BTCC 2016: Brands Hatch Indy…

image

Last weekend saw the start of the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship and its looking like the most open and exciting championship in recent years.

If last weekend was anything to go by, the young guns are making the move up the ladder to challenge the established runners and unpredictability is the watch word for 2016…

So, heres how it all panned out…

QUALIFYING…

TOM INGRAM TAKES MAIDEN POLE POSITION

image

Speedworks Motorsport’s Tom Ingram secured his first ever BTCC pole position after setting an impressive lap record in the opening qualifying session of the new tin-top season at Brands Hatch. The result was also a maiden pole for the Speedworks squad and the first for a Toyota in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship since 2012.

image

Clear blue skies made way for a drizzly qualifying contest, although the early exchanges were run in prime conditions.

Ingram completed his benchmark lap after ten minutes of the session and became the first ever BTCC driver to set a time inside the 47 seconds bracket around the 1.2-mile Indy Circuit. Spots of rain fell before anyone could respond, leading to a greasy track and a flurry of cars heading for the pit lane. Conditions subsided almost as quickly as they had arisen, but the thin layer of moisture on the surface had seemingly put paid to further improvements at the top of the timesheets.

image

This left reigning champion Gordon Shedden – who was himself looking for a first pole position since Donington Park in 2013 – in second. The Scotsman couldn’t improve late on but his Halfords Yuasa Racing team-mate Matt Neal made every attempt as the circuit dried out.

Triple champion Neal produced a rapid effort in his Honda Civic Type R but still had to settle for third at the finish, whilst FP2 pace-setter Sam Tordoff was another to leave it late as he completed the second row order.

MG’s young gun duo of Josh Cook and Ashley Sutton continue to turn heads, with the latter pipping his team-mate to take fifth. Sutton starred in the official pre-season test at Donington Park last week and the reigning UK Clio Cup champion backed up that potential with a stellar lap in his first ever BTCC qualifying session.

image

Adam Morgan took seventh for WIX Racing while Team IHG Rewards Club’s Jack Goff deserves special praise in eighth. Although by no means his highest qualifying result, Goff was languishing down in 31st when the mid-session rain fell. Undeterred by the setback, Goff went on to complete a series of representative times under intense pressure as he rose to 24th, to 18th, to 11th and then eighth, ensuring that it was damage limitation for the BMW 1-Series driver.

Motorbase Performance racer Mat Jackson claimed ninth while Aron Smith recovered from an off-track excursion to round out the top ten. A number of others had minor moments, with both Stewart Lines and rookie Kelvin Fletcher running onto the grass in separate incidents.

image

The session proved incredibly close, with the top 22 drivers in the record 32-car line-up blanketed by less than a second. With success ballast not applicable until the second race of the campaign, this session was run under base weight conditions – the only time that it will be all season – and the ultra-competitiveness was there for everyone to see in Britain’s biggest and best motor racing series.

image

Subaru made its long-awaited BTCC debut after the Team BMR-run squad produced a herculean effort to ready four Levorg GTs in time for the Brands Hatch weekend. Without any representative testing behind them it was always going to be a tough challenge in qualifying, but the outfit responded with an impressive effort. Colin Turkington set the team’s fastest lap to take 11th, less than half a second behind Ingram’s pole position time.

Tom Ingram said: “We stressed all the way through the winter that we would only see everybody’s true pace in qualifying here, and it’s quite mental to think I’ve just taken my first touring car pole! I saw it was going overcast, so I knew we needed to put a ‘banker’ lap in early to be safe. All the guys at Speedworks have done an amazing job with the Avensis, and this is an absolutely superb result.”

Gordon Shedden said: “I’m very happy. It was a tricky session with the weather, but I’m over the moon to be starting from the front row of the grid. I think pole was probably within reach, but we couldn’t quite put it all together at the right time. It’s fantastic to have Matt [Neal – team-mate] right up at the front too, so hopefully we can hustle and race well as a pair tomorrow.”

Matt Neal said: “In a glass half-full way, I guess I should be pleased but it really didn’t quite work out given the combination of traffic, rain and other factors. The Honda was definitely capable of pole and I don’t like to miss out on such opportunities. Sitting in the car before the session started I thought anything but pole would be a disappointment, but we’ve got two cars in the top three and there are plenty of positives there.”

Sam Tordoff said: “Fourth is okay – I can live with that. We reproduced the same time as we did when we went quickest in second practice, but we probably came into the pits just as the track was at its fastest in the changeable conditions. Overall, though, it’s pretty good. We have put ourselves in a really good position on row two of the grid and we should be able to score some good points tomorrow.”

Colin Turkington said: “I’m a bit surprised to be so high up and I’m not sure that’s a true reflection of the car’s pace at this stage in its development. I really put my neck on the line doing that lap and I certainly couldn’t do 24 laps like that! The guys have done a great job simply to get all four cars out and running, so to be just outside the top ten is a great result for them. We’ve learned quite a bit today already; the car is reactive to changes. Now hopefully we can make it even better for tomorrow.”

RACE ONE…

TOM INGRAM SCORES FIRST EVER BTCC WIN

image

Young star Tom Ingram has taken his first ever Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship victory after producing an impressive lights-to-flag performance at Brands Hatch.

