VX Racing is champing at the bit to regain its place at the top of the MSA Dunlop British Touring Car Championship time sheets for 2006. In the last five years the team has won 13 of the 15 BTCC titles but its perfect record was brought to an end last year when Matt Neal snatched the driversí title and Team Halfords took the teamsí championship.
If putting the rest of the grid back in their place is not incentive enough, VX Racing has the tantalising prospect of securing Vauxhallís 100th BTCC race win at Brands Hatch this weekend. The marque was thwarted in the last three race meetings of 2005, but with an all-new driver line-up and a revised car, the Luton manufacturer is confident Brands Hatch will see its landmark victory.
"We only need one more win to complete the century," said VX Racing brand manager Stuart Harris. "It would certainly get the season off to a bang, and weíve got the champagne on ice."
Any of Banbury-based VXRís three drivers could be the one to clinch the prestigious win.
Six-time touring car champion, Fabrizio Giovanardi, has been touted in the press as the greatest active touring car driver in the world. But the 39-year-old has never raced in Britain and admits he faces a steep learning curve with nine new circuits to get to grips with.
"Iíve been practicing the circuits on my computer and Iím confident," said Giovanardi. "I needed a new challenge and Iím not shy of some hard work."
There is no such disadvantage for British touring car prodigy, Tom Chilton, who has already racked up six race wins in the BTCC and is a veteran of four years despite being only 21-years-old.
Chilton is confident going into this weekendís race. Brands Hatch is only a stoneís throw from his home town of Reigate, and he claims to know every nook and cranny of the exciting circuit.
"Iíve probably done more races around Brands Hatch than any other circuit," said Chilton. "Itís so close that every little bit helps. You have to know every bump and turn and twist - and I do."
Hopes are also high for VXRís third driver, 28-year-old Irishman Gavin Smith, who by the end of last season was regularly finishing races in the top six. Smith is now keen to cross the threshold from challenger to victor.
"Thereís no pressure," said Smith. "Iím just going to give it the best shot I can and see what comes of it. I know Brands Hatch well but not compared to some of the other guys. I donít feel at a disadvantage though. The car is up to it and Iíll find the speed."