Uncle Steve

BTCC 2017 | Croft – what did we learn? | Plus, exclusive photos |

Last weekend saw the British Touring Car Championship make the actual trip to the North East. EngageSportMode dispatched our BTCC Correspondent, ably assisted by Uncle Steve, to cover things on the ground as they happened. 

2017 BTCC Croft (C) BTCC

Shedden arrived at Croft leading the championship table (C) BTCC

On Sunday, BTCC fans woke to the worrying news of the injuries suffered by Luke Davenport, Jeff Smith and Aron Taylor-Smith after the horrifying crash in Saturday’s qualifying. With oil on a wet track, they were simply passengers as events unfolded. It has been a worrying time for the series and support races, as a whole, with some serious crashes in recent weeks. It’s strange to write about because this is something that we have not become accustomed to. It also shows the strength of the cars and the general safety of the series that when an event like this happens, we are so shocked, worried and surprised.

Ever since the eleven, or twelve depending on who you believe, car pile-up occurred on Saturday, I’ve been racking my brains to think of the last BTCC driver to suffer broken bones as a result of a crash. Yes, plenty have been hospitalised over the years, but to break a bone? The best I could come up with was Charlie Cox from 1995, but research suggests he suffered severe concussion rather than broken bones. I know Matt Neal drove towards the end of one of the recent seasons with a broken bone in his hand, but that wasn’t a result of a BTCC crash. Either way, the injuries suffered by Taylor-Smith (broken leg), Smith (multiple chest and shoulder injuries in addition to a broken arm) and Davenport (multiple chest injuries, lung damage, broken arm, leg and pelvis) are horrific, but thankfully rare. ESM would obviously like to send all three our best wishes for a speedy recovery.

With the traditional summer break now upon us, there is an outside chance that Taylor-Smith may be fit to race at Snetterton in seven weeks. However, you feel that it could well be the end of the season for Smith and Davenport.

Following the weekend’s action at Croft, the championship is starting to form a clearer picture. Astonishingly, championship leader, Gordon Shedden, suffered his worst result of the season in Race 15, a not so lowly ninth. However, of course he suffered a disqualification at Donington, a race that he had won. Eleven points behind him is Rob Collard who, given his past reputation, has surprisingly scored points in every single race this season and achieved a podium at each track. This new, steady approach from Collard is proving greatly effective and he will be hoping it continues for the rest of the season as he looks to win his first title. Behind Collard, are the two stars of Croft.

Colin Turkington, ‘The King of Croft’, is a point behind Collard and a further eight points behind is Ash Sutton, who is fast becoming ‘The Prince of Croft’. Sutton continued his excellent Oulton Park form by securing pole position in the truncated qualifying session and made an outstanding start to the opening race as the top six got away in order. (more…)

Team Sky Jaguar F-Type Stage 20 Concept – Photos and Video

Let’s cut to the chase – EngageSportMode doesn’t really do cycling. Too much Lycra; not enough internal combustion engines. However  we’re willing to make an exception to entertain another cool product from the Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicles Operation team.

2014 Jaguar F-Type R Team Sky S20C 01

If you’re a cyclist, you’ve probably just got in from a quick “30k ride” and need a shower. But, before you do, here’s the lowdown on the one-off support vehicle Jaguar have built for Team Sky, to use on stage 20 of the Tour de France this weekend (Saturday 26th July 2014). Why for just one stage? Well, stage 20 from Bergerac to Périgueux is the Individual Time Trial.

2014 Jaguar F-Type R Team Sky S20C 03

This means the teams bust out specialist Time Trial bikes for greater aerodynamic efficiency, so Jaguar decided to help with a more rapid bike transporter instead of the usual XF Sportbrakes used. Based on the F-Type R, the S20C comes with a 543 bhp supercharged 5.0 V8.

