The old ‘win on Sunday, sell on Monday’ adage was always something of an oversimplification for car makers to go motor racing, but the ethos does still stand. Will BMW really sell more of its new 3 Series because Andrew Jordan scored a win first time out in the British Touring Car Championship? Unlikely. But it sure doesn’t hurt BMW’s cause to re-establish the model as the totem for saloon-car excellence.
It’s heartening that motorsport is still of value to car makers in these fast-evolving times, and beyond the BTCC, there’s a great example on the global stage of a rising Chinese brand using racing to introduce itself to the world.
A four-car super-team has joined the burgeoning series, headed by a trio of drivers who share eight World Touring Car Championships between them: 49-year-old French legend Yvan Muller, Guernsey’s Andy Priaulx, who is making a tin-top return this year at the age of 44, and Sweden’s Thed Björk. Muller’s promising nephew, 22-year-old Yann Ehrlacher, is in the other 03.
But the interest goes deeper than its stellar drivers, because Geely is offering the world a sneak preview of its cars before they are launched beyond its domestic market. “This is a global programme, meaning it has relevance for both China and the western market,” says Lynk&Co Cyan Racing’s Johan Meissner.
So why WTCR? “It’s a perfect match for us,” he says. “[The TCR rules] utilise standard road cars as a base, providing us with an opportunity to connect the race and road car development. The WTCR also has extremely close and competitive racing, with 2019 promising to be one of the toughest touring car seasons ever. Our target is to become world champions.”