Former F1 racer and a winner in IndyCar and Le Mans 24 Hours, Mark Blundell, has confirmed his racing return in 2019 British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) for a full season for the first time since 2000.

In what is a surprising move, Blundell is making a competitive racing return in BTCC with Trade Cars Price Racing as a teammate to Jake Hill, driving a Audi S3 Saloon car. The 52-year-old will make his debut in UK’s tin-top series.

The last outing for Blundell was in the American Le Mans Series’s Sebring round in 2003 where he raced for Team Bentley in the LMGTP class, finishing third. His last full-time outing was in 2000 when he competed in CART (now IndyCar).

Blundell made his F1 debut in 1991 and raced in the series and raced until 1995 for teams including Ligier, Tyrrell and McLaren, accumulating three podiums in all. He won the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1992 with Derek Warwick and Yannick Dalmas.

Since moving away from competitive racing, the Brit has invested his time in his management company and also commentating. He is now making his full-time return in BTCC for what he calls his 32nd year of racing.

Once the opportunity arose to get back behind the wheel, it was something I was very keen to make happen,” said Blundell. “The British Touring Car Championship is a fantastic series that I have always wanted to race in but it has never been possible until now.

I have been lucky enough to have had a fantastic motor racing career to date and to have been a part of British motorsport for many years. The sport is in a fantastic place across the UK at this current time and the BTCC and the overall TOCA package is a major part of that, providing an excellent platform for top-level professional drivers and many bright talents behind the wheel.

“The strength of the series is shown by the thousands of fans that join trackside up and down the country and the millions more that tune in from home on ITV. It is going to be a new challenge for me but one I am really excited by.

“Alan Gow and I have been chatting for a number of years about taking part in the BTCC and I’m delighted that the time is right to finally make this step. At my age, I want to make sure that I am taking on such a prestigious championship while I am still geared up to do so competitively.

My participation in the series has come about due to a hugely exciting partnership that we are looking forward to announcing in the coming weeks. It has been a long process to get to this point so I do want to thank my Chairman and my fellow directors at MB Partners as well as many friends from across the sport in making this all possible.

“It will be fantastic news for the BTCC, bringing a global brand onto the grid, and myself and the MB Partners team can’t wait to get to work on many of the exciting plans that are already in place.

Team’s MD, Dan Kirby said: “We’re absolutely delighted to be able to announce Mark, completing the driver line-up for our debut season in the BTCC. It’s a signing that reflects all the work that has been going on behind the scenes, and shows how serious we are about this programme.

“There is no doubt that this is a big deal for us, and we are massively excited to have Mark onboard for the season ahead.”

Meanwhile, Team Manager Shaun Hollamby added: “Having concluded a deal early to sign Jake Hill, we’ve been working hard to secure the right driver to complete our driver line-up, and are pleased to have now agreed a deal with Mark Blundell.

“To attract a driver who has been on the podium in F1, and who has won at Le Mans and in IndyCar, is a big coup for us as a team, and we are delighted to bring him on-board. With the testing programme we have in place, we’re confident that Mark will be up to speed by the time we get to Brands Hatch, and that he will work well with Jake to give us an exciting driver pairing in the Audis for the year ahead.”

[Read: Nicolas Hamilton signs up for full BTCC season]