Colin Turkington

BTCC 2016 – Snetterton – Reviewed and Rated

After a long break BTCC finally returned this week. There was chaos at Snetterton, and our BTCC Correspondent has got stuck into the big debate about driving standards. Which side of the fence are you on about it?

2016 BTCC Snetterton

Hunter Abbott’s wrecked Chevrolet, following the incident at the start of race three (C) BTCC

The British Touring Car Championship returned at Snetterton following the traditional mid-season six week break and oh boy, it returned alright! Where to start? Three different winners? The first red flag? The second red flag? The camera gantry being rolled into by a flying Hunter Abbott? Drivers complaining about standards? The media complaining about safety?

It would be sensible to remind ourselves at the start of this article that, as Tim Harvey quite rightly pointed out on ITV’s coverage, all tickets state, ‘Motorsport is dangerous.’ Correct, it is. I don’t want to see anyone injured, whether it be minor or serious, nor do I want the unthinkable to happen and a driver be killed or anyone else for that matter. However, we must ask ourselves, why are we fans of the BTCC? Why are we fans of motorsport? We watch it because we want to see close, hard and fair racing. To achieve this, it naturally brings an element of risk and danger and it is something we have to accept if we want to watch motor racing. The debate to be had is how we control this danger. Has it become too dangerous?

Saturday’s qualifying session and Sunday’s first race would suggest not. Qualifying saw Gordon Shedden take pole by the smallest of margins, 0.015s, from Colin Turkington who in turn was the smallest of margins, 0.013s, ahead of Adam Morgan. The gaps were amazingly small on what is the longest lap of the season. In addition to the amazingly close gaps, it was also amazing that it was the first Honda pole in over three years, since Donington Park in 2013.

2016 BTCC Snetterton

(C) BTCC

Race One (1st Turkington, 2nd Shedden, 3rd Jackson)
Turkington got away well from the line, but couldn’t quite take advantage of his start as Shedden retained the lead, but Mat Jackson was able to jump into 3rd. Andrew Jordan’s issues in qualifying were compounded by being pushed out onto the grass at the first corner, but he wasn’t the only one to experience trouble. Morgan was knocked sideways, but retained 5th, Alex Martin went off and Aron Smith picked up a problem to go with his ‘eye-catching’ new livery.

The opening laps saw Turkington keep Shedden honest and Morgan climbed back into 4th. Five drivers, including Turkington, were soon under investigation for a potential false-start, but none were found guilty come the end of the race. Half way through the race, Shedden still needed to be incredibly defensive to stave off Turkington’s attacks, but on lap 8 he could no longer repel the Ulsterman, as he made an outstanding move over several corners flipping from the inside to the outside and back to the inside again. Turkington’s move almost allowed Jackson to overtake Shedden too, but he couldn’t find a way by. Similarly to Turkington, Jason Plato felt as though he’d been held up by Tom Ingram and performed a similar move to his teammate on Ingram to take 5th. (more…)

BTCC 2016 – Croft | Photo Gallery

The British Touring Car Championship made the annual trip to the North East, and ESM’s BTCC Correspondent was on hand as usual. Whilst we wait for the words, he’s sent a selection of photos for us to enjoy first.2016 Croft BTCC

As you’ll probably discover, our BTCC Correspondent made the most of the pit lane walkabout to get up close and personal with the drivers. And their grid girls. But there’s race action in there too, we promise.

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BTCC 2016 – Oulton Park | Reviewed & Rated

Following a month’s break, the BTCC returned at Oulton Park as the series added another two winners to this season’s races.2016 BTCC Oulton ParkAstonishingly, one of those winners was former double champion Colin Turkington, who drove his Subaru home for a first ever BTCC win for the manufacturer. The win came in only their seventh BTCC race after their withdrawal of all of their cars on safety grounds from the previous three rounds at Thruxton. At the top of the championship, there was also a change of leader as Sam Tordoff now holds a single point advantage.

In the previous three or four seasons at least, Oulton Park has largely seen a procession of cars following each other around with very little action to speak of. Luckily, this season was a little different; nobody had told Rob Collard that you can’t overtake around the Cheshire circuit!

