All the latest from ESM’s BTCC Correspondent, with his comprehensive roundup of the action from Thruxton.
Honda’s Dominance Continues.
Honda’s dominance of the 2013 British Touring Car Championship continued at Thruxton last weekend. Honda continued their impressive form from Donington, where they occupied 7 of the 9 podium positions, with 6 of the 9 available at Thruxton. Although it sounds rather dull with Honda performing so well, it was quite the opposite; the weekend produced the best races of the season so far.
Thruxton is notoriously a circuit all about speed and tyre management and this weekend proved to be no different. Due to the high tyre wear, none of the drivers were required to nominate a race to use the white-striped soft tyres this weekend. I think it might have been even more interesting if they had though, I’ve no idea how some of them would have coped!
Race One saw Andrew Jordan on pole, although he got away slowly from the line. The first major incident of the weekend occurred into the first set of corners as the lead train of cars came around and Jason Plato and Gordon Shedden collided. Plato had achieved a better start of the pair and was looking to cement his place when contact occurred. Post-race Shedden was furious and believed that Plato smashed him off the track. I however, completely disagree. TV footage clearly showed Shedden angling his car towards Plato’s and while Jason stood his ground as he was entitled to do, Shedden ended up in the barrier albeit he was able to continue at the back of the grid. (more…)
ESM’s BTCC correspondent dishes out his review of the action-packed second round of this year’s season:
Honda’s Donington Dominance Stopped by Turkington!
Last weekend saw the second round of 2013’s British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park. The hills surrounding the circuit still look like huge quarry mud banks due to the works to upgrade the track and facilities, so I can’t say it was all that aesthetically appealing, nor are eBay Motors’ vile grey and yellow race suits! Who chose those colours?
Anyway, enough about aesthetics and more about the racing! Race One saw Gordon Shedden on pole, for amazingly the first time in nearly two years since he lined up as leader at Oulton Park in 2011. Jason Plato was quick to point out, as normal, that he was the fastest man if all ballast had been taken account of. However, it wasn’t and Shedden was the first man to see the lights go out. Shedden led from pole with Andrew Jordan in second into the first corner. The cars appeared to be fairly processional in the early part of the race after sorting themselves out after the first few corners. The cars on the soft tyres suffered towards the end of the race, with Aron Smith being the best placed come the end in only 11th.
A car which perked up my interest in Race One was that of Tom Onslow-Cole. I think the VW Passat looks great and I fully expect it to be a competitive car by the end of the season, especially on the evidence witnessed this weekend. I would suggest that the Passat needs a bit more speed as it looked a bit sluggish at times. I was surprised at how much traction it had off the corners, especially compared to Rob Collard’s BMW, who he was having a good battle with. (more…)
Ahead of this weekend’s second round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, ESM’s reliable expert gives us the latest news:
This weekend sees the next instalment from the BTCC with the parade visiting the Leicestershire circuit, Donington Park. There have been several ‘upgrades’ to Donington since the supposed change of the British Grand Prix to the circuit which, rather predictably, in the end fell flat on its face. Whether the upgrades have been a success still remains to be seen, but the circuit luckily still contains the fantastic Craner Curves and Goddards to challenge the drivers before they hit the start/finish straight. It is however, a great shame that the iconic Dunlop Bridge has been dismantled and is now under the ownership of Radio 2 DJ and BTCC fan, Chris Evans.
I complained post-Brands about the circuit not endearing itself to good racing due to the short lap. I am highly confident that we will see better and more exciting racing this weekend, as I believe the circuit layout is much better and we should see lap times around the 1 minute 11/12 mark.
The weekend will be special for two people in particular: Matt Neal and Jason Plato. The third race on Sunday will see Matt Neal compete in his 500th race. Matt may not be popular with everyone, but this is still an achievement for which Matt deserves a huge pat on the back for from ESM. He has so far notched up 49 race wins and 3 Drivers’ Titles and I’m sure there will be more to come. Plato, similarly, also reaches a race milestone as Sunday will see him compete in his 400th BTCC race; once again, a big pat on the back for you Jason.
