SPEEDWORKS Motorsport’s two cars will help to swell the starting grid for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship’s opener at Brands Hatch next month.

The Northwich team, a debutant last time out, has entered a pair of Toyota Avensis machines for the new season.

They will be joined at the Kent circuit by no fewer than nine different models from eight other makes, taking the number of starters for the first race to 24.

“Words such as staggering are often over-used,” said BTCC series director Alan Gow.

“But it genuinely applies to the current health of the championship.

“Here we are ready to start another season with a larger grid than at the first round last year, despite a very challenging economic climate.”

For the first time, every car on the start line will race with a turbo-charged two-litres ending, with more than half of the cars built to new lower cost specifications introduced to the series last year.

Speedworks driver Tony Hughes, who returns for a second stint behind the wheel after a challenging maiden campaign, made history as the first man to finish a race in a Next Generation Touring Car machine.

He is joined by Lancashire racer Adam Morgan, who graduates to the series as a reward for winning the inaugural Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup last summer.

This year’s championship will again comprise of 10 rounds featuring 30 races – three at each meeting – at nine circuits around the United Kingdom.

Gow said: “The expanded line-up of NGTC-spec cars is only going to add to the spectacle with their more intimidating presence.

“It could well be that one of them wins the championship.

“Once again the BTCC boasts terrific strength in depth as well as a huge and exciting variety of different makes and models of car.”