Triple Eight Race Engineering (United Kingdom)

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This article is about Triple Eight Race Engineering's UK operation. For the V8 Supercar team, see Triple Eight Race Engineering (Australia).
Triple Eight Race Engineering (United Kingdom)
Triple Eight Race Engineering (United Kingdom)
Motor racing team
Founded 1996
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Team Principal(s) United Kingdom Ian Harrison
Current series BTCC
British GT Championship
Former series Formula Renault BARC
Drivers
Drivers' titles 2001 BTCC (Plato)
2002 BTCC (Thompson)
2003 BTCC (Muller)
2004 BTCC (Thompson)
2007 BTCC (Giovanardi)
2008 BTCC (Giovanardi)
2011 BTCC Ind. (Nash)
Teams' titles 2001 BTCC
2002 BTCC
2003 BTCC
2004 BTCC
2008 BTCC
2009 BTCC
2011 BTCC (Independent)

Triple Eight Race Engineering is an auto racing team formed in 1996, currently competing in the British Touring Car Championship and the British GT Championship.

The team original focus was to design, build and race Vauxhalls on behalf of the General Motors brand in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC). A close working alliance developed during a decade of success and Triple Eight became Vauxhall's technical partner for motorsport. In 2010, Vauxhall Motors ended its support for the BTCC, however the team continued to compete using Vauxhalls until the end of the 2011 season.

From the 2012 season, Triple Eight began to build and race MG6 GT cars on behalf of MG Motors, in a revival of the marque in the BTCC. The following year, the team entered the British GT Championship, running a pair of BMW Z4 GT3s.

British Touring Car Championship[edit]

Vauxhall Manufacturers Entry (1997–2009)[edit]

John Cleland driving a Triple 8 prepared Vectra at Brands Hatch circuit

Vauxhall Vectra B (1997–2000)[edit]

Triple Eight made its BTCC debut in 1997 by running the works Vauxhall team left by RML and providing Vectras for 2 time Vauxhall champion John Cleland and team owner Derek Warwick. The season was not successful with the Vectra uncompetitive because of aerodynamics and was not competitive against its rivals. John Cleland and Derek Warwick finished 12th and 14th in the championship with their best race results being a 5th. Triple Eight finished 8th in the teams' and manufacturers' (as Vauxhall) award. 1998 would be a much more competitive season, Triple Eight changed the aerodynamic package and the Vectra became a much more competitive car. Triple Eight's first BTCC win came at round 5 at Donington Park after John Cleland achieved a great start and never lost the lead. This would also be John Cleland's first victory since his championship year in 1995, and Vauxhall's first since James Thompson at Snetterton 1996. John Cleland would win again at Donington Park at round 12 in one of the best BTCC races ever witnessed. Derek Warwick would also take his first BTCC victory at Knockhill. While the season was successful, it was not smooth. John Cleland suffered a crash at Snetterton with reigning champion Alain Menu causing cracked ribs and heavy bruising causing him to miss the next round at Thruxton. His place was taken by Brazilian driver Flavio Figueiredo. John Cleland and Derek Warwick finished 8th and 9th in the championship. Triple Eight finished 5th in the teams' and manufacturers' award.

1999 saw Derek Warwick retire from full-time racing and to focus on running the team. His place was taken by Frenchmen Yvan Muller moving from Audi. The Vectra went through some changes as well for the season. The season only saw one win from Vauxhall by Yvan Muller at Brands Hatch round 7. Yvan Muller finished an eventual 6th in the championship, however John Cleland had a much harder season finishing 13th and announcing his retirement after 11 successful seasons with Vauxhall including 2 championships in 1989 (Vauxhall Astra) and 1995 (Vauxhall Cavalier). 2000 saw the final year of the supertouring era and many of the manufacturers depart the BTCC (these included Renault (Williams) – 1997 champions, Volvo (TWR) – 1998 champions and Nissan (RML Group) 1999 champions) leaving Ford (Prodrive), Honda (WSR) and Vauxhall (Triple Eight). Every team increased to three cars. Triple Eight had Yvan Muller, Jason Plato (departing Renault) and Vincent Radermecker (departing Volvo) Ford were the dominate manufacturer throughout the season with all three Fords finishing 1–2–3 (Alain MenuAnthony ReidRickard Rydell) with Yvan Muller and Jason Plato finishing 4th and 5th with Vincent Radermecker finishing 10th. Triple Eight finished 2nd and 3rd in the teams and manufacturers award.