Someone who will be pleased just to be racing this weekend will be Rob Austin. His Audi A4 (Sherman) has successfully been repaired with the help of donations from fans buying his ‘I fixed Sherman’ t-shirts, following a huge smash at Brands. I’m glad to be reporting this news as I did fear the worst when I saw the smash, but luckily for us fans the only thing hurting is Rob’s wallet.
My final piece of news comes from Team Club 44. Andy Neate has announced that the team will not be competing in the next two rounds at Donington or Thruxton due to on-going issues with the Cruze. Luckily, for all of us who like taking pictures of cars at the back of the grid, we will get the opportunity at Oulton Park on 9th June- a date for your diary, I’m sure you’ll agree!
I’m really looking forward to Sunday, as it’ll not only be a full day of motorsport as Formula One is also on from Bahrain, but because by the end of Sunday we should have a good idea of who the serious contenders are going to be for the title following 6 races of the season. I predict this weekend will be good for the Hondas, especially if the results from last year are anything to go by. The coverage starts on ITV4 at 10:45am.
The opening weekend of the 2013 BTCC season produced a similar pattern to what we have become accustomed to over recent seasons. Jason Plato showed that the winter break had hardly stopped his charge for titles as he raced off to score 2 race victories, with old adversary Matt Neal taking victory in Race 3. You could be forgiven for asking, why should I even bother reading on? Why did you say this was going to be an exciting season? Are Plato and Neal going to dominate once again?
Well the answer to third question is quite possibly on the evidence of Round One, but I would point out that there were so many strong performances throughout the weekend I wouldn’t think that Plato and Neal are sleeping soundly at night. Notable strong weekends came from Rob Austin, Sam Tordoff and Adam Morgan who all excelled in at least one race.
The season opener was definitely a solid if unspectacular start to the season. In all honesty, it wasn’t all that exciting but I think I can explain that in a nutshell: Brands Hatch Indy Circuit. There is little doubting that Brands Hatch is one of the most traditional names in British Motorsport and that is probably why the BTCC holds 2 rounds there each season. However, the Grand Prix Circuit is great with several bends, long straights and so on which allows for entertaining racing. The Indy Circuit on the other hand, is quite frankly a waste of time. A lap that takes around 50 seconds is never going to produce quality racing, in my opinion, and I think that showed on Sunday. With 27 cars taking part in the opening round, it was more like a precession because the circuit was simply not long enough to enhance quality racing. I’m not saying cars didn’t overtake and that there was no action, because there was, but just not as much as I wanted as an avid BTCC viewer. (more…)
ESM’s BTCC correspondent is very excited. Check out his comprehensive guide to this seasons runners and riders, along with his predictions for which ones to keep your eye on.
After a long winter, I am delighted to see the return of the BTCC this weekend. I am really excited about the forthcoming season for various reasons. Firstly, I think the introduction of a soft compound tyre will definitely increase the entertainment value throughout the season. The drivers will need to nominate which race they will be using the soft tyre before Saturday qualifying. I am currently undecided on which I think would be the best race to use it in.
The first race of the day is usually a cagey affair, running quite closely to the qualifying line-up. The natural advantage of running the soft tyre in the opening race is you may be able to shoot up the grid if you’ve had a poor qualifying, ready for the second race as the grid for the second race is based on your result in race one. However, the track will be less ‘rubbered-in’ for the first race, meaning the cars running the soft tyre in the third race may have more of an advantage following the reverse grid. The third race of the day is usually a full out attack where anything can happen, and it usually does, so would there be an advantage of using the soft tyre in the third race? I don’t know, but I’m sure the season will soon tell us! That naturally leaves the second race. Surely choosing the second race to run the soft tyre would be predicting that you are worried about your performance in race one? A disadvantage I can see of running the soft tyre in the second race is that if you finish in a high position, you will be back down the grid for the third reverse grid race. I don’t have the answers and I think that’s one of the reasons why it makes the start of this season so intriguing.
