BMW’s Sam Tordoff was one of the stand-out drivers in the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC). Although he lost out to Honda’s Gordon Shedden in the last-round fight for the title at Brands Hatch, the Yorkshireman ended the year just two points behind the champion and scored two race victories along the way.

Today he’s confirmed that he won’t be on the touring car grid in 2017 in his Team JCT600 with GardX BMW 125i M Sport, choosing instead to explore career opportunities in other motorsport disciplines. He’s rumoured to be looking at sports car racing, having previously competed in the European Le Mans Series in a Ferrari 458 Italia in 2015.

Although it’s a shame for the BTCC to lose one of its star drivers, the fact is that there are potential career opportunities for an aspiring, talented young driver in other disciplines of racing. At the age of 27, and with his most successful season of racing yet behind him, Tordoff is in a perfect position to launch himself to the next level.  

His decision to leave is no indictment on the BTCC, because it will always remain the series that reaffirmed Tordoff’s talent and offered him the perfect springboard to further his career.

It’s a risk that other drivers have taken in the past. For example, Andy Priaulx’s successful BTCC season with Honda in 2002 put him on BMW’s radar, and set him on a path to World Touring Car Championship glory.