Tin-top star makes a per­ma­nent switch to GT rac­ing with top squad Bar­well Motorsport

Motor Sport News - - Headline News - Pho­tos: Jakob Ebrey By Rob Lad­brook

Bri­tish Tour­ing Car star Sam Tord­off will chase a ca­reer in sportscars af­ter opt­ing to join Bar­well Motorsport to con­test next year’s Bri­tish GT Cham­pi­onship aboard a fac­tory Lamborghini Hu­ra­can.

Tord­off will share Bar­well’s sec­ond Hu­ra­can GT3 with Liam Grif­fin for the full Bri­tish cham­pi­onship, and also has his eyes set to some Euro­pean out­ings.

Tord­off en­joyed a stel­lar 2016 sea­son, fin­ish­ing sec­ond in the BTCC in his Wsr-run BMW 125i M Sport to cap the strong­est year of his ca­reer so far.

De­spite that, Tord­off de­cided to walk away from tin-top rac­ing and in­stead chase a dif­fer­ent ca­reer path, bring­ing an end to his four-year BTCC stay.

“As much as I love the BTCC, I didn’t want to be stuck in that bub­ble of only be­ing a tour­ing car driver, so I want to show peo­ple that I’m versatile and can race in other dis­ci­plines too,” Tord­off, 27, said.

“BTCC also tends to be the end of a ca­reer path, not the start of one. You pay to drive there, re­gard­less of if you fin­ish sec­ond or 22nd, so it wasn’t a sus­tain­able op­tion.

“My man­ager, Tim Sug­den, knows Mark Lem­mer [Bar­well boss] well and when this chance came about it made com­plete sense. There’s a ca­reer lad­der in GTS and sportscars and there are mul­ti­ple man­u­fac­turer pro­grammes.

“I’ve never raced a pure-bred GT3 car, and I won’t get my first test in the Hu­ra­can un­til next year. My ex­pe­ri­ence of rac­ing a rear-wheeldrive BMW will stand me in good stead and I have my back­ground in the Porsche Carrera Cup to fall back on too, so it won’t be com­pletely alien.

“I’ve known Liam for a long time, hav­ing raced against him, and I know he’ll be a great team-mate and that the Lambo will be a very quick car. Bri­tish GT3 will be a very high level for next sea­son, but we’re com­ing in aim­ing to win.”

Tord­off and Grif­fin join series reg­u­lars Phil Keen and Jon Min­shaw at Bar­well for 2017. Team head Lem­mer said he be­lieved that Tord­off and Grif­fin would have great chem­istry.

“We couldn’t be hap­pier with our driver line-ups, and hav­ing Sam on board is hugely ex­cit­ing,” he said.

“Liam strug­gled this sea­son shar­ing his car with two dif­fer­ent team-mates [Fabio Babini and lat­terly Alexan­der Sims]. He’s prob­a­bly one of the most nat­u­rally tal­ented Ams on the grid, but you need sta­bil­ity to make the full pack­age.

“Jon has that with Phil, and Phil squeezes ev­ery last ounce of per­for­mance out of Jon, much like Alexan­der did with Marco [At­tard in 2014-’15]. Sam will do that for Liam and to­gether they will be gen­uine ti­tle con­tenders.”

It was the news that any­one plan­ning to com­pete in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB didn’t want to hear. Dan Cam­mish will be back in 2017. He will be back and de­ter­mined to make his­tory. Cam­mish has al­ready bro­ken Carrera Cup GB records. He could break some more next year. He could be­come the first driver to win three ti­tles in the cat­e­gory. He might even beat his man­ager Tim Har­vey’s most wins in the series record.

But for those put off, a Cam­mish win should be tougher this time. A clash be­tween the Porsche Su­per­cup Ger­man round and the Snet­ter­ton TOCA meet­ing means he has 13 races in­stead of 15 to seal the crown, with no dropped scores to take into ac­count. That will at least put him un­der some pres­sure. In the­ory.

First rea­son for that caveat, he hasn’t needed those ex­tra two races the pre­vi­ous cam­paigns, wrap­ping up the ti­tle at the penul­ti­mate Sil­ver­stone event both times.

Sec­ond, the clash may not even oc­cur. With the spec­u­la­tion sur­round­ing the fu­ture of the Ger­man Grand Prix, Cam­mish may not end up com­pet­ing abroad that week­end.

Re­gard­less, it’s great news that Cam­mish will be step­ping up to the Su­per­cup, along­side re­main­ing in the Bri­tish series. Now we’ll re­ally get to know how good he is. He’s dom­i­nated a strong GB field the last two years but that will be noth­ing com­pared to the level of those in the Su­per­cup.

Even if some of this year’s top driv­ers may be mov­ing on, the F1-sup­port cat­e­gory is still one of the tough­est series out there. Cam­mish has made a great start by sign­ing for the mighty Lech­ner squad. But now he has to de­liver.

He has fi­nally got the op­por­tu­nity to com­pete on the world stage and this will be a cru­cial year. Fail to im­press and it may be his one chance gone. Suc­ceed and he could still find him­self on the path to a fac­tory Porsche drive.

With the ex­cep­tion of one mis­er­able year in Bri­tish GT4, Cam­mish has blown away the com­pe­ti­tion in his main series for three of the last four years. If he can win races again in his new series this year, that will keep the mo­men­tum up.

Cam­mish has stated he’s tar­get­ing the ti­tle. That may sound like a lu­di­crously bold claim to make but he car­ries with him the con­fi­dence of be­ing un­stop­pable in the past two years. And it will be a level play­ing field with the new 911 GT3 Cup racer in­tro­duced for next year. So he stands as good a chance in 2017 as any.

Then there’s the small mat­ter of that third Carrera Cup ti­tle too…

The M3 Cup has been granted MSA cham­pi­onship sta­tus for the 2017 sea­son.

The new-for-2016 M3 Cup strug­gled for num­bers at times this year, with 750 Mo­tor Club com­pe­ti­tions man­ager Giles Groom­bridge act­ing on driver feed­back to im­prove the M3 Cup’s long-term vi­a­bil­ity.

“We had 14 cars at the end of the sea­son at Don­ing­ton and it should’ve been more,” he said. “Cham­pi­onship sta­tus was strongly iden­ti­fied as im­por­tant to our driv­ers and we saw some weren’t will­ing to com­mit to races fur­ther away at places such as Croft.”

Groom­bridge added the cham­pi­onship sta­tus had al­ready led to high lev­els of in­ter­est from driv­ers.

New en­trants in­clude for­mer Toy­ota MR2 fron­trun­ner Alex Knight and T-cars cham­pion Si­mon Walker-hansell.

Grif­fin will share Tord­off’s car re­tains his Gardx livery Tord­off wants to be­gin sportscar ca­reer Tord­off fin­ished sec­ond in the BTCC af­ter Brands Hatch show­down

Cam­mish will take part in Su­per­cup next year

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