Similarly, the range and amount of cars on the grid adds to the pre-season intrigue. Never before has the BTCC grid been so packed, with 32 cars set to take the grid during the season. I’m sure there would be even more cars at some rounds but the rules allow a maximum of 32 cars due to the limitations of some of the circuits on the race calendar. I think with 32 cars on the grid (I’m currently resisting a dig at Andy Neate never being out there, so there’s would be 31) chaos will inevitably ensue. I predict we will see front-runners tripping over back markers at some point in the season, back markers not getting out of the way and arguments up and down the pit lane!
The introduction of the Jack Sears Trophy for S2000 cars, named after the inaugural BTCC Champion in 1958, will provide competition towards the back of the grid. I am excited about this new competition for three reasons. NGTC (Next Generation Touring Cars) will now be competing on a level playing field, unlike previous seasons where there have been constant battles over levels of boost and so on. However, I’m sure series director Alan Gow will fiddle with the boost levels for parity across all the cars once one team is starting to walk away with the championship! The second reason I’m excited for the introduction of this trophy is that we will see some of our favourite cars from a few seasons ago still competing, notably the SEAT Leon. I always find it sad when race cars come to the end of their racing life, perhaps not the Honda Integra though, that car never seemed to die off. It will be good to see a Vectra still zooming around on a Zimmer frame, although I must point out that this car did win a race last season so it’s hardly slow and uncompetitive. My final reason is purely nostalgic. I loved the BTCC in the 90s when there were so many different cars and there was a manufacturers and independents’ competition. I’m hoping this season will remind me of this. (more…)
With the first race of the BTCC less than a day away, ESM’s BTCC correspondent brings you the latest last-minute news.
Following the BTCC Media Day last week, there was an official test with the times charts topped by Andrew Jordan. However, Jason Plato and reigning champion Gordon Sheddon were not far behind him. An impressive fourth was Adam Morgan in his Ciceley Racing Toyota Avensis.
A new team has been created running under the sponsorship name of M247 Racing with a S2000 Chevrolet Cruze. The team was Finesse Motorsport, who ran in the Renault Clio Cup, and they have joined forces with the well renowned Tech-Speed Motorsport. The lucky driver competing for the Jack Sears Trophy will be Joe Girling.
There is also a welcome return to the grid for a fans’ favourite car: The Seat Leon. Naturally, I have an extra special love for the Leon as I drive a TFSI version, but it seems widely accepted that it is an excellent touring car. Warren Scott will have the honour of driving this car, despite him being more use to 2 wheels. We’ll see how it goes!
As you may be starting to gather from previous articles, I don’t have a great love for Andy Neate. However, as the season starts, Neate’s team have announced they will be running 2 Chevrolet Cruzes this season. Donington Park will see the emergence of one of the cars, with the other following later in the season. Understandably, Neate doesn’t want to risk the first car at Brands Hatch because it will come last. Sorry, I mean because he doesn’t want to risk the car due to it not being finished in time for testing ahead of the season opener. I wouldn’t rush Andy, you’re not really going to be challenging for any honours.
In my last article, I predicted Lea Wood was more than likely to be seen on the 2013 grid in a Speedworks Avensis. Well, I was half right! Surprisingly, Wood has announced that he will be returning to the grid but racing a Vauxhall Vectra; God love this car. It is now surely older than Sir Paul McCartney? With this announcement, it means that Wood will join the growing ranks of people competing for the Jack Sears Trophy. The gap left by Wood’s non-arrival at Speedworks has been filled by Ollie Jackson, despite Paul O’Neill being linked with the seat.
Following this week’s final additions the grid is packed ahead of the start of the 2013 new season. I can’t wait!
