Peter Enckelman, of Premier Division football club Blackburn Rovers, is putting his name to a new team being formed to enter 2007’s Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
The team will be known as Encke Sport and based in Manchester’s Salford Quays area, with the Finnish international goalkeeper, a keen BTCC fan, adding his support.
In a statement issued by team principal Ed Tilley, Enckelman said: “I’ve been a huge fan of the BTCC since coming to the UK; it is the premiership of motor sport and the only thing bigger is F1. To be a part of it is a dream come true. Obviously I’ll put the effort into the team as I have done into my football. No doubt some of the other players will be joining me at many of the rounds.”
Encke Sport plans to contest its first BTCC season with at least two Vauxhall Astra Coupés. The cars have already been liveried up (as pictured above).
Although of the old BTC-Touring specification, the cars remain a potent force. And while only teams fielding the latest Super 2000 machinery will be eligible to win the overall Drivers’ championship, Encke Sport could still score well in the overall Teams and Independents Trophy’s Drivers’ and Teams’ tables.
Tilley, meanwhile, has been busy putting the team infrastructure in place since it moved into its new workshops in early December.
Staff are being recruited at present, with Carl Ayriss already in place as team manager and Ray Grimes as driver coach and operations manager.
New team Encke Sport, backed by Premiership football goalkeeper Peter Enckleman, says its Vauxhall Astra Coupes will be ready to begin testing in the near future as negotiations with several potential drivers continue.
Team principal Ed Tilley said that its Astras – that as ‘works’ Vauxhall cars won a remarkable 62 times from 96 starts from 2001-04 – can continue to be competitive in the right hands.
“We’ve been busy working on the cars to give them an overhaul ahead of the new season and they will soon be ready to hit the track and do some testing,” said Tilley.
"While we are already talking to people, we are still interested to hear from anyone who is looking to make the move into the BTCC and are in a position to be able to offer partly-subsidised drives if the right person comes along.”
Tilley said the team aimed to use 2007 to gain an insight into the BTCC – Britain’s biggest motor racing championship – before switching to cars running to the latest FIA Super 2000 technical regulations in 2008.
He added: “Although we are using this year as a learning year, we have complete confidence that the cars will, with the right driver, be on the ball from the word ‘go’. We did have several options ate the beginning of the project, but opted for the proven race-winning Astras.
“We will spend this year learning everything there is to know about the BTCC in preparation for our S2000 assault in 2008.”