Vauxhall Astra Coupé (2001–04)[edit]

Further information: BTC-T Vauxhall Astra Coupe

2001 saw the arrival of the new touring car regulation. This system was designed to make the cars much less expensive to build and run. Vauxhall replaced the Vectra with the Astra Coupe for 2001 and would so until 2004. Yvan Muller and Jason Plato retained their seats at Vauxhall and were the class of the field. The title came down between Yvan Muller and Jason Plato in the final race. After an early spin by Plato, Yvan Muller looked comfortable to take the title, until two excursions at Clearways caused an oil leak and fire for Yvan Muller leaving Plato champion. Triple Eight finished 1st in the teams and manufacturers award. 2002 saw the departure of Jason Plato from the BTCC to race in the British ASCAR stock car championship. Yvan Muller retained his seat at Vauxhall and was more determined to take the title. Plato's seat at Vauxhall was filled by James Thompson moving up from egg:sport. The season saw the Astra Coupe again the car to beat against rivals MG, Honda, Peugeot and Proton, however the Astra suffered reliability issues throughout the season. Despite this, Yvan Muller and James Thompson and for much of the season Matt Neal (egg:sport) fought for the championship. In the end James Thompson won the championship from Yvan Muller and Matt Neal. Triple Eight again finished 1st in the teams and manufacturers award.

2003 saw Vauxhall increase to three cars with James Thompson, Yvan Muller and Paul O'Neill moving up from egg:sport. Vauxhall also changed the team name to VX Racing standing for the new Vauxhall tuning company VXR. The season saw the Astra challenged by Honda and MG throughout the year, however Yvan Muller and James Thompson again challenged each other for the title. In the end Yvan Muller secured the title. Triple Eight again won the teams and manufacturers award. 2004 would be the final season for the Astra Coupe. Yvan Muller and James Thompson were joined by 2003 Production class champion Luke Hines. The Astra Coupe faced a huge challenge against Honda, MG and newcomers Seat who had Jason Plato returning to the championship. Despite the Astra Coupe at times during the season not the quickest car its consistency allowed Yvan Muller and James Thompson for the third year in a row fight for the title. In the end James Thompson won the title by one point from Yvan Muller. The Astra Coupe would be known as the most successful car to race in the BTCC. For the fourth year in a row Triple Eight won the teams and manufacturers award.

egg:sport (2001–02)[edit]

For 2001 Triple Eight ran a second team to run alongside the Vauxhall Motorsport known as egg:sport using the Astra Coupe. 2001 saw egg:sport run two cars for James Thompson and newcomer Phil Bennett. James Thompson won four races while Phil Bennett won three races. Andy Priaulx raced at Oulton Park for egg:sport replacing Phil Bennett after an altercation with Steve Soper caused him to be given a round ban. James Thompson and Phil Bennett finished 3rd and 4th in the championship. egg:sport finished 2nd in the teams award and 1st along with Vauxhall Motorsport in the manufacturers award as Vauxhall.

2002 saw a new driver lineup for the season. Matt Neal returned to the BTCC after a year in the ETCC. His teammate would be Paul O'Neill who moved up from the Production Class. Matt Neal and Paul O'Neill showed promise throughout the season with Matt Neal a challenger for the title for much of the season by winning three races and Paul O'Neill winning his first race and on the pace during the year. Matt Neal and Paul O'Neill finished 3rd and 8th in the championship. egg:sport finished 3rd in the teams award and 1st in the manufacturers award

Tom Chilton driving a Triple 8 prepared Vauxhall Astra at Brands Hatch circuit

Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch (2005–06)[edit]

