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News 2007: Motorbase and Howell Aiming High in 2007

Motorbase Performance has made a significant move towards joining the big boys within the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship with the announcement that Gareth Howell will head their 2007 challenge.

Gareth HowellThe team, which competed with one car last year, signalled its serious intentions of a shot at the prestigious title at the end of the season by snapping up the Toledos used to such winning effect by manufacturer team SEAT in 2005. And Howell's signing has rubber-stamped those ambitions.

The Kent firm was the first of the 2006 teams to make the switch from a BTC-specification racer to FIA S2000-spec touring cars - the future of the sport - in a move which team principal David Bartrum hopes will pay dividends in the early part of the new campaign.

He said: "Everyone here wants to be at the forefront of every area we compete in. We want to lead on and off the track and getting the cars when we did gave us a jump on all our rivals.

"Our engineers have re-built the cars and they are as good as new and ready to test and race. Added to the fact that these Toledos are proven race-winning BTCC cars, we hope our planning and preparation will give us an edge in the early part of the new season while other teams are still learning about and developing their cars."

He added: "Having Gareth will only add to our strength. He's already shown he's got the talent to run at the front and win, that's why we wanted him.

"Motorbase Performance is changing up a gear in 2007 and we're very excited about the challenge ahead in this season's BTCC. We're a highly-professional and serious team with serious ambitions and everyone within the team will be giving 100 per cent to realise those ambitions."

"The Toledo's a great car and Motorbase are a great team to be part of, so the combination should work very well. It should be an exciting year."

The Wrotham-based team is working towards signing a team-mate for Howell and may even run a third Toledo later in the season, such are its plans to establish itself as a main player within Britain's leading motor racing championship.

Last season, Motorbase ran one Honda Integra with Dave Pinkney which gave them invaluable experience of competing at the top level.

Bartrum said: "We dipped our toes in the water last year – this year we're jumping right in head first! It's a serious challenge for honours and luring Gareth away from the current title holding team shows that we mean business."

The 2007 BTCC kicks off in Motorbase's and Howell's back yard – Brands Hatch, Kent – on April 1. It will be contested over 30 races in ten events at circuits throughout England and Scotland, finishing at Hampshire's Thruxton on October 14. Fans will be able to keep in touch with the team's progress on ITV1 throughout the year.

Howell, 26, of Beckenham, who helped Team Halfords to the Teams' title in the last two seasons with several race wins, said: "I just want to do the best job I can for Motorbase to repay the faith they've put in me by giving me this fantastic opportunity.