Now that the stands have been packed away and the display cars have been taken back to their workshops, it is time to reflect on what was learned at Autosport International at Birmingham’s NEC on the third weekend in January.
And, for the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, there was some huge news. Firstly, there was the confirmation that Subaru is joining the ranks as a new manufacturer entry, with champions Jason Plato and Colin Turkington at the wheel of the Levorg Sports Tourer.
The deal is quite a coup; getting a manufacturer-backed agreement is the Holy Grail for any team, and Warren Scott’s Hertfordshire-based operation has managed it after only three years in the BTCC.
According to insiders, Subaru was lured by the idea of writing the next chapter in its sporting heritage. When anyone thinks of the Japanese firm in motorsport, they generally think of Colin McRae, Richard Burns or Petter Solberg ripping through the forests in rally-spec Imprezas. Subaru has moved on as a road car firm and this circuit racing project will underline that fact.
It takes a while to build and perfect a new car, but Team BMR has not only the best drivers but also the best engineering brains in the business. The combination of team, manufacturer and drivers is a mouth-watering prospect.
For up-and-comer Goff, it's a great switch. He will be jumping into the car used by sportscar-bound Andy Priaulx in 2015, and it is a heavily subsidised seat.
The car’s backers, IHG, have seen something in Goff, who broke his victory duck at Snetterton last season, and have gone with their instincts. It is a young driver’s dream and although he hasn’t raced a front-running rear-wheel-drive car before, he is in the perfect place to learn all about it.
Another of the fresher-faced drivers is 22-year-old Tom Ingram, who has re-signed with Speedworks Motorsport to pilot a Toyota Avensis. He landed a couple of podiums last season – including a maiden podium after an epic lead battle with old master Plato at Rockingham – to announce his arrival at the top table. He’ll expect more.
Then there's fan favourite Rob Austin. He has mothballed his aged Audi A4s and jumped from his own team to join Handy Motorsport in another Toyota Avensis. Austin has been team manager, engineer, boss, race driver and sponsor-hunter in previous seasons and nevertheless managed to win two races in the past three years. Free from those shackles, Austin will have the chance to shine. This will be another interesting sub-plot.
Andrew Jordan’s switch to the Motorbase Ford Focus team is a match made in heaven. The car was a winner at the end of last year and Jordan, after a tough year in an MG, wants to bounce back.
These are only the latest moves. Factor in the returning drivers in familiar cars, such as the title-winning Honda Civic Type Rs of Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden and the Mercedes-Benz A-Class cars of Adam Morgan and Aiden Moffat, and the entry list is already bulging with quality.
It may be two and half months before the first BTCC event of the season at Brands Hatch on 2/3 April, and there will be more names to sign up, but the coming season is already shaping up to be even more promising than the 2015 campaign.