Welsh motor racing star Ben Power, runner-up in this year’s MRF Legends Cars National Championship, has this morning been officially confirmed as the winner of a coveted prize test in HMS Racing’s race-winning British Touring Car Championship Toyota Avensis.
Power, who scorched to no fewer than 14 victories on his way to the Vice-Champion’s position in the recently concluded Legends Cars campaign, will join HMS star Rob Austin at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit this coming Monday, 20th November, where the Guilsfield ace will make his BTCC test bow.
Announced at the Autosport International Show at Birmingham’s NEC back in January, the prize offered by MRF Legends Cars in conjunction with HMS Racing [formerly Handy Motorsport] is one of the biggest ever offered in club level motorsport.
Using a standalone points system away from the main championship table, drivers were graded in key areas such as performance, presentation and sportsmanship after each race weekend in order to ultimately reward the driver considered most complete over the course of the season.
“I’m absolutely elated”, said an ecstatic Power on hearing the news, “It’s an honour to have been chosen, looking at the criteria and such strong competition, and I do pride myself on being respectful and professional to fellow drivers, spectators and marshals.
“The team always does a great job of presenting the car, and also in the pits, and I think the judges acknowledged we were strong in all areas this season. This is the silver lining for me after just missing out on the championship.”
Over the course of the year eventual champion John Mickel (Horsham) and Power took the lion’s share of points in the performance category, while presentation points were dominated by Steve Whitelegg (Bury) and Nathan Anthony (Horley). In the sportsmanship category, a number of drivers scored strongly round-by-round to underline the spirit which is a cornerstone of Legends Cars.
Ultimately, Power came out on top across all categories by a mere three points from Whitelegg while Anthony was third overall. Only seven points covered Anthony, fourth placed Jack Parker (Wolverhampton), Mickel in fifth and sixth placed Miles Rudman (Sutton Coldfield).
Power will benefit from several passenger laps at Silverstone on Monday alongside Austin before getting behind the wheel of the Northgate and Duo-liveried BTCC Toyota himself. Whitelegg and Anthony will both experience passenger laps for finishing second and third in the prize points table.
“I’m so grateful to Phil Cooper at MRF Legends Cars, Simon [Belcher] at HMS and the other judges, Rob [Austin] and Dave Newsham”, added Power, “I’m a huge fan of the BTCC and I’ve always aspired to race in touring cars, I’d love to compete on the package at some point in the future and climb the ladder like former Legends racers Simon and Dave.
“There’s no car I’d rather drive for my first BTCC test, Rob [Austin] obviously won the final round of the touring cars this year in the Toyota so I can’t wait to have the opportunity to drive it and couldn’t ask for a better introduction as Rob is a top-notch driver. To me, there are a lot of similarities with touring cars and Legends with the 30 car grids, close action and overtaking – I can’t wait!”
MRF Legends Cars National Championship owner Phil Cooper commented: “We’re obviously delighted for Ben he has this incredible opportunity to test a race-winning BTCC car with HMS Racing and I’m sure he’ll do a fantastic job at Silverstone on Monday. It was very close between Ben and Steve [Whitelegg] in the end, just three points, and both would have been deserving winners.
“It’s a sensational prize, easily one of the biggest and best ever offered in club level motorsport, and I’ve no doubt Ben, Steve and Nathan [Anthony] are going to have a great day. I must say a special thank you to Simon Belcher from HMS for enabling us to offer such a wonderful opportunity.”
HMS team boss Belcher added: “When I originally spoke to Phil about the idea of the BTCC test, I remembered how much fun Legends was when I raced in the championship. In club level motorsport, especially, it is all about having fun and the love of the sport so we worked out a way to reward points based on the three key elements of performance, presentation and sportsmanship.
“Myself, Rob [Austin] and Dave [Newsham] scored drivers in each category after each round based on the championship report and pictures supplied, and it has been great to see many of the drivers really lifting their game as the season went on.
“Legends Cars is a club level version of touring cars and is where the likes of myself and Dave Newsham cut our teeth before making our way to the BTCC, so what better than rewarding these drivers with a BTCC experience.”
BTCC Prize League Table:
1st Ben Power, 466pts
2nd Steve Whitelegg, 463pts
3rd Nathan Anthony, 443pts
4th Jack Parker, 440pts
5th John Mickel, 437pts
6th Miles Rudman, 436pts