in BTCC rookie year
Liam McMillan, the youngest driver in this year’s HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship, is aiming to finish all 30 races and score top 10 results in his first attempt at the series – which begins at Brands Hatch on April 4/5. Liam, who has just celebrated his 19th birthday, will make his BTCC race debut at the famous Kent track in his ex-Jason Plato SEAT Toledo – which he prepares himself at his own Maxtreme race team workshop in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.
The young team owner/driver completed his final pre-season test at Brands Hatch on March 24th. It was his sixth winter test outing, and his third at the venue which will host the opening rounds of the season.Liam has got considerably quicker each time he has driven his Cobra Engineering/EPMTechnology-supported Toledo.
He continued to experiment with suspension and differential settings at his final test, before swapping onto 2009 control Dunlop tyres and lapping the1.22 mile Brands Hatch Indy Circuit almost one second quicker.Against the majority of the BTCC entries who were testing at Brands Hatch the same day,his 50.372secs best saw Liam finish 14th fastest; which would have put him 14th on the grid after qualifying for Round 1 at Brands Hatch last year.
However, during his fastest lap his car lost fifth gear and was 10kph slower down the straight than it had previously been, meaningt hat his real time would have been 49.800secs – making him 11th quickest on the day and9th quickest in qualifying last year.
The winter tests Liam has completed at Snetterton, Brands Hatch, Silverstone and Rockingham have been very encouraging, and now with new tyres, the latest Toledo S2000 aerodynamic package, a new 16v engine and the experienced Paul Ridgway as his Race Engineering, Liam is confident of making a good BTCC debut.
Liam said: “After a good winter’s test programme, I’m in good shape and ready for the startof the British Touring Car Championship. I’d like to try and finish in the top ten all year really and I want to try and finish every race. That will enable me to gain a lot of experience – and ou can’t do that if you’re sitting in a gravel trap
!“Testing has gone well, and the final test at Brands Hatch was the best yet. We worked on different set-ups and ran with the maximum 70 kilos of ballast on board; we don’t know what the other teams were doing or how heavy or light they were running, but we were pleased with what we achieved. We’ve been testing on last year’s tyres, but at the end of our last test at Brands we put a set of the 2009 Dunlop control tyres on and immediately we were a lot faster. We’ve found out that the new tyre gives thirty percent more grip than the old one did,and with them on we were pulling 2G on some of the corners at Brands Hatch, whereas before the g-forces only measured 1.3.
"The only thing we haven’t been able to do is test the Toledo in the wet. However, I like racing in the rain; in the final round of the Leon Supercopa last year in Barcelona, I was on pole for most of a very wet qualifying session before ending up second on the grid, while in the three very wet races I scored a third and two second place results.
“I’m all set for the BTCC and I’m looking forward to my first race weekend. Racing against professional drivers like Fabrizio Giovanardi and the top independent teams will be difficult, but it’s something I’ve dreamt about doing for many years and I’m ready for the challenge. I can’t wait to get out there!