Turkington started Subaru’s unbelievable turnaround in fortunes in qualifying on Saturday with an early blistering lap that none of the other thirty-one drivers could beat. It was to be no fluke for Subaru as Jason Plato backed up his teammate’s new found speed with sixth place. An impressive Dan Lloyd joined Turkington on the front row with Tordoff in third, Tom Ingram fourth and reigning champion, Gordon Shedden, fifth.

Race One (1st Turkington, 2nd Tordoff, 3rd Plato)
The opening race of the day was surprisingly entertaining. Turkington made a clean start and retained his lead as Tordoff and Plato both made up places off the line. Lloyd lost a further place on the next lap as Shedden made one of many moves seen at Island Bend over race day. At the end of lap 5 and beginning of 6, Aiden Moffat and Rob Austin had an amazing side by side battle that lasted for nearly half a lap. Oulton Park is hardly the widest of circuits, but strong and respectful driving from both made great viewing. (more…)

BTCC 2015 – Snetterton | Reviewed and Rated

The British Touring Car Championship returned to action on Sunday, following the mid-season break, at Snetterton and it continued the entertainment seen at Croft in the previous round. Our BTCC Correspondent gives us the low down.

BTCC 2015 Snetterton

Colin Turkington re-ignited his title challenge following a disastrous weekend for Honda’s Gordon Shedden who relinquished top spot to the ever-green Jason Plato. Shedden’s poor weekend started when he qualified in 16th following mechanical issues. Shedden only managed to score 3 points all weekend, and one of those was for fastest lap having pitted in the final race. However, qualifying couldn’t have gone any better for Team BMR and their Volkswagens as they secured a 1-2-3 led by Turkington who was followed home by Aron Smith and Plato. Team BMR were sporting a new livery this weekend following sponsorship from RCIB Insurance and the 4th placed man, Andrew Jordan, also had a different looking, shiny silver, car after securing a long-term sponsorship deal with Pirtek. Matt Neal took 5th and Andy Priaulx took 6th.

The returning Mat Jackson took 14th and James Cole was further down as Motorbase and the Ford Focus returned to the series after missing the first half of the season with sponsorship issues. Support our Paras Racing will be missing a car for the rest of the season after a failed sponsorship deal for Max Coates and they’ve already used up their changes of drivers this season. There was also a return for Robb Holland as he replaced Simon Belcher and there was a BTCC debut for Barry Horne, who replaced Alex Martin following the birth of his first child.

BTCC 2015 Snetterton

Race One saw Turkington get away well from the line as the top drivers stayed in position. Rob Collard was soon in trouble as he was rammed from behind by his teammate Sam Tordoff and he was not the only one to experience early drama, as there were also spins for Rob Austin and Jeff Smith. Turkington looked at ease as early as the fourth lap, the longest lap of the BTCC season incidentally. (more…)

BTCC 2015 – Croft | Reviewed and Rated

With the British Touring Car Championship at ESM’s home circuit, there was never any doubt as to whether we would be in attendance. But, would it be a Sunday to remember, or another snooze-fest like Oulton Park? Our BTCC Correspondent tells the story below:

BTCC 2015 Croft Race One Podium

After Oulton Park, things could only get better for the BTCC and they certainly did at a BMW dominated Croft. There was a win apiece for each of the WSR members and a historic 1-2-3 for the team in the opening race. The championship lead has changed hands following the weekend’s action and Gordon Shedden heads the way into the summer break. However, it was the return of ‘racing’ that meant it was a good day for BTCC fans.

BTCC 2015 Croft

Race One saw the winner from last time out on pole, Sam Tordoff, followed by his teammate Andy Priaulx, Gordon Shedden, Rob Collard, Colin Turkington and Matt Neal. The championship leader going into the weekend, Jason Plato, was down in 12th. Unbelievably, it was the first time since Silverstone 2006 that Plato hadn’t qualified in the top 10. By my rough calculations, that’s about 90 meetings which I find astonishing. However, Plato wasn’t happy with his position and he came up with a cunning plan, within the rules, to set himself up for a better weekend.