With the clock ticking ever closer to the start of the 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, ESM’s BTCC Correspondent has made time (amongst finding out he’s going to be a father) to produce another detailed update. Read on for the latest BTCC news and announcements:
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue
My last article featured the great news that Colin Turkington has returned to the BTCC for the forthcoming season following a 3 year absence. It’s fair to say I’m still rather excited about this and I’m pleased to report the BMW 1-series has been built and been out on track testing in anticipation of the new season. eBay Motors have, once again, designed an ‘interesting’ looking car for 2013 as shown below:
Another familiar face returning for the new season is James Kaye. I have always had a great respect for the effort Kaye puts into his racing, albeit towards the back-end of the grid. Unfortunately, I think we may continue to see Kaye bringing up the rear as he’s signed up with AmDTuning.com, which naturally means he’ll be driving that car. Yes, that Golf. Kaye, competing in his first full season since 2006, will be challenging for the newly-formed Jack Sears Trophy for non-NGTC cars. (more…)
We might still be 10 weeks away from the first race of the 2013 MSA BTCC season, but things are still fired up behind the scenes. ESM’s BTCC Correspondent brings more news, with the return of a former champion and ESM favourite. Read on:
The big news from the BTCC this week involves the announcement that Colin Turkington is returning to the grid for the forthcoming season. 2009 champion Turkington, has signed a deal with WSR/eBay Motors to drive their new BMW 125is, alongside Rob Collard and Nick Foster. I am absolutely delighted to see Turkington return for the 2013 season and I can’t wait to see him back out on track. He won a fantastic championship in 2009 despite facing some stiff competition. I doubt whether he’ll be able to go all the way in his first season back, but with the support of WSR/eBay Motors I’m sure we’ll be seeing him on the podium throughout the year. I think WSR/eBay Motors have a really strong driver line-up this year and I think their success will depend on how quickly they can get the new BMW 125is up to speed. Best of luck to them! (more…)
After an exciting 2012 season, ESM’s BTCC Correspondent brings you a round-up of all the news, rumours and seat-swapping that has happened so far. So, what does he have to offer you? Read on:
It’s been a few months since the end of another dramatic season in the BTCC, which culminated in Gordon Shedden winning his first BTCC drivers’ crown. The teams, and TOCA, have naturally been busy in preparing for the season ahead; starting at Brands Hatch on the weekend of March 30th/31st.
Some of the most exciting close season news comes from Team HARD, who had been running Honda Civics throughout 2012. However, in quite a change of tact, the team will be fielding not only two Vauxhall Insignias next season but also two VW Passat CCs! Quite exciting, I’m sure you’ll agree. Team HARD have also secured the services of Tom Onslow-Cole from WSR in a shock three-year deal, which is quite some statement of intent. Onslow-Cole has proved himself to be an excellent driver in recent seasons and I’m sure Team HARD will be hoping his progress continues over the next three years. This will be one to one watch in the 2013 season.
Team HARD have also decided to give a BTCC chance to Renault Clio Cup champion Jack Goff, who had been testing with the team over the winter. All the best to Jack for the forthcoming season. I assume Tony Gilham will be taking one of the other remaining seats with the team leaving one spot still to be filled. Last season, the team chopped and changed their second driver so it remains to be seen who will complete their 2013 driver line-up.
One man, who will not be in the Team HARD seat next season, will be Dave Newsham who has completed a surprising move from ES Racing to Speedworks. There is little doubt that Newsham extracted the best from the trusty old Vectra and I thought he would have stayed there to give it another go next season, but he has opted join the NGTC Speedworks team to race a Toyota Avensis. Tony Hughes has certainly struggled to get the best out of the car, something highlighted by Paul O’Neill’s efforts at Knockhill in particular, when he was a guest driver. With Speedworks signing up Newsham, I expect to see the Avensis in the top 10 on a regular basis next season and possibly pushing for a win, especially in the reverse grid race.
Speedworks seem to be intent on running 2 cars next season, but who will join Newsham currently seems to be a mystery. The team have had Lea Wood, Sam Tordoff and Carl Boardley all testing the Avensis in the close season so one of these chaps could yet pop up in the second car.
