also offer TOCA support drives worth up to £210,000. Hoping to run its own non-MSA permitted 10-round Championship from next season, the overall aim is to progress drivers through the academy to eventually a BTCC seat within five years.
All classes have top awards up for grabs. The winner of the Junior class, which will accommodate for 12 to 15-year-olds, will win a free drive in the 2017 Ginetta Junior Championship and is said to be worth around £60,000, whilst the winner of the Senior class will be awarded £50,000 towards their 2017 season budget which is likely to be in the Ginetta GT4 Supecup.
The front-engined category winner will then graduate into the Renault UK Clio Cup with the team which is worth up to £100,000.
BMR boss Warren Scott explained: “The goal is to bring the youth through. In the early stages of our racing careers, we didn’t really get a direction of where we were to go. The British Touring Car paddock is a realistic goal for people in this country, whereas Formula 1 and GP2 aren’t. People spend tens of thousands of pounds each year on karting. I’m not saying that this series will be cheap but there’s real possibilities going further. There will be experienced drivers such as [BMR touring car racer] Aron Smith giving you advice and talking you through how to improve along with a full-motion simulator. It’s a real opportunity for progression.”
Smith has led the project since joining the team in 2014 and has explained how the handling of the front-engined kart is similar to that of a touring car.
“The kart really is like a scaled down car, with mini wishbones, caster, camber, toe which is exactly what we could alter on the touring car,” said Smith. “It’s phenomenal just how close the set-up of the two is. The driving style of the kart is completely different to what you would experience in the rear-wheel-drive kart. Making that transition from the kart into their first tin-top such as a Clio will be so much easier because they’ve already learnt the throttle application, lift-off oversteer and just being able to control the car properly.”
Scott’s team joined the BTCC as a one-car outfit in 2013 and since then it has grown in success swapping the S2000-spec SEAT Leon for two Vauxhaul Insignias and two Volkswagen CCs in 2014 along with signing double BTCC champion Alain Menu.