Earlier this month we spoke with Terry Steeden, Communications Manager of Infiniti GB, about the company’s involvement with the ‘Infiniti Support Our Paras Racing’ team and their longer-term objectives for the BTCC.
The two NGTC Infiniti Q50 race cars will be driven by Richard Hawken and Derek Palmer Jnr, both of whom have raced successfully in Super Touring Cars, while the team is led by Derek Palmer Snr who has race experience in Dutch Touring Cars, Historic Touring Cars, as well as FIA GT, British GT and European GT Championships.
Q1. What drew Infiniti to engage with Paras Racing?
Q2. Why BTCC? I can see a Q50 in WTCC or Blancpain, but I hadn’t envisaged a domestic campaign.
The UK is an important market for Infiniti and has recently been establishing itself here with the opening of a brand new design centre located in Paddington London and is currently redeveloping the plant in Sunderland to accommodate the production of the new Infiniti Q30, which starts later this year. So, to be also linked to a British motorsport series and a charity that supports and assists injured British Paratroopers and their families it started to tick a lot of boxes.
Also the BTCC gets a huge amounts of coverage both race meetings and also through TV coverage. This is also not limited to the UK, a lot of interest in what is happening in the BTCC race series is watched all over the world.
Q3. There are two very obvious immediate challenges facing the team – (i) Building a competitive race car, and (ii) training the support crew to work to the exhausting standards of BTCC, at base, and within the demanding time constraints of race weekends: How can Infiniti help with both?
Q4. Is this an exclusive project for Infiniti or might you support other teams if approached?
With the help of these programmes we now need to concentrate on maximising every opportunity they bring us rather than developing even more. There is no point in having activities, as good as they may look, if you are not able to do anything with them. That’s a long way of saying we have no plans at this stage of our development to work with any other teams.
Q5. Twenty years ago, Williams and Renault combined (as Williams Touring Car Engineering) to compete in BTCC. The on-track success was spectacular, as (I believe) was the way Renault’s dealer’s were engaged into the programme. Do you see any parallels here and is there an intentional plan to bring Infiniti dealers closer to the action, including a focused presence in the paddock?
Not only are we employing injured paratroopers within the team we are supporting guys and girls who may have sustained either physical or mental injuries during combat activities in some of the most extreme places and circumstance on earth, whilst defending our democratic society. Taking this message around the UK is important and any support we can give the charity should be encouraged.
Q6. (This question is for my own understanding, especially as I ran Formula Woman) The Paras is very gender specific, do you have a plan to give equal opportunities to women in motorsport?
Q7. Is there anything else you’d like to add?