2013 Champion Andrew Jordan had a tough weekend

2013 Champion Andrew Jordan had a tough time at Croft

Plato came into the pits at the end of the green flag lap to re-join the race from the pit lane in clear air to set a fast lap for a good grid position in the second race. Another advantage of his plan was that he’d lose his weight as well, leaving him with a good grid positon and no weight. You could say his plan worked as he ended up third for the second race. However, we can, of course, question the morality of it all. Technically, he did nothing wrong, it was within the rules, but do we want drivers doing this every weekend? No, definitely not. As a one off, I think we can just about justify it and hope that Alan Gow can find a way to stop this loophole.

BTCC 2015 Croft

Rob Austin had his best weekend for what seems a very long time.

Race One saw Tordoff get away cleanly as the BMWs roared into the first 3 positions in a race that started under dark clouds. However, on lap 6, Priaulx was able to take the lead from Tordoff with a move up the inside of him at Tower. Priaulx held on for the race win and was followed home by Tordoff and Collard after the latter failed in his bid to get past Tordoff despite good pressure. It was amazing to see an all WSR podium! (more…)

BTCC 2015 – Donington Park | Rated and Reviewed

Although we’ve already discussed ITV’s coverage of the BTCC, our Touring Car Correspondent gives his opinions on whether the races at Donington Park were worth getting so worked up over.
2015 BTCC Donington Park 001
After 5 rounds of the BTCC, I still didn’t have that excitement about the championship that I’ve had in previous seasons. However, in one race that all came flooding back. Race Three was everything you could have possibly ever wanted from a BTCC race. Finally, I have my BTCC excitement back and I can’t wait for the next meeting!

Race One can be quickly disposed of to the back of the BTCC drawer. Not a great deal happened after Jason Plato zoomed through into the lead, ahead of Gordon Shedden and pole sitter Colin Turkington, and he subsequently took a dominant race victory. Shedden and Turkington provided the ‘entertainment’ as they battled for second and that was that. A point of note is that Matt Neal, championship leader, really struggled with the ballast and soft tyres. I guess that is exactly what Alan Gow wants, to make the championship interesting. Hardly fair though. Adam Morgan, in 9th, was the best placed finisher on soft tyres in the opening race. It was cold, but have the rules gone too far in making drivers use the soft tyres three times in races one, two and three?

2015 BTCC Donington Park 003

Race Two saw a fifth different winner in 5 races as Turkington took his first victory of the season in car number 1 and his first victory in a front wheel drive car for a decade. (more…)

BTCC 2015 – Brands Hatch Indy | Rated and Reviewed

After a long break, the British Touring Car Championship was back this weekend for the first rounds of the new season. What did our BTCC Correspondent make of proceedings? Read on for his views and driver ratings.

2015 BTCC Brands Hatch Indy 001

As the dust settles on the first BTCC weekend of the season, it has certainly raised a few interesting points. Matt Neal leads the championship, level on points with Jack Goff, from Aron Smith and Andy Priaulx after a Sunday that saw three different winners. Several sections of the media have described the action as ‘sensational’ and ‘brilliant.’ I wouldn’t go as far as that, solid, perhaps being a more apt adjective.

The Brands Hatch Indy Circuit has traditionally produced close racing and this weekend was no different. I will no doubt continue to complain every year until we don’t race on the Indy Circuit, but I just don’t enjoy a lap that is less than 50 seconds long with only 10 sections. There are other circuits out there that would be able to host a BTCC meeting, meaning we wouldn’t have to visit Brands twice, not that I have anything against Brands itself.

015 BTCC Brands Hatch Indy 003

Andy Priaulx might not have raced in the BTCC at Brands for many a year, but he has of course visited since his last BTCC visit. It was evident from his pole qualifying position and his subsequent performances that he’s not here to make up the numbers, but he’s going to be a title contender. Many people, me included, may not have had him in our immediate contender thoughts, but this has obviously changed over the weekend. It’s hardly surprising considering his record of racing BMW touring cars and the fact he’s in last year’s title winning machine. (more…)

2015 British Touring Car Championship Preview

After what seems like a very long winter, the British Touring Car Championship is finally back this weekend. With a huge grid and new faces, our resident BTCC Correspondent gives us his views on the season ahead.

