Words: Clive Goldthorp Photographs: Simon Davies/Pegasus Photographics
MG KX Momentum Racing’s nascent 2012 British Touring Car Championship campaign took two significant steps forward at Silverstone yesterday: a just-completed, Triple Eight Race Engineering-built NGTC MG6 GT hit the track for the first time and MG Motor UK announced that, following the recent news about the two companies’ partnership, Castrol would be joining MG KX Momentum Racing as a partner sponsor.
Triple Eight Race Engineering Team Principal, Ian Harrison, and his colleagues had won a race against time to meet their first goal and have one NGTC MG6 GT ready to run at the BTCC Media Day – MG KX Momentum Racing had only been formally launched at the end of January – and, during the opening Press Conference, even reigning BTCC Champion and works Honda Civic driver, Matt Neal, complimented Ian Harrison and his crew on a ‘stellar achievement’ in having the car ready for the Media Day.
AROnline asked BTCC Series Director, Alan Gow, how excited he was by MG’s return and how significant he thought that would be for the future of the Championship. Gow responded: ‘Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t get excited but I am enthusiastic about MG’s return. I’m sure MG will do very well – the BTCC Programme will be a major element of the company’s marketing strategy. It’s great to see MG back in the BTCC.’
Jason Plato was, on the other hand, ‘very excited. MG KX Momentum Racing is a really exciting project. We’ve got a great team and great sponsors. There’s all to play for… I know Triple Eight of old – they’re the only team capable of pulling off what we’ve had to do in such a short time.’ His own car had only just been completed and the building of teammate Andy Neate’s had now begun. Jason added that ‘the lads at Triple Eight haven’t had too much sleep for the last two weeks but they are second to none.’
Plato also said he was delighted that Castrol had joined the team: ‘The car’s looking great and having Castrol on board adds to our credentials as a team that’s got great backing and means to do the business. Castrol’s a brand synonymous with high performance and technology within the automotive and motorsport world.’
Castrol’s involvement, in fact, cements an historic link with the MG marque – Sir George Eyston, the famous pre-World War II driver and a Director of Castrol sponsored many record-breaking attempts and was involved with such MG experimental cars as EX120, EX127, EX179 and EX181.
The racing MG6 GT was unveiled in the MG KX Momentum Racing garage by Jason Plato and Andy Neate before Jason took the car out on the circuit with the other BTCC cars present for a few laps in order to give the assembled Photographers a chance to obtain some tracking shots. AROnline readers can see more of our Photographer, Simon Davies’, excellent photographs in his BTCC Media Day Silverstone March 2012 album on Facebook. Mindful of the old Motor Racing adage ‘if a car looks right, it generally is right,’ the consensus of, at least, the specialist MG media present was that the new, ‘Now Generation’ Touring Car (as Alan Gow had previously quipped) MG6 GT looked right when seen in the metal and on the track.
MG KX Momentum Racing understandably opted not to run the new car during yesterday afternoon’s Official Test Session because of parts supply issues – the team’s focus will now be on readying Andy Neate’s car for the opening BTCC Meeting of the season at Brands Hatch in less than two weeks’ time.
However, with the public being given free access to the Silverstone National circuit for the Official Test Session, a steady stream of BTCC fans visited the MG KX Momentum Racing garage for a look at the new car. AROnline took the opportunity to obtain some feedback on the car from MG Internet community legend, ‘Pat Pending’ and the first retail customer to buy an MG6 GT, Gill Martin.
Mr. ‘Pending’ commented: ‘Amazing – this really marks the return of MG’ and observed that, while the shark-like vents of the MG SV had been replaced by letterbox vents behind the front wheel arches, the NGTC version ‘was still recognisably an MG6.’ Gill Martin thought that the car looked ‘phenomenal’ and wanted her’s wrapping in the same design scheme! However, although she reckoned that the racer’s rear spoiler would be a tad impractical on the road, she was pretty keen to put some contrasting MG graphics on the corners of her car’s bumpers. Gill was, no doubt, echoing the sentiments of her fellow MG Car Club MG6 Register members when she wished everyone associated with MG KX Momentum Racing all the best throughout the coming season before adding that she and her husband, Richard, planned to attend several BTCC Meetings.
Guy Jones, MG Motor UK’s Sales and Marketing Director, can justifiably state: ‘the feedback to MG going racing again has been incredible and there’s a real passion and pride building around the team.’ However, Mr. Jones and his colleagues at MG Motor UK have to extend that passion and pride in the marque far beyond the existing MG community in order to generate sales in MG Dealers’ showrooms and provide a sustainable return on parent company SAIC Motor’s massive investment in the brand. His own infectious enthusiasm for the BTCC Programme and a realistic assessment of what MG Motor UK needs to do when should, though, prove to be a key asset in achieving those objectives.
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