Rewrit­ing the mod­ern day record books with a cat­a­logue of suc­cess

Motor Sport News - - Headline News -

In the mod­ern era of the Bri­tish Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship, Vaux­hall has been one of the giants.

Since the ad­vent of the two-litre era in 1991, the Lu­ton firm was a con­stant pres­ence un­til it with­drew in 2009.

Even af­ter that, pri­va­teer ver­sions of the Vec­tra and In­signia model took part in the cat­e­gory through un­til the end of 2014, mak­ing it the most en­dur­ing mar­que on the grid.

Ini­tially, the Vaux­hall Cava­lier cars were run by DC Cook Rac­ing Ser­vices, which also sup­plied pri­va­teer cars to Ecurie Ecosse for 1992 and 1993.

Cook then lost the con­tract to Ray Mal­lock Lim­ited, which had run the Ecurie Ecosse cars (notably for David Les­lie) for 1994.

The cam­paign flour­ished in 1995 and pro­vided Vaux­hall with its great­est mo­ment in the Su­per Tour­ing era, when John Cle­land lifted the driv­ers’ crown in 1995 in a field that in­cluded eight other man­u­fac­turer teams.

For 1997, Vaux­hall Mo­tor­sport boss Mike Ni­chol­son took the brave de­ci­sion to switch to the newly formed Triple Eight Race En­gi­neer­ing team headed up by Roland Dane, ex-f1 driver Derek War­wick and for­mer Wil­liams Grand Prix En­gi­neer­ing guru Ian Har­ri­son.

Although the cam­paign was again tough to be­gin with, as the Vec­tra had poor aero be­cause it was copied from the Ger­man rac­ing ver­sion of the sa­loon, the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Triple Eight and Vaux­hall went on to be­come one of the most suc­cess­ful in the cat­e­gory.

When cut-price Btc-spec reg­u­la­tions were in­tro­duced to the BTCC in 2001, Triple Eight built the Vaux­hall Astra Coupe.

It would go on to raise the bar. It won four straight driv­ers’ ti­tles in the hands of Ja­son Plato, James Thompson and Yvan Muller, and Vaux­hall claimed man­u­fac­tur­ers’ spoils in each of those sea­sons.

The Astra Sport Hatch, though unloved by its driv­ers, took the makes’ trophy in 2005. The fol­low­ing sea­son, Fabrizio Gio­va­nardi ar­rived and Triple Eight set about build­ing a new Vec­tra to S2000 spec­i­fi­ca­tions to suit the Ital­ian. He claimed two straight crowns. Then, with­out warn­ing, Vaux­hall with­drew at the end of 2009.

Cle­land was cham­pion in 1995 Gio­va­nardi won the 2008 ti­tle

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