jack goff

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 – 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.

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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.

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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…)

BTCC End of 2012 Season News

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. 

Artist’s impression of Team HARD’s VW Passat for next season. (Courtesy of btcc.net)

Artist’s impression of Team HARD’s VW Passat CC for next season. (Courtesy of btcc.net)

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.