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‘Button-beater’ Hynes takes BTCC bow at Brands Hatch

Thursday, December 05 2013

Marc Hynes, the man who beat former F1 World Champion Jenson Button to the 1999 British Formula 3 title, started his return to racing at Brands Hatch today (Thursday). After five years out of the cockpit he has signed for multiple title-winning Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Champion team Triple 8.

The 35-year-old will line up alongside Jason Plato in a third MG for the 2014 championship season. Hynes has raced on the BTCC support bill in the past, and won the 1997 Formula Renault Championship as Plato was making his Touring Car debut. Two years in British F3 followed, where he raced against Button, Narain Karthikeyan, Takuma Sato, Sebastien Bourdais and even former Top Gear 'Stig' Ben Collins.

Despite winning the 1999 F3 title with Manor Motorsport, Hynes' career failed to take off. Whilst runners-up Luciano Burti and Button graduated to F1, abortive attempts at Formula 3000 and the Porsche Supercup came to nought. After racing V8 Supercars in Australia in 2008, Hynes returned to Manor as they geared up for F1 with Virgin. He has been their Head of Driver Development ever since.

"I spent every waking minute for the last five years on the Manor Grand Prix project, which is now the Marussia F1 team," Hynes explained. "It's been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to start off an F1 team with mates. I've literally not sat in a car at all since Bathurst (in 2008), so I've had to dust off the goggles!

"British Touring Cars is something that I've always watched, I've known Jason Plato for years, and Matt Neal I got to know in Aussie V8 racing. After the Chinese Grand Prix I saw the BTCC on TV and it was just how I remember it - big crowds, great teams and drivers. I realised that if I didn't get a race licence this year then I'd have to go back to being a novice and I don't think I'd ever have driven again.

"I'm under no illusions that it's not going to be tough, but I've got the benefit of doing some testing and getting to know front-wheel-drive. Obviously it would be lovely to be in a position where you can be competitive right from the off, but I've been in this game a long time and realise that it's not quite that easy."

Despite the career setbacks, Marc certainly isn't racing with a chip on his shoulder: "For my own fun and enjoyment and all the people that supported me, we want to be competitive. As far as proving that I could have done it here, there or everywhere, it really doesn't stack up anymore. It's a different time and I think hopefully my previous record proves that there's something there for the future, but I'm very much coming at it from a realistic frame of mind. Barrelling into Paddock Hill bend with 30 people is something that you have to be sharp with and having a team equally as experienced as Jason, with his data to work with, is going to be a huge help to me."

After a morning in the car he's clear that it will be a busy winter: "I started by sitting in the car like a single seater and I couldn't see out, so I had to lift the seat up! It's just a shakedown today, we're just learning about bringing tyres up to temperature and getting comfortable. The front wheel drive cars are definitely a different sensation that I'm used to, so I'm not setting any targets at the moment other than see where we at the beginning and improve as the year goes on."

Tickets for all four MSV rounds of the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season are available at 2013 prices if ordered before Christmas. For a list of all 2014 events, click here.