Earlier this month we spoke with Terry Steeden, Communications Manager of Infiniti GB, about the company’s involvement with the ‘Infiniti Support Our Paras Racing’ team and their longer-term objectives for the BTCC.

The two NGTC Infiniti Q50 race cars will be driven by Richard Hawken and Derek Palmer Jnr, both of whom have raced successfully in Super Touring Cars, while the team is led by Derek Palmer Snr who has race experience in Dutch Touring Cars, Historic Touring Cars, as well as FIA GT, British GT and European GT Championships.

Q1. What drew Infiniti to engage with Paras Racing?

TS: First of all we did not engage with them, they came to us. Derek Palmer and his team approached us with the opportunity as they wanted something different on the grid and felt we could provide a good platform for them to work from. Once we saw what was on offer we felt it was too good an offer to refuse.

Q2. Why BTCC? I can see a Q50 in WTCC or Blancpain, but I hadn’t envisaged a domestic campaign.

TS: Infiniti is already participating in a world motorsport series with the Infiniti Red Bull F1 Racing team so there is limited benefit of doing another world race series when you are already in what is arguably perceived as the pinnacle of all motorsport.

The UK is an important market for Infiniti and has recently been establishing itself here with the opening of a brand new design centre located in Paddington London and is currently redeveloping the plant in Sunderland to accommodate the production of the new Infiniti Q30, which starts later this year. So, to be also linked to a British motorsport series and a charity that supports and assists injured British Paratroopers and their families it started to tick a lot of boxes.

Also the BTCC gets a huge amounts of coverage both race meetings and also through TV coverage. This is also not limited to the UK, a lot of interest in what is happening in the BTCC race series is watched all over the world.

InfinitiParasRacing_G15Richard Hawken and Derek Palmer Jnr will drive the two Infiniti Q50s during 2015, but the team would eventually like to see an injured Paratrooper graduating through the ranks to drive a car in the BTCC.

Q3. There are two very obvious immediate challenges facing the team – (i) Building a competitive race car, and (ii) training the support crew to work to the exhausting standards of BTCC, at base, and within the demanding time constraints of race weekends: How can Infiniti help with both?

TS: Similar to our campaign with the Infiniti Red Bull Racing project we are title sponsors of the Infiniti Support Our Paras Racing team. This gives us certain privileges in terms of branding and advertising but the building of the car and competing during the season will be the responsibility of Derick Palmer and his team to achieve. Of course that does not mean we will not draw on some of our engineering expertise or see if we can utilise some of our other partners knowledge if we could improve the team’s performance. I guess, watch this space..

Q4. Is this an exclusive project for Infiniti or might you support other teams if approached?

TS: We are still a relatively small and new manufacturer in many world markets outside of the USA, the UK is no exception. With many new and exciting models coming through over the next few years we are confident that Infiniti will be growing and establishing a strong and exciting future. To be a title sponsor of an F1 team and now a BTCC team at this stage of our growth is something many established brands can only dream about.

With the help of these programmes we now need to concentrate on maximising every opportunity they bring us rather than developing even more. There is no point in having activities, as good as they may look, if you are not able to do anything with them. That’s a long way of saying we have no plans at this stage of our development to work with any other teams.

Q5. Twenty years ago, Williams and Renault combined (as Williams Touring Car Engineering) to compete in BTCC. The on-track success was spectacular, as (I believe) was the way Renault’s dealer’s were engaged into the programme. Do you see any parallels here and is there an intentional plan to bring Infiniti dealers closer to the action, including a focused presence in the paddock?

TS: With the current location of our Infiniti centres we are well placed to activate activities at most race meetings. Both Infiniti and the centres are looking forward to getting involved but this is our first season of what we hope will be a long term partnership. We will learn and develop at each opportunity. However, this project is slightly different to any of the other teams and unique in many ways as the main purpose of the team is to raise awareness and funding for the fantastic charity Support Our Paras.

Not only are we employing injured paratroopers within the team we are supporting guys and girls who may have sustained either physical or mental injuries during combat activities in some of the most extreme places and circumstance on earth, whilst defending our democratic society. Taking this message around the UK is important and any support we can give the charity should be encouraged.

Q6. (This question is for my own understanding, especially as I ran Formula Woman) The Paras is very gender specific, do you have a plan to give equal opportunities to women in motorsport?

TS: The running of the team and who is employed is down to Derick Palmer and not Infiniti. I’ll have to pass this one over to him but clearly as you say the Para’s are generally male dominant but slowly things are changing and why not!

Q7. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

TS: I would like to add that although we are of course in it to win it, and with the Para’s mentality of doing everything to their highest level possible we believe we can achieve some great results but I believe the team is only winning when it is raising enough funds to support our injured servicemen and for that we need everyone to embrace what we are doing, wherever we are on the grid.

READ MORE: The Paras, Britain’s elite fighters land on.. the BTCC.