BTCC 2015 – A few thoughts…

2015 BTCC Grid
The Easter weekend sees the return of the BTCC to the track and our television screens. Pre-season has, of course, been filled with many driver and team changes. However, with all the changes and a couple of major departures – drivers, sponsors and teams, I’ve found it hard to be excited about the coming season.

The 32-car grid is a great idea in principle, but the grid isn’t exactly filled with 32 household names, nor I suppose could it be. However, other than our usual main protagonists, the grid isn’t exactly filled with names that I’m going to be losing any sleep over with excitement. We’ve lost Alain Menu and Fabrizio Giovanardi in the close season, meaning we’re back down to 5 champions on the grid. Another notable absentee is Nick Foster, who despite never winning race, I actually quite liked.

eBay have withdrawn their sponsorship from WSR, which seems odd from an outsider’s point of view. The title-winning car from 2014 can’t retain their lead sponsor? Really? I’m not involved in either of the businesses, but I find it simply odd. Another baffling part of the BTCC jigsaw, 2014 champion Colin Turkington and runner-up Jason Plato seemingly taking so long to find a drive for the current season. They have since assured us their drives for the current season were never in doubt.

2015 BTCC Media Day tracking

What does excite me for this season is Turkington and Plato joining forces together at Team BMR. (more…)

EngageSportMode Awards 2014 – Part Two

If you’ve read part one of our 2014 Awards, you’ll be ready for part two. This instalment concentrates on motorsport and media, compared to the purely mechanical slant of the first instalment. So, providing you’ve appropriately recovered from New Year’s Eve, here we go.

2014 Awards Two

There’s another five awards to be dished out, so without any further delay, here’s the first one:

Man of the yearDr Gary Hartstein

040650100_1205414607In the past we’ve honoured motorsport world champions with this award. However, Dr Hartstein is more than a racing driver. For those of you unsure of his biography, Dr Hartstein served as the FIA Medical Delegate for the Formula 1 World Championship. He was also the man who rode alongside the late, great, Professor Sid Watkins in the F1 medical car for a number of years.

What makes Gary Hartstein our man of the year is quite simple. Over the past 12 months his experiences from both the F1 world, and as a Clinical Professor of Anaesthesia and Emergency Medicine, have led to him producing one of the most outstandingly knowledgeable blogs, period. In the wake of Michael Schumacher’s horrific skiing accident a year ago, Dr Hartstein was the one person able to give an objective and realistic analysis of the situation, on someone he knew personally. There was no sensationalist scaremongering; here were the clear facts, no matter how unpalatable they may have been.

Once again, following Jules Bianchi’s crash during the Japanese Grand Prix, Dr Hartstein was again the one voice better qualified than any to explain what was happening and, ultimately, what might happen. Quite frankly, there has been no one else in the past 12 months who deserves recognition more than him. The fact the FIA seemingly have an issue with what he has to say only further strengthens his message, and, ultimately the power of blogging. It’s just a shame we only seek his counsel in times of tragedy rather than joy. (more…)

BTCC 2014 – Brands Hatch GP – Rounds 28/29/30 – Review

Slightly later than planned*, our BTCC correspondent gives his take on the final rounds of the 2014 season.

Turkington Crowned Champion

2014 BTCC Brands Hatch GP 000

Colin Turkington was crowned the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Champion at Brands Hatch after a fantastic final round of racing. Turkington, ironically, had his worst weekend of the season, but still came away from the Kent circuit as the happiest man of the day after taking his second drivers’ title.

Saturday saw Turkington’s nearest rival, Jason Plato, take pole position from his teammate Sam Tordoff, Gordon Shedden, Turkington, Adam Morgan and a season’s best for Fabrizio Giovanardi and James Cole in 6th and 7th. It was yet another poor day for Matt Neal, and his Sunday wasn’t going to go much better, as he qualified in 22nd.

Race One took place on a drying track although it wasn’t wet enough to use wet tyres. However, we probably saw the most dramatic start of the season as Plato got off to an awful start meaning Tordoff jumped him, but then Turkington was in the lead just after Paddock Hill bend as the cars headed for Druids. However, after Druids that soon reverted back to Tordoff from Plato and Turkington. (more…)