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MG X-power motorsport launch 2002. Story by MG Rover. Images by Kelvin Fagan.

MG Sport & Racing has revealed a new collaboration to run an independent team in this year's British Touring Car Championship using the 2001 MG ZS's that had such a successful debut in last year's championship.

The newly-formed Team Atomic Kitten brings together the world of motorsport with one of Britain's most successful girl bands, who list two recent UK number one singles and a number one album amongst their credits.

The deal will see the two cars entered into the BTCC Independent's Cup, running in a stunning yellow and black livery. The cars will be driven by two up and coming talents, Gareth Howell and Colin Turkington, which follows the trend already established by MG last year in giving British talent the chance to excel on a world stage.

Team Atomic Kitten will run the cars and will be assisted in the marketing and promotions activity by MG Sport & Racing.

Commenting on the deal, Jenny Frost from Atomic Kitten said: "We are really proud to be associated with MG. They are a very dynamic company who are going places and their motorsport activity last year was proof of this. When the opportunity arose to work alongside MG on the BTCC programme, we jumped at the chance."

The deal with Atomic Kitten includes a number of additional areas of collaboration which will be announced in due course.

Rob Oldaker, managing director, MG Sport & Racing is very pleased with the agreement. "We wanted to try and find a way to run four cars this year. The most obvious way for us to achieve this was by finding an independent team to lease the MG ZS EX259 cars from last year. The fact that we have managed to bring in Atomic Kitten as part of this deal is magnificent for both MG and for the TOCA Tour itself. We want to help get the BTCC back to its glory days of the mid-90s and this deal will certainly introduce an added attraction to the package."

The regulations allow for the 2001 cars to carry an upgrade package and so the cars will be fitted with a number of improvements following the winter test programme that WSR have undertaken on behalf of MG Sport & Racing.

As a result of this upgrade, Team Atomic Kitten will miss the first two rounds of the championship. Instead, the team will make its debut in the championship at Oulton Park on 21 April and will contest the balance of the season.

Atomic Kitten will be at Oulton Park in person to cheer on their team. Jenny added: "We didn't want to just sign our names to this. We want to play an active role in the whole programme so we couldn't miss the first race."

Gareth and Colin have both had their first runs in the car at Snetterton this week and both were very pleased with its performance.

Gareth said: "I had a great day - I had been worried about getting used to the car, especially as we don't have much time before our first race at Oulton Park, but it wasn't as hard to drive as I had imagined. This means that I can focus on understanding the set-up in future tests."

Commenting on his drive, Colin added: "Fantastic, plenty of speed - a well balanced car - not at all what I expected. I thought it would be more difficult to drive but I got to grips with it pretty quickly. All my running was in the wet and despite this I managed to do a lot of laps - it was grand!"

It is hard to say which is more alluring, the car or the girls... Image by Kelvin Fagan. Click here for a larger image. We prefer the works MG colours. Image by Kelvin Fagan. Click here for a larger image. Imagine being overtaken by a car sponsored by a girl band - how demeaning. Image by Kelvin Fagan. Click here for a larger image. Two young British drivers have a lot to prove. Image by Kelvin Fagan. Click here for a larger image. The Junior World Rally team were also launched headed by Evans (left). Image by Kelvin Fagan. Click here for a larger image.

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