Byford to drive the AmD Milltek Racing.com BTCC Golf
Byford, from Colchester, will make his BTCC debut in the outfit’s VW Golf at his home circuit of Snetterton in just over four weeks’ time (6-7 August) with sponsorship from personal backer Eurocell as well as team partners AmD, Milltek and Tesco Momentum 99.
The 39-year-old has an excellent reputation in the BTCC’s supporting categories. He was a front-runner in the Renault Clio Cup as long ago as 2002 and won the crown in 2007. He was also a title protagonist in the SEAT Cupra series.
Byford told btcc.net: “Firstly, a big thanks to all those sponsors for putting their faith in me. It’s the opportunity I was looking for some years ago when I was scrapping in Clios and SEATs. Shaun is an old pal and when the chance to drive his Golf came up I put everything into making it work – it’s been well documented he had a lot of enquiries so to be ‘the chosen one’ is good for the confidence!”
The Essex racer believes he’ll fit in well with the BTCC’s bumper-to-bumper action after a decade of competition in saloons. He also arrives with good technical know-how having won the British Formula 3 class B title back in 1995. He also proved more than a match for Tom Onslow-Cole when, after several years out, he returned to race in the Clio Cup in 2006. It was Onslow-Cole of course who raced the Golf during the first half of this season before leaving to join Team Aon.
Byford added: “I wouldn’t be having a go if I didn’t think I could muck in with the rest of them. I’d certainly like to think I can hold my own in a pack, but of course this is perhaps the hardest pack imaginable! More than any other championship, you simply do not underestimate the competition when you come into the BTCC. I’m not going to spend too much time analysing things beforehand – I’m just going to arrive at Snetterton and get on with it.
“I’ll be looking to get the same sort of results with the Golf that Tom did. Sure he’s got a lot more BTCC experience than me, but I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t be targeting what he achieved with it.”
AmD team principal Shaun Hollamby, who raced the car as a one-off at Croft last month, added: “I’m really pleased with our choice. We had massive interest from potential replacements for Tom and then it really came down to a shortlist of four. Martin ticked all the boxes for me – he’s no nonsense and just a thoroughly decent and easy bloke to work with which is exactly what we want in our team.
“His CV speaks for itself and bear in mind I had the Golf up to 12th place in one of the races at Croft and he’s much better than I am! Seriously, he perhaps should have got his chance in the BTCC a few years ago. We’re delighted he’s making his debut with us.”
Finally, Byford is looking forward to being one of the star BTCC drivers during the specially organised pit lane walkabout autograph sessions for the public on race day mornings.
He said: “I suppose I’ve had a taster of the BTCC crowds and public interest from Clios and SEATs but this is going to be ten or probably even 20 times that by comparison. I’ve always been amazed at just how many people get into the pit lane so I’d imagine it’s going to be a very busy 45 minutes! Being the new boy and given the following the team and the car have attracted I hope we get a lot of people coming to see us to say ‘hi’ and to grab a poster…”