Currently reading: Racing lines: the ghost of BTCC yet to come
Former champ Andrew Jordan will make one-off return in 2022 car
Damien Smith
News
5 mins read
26 August 2021

Andrew Jordan will return to the British Touring Car Championship at Silverstone on 25/26 September – but we ought not read too much into it: it will be only a ‘ghost’ comeback.

That’s because the 2013 champion will be driving the Toyota Corolla hybrid test car that he has pounded around British circuits this year in preparation for the technology’s big introduction to the BTCC in 2022. The point is to give the public a sneak preview of the new tech and learn more about it through a full race meeting cycle. As for Jordan, he will be under strict orders not to get mixed up in the hurly-burly and interfere with anyone’s championship campaign.

“I can’t get involved, so I will be starting from the pit lane,” he says. “I’m sure I will get a complete breakdown of what I’m allowed and not allowed to do. I will have to read the small print… It’s more to get the hybrid in front of the public. They will allow us to qualify, but I should think we will qualify near the back.”

That comment contradicts series boss Alan Gow, who predicted the Speedworks-run hybrid should be fastest, given the extra 40bhp for up to 15 seconds per lap offered by the Cosworth system in development by M-Sport, which will take over the building of the customer TOCA 2.0-litre turbo engines for next year.

Hybrid test dummy

Jordan stepped down from the BTCC during the first national lockdown last year, when the terms of his deal to race for BMW changed before the start of the delayed 2020 season. It proved a messy and expensive tangle, but it’s all behind him now as he concentrates on building up the family historic race and restoration business with his father, Mike. Still, it has been “interesting” to dive back into the BTCC world and test new technology.

“Really the driver is just a test dummy for the clever guys and girls who look after the electronics,” he says. “But it’s good work, so I can’t complain. Any day you get paid to drive a race car is good! It’s also good to go back and drive those cars, because they’re challenging in their own way, to get back into where they brake for corners. It actually feels quite late compared to what I’m used to now.”

The fine detail of how the hybrid power-boost feature will be used in the BTCC has still to be ironed out, but it’s expected that the current success ballast system will be scrapped completely in favour of balancing boost levels against race results.

“It will bring some strategy,” says Jordan. “It’s not just an overtake button: you can use it to defend, too. If they were to get rid of success ballast and just balance performance on how much boost you have, it would make a bigger impact. A good team, car and driver can handle weight better than others, but if the weight is the same and you have no hybrid boost, you can’t make good out of a bad situation as you can with ballast. Still, smarter drivers will be able to use it better over a race.”

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No going back

Has a taste of the BTCC’s future relit Jordan’s fire for a proper return? Not at all. “It’s the past for me,” he states. “I had an offer to drive this year, and I took a couple of days to think about it – and I sat at home thinking I shouldn’t be thinking about it. A few years ago, I would have just said yes, then sorted the commercial side after. But I went back and politely declined. I wouldn’t have the time to do it, if I’m honest, with how busy we are. I’m really content that I had 12 years in the BTCC and am just happy. I still watch it if it’s on: I have an interest. But I’ve no interest at all in going back and competing. I’ve done my time and am doing other things now. I can’t see myself ever going back.”

The past is the future

He’s still only 32, but Jordan is content to focus on historics and build up the Jordan Racing Team, which already looks after nearly 40 cars. In September, his annual highlight, the Goodwood Revival, will return after a year’s hiatus, and the Jordans will have a typically busy weekend.

“Dad and I will have our Austin A40, the first car we built, for the St Mary’s Trophy,” Jordan says. “We will be taking a couple of Minis for customers for the [all-Mini Cooper] John Whitmore Trophy, and I’m sharing with Nick Swift in his car. Then we’re taking the Dragonsnake AC Cobra, which is in the Stirling Moss Memorial Trophy, the pre-1963 GTs race. It’s the famous drag-racing car owned by Mike Whitaker that has just gone through a full rebuild to racing spec from drag-racing spec. That will be the first race out for it.”

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We won’t miss the Cobra: it’s a bright glittery pink. “It’s the 260 engine, so it’s not as powerful as the later cars,” says Jordan. “They run on smaller tyres and it’s narrow-bodied. But Cobras are all a bit of a handful! I won’t be driving that myself; Dad will be sharing that with Mike. The main cars in the pre-’63 race are Jaguar E-Types, so until we get to testing at Goodwood, we won’t know where we are on pace. But it will get a lot of attention.”

The Jordans will need a dose of luck – or more precisely a splatter of rain – to win the St Mary’s Trophy this year for 1950s hotrods (sorry, I mean saloons). But results shouldn’t be everything at the Revival, and Jordan is simply content to be in a racing world he loves. “I never come into work thinking ‘I can’t be arsed today’,” he says with a smile.

READ MORE

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LP in Brighton 26 August 2021

Regardless of its real performance, I expect that the hybrid car will be "adjusted" to be slighly faster than the non hybrid machines. If not, it's going to be a hard sell to explain to spectators why the assisted car is slower...

It's perhaps a bit ironic that Toyota's highly developed and sophisticated road car hybrid will race with what's effectively a simple press-to-boost standard hybrid system.