F1 and Le Mans star Mark Blundell is to make a dramatic return to racing, joining Trade Price Cars to compete in this year's Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship.
In a coup for the team, owned by the award-winning Essex-based motor dealership and run by technical partners AmD Tuning, Blundell has agreed terms on a deal that will see him make his touring car debut at the wheel of an Audi S3.
Mark’s move into the highly competitive touring car arena signals a return to full-time competition for the 52-year-old, who brings with him a wealth of experience from the highest levels of the sport.
Having worked his way up the motorsport ladder, Mark made more than 60 starts during an F1 career that saw him race for Brabham, Ligier, Tyrell and McLaren, and was part of the Peugeot team that secured victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours back in 1992.
A spell in the United States saw him secure multiple race wins in CART, whilst a return to Le Mans saw him form part of the Bentley squad that secured a 1-2 finish in the famous round-the-clock race in 2003.
Since then, Mark has gone on to compete in a range of different championships – including British GT, FIA GT and Grand-Am – whilst also expanding his involvement in other areas of the sport.
That includes work on ITV's Bafta award winning Formula One coverage and the creation of his successful sports agency business MB Partners, which counts reigning DTM champion Gary Paffett and factory Toyota sportscar ace Mike Conway amongst its client base.
On his return to competition, Mark will partner rising star Jake Hill, who was confirmed in the sister Trade Price Cars Racing Audi in December.
Pre-season testing for the pair will begin in the near future, with work currently ongoing at AmDTuning’s West Thurrock base to complete the winter rebuild of the two cars.
"It is great to be finally joining the BTCC," said Blundell. "There is no doubting that it is the premier form of domestic motorsport in the UK which will be a new challenge for me, and one I am hugely excited about.
“The enthusiasm of Shaun and Dan has been great to see, and I'm looking forward to contributing to a successful season ahead for everyone in the team."
“We’re absolutely delighted to be able to announce the signing of Mark to complete the driver line-up for our debut season in the BTCC," added Trade Price Cars MD Dan Kirby.
"It’s a signing that reflects all the work that has been going on behind the scenes, and shows how serious we are about this programme.
“There is no doubt that this is a big deal for us, and we are massively excited to have Mark onboard for the season ahead.”
“Having concluded a deal early to sign Jake Hill, we’ve been working hard to secure the right driver to complete our driver line-up," said team principal Shaun Hollamby.
“To attract a driver who has been on the podium in F1, and who has won at Le Mans and in Indy Cars, is a big coup for us as a team, and we are delighted to bring him onboard.
“With the testing programme we have in place, we’re confident that Mark will be up to speed by the time we get to Brands Hatch, and that he will work well with Jake to give us an exciting driver pairing in the Audis for the year ahead.”