2003 British Touring Car Championship season


2003 British Touring Car Championship season

BTCC season
Previous = 2002
Current = 2003
Next = 2004

The 2003 Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship season was the 46th British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) season.

Changes for 2003

Teams and drivers

For 2003 all three main manufacturers in the premier Touring class ran three cars. Reigning champions Vauxhall cut down to three Astra Coupes by axing its Egg Sport squad and entering three VX Racing-liveried cars run again by Triple 8. 2002 champion James Thompson and runner-up Yvan Muller remained, and Paul O'Neill moved across from Egg Sport to take the third seat. MG expanded to three West Surrey Racing-run ZSs with Colin Turkington joining 2002 drivers Anthony Reid and Warren Hughes after impressing in his debut season with the Team Atomic Kitten MG squad, also run by WSR. Arena Motorsport ran three Civic Type Rs for Honda, with only Irishman Alan Morrison remaining from the 2002 line-up, Matt Neal replaced Andy Priaulx (who left to contest the European Touring Car Championship with BMW) after moving from Vauxhall, and teenager Tom Chilton filled the third seat after an impressive debut year in the Barwell Motorsport-run Astra. Proton again returned as a fourth manufacturer team, retaining both David Leslie and Phil Bennett in its two Impians. Vic Lee Racing again served as Peugeot's representative on the grid (although the marque pulled its factory support at the end of 2001), entering two newly built 307s for Dan Eaves, who had contested both 2001 and 2002 for the team, and Carl Breeze, who joined the team mid-way through 2002. Production class champions Synchro Motorsport made the step up to the top class with champion driver James Kaye running an ex-works Honda Civic Type R, as did Rob Collard with his self-run team, entering an ex-works Vauxhall Astra Coupe, and GA Motorsports with Gavin Pyper racing a similar machine. Pyper ran out of funding mid-way through the season, resulting in Breeze being poached from VLR to replace him and Paul Wallace being called up from GA's Production class squad to run a second Astra, previously raced as a one off by Gareth Howell. Howell himself later appeared in another ex-Triple 8 Astra for Team Dynamics. Renault Clio Cup driver Daniel Buxton took over Breeze's driving duties at VLR.

Barwell Motorsport headed the Production class field after stepping back down from the Touring class and acquiring Synchro Motorsport's title winning Honda Civic Type Rs, with young debutant Luke Hines and Alan Blencowe, moving from GA Motorsports, at the wheel. Edenbridge Racing cut down to a single BMW 320i for single seater convert Michael Bentwood, causing Tom Boardman to switch to John Batchelor's team (now known as Team Varta) in a new Peugeot 307, Jim Edwards Jnr returned in a Honda Accord as the team's second driver. A Peugeot 306 GTi and a second 307 joined the line-up mid season together with drivers Jay Wheals and Richard Marsh. GA Motorsport campaigned Alfa Romeo 156s for a fourth year, with Chris Ryan and Paul Wallace driving. However, Ryan withdrew after an expensive crash in the second round at Brands Hatch, and Wallace was called up to the team's Touring class assault mid-season. Mark Fullalove entered mid-season in the Peugeot 306 he had previously raced for Tech-Speed Motorsport with his self-run team, as did Jason Hughes with a Nissan Primera run by his own Kartworld Racing team.

Other changes

* Dunlop were confirmed as the sole tyre supplier, replacing BF Goodrich
* The series included a race meeting at Rockingham for the first time, replacing Knockhill
* Qualifying sessions at each race meeting lasted 20 minutes (compared to the 43 minutes of 2002) and only determined the starting grid for the first race
* The finishing positions of race 1 determined the grid for race 2
* Mandatory pit-stops were introduced for all Touring class cars in both races
* Alan Gow returned as series administrator midway through the season, replacing Richard West

Teams and Drivers

M = Manufacturer Team
I = Independent Team
P = Production Class Team

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