2014 Jaguar F-Type R Team Sky S20C 02It’s therefore going to be rapid, even with two bikes securely fastened into the custom-built carbon-fibre racking system. Jaguar has apparently undertaken high-speed testing to make sure the hideously expensive Pinarello Bolide TT bikes don’t fall off. Good to know. (more…)

Uncle Steve Writes – Part 3 of 4 – MINI Cooper SD

In the penultimate part of the 4 part series, ESM’s Uncle Steve covers his most recent car purchase.

So, as previously mentioned, the Leon FR TDI has gone, arriving in its place is a MINI Cooper SD hatchback. Again purchased from our tame motor trader, Cooper MINI Durham. So let’s get right down to the specs:

  • MINI Cooper SD Hatchback
  • Lightning blue with contrasting black roof and mirror caps
  • Chili pack
  • Media pack
  • Sun protection glass
  • Anthracite roof lining
  • Chrome line interior
  • Chrome line exterior
  • Piano black interior trim
  • Heated front screen
  • Park distance control (more…)

Uncle Steve Writes – Part 2 of 4 – MINI Countryman Cooper D ALL4

In the second part of his tetralogy, Uncle Steve tells us all about the MINI Countryman Cooper D ALL4 – is this the longest car name in the world? Maybe, but it’s also the name of the car purchased by the fiancé of Uncle Steve.


Back in October last year, we were looking for a car to replace Amy’s Leon FR TDI. Given recent winters we wanted something that would enable us to get out and about if the bad weather returned, but also something that was fun to drive and reasonably economical. Following a visit to several dealerships the MINI found its way straight to the top of my list given the attentiveness I received from the MINI dealership we visited. In fact, given the poor performance of the other dealerships, had they simply waved hello they’d probably have still been top of my list, this was the woeful customer service delivered by SEAT, VW and Audi and all on the same day! (more…)

Uncle Steve Writes – Part 1 of 4 – The Leon FR TDI

In part 1 of a 4 part special, ESM’s Uncle Steve returns. Since he knows you’d be disappointed if none of the four contained a rant or complaint, he’s getting in there straight away with an article on possibly the least reliable car ever produced by SEAT, a Leon FR TDI owned initially by Steve’s fiancé and, more recently, by Steve himself. At some point Steve also intends to stop writing in the third person!


In the summer of 2010 my fiancé decided that she needed a hot hatch to rival my own (see my article on the MkV Golf GTI I owned), she’d always loved the SEAT Leon Mk2 and we decided that the frugal diesel was the model to go for to give us a nice blend of practicality and fun between our two vehicles. (more…)

Bye Bye GTi – Saying Auf Wiedersehen to a Wolfsburg Legend

Tonight, ESM’s Mate Steve explains why he’s surrendered ownership of the iconic MkV Golf GTi, along with noting the highs and lows of owning a hot-hatch legend.

Last week I handed back the keys to a VW Golf GTi MkV, you might ask why, hopefully this will become clear.

Just over 3 years ago I cheerily told my girlfriend “Don’t worry, I’m just going to look, not buy” as she went off to do some shopping. An hour and a half later and I’m dragging her out of the supermarket to have one final test drive before sitting down to agree the deal. (more…)

Four to the Floor: Car Dealers Reviewed and Rated

EngageSportMode isn’t usually concerned with the technicalities of the car buying process, typically eschewing shiny main dealers for independent traders. However, ESM does enjoy wandering around checking out new cars, so when ESM’s mate Steve wanted some company on researching cars for his girlfriend, there was only one answer.

The options had already been narrowed down; a new Seat Leon, a MINI Cooper, a VW Scirocco or finally an Audi A1. So the process should have been fairly easy. Go to dealerships, talk to the salespeople, test drive cars and walk away better informed. The reality was somewhat different to this. Given that some manufacturers keep making noises about difficult trading times in the car market, some of our experiences on Saturday make this hardly surprising. There was a clear gulf in the customer service from the various dealers, which would strongly make me think about where to spend my hard-earned cash. To try to explain these varying experiences, I’ve decided to rate and compare the four dealerships we visited.

#1 Western Seat Newcastle
Website: www.westernseatnewcastle.co.uk Twitter: @Western_SEAT (more…)