West Surrey Racing will not be a reputation well-known to these who don’t observe the British Touring Automotive Championship, however their status is one which precedes them. Whereas WSR has lower its tooth within the close-knit racing of British Touring Automobiles for properly over 20 years, their story stretches again quite a bit additional than that.
West Surrey Racing (WSR) was initially created in 1981 by Dick Bennetts below the umbrella of West Surrey Engineering to compete within the British Components 3 championship. The precedent for future success was properly and really established when Jonathan Palmer received on the automobile’s debut, together with securing the championship title that 12 months. Since then, WSR has been instrumental in success for a lot of notable drivers who went on to race (and win) in Components 1. The aforementioned Jonathan Palmer together with Ayrton Senna, Mauricio Gugelmin, Mika Häkkinen, Reubens Barrichello and Nigel Mansell all frolicked in vehicles run by WSR.
As appears to be commonplace for motorsport-based corporations, the skin of the constructing is pretty understated compared to what goes on behind closed doorways.
Making your method via the doorway, the primary indicators of this success are evident. Trophies line the wall from ground to ceiling behind the very F3 automobile – now sympathetically restored – that took Jonathan Palmer to the drivers championship.
The sub-assembly room subsequent door is designated for gearbox, engine, suspension and damper work. Whereas these parts type a part of the regulated checklist, WSR have damper dynamometers and engine/gearbox constructing amenities in an effort to wonderful tune their setups for every respective circuit.
Strolling into the huge expanse of the principle workshop, the three present BTCC vehicles are the primary you see. WSR design, construct and marketing campaign three vehicles, two below the Staff BMW banner and one below Rokit MB Motorsport’s. Additional to this, WSR have designed and constructed two similar buyer vehicles for Ciceley Motorsport.
Every of the three vehicles had their very own bay, with ample work surfaces for no matter job is required. You’ll additionally be aware the absence of automobile lifts, bar one. There’s a superb purpose for this – the WSR mechanics must be snug engaged on the automobile in the identical method always, be it trackside or on the workshop.
Alongside the three present vehicles have been a number of extra in varied levels of labor. The primary was a BMW 1 Sequence hatchback of the physique form WSR campaigned between 2013 and 2018 earlier than reverting again to the extra conventional sedan. This shell was a spare that was fortunately by no means wanted.
The uncovered nature of the physique shell offers an thought of what chassis-specific gadgets fall below the remit of shared parts regulated by TOCA. Whereas this automobile will in the end be constructed up and bought on to race in a collection apart from the BTCC, it offers a superb indication of what the group discuss with as ’24 hour prepared.’ Ought to a structurally-severe crash happen, a shell on this state could possibly be constructed again up to an entire operating automobile inside one full day.
Subsequent to this sat Colin Turkington’s 2021 BMW 330i, by which he received the 2019 BTCC championship. This automobile was within the strategy of being constructed up as soon as once more, after which level it’ll take its place in a personal assortment.
This shell is what the race vehicles begin out as, pulled from the meeting line earlier than any main meeting takes place.
Following an outing for the primary check date of the season a day prior, a race truck was parked inside, having simply had a automobile unloaded. With two vans for 3 vehicles, these not solely operate as automobile transporters but additionally cellular workshops, the break room and group command centre over the course of a race weekend. Drawer upon drawer of each conceivable spare half which can be wanted fill both facet of the centre aisle, together with exterior lockers for bigger gadgets.
After which there’s the tyres – copious quantities of tyres. Goodyear provides the collection with various compounds because the management tyre, and the WSR group took a big provide alongside to check forward of the aggressive season.
The ‘patch’, as it’s affectionately identified, sits in its personal devoted room beneath the massive mezzanine. This 15m2 stable metal piece weighs in at at over 10 tonnes and has been set to be completely degree. Its function is to make sure suspension and chassis setup is totally correct, in addition to to diagnose any variations in a chassis following an impression. To get the vehicles onto the patch, the group makes use of a forklift with extraordinarily lengthy forks.
If the doorway show didn’t allude to the victorious nature of West Surrey Racing, the huge expanse of the workshop wall actually does. Dozens upon dozens of trophies, three tiers tall line the again wall. Carl – the group supervisor – joked that these are the leftovers after drivers and producers had taken their decide. These trophies are the fruits of labour from the 15 outright championship titles, 9 independents’ crowns and over 100 race victories campaigning BTCC programmes for BMW, MG, Honda and Ford.
As my time at WSR drew to an in depth, the constructing was eerily quiet with many of the group having left by this level. Seeing the vehicles sat in silence was in full distinction to the frenetic and shut racing the vehicles expertise over a BTCC race weekend.
If my transient perception into the interior workings have been something to go by, WSR are going to be a pressure to be reckoned with this season. In a observe up function, I’ll delve extra into the 2022 BTCC BMW 330e and the way hybridisation has developed the collection.