Excitement in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship is at fever-pitch today, Sunday, 27th August, with the official confirmation Handy Motorsport is bringing the legendary Alfa Romeo brand back to the UK’s biggest and best motor racing series.
Making huge waves in the BTCC paddock, today’s announcement during the eighth race meeting of the current season at Rockingham in Northamptonshire marks a major development for top team Handy as it joins forces with the Alfa Romeo Dealer Council to reunite the championship with one of the globe’s most popular automotive marques.
The Swindon-based team, which is headed-up and owned by former BTCC driver Simon Belcher, will field a front-wheel drive Alfa Romeo Giulietta from the 2018 season forward which will be piloted, to great delight, by the squad’s hugely successful fan-favourite driver Rob Austin.
Behind the scenes, work on the project has been ongoing for some time and the completion of the deal for Handy to run the Giulietta model – which will contest the outright championship and Independents Trophy – comes through a partnership with the Alfa Romeo Dealer Council and is supported by the UK’s premier Alfa Romeo dealers.
“It has been a long project to bring Alfa Romeo back to the BTCC, with many people working on this exciting development for some time – it’s incredible to have brought everything to fruition and an honour to be running the Alfa Romeo marque”, said team principal Belcher at the launch.
“Alfa Romeo is a passionate brand, steeped in heritage, and we have already started building our first bodyshell. Not only is this huge for Handy Motorsport, and fantastic for Alfa to have the latest Giulietta represented on the BTCC grid, it’s also massive for the BTCC as a whole.”
Synonymous with motorsport throughout its history, Alfa Romeo – which is owned by the FIAT group – hasn’t been represented on a BTCC grid since 2007 so with Handy Motorsport bringing the Giulietta into the championship from next year it is mouth-watering news for ‘Alfisti’ across the UK.
On two occasions Alfa Romeo has won the coveted BTCC title, the first with Andy Rouse in 1983 at the wheel of an Alfetta GTV6 and the second coming in 1994 with Italian ace Gabriele Tarquini piloting an Alfa Romeo 155.
Commenting on the news that an Alfa Romeo will return to the grid with Handy Motorsport, Alfa Romeo UK Dealer Council representative Peter James said: “It is fantastic to see Alfa Romeo return to the BTCC especially at such an exciting time for the brand. Alfa Romeo returning to the BTCC has been driven by the desire of the Dealer Council to see the marque back on the grid.”
Paul Doick, General Sales Manager for TH White Swindon, one of the Alfa Romeo brand centres, added: “I have known Simon [Belcher] for many years and we have been working together to deliver this project. I am confident now that working with Handy Motorsport will raise the brand awareness of Alfa Romeo and deliver incremental sales for the brand. There are very exciting times ahead…”