2005 saw the introduction to the Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch to replace the successful Astra Coupe. While the Astra Coupe was able to soak up all the challenges it faced throughout the four years the Astra Sport Hatch faced much harder opposition including the new Honda Integra Type R prepared by Team Halfords (Team Dynamics). Yvan Muller retained his seat at Triple Eight and Vauxhall, James Thompson would not return to the championship to retain his title, instead facing his sights on the new WTCC. His place was taken Colin Turkington moving from West Surrey Racing and MG while a third car was prepared for Gavin Smith. While Vauxhall were expected to once again win the championship, the Astra Sport Hatch was outclassed by the Integra Type R of Matt Neal and Dan Eaves. While Yvan Muller challenged Matt Neal for the title, Matt Neal managed to complete all 30 races without a single retirement. Yvan Muller finished 2nd in the championship with 6 race wins, Colin Turkington finished 6th in the championship with 2 race wins while Gavin Smith finished 10th in the championship. Triple Eight managed to win the manufacturers award for a 5th year in a row from Seat who were somewhat outclassed by both Team Halfords and VX Racing. Triple Eight finished 2nd in the teams award.

2006 saw a new look for Triple Eight and Vauxhall. Holiday Inn became a main sponsor for VX Racing and the driver lineup also saw new changes. After seven successful seasons and a championship (2003) Yvan Muller left VX Racing and the BTCC to compete with Seat in the WTCC. Colin Turkington also left the team to return to West Surrey Racing. Yvan Muller's place was taken by Italian Fabrizio Giovanardi moving from the WTCC and Colin Turkington's place was taken by Tom Chilton moving from Honda. Gavin Smith retained his seat at VX Racing. The season was a disappointing one for Triple Eight with the Astra Sport Hatch not quite as competitive as its competitors, again outclassed by the Integra Type R and Seat with its new Leon. Tom Chilton struggled to learn the car, Fabrizio Giovanardi also had issues trying to learn the car and tracks. While the dominance was missing from the previous seasons there were highlights throughout the season. Fabrizio Giovanardi's first win happened to be Vauxhall's 100th BTCC race win. He then won another race at Brands Hatch, Tom Chilton and Gavin Smith went through the season without a win. Triple Eight finished 2nd and 3rd in the manufacturers and teams award.

Fabrizio Giovanardi driving a Vauxhall Vectra for the VX Racing team.

Vauxhall Vectra C (2007–09)[edit]

2007 saw the start of a new era for the BTCC as the series adopted the S2000 regulations as used in the World Touring Car Championship. The changes in regulations meant that the Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch was replaced by the Vauxhall Vectra. VX Racing down sized to a two car team retaining Fabrizio Giovanardi and Tom Chilton. 2007 saw the full potential of Fabrizio Giovanardi winning 10 races and the title against Seat rival Jason Plato. While the season was successful for Giovanardi Tom Chilton again had a challenging season without a win and an eventual 9th in the championship. For the final round at Thruxton the championship difference was 9 points (Jason Plato to Fabrizio Giovanardi) Both teams brought in a third driver. Seat brought in Tom Coronel while Vauxhall brought in Alain Menu the 1997 champion with Renault and 2000 champion with Ford. Triple Eight won the manufacturers award and 2nd in the teams award.

For 2008 Triple Eight returned to a three car operation. Fabrizio Giovanardi retained his seat as defending champion, Tom Chilton and Matt Neal exchanged seats at Triple Eight and Team Dynamics with Tom Chilton moving to Team Dynamics and Matt Neal to Triple Eight. The third car was taken by Tom Onslow-Cole moving from Team RAC (WSR). The season was somewhat untroubling for Giovanardi to another championship ahead of Jason Plato. Matt Neal finished 5th with one win and Tom Onslow-Cole finished 6th with two wins. Triple Eight finished 1st in the manufacturers and teams award.

2009 saw new changes to Triple Eight. Triple Eight were the only team with manufacturer support. Fabrizio Giovanardi and Matt Neal retained their seats at VX Racing while Tom Onslow-Cole moved to drive part-time for Team AON Ford. His place was taken by Andrew Jordan. Despite the success of the Vectra and Giovanardi it would not continue into 2009. While Giovanardi challenged for the title he was outclassed by Colin Turkington in the RAC BMW (WSR) and Jason Plato with RML Chevrolet. Fabrizio Giovanardi finished the season 3rd while Matt Neal and Andrew Jordan finished 4th and 10th in the championship. Triple Eight finished 1st in the teams and manufacturers award. 2009 would also witness the final year with a works Vauxhall team. Vauxhall pulled out of the sport due to lack of official manufacturers and the economic crisis.

