GREASLEY racing driver Chris Swanwick has opted to race in European Clio Cup competition after admitting defeat in his initial attempts to take part in the British Touring Car Championship.
The 18-year-old had to abandon hopes of racing in the early stages of the BTCC when one of his main sponsors pulled out, and while there are still hopes he could get a drive later in the season, he has in the meantime been offered a chance to return to racing the Clios.
That opportunity has come from Team Pyro, for whom Swanwick raced in the British Clio Cup event last year.
He has now signed a deal to initially compete abroad in two rounds of the Clio Cup Italy and one round of the Clio Cup Bohemia.
He said: “I don’t consider it a step backwards even though my first choice was obviously British Touring Cars.
“This will be a different challenge with much bigger grids and longer circuits, and it will also give me some valuable front-wheel driving experience.
“While I am fully confident and quick in rear-wheel drive cars, the only front-wheel driving I have ever done is half a season in the Clio Cup UK before I moved into Touring Cars last season.
“This experience should make me a more complete driver.”
It’s been a disappointing start to 2012 for Swanwick who only a few months ago looked like he had secured the funds to do his first full season in the British Touring Car Championship with Rob Austin Racing, only to be let down a month before the season started by a major sponsor.
He took part in some impressive test laps during the BTCC Media Day at Silverstone on March 19, but having only received a 50 per cent sponsorship deal from Rob Austin Racing was left to find the rest himself.
His dad Dave said: “It’s been very hard for him to get so close to competing and now all he can do is watch, but thanks to Team Pyro manager Mark Hunt, Chris has a new target in his racing career and he is more concentrated and determined than ever to be successful.
“This is not the end of the BTCC for Chris. He is still very young - four years younger than any other driver on the grid - and we are still talking to Rob Austin Racing.
“As soon as we can secure the funds to see us to the end of the season there is a good chance Chris will be back in a car with them.”
See Chris’s new website at www.chrisswanwickracing.com for more on the young driver.