Words: Clive Goldthorp Photography: Martin Williamson
MG KX Momentum Racing’s drivers for the 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) were announced at MG Birmingham yesterday. Jason Plato, who took the new, NGTC-specification MG6 GT to an impressive third in last season’s BTCC, will be joined by 23 year-old, Leeds-based Sam Tordoff for this year’s campaign.
The young Yorkshireman, who replaces Andy Neate in the second MG6 GT, started racing karts back in 2000 and worked his way up the Karting ladder to finish sixth in the 2008 KF1 Super One National Championship before switching to the Renault Clio Cup and finishing eighth in 2009. Another season in the Renault Clio Cup netted Tordoff third in 2010 but he also raced in three rounds of the BTCC that year for Triple Eight Race Engineering, which now runs the MG KX Momentum Racing MG6s – all three races were on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit and Tordoff had a best result of tenth.
Tordoff competed in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB during 2011 and 2012, finishing seventh in his first season and then third last year. He has been a British Racing Drivers’ Club Rising Star since 2010, was a Porsche Carrera Cup Scholarship finalist in 2011 and is one of the seven British drivers who will be supported by the Jason Plato-led KX Akademy in a number of the Championships on the BTCC Package in 2013.
Jason Plato and MG KX Momentum Racing’s Team Principal, Ian Harrison, reckoned that, with Tordoff in the second MG6 GT and delivering on the track, winning Championships and maximising success would become a lot easier. Both also confirmed that MG KX Momentum Racing’s Engineers had undertaken a lot of development work during the last few months and so they were confident that the MG6 GT would now not only be much easier to drive quickly in the dry but also benefit from much-improved handling in the wet.
Harrison added that the reliability issues caused by the failure of several, standard TOCA-sourced components which had resulted in three DNFs and potentially cost Jason Plato the BTCC Drivers’ title last season had been identified and resolved. Plato commented that the NGTC-specification cars had proved to be difficult beasts to get working correctly but reckoned that, after last year, the MG KX Momentum Racing MG6 GTs were in much better shape to take the fight to the Hondas in 2013.
AROnline was able to have a quick Q&A session with MG KX Momentum Racing’s new signing, Sam Tordoff, and he clearly shared his KX Akademy mentor and team-mate, Jason Plato’s, optimism for the coming season.
How long is you new contract with MG KX Momentum Racing for?
My contract is just for this year but there is obviously huge potential for the future with commercial partners like SAIC Motor/MG and Tesco on board – it’s up to me to capitalise on the opportunity. I’m looking to build a long-term relationship with MG KX Momentum Racing. Jason is a good guy to work with and I couldn’t be in a better place.
What are your objectives for this season?
I won’t be making any excuses! The MG6 GT won five races straight out of the box last year. I want to be right up there at the front with Jason and battling with the Hondas. I’ve been competing in other Championships on the BTCC Package since 2009 and so know all the circuits. I’ve raced against the likes of Dave Newsham and Árón Smith in the Renault Clio Cup – they have both made the grade in the BTCC so now’s the time for me to do so.
Why have you decided to forge a career in the BTCC instead of in, say, GT or Endurance Racing?
The BTCC is where my sponsors – JCT 600 Limited, GardX Protection Limited and Premia Solutions Limited – want to be. The other Championships cannot compete with the BTCC in terms of the fanbase, TV and other media coverage etc. I am also a member of the KX Akademy and that has enabled me to graduate to the BTCC by making up the shortfall in my budget for this season.
You currently work for the well-known Regional Dealer Group, JCT 600 Limited, which was founded by your Great-Grandfather, Edward Tordoff, back in 1946 – does the company have any plans to open an MG Dealership?
Yes, I’m a Trainee Accountant at one of the company’s Dealerships in Leeds. We don’t have any plans to open an MG franchise at the moment but, with MG being owned by SAIC Motor – China’s biggest OEM – and the new MG models which are in the pipeline, we may well look at that in another two or three years’ time.
AROnline also took the opportunity to have a brief Q&A session with MG Motor UK Limited’s Sales and Marketing Director, Guy Jones.
What are MG Motor UK’s objectives for 2013 on track?
Well, put simply, to win, win, win – and with both drivers. We embarked on our BTCC Programme in 2012 with a brand-new package and with huge expectations on our shoulders but we overachieved against our objectives and that gives us cause for optimism in 2013. Sam Tordoff adds an exciting element to that MG KK Momentum Racing package this year – he’s widely recognised as rising talent and has had the best grounding to prepare him for his step up to the BTCC. We went into 2012 with a lot of hope but we go into 2013 with a lot of confidence.
What are MG Motor UK’s objectives for 2013 off track?
MG will have much more relevant products this year – we’ve already launched the MG6 BTCC Edition whilst the MG6 Diesel and MG3 will be reaching the showrooms during the course of the year so we expect MG KX Momentum Racing’s successes on the track to translate into sales which should, in turn, mean more new MGs on the roads.
The Media Event at MG Birmingham this week may have been a tad more understated than last year’s but all MG KX Momentum Racing’s key players seemed to be genuinely optimistic about their prospects of success in this year’s BTCC. Hopefully, more victories on track will, indeed, lead directly to more conquests on the showroom floor…
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