Newsham’s departure from ES Racing obviously leaves a seat to be filled alongside Chris James for next season. The team have had Chris Knox testing last season’s car over the winter, but it remains to be seen whether he gets the nod for the season ahead.
Another man looking for a drive in the 2013 is Andy Neate following his early departure from Triple Eight/MG. Neate rarely impressed in the MG alongside Jason Plato last season; in-fact Neate has rarely impressed in any BTCC car in three years!
Three men who have been confirmed for next season are this year’s champion, Gordon Shedden at Honda Yuasa Racing alongside Matt Neal, and Adam Morgan who will continue in his Toyota Avensis, albeit now run by his own team, Cicley Racing.
Some interesting team news sees WSR eBay Motors remaining in BTCC with their BMWs, except they are changing to a 1-Series M-Sport version after 6 seasons with the successful BMW 320si models. The highlight of this car clearly came in 2009 when Colin Turkington won the BTCC drivers’ title. It’s a real shame we’ve never seen him since, apart from the occasional drive in the WTCC. It would be great to welcome him back in 2013. This could be a possibility following some hints during interviews last season and there is obviously a seat to be filled at WSR following Onslow-Cole’s departure.
A car that could be making a welcome return next season is the Chevrolet Cruze in NGTC specification with Tech-Speed Motorsport. The team have been testing the Cruze over the winter with the hope of it being ready for the new season.
TOCA have decided to spice things up next season before the race action has even begun on each race weekend, with Thruxton being the only exception. Drivers will be allowed to choose one set of special extra soft tyres allowing more grip throughout the race before qualifying has started on a Saturday. The drivers will be allowed to use the tyres in race 1, 2 or 3 on a Sunday but will have to nominate the race they have chosen pre-qualifying. Exciting times!
Finally, TOCA have also decided to employ a ‘three strikes’ strategy next season. Any driver who receives three warnings throughout the season will automatically have a 6-place grid penalty for the next available race plus any other penalty that is imposed. This news will certainly have grabbed the attention of some drivers more than others!
We continue to look forward to the start of the new BTCC season here at ESM; more news will follow in due course.From ESM's BTCC Correspondent
EngageSportMode is committed to bringing you more regular BTCC news and updates throughout the close season, in the run up to the first 2013 round in March. ESM will also be attending various rounds to bring you photos and reports from the frontline, along with the learned opinion of our own correspondent.
With the sun burn now slowly (and painfully) turning to a rich golden brown, it’s time for Engage Sport Mode to reflect on just what happened at Oulton Park yesterday.
The 2.26 mile Cheshire Circuit played host to rounds 10, 11 and 12 of this year’s British Touring Car Championship. The Yuasa Hondas of Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden look to be the cars to beat this season, with convincing performances in the previous rounds. Admittedly, ESM fell out of love with the BTCC a number of years ago (to be discussed later in the week) and was very much there for a good time, rather than as a die-hard fan.
As a result, the pictures you see below cover a variety of on and off track entertainment, including 2010 champion Jason Plato eating a burger. All the photos below were taken in an amateur style on a iPhone 4. I do not profess to be a professional photographer, nor do I particularly aspire to be one. ESM took along its “roving photographer” for the proper pics, also to be featured later in the week. Enjoy:
It was just after this point that ESM’s iPhone ran out of battery. Which was a shame, as the third and final BTCC race provided lots of action right under our very noses. Luckily our roving photographer got some great shots which will be neatly delivered later in the week.
If you want to know more about who won, who lost and who half of the people above are, then head on over to the offical BTCC website here.
Today ESM spent many hours at the British Touring Car Championship at Oulton Park in Cheshire. Along with getting sun burnt, ESM also took a rather large number of photos before the iPhone battery cried enough. Yes I could have used a proper camera, but I didn’t.
Here’s a selection of three photos . The rest will be uploaded once the sun burn subsides. Enjoy: