Dunlop MSA

BTCC 2015 – Rockingham | Reviewed and Rated

As the 2015 British Touring Car Championship heads into Autumn, the action at Rockingham has set up a two-way fight for the title. ESM’s BTCC Correspondent analyses it all.

BTCC 2015 RockinghamGordon Shedden now leads the British Touring Car Championship by 6 points following the latest rounds at Rockingham. Shedden had a superb weekend with a 1st, 2nd and 8th while previous leader Jason Plato was left struggling after 3 cars into 1 corner didn’t go, in the opening race, leaving him playing catch-up. It’s been a poor couple of rounds for Plato following dramas at Knockhill last time out too and Shedden has taken full advantage. However, the momentum may have turned back in Plato’s favour as a final race victory ensured he left Rockingham with only a 6 point deficit, having been 20 behind after race two.

BTCC 2015 Rockingham

It’s hard to see Andrew Jordan winning from 5th in the championship now, as he’s 46 points down and while Matt Neal and reigning champ Colin Turkington are 27 and 33 points down respectively, it would seem very unlikely that Shedden and Plato would both drop that many points to allow them a sniff of silverware. I have said for a long time now that the title will be between Shedden and Plato, with me slightly favouring Plato, and I still have no reason to change that opinion.

BTCC 2015 Rockingham

Rockingham’s entertainment value grew as the day progressed with a modest first race, a second race that came alive at the end and a highly entertaining final race. The first race was deservedly won by Mat Jackson who controlled the race throughout for a lights to flag victory. It is astonishing that Jackson found himself at the front of the grid with Motorbase’s first ever Saturday pole position. Motorbase’s cars have generally performed so well over the years; it is hard to fathom how they haven’t had a pole before. Following Knockhill, I commented on how impressed I was with this Focus package and after another strong display, goodness knows where Jackson would have been in the standings had he competed in the opening 15 races of the season. He already has 105 points from just 9 races. I’m not saying Jackson would be challenging Plato or Shedden for the outright title, but I’m sure he would have been in the top 6 mix, easily.

BTCC 2015 Rockingham

While Jackson is perhaps classed as an ‘old’ pro in the BTCC now, I find I’m regularly commenting on some of the younger drivers after each set of races. This time is no different as I once again praise Josh Cook and Tom Ingram. Cook had an amazing charge through the field in the second race as the action climaxed at the end, with Cook taking the last podium position from Adam Morgan at pretty much the final corner on the last lap of the race. Ingram has shown flashes of brilliance this year, but I’ve often found he’s ended up finishing further down than his performance has deserved. Not on Sunday. (more…)

BTCC 2015 – Oulton Park | Reviewed and Rated

ESM’s BTCC Correspondent isn’t one for holding back on his opinions. What did he make of the latest rounds?

BTCC Crowd

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My short review above of the latest British Touring Car Championship rounds may be jovial, but I find it to be highly accurate. Of course, issues were still raised that need to be discussed.

Firstly, it was a great weekend for Jason Plato. A pole position, two race victories, one with full ballast, and a fifth place meant that he has now thrown down the championship gauntlet to the rest of the field, if it needed throwing down in the first place. If he hadn’t suffered a puncture at Brands Hatch on the last lap when set for victory, his lead in the championship would now be sizeable. However, every driver has an ‘if only’ story and luck arguably evens itself out over the course of a season. (more…)

BTCC at Croft 2014 – EngageSportMode Photo Gallery 2

If you’ve seen our first gallery from the British Touring Car Championship at Croft, then you’ll be ready for the second. This one features a controversial race three, and our off-track highlights from around the pits and paddock.


Race Three

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Atmosphere / Pits and Paddock

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A great day, no rain and for once no sunburn. Compared to our experiences at Thruxton, Croft was a fantastic reminder of how great the BTCC is when done right. Check back later in the week for the full race report.

BTCC 2014 – Oulton Park – Round 10, 11, 12 – Review

Le Mans might be the big event on everyone’s mind this weekend, but cast your mind back a few days to the British Touring Car Championship’s outing at Oulton Park. Our correspondent brings you his detailed review.

Turkington Takes Charge of the Championship

2014 BTCC Oulton Park 01

Colin Turkington enjoyed a fantastic weekend in the latest rounds of the British Touring Car Championship at Oulton Park in Cheshire. The Ulsterman finished the weekend leading the championship for the first time since his title triumph in 2009.

All the drivers and important people from the teams had to pass the mandatory breath test before any action could take place on both Saturday and Sunday. Qualifying on Saturday took place in mixed conditions and on a drying International Circuit, being used in the BTCC for the first time since 1996, Turkington stormed to pole ahead of Jason Plato, Gordon Shedden, Rob Collard, Sam Tordoff and Rob Austin. Championship leader Andrew Jordan qualified in 13th with Matt Neal a place behind him.

The weather had cleared up for Sunday and the first race took place in dry conditions. As the lights went out for the start of Race One, Turkington sped away from the line, making the most of his rear wheel drive power. Turkington’s teammate, Collard, made a similarly good start, charging up to 2nd. Austin, in his rear wheel drive Audi A4, also made a good start by jumping Tordoff for 5th, although Tordoff tried his best to regain the place, but to little avail. First lap action was fairly quiet, but Warren Scott and Hunter Abbott managed to collide at Hislop’s.

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BTCC 2014 – Thruxton – Round 7, 8, 9 – Review & exclusive photos

If you’ve already read the editorial you’ll know ESM attended Thruxton for the BTCC at the start of the month. Now, here’s our BTCC Correspondent’s full round-up. Forgive him for the delay; he’s had a first-born child to christen.

Jordan On Form As Plato Falters

Jordan celebrates another victory

Jordan celebrates another victory

The latest rounds of the 2014 British Touring Car Championship brought more joy to current champion, Andrew Jordan, with a 1st, 2nd and 4th, but his main challenger going into the weekend, Jason Plato, certainly faltered with a 6th, 7th and a DNF. This meant that at the end of the weekend the pair were separated by 35 points after starting as joint leaders. The weekend provided plenty of high speed action, seen more clearly from the television set than at the circuit itself I have found out, and some notable incidents at the high speed Church corner in particular.

Saturday qualifying saw Jordan put his Pirtek Honda in top spot, which was followed by the Yuasa Honda of Matt Neal, who incredibly hadn’t had a front row start for a year and a half since Croft in 2012. The top 3 was completed by another Honda, of Gordon Shedden, with Mat Jackson, Tom Ingram and Plato completing the top 6. There was an unusually poor qualifying for 2009 champion, Colin Turkington, as he finished 13th.

Race One saw the top 4 get away cleanly from the line, with Rob Collard using his rear wheel drive advantage to climb from 8th to 5th off the start. The opening lap saw the impressive Jackson overtake both Neal and Shedden before he challenged Jordan for the lead coming into the complex. However, despite being a car length ahead, Jordan out-braked Jackson to retain the lead. Race One was seriously low on action, hence the need to mention that Warren Scott and James Cole had an off coming into the complex on lap 3.

2014 BTCC Thruxton AH 170

By lap 7, Jackson’s early momentum had steadied out and he was busy defending from Neal, which only lasted another lap until both Yuasa Racing Hondas found a way past thanks to a good bit of teamwork. The following lap saw Turkington make more progress after his poor qualifying with a fine move around the outside of Adam Morgan for 8th before arriving at Church corner. The only other note from the race worthy to mention, was that in the last couple of laps Collard needed to make his BMW as wide as possible to defend from Plato, something he just managed. Overall, a poor race won by Jordan from Neal, Shedden, Jackson, Collard and Plato.

Luckily Race Two provided a little more entertainment, but again, it was hardly a classic. Jordan and Neal were both cleanly away from the line and another fine Collard start helped him climb up the order. Collard was soon to be 2nd as Shedden out-braked himself trying to jump Jordan.

Jordan leads the way at the start of race two

Jordan leads the way at the start of race two

Lap 2 saw confirmation that Alain Menu had received a drive-through penalty for being out of position on the grid, a shame considering he finished the first race 7th and was running well again. Following his trip through the pits, Menu returned to the track down the grid before finishing a lowly 18th. (more…)

BTCC 2014 – Donington Park – Rounds 4, 5 and 6

The second race weekend of the 2014 BTCC calendar produced more dramatic and controversial racing. What did our BTCC Correspondent make of it? Read on for his in-depth analysis. 

A Weekend to Savour for Plato

BTCC 2014 Donington 001

It was a great weekend for title contender Jason Plato in the latest rounds of the British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park. Plato secured a huge haul of points thanks to a victory, a second and a sixth place which meant he finished the weekend as joint leader of the championship with reigning champion Andrew Jordan.

Saturday qualifying saw Plato take pole from Gordon Shedden, teammate Sam Tordoff, Colin Turkington, Aron Smith and Alain Menu in what was an impressive performance for the two VW drivers. This time last year, I remember complaining about the lack of action at both Brands Hatch and at Donington Park, but the same cannot be said this year. This weekend’s racing was certainly helped by changeable weather conditions.

Race One brought a damp track, leading to some tough decisions between the teams on whether to go with wets or slicks. The main men went wets and the rest followed. The start saw Plato get away cleanly with Turkington coming through from 4th to take 2nd in the, as ever, fast starting BMW. However, Tordoff soon took the position from Turkington with a great move down the Craner Curves and Turkington was soon back to his starting position as Shedden took 3rd from him not long after. Tordoff was working hard to put Plato under pressure and on the second lap he was only 0.2s behind him. Other second lap action saw Rob Collard make great strides from his starting position of 13th as he made his way up to 8th and Dave Newsham went sideways down the Craners after contact with Adam Morgan’s A-Class.

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BTCC 2014 – Brands Hatch Indy – Rounds 1, 2 and 3

The British Touring Car Championship got itself back on track at the Brands Hatch Indy circuit. Just what did our BTCC Correspondent make of the opening three rounds? Read our in-depth coverage below:

2014 BTCC BHI 001

2013 BTCC champion Andrew Jordan was in a defiant mood as he started the defence of his title at the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit with 2 victories. However, the usual protagonists were not too far behind him and the standings were very close at the end of the first BTCC meeting of the year.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a fan of the Indy Circuit, it’s just too short and I find it ridiculous that we’ve got a serious championship with cars doing sub 49 second lap times. Having said that, I was able to bare it more this year than on previous occasions and that was because there was a better quality of racing. This was also the first event where a few new rules or tweaks to the rules have been introduced, most notably the track limits of the circuits have been considerably tightened to encourage the drivers to stay on the track, rather than gaining advantages from run-off areas.

One man, who seemed to have no problem staying on track in qualifying was Jordan who took pole from Jason Plato by 0.012s. Colin Turkington lined up third ahead of the Yuasa Honda Racing duo of Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden, while there was an impressive 6th for Tom Ingram in his first BTCC qualifying. The ridiculousness of the Indy Circuit was shown by the fact only eight tenths of a second separated the top 23 drivers.

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Race One saw a clever start by Jordan and Plato as they worked together to box in the fast starting Turkington, as all the top drivers held position. Further down the pack, returning double champion, Alain Menu, had a nightmare start as he lost the back of his car at Paddock Hill Bend sending him sprawling across the track where he was lucky not to be collected by someone. Menu was ok to continue after a quick excursion onto the grass. (more…)

BTCC 2014 – 31 Car Grid Confirmed at Season Launch Day

As EngageSportMode gears up for another season of bringing you news, reviews and opinion on the world’s greatest Touring Car Championship, the wraps came off the 2014 contenders at yesterday’s Launch Day.

2014 BTCC Grid

With 31 entrants, representing 14 car models from 11 manufacturers, you certainly can’t say the BTCC will lack variety in 2014. With all cars running to the NGTC (Next Generation Touring Car) specifications, it’ll also finally mean a level playing field with no second-string S2000 cars making up the numbers.

BTCC 2014 Media Day

In fact, according to TOCA, the series has actually been oversubscribed with the organisers allowing more than the initially planned 30 TOCA BTCC licences (TBL) to be allocated to teams. (more…)

BTCC Round 9 – Silverstone Review

Plato at the double but Jordan remains in control

MG celebrate a 1-2 in the first race of the day.

MG celebrate a 1-2 in the first race of the day.

The penultimate weekend of the 2013 BTCC season took place at Silverstone and produced some excellent close racing. As I have previously mentioned, I am not a fan of these ridiculous laps that take last than a second to complete, but for once I could get away with it because of the high-speed nature of the National Circuit.

Qualifying on Saturday produced one of the closest sessions that I can remember, but then again, there’s going to be less variance when the lap takes less than a minute to complete! Jason Plato took the honour of pole, ahead of his teammate Sam Tordoff, a fabulous third for Dave Newsham, Colin Turkington, and an impressive fifth and sixth for Frank Wrathall and Jack Goff.

The MG pair were able to get off the line cleanly in Race One, with Tordoff getting the better start and he was able to challenge Plato for the lead. However, after the pair had a small rub of body work, it allowed Turkington to nip through and take second as Plato just held onto the lead. Towards the end of the first lap, as the cars approached Brooklands, Newsham was able to challenge for second – that was until he lost it on cold tyres and went spinning backwards.

The second lap brought a decent sized crash as Will Bratt found the pit wall and it appeared that Nick Foster and Andy Neate took evasive action to avoid him, but could only find the gravel trap, which eventually resulted in the first safety car of the day. However, despite appearing to pass under yellow flags, Tordoff was able to pass Turkington to re-take second and a little further down Rob Collard was able to make a pass on Wrathall. (more…)

BTCC Round 8 – Rockingham Review

Jordan takes control of the championship, whilst Austin secures a maiden victory

ESM BTCC Croft 2013 (61)up5

Rob Austin’s ‘Sherman’ took his first ever BTCC win at Rockingham!

The BTCC is approaching the business end of the season and this weekend saw the teams ‘rock’ up at Rockingham Motor Speedway in Northamptonshire, a track recently visited by our very own ESM Editor. It proved to be a weekend of delight for Andrew Jordan, but a weekend of despair for Matt Neal.

The big news in the build-up to this event was that Tom Onslow-Cole was to miss the remaining rounds of the season to concentrate on developing his NGTC VW Passat CC for next season. However, when I read about this I knew something didn’t feel right. The car was still going to be at the remaining rounds, just without Onslow-Cole as driver, but with a young driver. Onslow-Cole himself said that it was ‘‘hard to develop the car on a weekend,’’ something I would question, and that he wanted to make sure that by stopping now it meant that he had ‘‘the best possible chance of winning in 2014.’’ Fair enough so far you’d think. But, TOC continued to say, ‘‘obviously this turn of events negates our long-term deal and puts me in a position where I need to reassess my future in the BTCC. Hopefully we can look at the situation when the dust has settled and the team’s plans for 2014 are clear.” So now, he’s gone from saying he’s happy to develop the car, although it hurts him that he won’t be racing, to he’s now assessing his future in BTCC and that Team HARD. don’t have clear plans for next season. Confused? Yes, me too. I’ll predict it has something to do with money.

Anyway, in the following days after this announcement, Airwaves Racing confirmed a deal that would see TOC running in the third Airwaves NGTC Focus for the remaining 3 rounds. I, for one, am pleased that Onslow-Cole was able to get something sorted for the end of the season.

Race One saw a drying and extremely greasy track, similar conditions to those experienced by ESM Editor on his recent Rockingham jaunt. Rob Austin revealed that TOCA had turned his boost levels down following his best-ever weekend at Knockhill, although this still didn’t stop him taking another impressive qualifying position of 3rd, behind the two MGs of  Jason Plato and Sam Tordoff. Title challenger Jordan took 4th ahead of Gordon Shedden and Jeff Smith. (more…)