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.