Independent Entry (2010–11)[edit]

James Nash driving a Vauxhall Vectra in Triple 8's Independent livery.

Vauxhall Vectra C (2010–11)[edit]

On 23 March 2010 at the BTCC Media Day at Brands Hatch, Triple 8 Race Engineering appeared on the official entry list for the 2010 season. Although without manufacturer support from Vauxhall, Triple Eight intended to run a pair of Vauxhall Vectras in the Independent category.[1]

For 2010 Triple Eight had hired Renault Cup champion Phil Glew and a last minute deal with Fabrizio Giovanardi. Uniq would be the main sponsor along with WD40 and DUNLOP. The season started sensationally for Giovanardi, winning the first two races at Thruxton and a fifth in the final race gave him a lead in the championship. Phil Glew also started well finishing in the top 10 in both races only to retire in the final race. While Triple Eight were looking like contenders for the championship, the team was turned on its head. Before the next round at Rockingham, Uniq puled out sponsorship, as a result a lack of money meant that both Fabrizio Giovanardi and Phil Glew were forced to leave the team. James Nash was hired to race for the remainder of the season and Triple Eight ran a second car at times during the season driven by Daniel Lloyd (Round 5), Jeff Smith (Round 8) and Sam Tordoff (Round 10). The season was a disappointment for Triple Eight with changes in sponsors and lack of results, a third at Oulton Park by James Nash was only the real result of the season since Giovanardi's two wins at Thruxton. James Nash finished the season 8th and 12th in the Independents Trophy and outright championship. Fabrizio Giovanardi finished 12th and 14th in the Independents Trophy and outright championship. Phil Glew finished 14th and 16th in the Independents Trophy and outright championship (Phil Glew also drove for Special Tuning UK using a Seat Leon at Silverstone Round 7). Daniel Lloyd finished 18th and 17th in the Independents Trophy and outright championship. Sam Tordoff finished 23rd in the Independents Trophy and outright championship. Jeff Smith finished equal 24th in the Independents Trophy and outright championship. Triple Eight finished 5th and 7th in the Independents Team Trophy and Teams championship.

With an unexpected and disappointing 2010 season, Triple Eight were hoping for a much improved season. The team again used the Vectra as their weapon for the new season along with the new NGTC turbocharged engine replacing the S2000 naturally aspirated engine. James Nash was hired as the full-time driver. He was joined by three different drivers throughout the season. Tony Gilham (Rounds 1–6), Aron Smith (Round 7) and Ollie Jackson (9–10). Another change to the team was the sponsorship. Collins Contractors became the main sponsor for the team. The season ran well with James Nash securing podiums and at times the championship lead. His breakthrough win came at Rockingham Round 8. James Nash went on to win the Independents Trophy and Independents Team Trophy for Triple Eight and outright third in the teams championship. James Nash finished equal 4th in the overall championship with Mat Jackson. Tony Gilham finished 15th and 19th in the Independents Trophy and outright championship (Tony Gilham also drove for Geoff Steel Racing). Aron Smith finished equal 21st and equal 22nd in the Independents Trophy and outright championship. Ollie Jackson finished equal 19th and equal 26th in the championship.

MG Manufacturers Entry (2012–Present)[edit]

MG6 GT (2012–Present)[edit]

It was officially announced that Triple Eight would return to Manufacturer status with MG Motor, running a pair of MG6 GT cars to the latest Next Generation Touring Car specification. Jason Plato joined the team from Chevrolet, alongside Andy Neate, who had joined from Team Aon. This meant that although Triple Eight were the reigning Independent Driver and Team champions, they would be ineligible to defend their titles due to the MG's manufacturer support.

The car made its debut at Brands Hatch after hardly turning a wheel during its build and development. Nevertheless, the car was on the pace straight away, scoring a third place in race two and the car's maiden win at the hands of Plato in race three. Throughout the rest of the first half of the 2012 season, the MG6 and Plato scored a further six podium positions including a second win at Croft just before the mid-season break. This left Plato third in the drivers’ championship and the team fourth in the teams’ championship. Plato's team Andy Neate however did not fare as well with his debut with the team with his best result being sixth but often struggling to get his MG into the top ten; which left him only 17th at the half way point of the season. The second half of the year saw Plato add four more wins to his tally, at Snetterton, Rockingham and Silverstone placing him 3rd in the final standings, while Neate ended up 16th. The team meanwhile slipped to 5th place in the overall championship and came 2nd in the Manufacturers' standings.

Plato stayed with the team for 2013, while Neate was replaced by Porsche Carrera Cup race winner Sam Tordoff.[2] Their second year with the MG6 GT proved more successful, with both drivers securing more top spot finishes. However, despite the improvements, Plato still only finished 3rd in the drivers championship, with the team finishing as runners up to Honda Yuasa Racing in both Teams and Manufacturer's championships.

BTCC Gallery[edit]

BTCC Results[edit]

British GT Championship[edit]

Triple Eight made their debut into Sports car racing during the 2013 British GT season. They prepared and ran a pair of BMW Z4 GT3 cars in a joint venture with Optimum Motorsport and entered the championship as 888Optimum.[3] The team did well in their first year, securing several podium positions as well as two pole positions at Brands Hatch and Donington Park, with their experienced driver parings of Joe Osborne & Lee Mowle and Daniel Brown & Steve Tandy.

Triple Eight will continue racing during the 2014 British GT season, using the BMWs. However, whilst they will retain Joe Osborne & Lee Mowle, they will be joined by the new pairing of Derek Johnston and Luke Hines.[4]

British GT Results[edit]

Formula Renault BARC[edit]

In 2010 Triple 8 teamed up with Uniq to enter a single car into the Formula Renault BARC championship, under the Uniq Racing with 888 name. They entered this series to gain experience for expansion into other series in 2011, particularly series which support the BTCC.[5] Malaysian driver Sazlan Sirajudin drove the car at all six meetings, with 10th being his best finish at Silverstone. He finished the season 16th overall.

Formula Renault BARC Results[edit]

Porsche Carrera Cup GB and Ginetta GT Supercup[edit]

Triple Eight announced that they were going to run at least two cars in the 2011 Porsche Carrera Cup Great Britain[6] and that they were going to enter the 2011 Ginetta GT Supercup season.[7] Howerever, they failed to enter any races in both championships.

Other projects[edit]

Triple Eight are also involved in several other forms of motorsport, ranging from the British Rally Championship to the Dunlop Sport Maxx Cup.

BTC-T Vauxhall Vectra[edit]

Main article: BTC-T Vauxhall Vectra

The team built a Vectra to the BTC-T Specifications for the 2004 British Touring Car Championship season. However the car was never used due to problems making the car competitive.

V8 Supercars[edit]

During 2003, Triple Eight expanded into the Australian V8 Supercar series forming Triple Eight Race Engineering Pty Ltd. Already in their short history the team has secured the driver and team runner up spot in 2006 and 2007 championships. The team is now under separate ownership and is no longer directly linked to its British progenitor.

Pro1000 Series[edit]

Triple 8 were given the opportunity to develop 16 race-spec Caparo T1000's for the 2010 season. The T1000 was a modified version of the Caparo T1.[8] However, the series never materialised.

Customer Car Division[edit]

The customer division of Triple Eight is also growing. Triple Eight Performance Vehicles launched a limited edition Astra Sport Hatch turbo diesel, which followed on from the 2001 manufacture of 100 Special Edition road cars, in the form of the Astra Coupé 888 which was engineered to translate race-winning experience into phenomenal road car response. The T8 proved to be one of Vauxhall's fastest ever selling road vehicles.

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Gallagher, Ian (31 January 2013). "Sam Tordoff confirmed at MG with Jason Plato". TouringCarTimes. Retrieved 4 May 2013. 
  3. ^ "888 engineering and Optimum join forces for 2013 attack". British GT Championship (Stéphane Ratel Organisation). 20 December 2012. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  4. ^ "888 Engineering unveil double BMW Z4 pairings for 2014 British GT". British GT Championship (Stéphane Ratel Organisation). 12 December 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2013. 
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ [3]
  7. ^ [4]
  8. ^ "Triple Eight Race Engineering to run Pro1000 Race Series cars". tripleeight.co.uk (Triple Eight Race Engineering Ltd). 2009-09-14. Retrieved 2010-01-27. 

External links[edit]