While the opening race of the season was frenetic further down the order, the top three contenders in Ingram, Honda’s Gordon Shedden and his team-mate Matt Neal remained steady throughout. A slowing backmarker and a mid-race safety car spell proved to be the only issues for Ingram, but the Speedworks Motorsport racer dealt with both interruptions with consummate ease.

image

The bumper-to-bumper action kicked off as soon as the lights went out on the 2016 BTCC campaign, with a number of incidents influencing the latter half of the points-paying positions.

The Subaru of Colin Turkington was in the wars early on, as was the BMW of Sam Tordoff after contact with his West Surrey Racing team-mate Rob Collard. Motorbase duo Mat Jackson and Andrew Jordan went side-by-side across the line on lap three, narrowly avoiding each other, but the major moment came later on the same lap.

image

Power Maxed Racing’s Hunter Abbott lost control on the run through to Surtees, and Alex Martin spun wildly while trying to avoid contact with the Chevrolet ahead of him. Although the Dextra Racing driver succeeded in that respect, his striking yellow machine went on to make heavy contact with the barrier.

A short safety car intervention followed, which ultimately led to dramas for two particular BTCC race winners. Adam Morgan was the first car to be shuffled down the order, as his WIX Racing Mercedes dropped to ninth in the blink of an eye. Team IHG Rewards Club’s Jack Goff was next to fall foul of the chasing pack as he attacked Ashley Sutton’s MG for fifth. Goff’s failed attempt left the BMW running wide at Paddock Hill Bend, and he found himself down in tenth by the end of the race.

Back to the front and Ingram crossed the line to the rapturous applause of both his team and the filled spectator banks and grandstands of Brands Hatch, whilst the two Halfords Yuasa Racing cars completed the podium positions.

image

MG’s young duo continue to belie their relative inexperience by finishing fourth and fifth, with debutant Ashley Sutton getting the better of stablemate Josh Cook. Collard took a top six finish while Aron Smith produced an impressive BTCC bow for BKR by bringing his VW CC home in seventh.

Jackson eventually got the better of his Ford Focus team-mate to finish eighth ahead of the fading Morgan and Goff, whilst Pirterk-backed Jordan had to settle for 11th.

Subaru’s introduction to the BTCC was a difficult one as Turkington got caught up in an incident in the early running while team boss Warren Scott was unable to make the start. Both Jason Plato and James Cole reached the finish, although some way down the order as the Team BMR-run outfit continues to develop its quartet of Levorgs in racing conditions.

Tom Ingram said: “This is what all the hard work over the winter was for. With the way we finished last season, we knew we had a good package underneath us, and Speedworks Motorsport are such a fantastic bunch of guys – this result is for all of them. When I saw the team celebrating as I climbed out of the car afterwards, it brought a tear to my eye, and the emotion just goes to show how much this first victory means to us. It’s unbelievable.”

Gordon Shedden said: “Second place represents good points to start the season. We didn’t take any risks and perhaps went a little bit too soft on the set-up. I think I would have had the pace to run in front of Tom [Ingram], but I’m not sure I had the pace to pass him because we were so equally-matched – and in any case, when you get too close round here, the aerodynamic effect takes over. Congratulations to Tom on his first win – he drove a faultless race.”

Matt Neal said: “I’ve got to be happy with a podium finish and a pot. The car felt solid and I focused on looking after my tyres and being careful over the kerbs during the first few laps. When the safety car came out, I got on the team radio to say ‘we need to get the hammer down now, so tell ‘Flash’ to pull his finger out’, and when the race got going again, he did that and I sat still! We probably went a bit too safe with the car due to the conditions, so we’ll make some changes for race two.”

RACE TWO…

GORDON SHEDDEN LEADS HOME HONDA ONE-TWO

image

Halfords Yuasa Racing scored its first one-two of the new BTCC season as reigning champion Gordon Shedden led home team-mate Matt Neal in the second contest at Brands Hatch.

Pole-sitter and race one winner Tom Ingram endured a torrid time after contact with Rob Collard’s BMW sent both cars out of contention.

Ingram’s Toyota maintained the lead off the line while West Surrey Racing’s Collard blitzed from sixth on the grid into second before the 32-cars reached Paddock Hill Bend for the first time.

image

Collard immediately set about attacking Ingram for the lead and the duo touched at Paddock on the second tour before more violent contact at Druids sent the BMW into a spin. Ingram continued in the lead for half a lap but then slowed with damage, which was caused as a result of the incident with Collard.

Honda inherited the top two positions and never looked back following a short spell behind the safety car, but the final place on the podium did change as the race progressed.

image

Aron Smith had already hauled his VW from seventh into fourth, but the Irishman was determined to reach the rostrum. He made his move on Josh Cook’s MG on lap six and was then able to pull away from the gaggle of cars behind.

The soft Dunlop tyre shod Ford Focus of Andrew Jordan came out on top of that particular battle as he took fourth after a squabble with Cook’s MG. Jordan’s move also helped his team-mate Mat Jackson, as the Duo-backed Focus slipped by while Sutton was busy regaining his composure.

MG’s efforts worsened when oil was spilt at Graham Hill Bend in the closing moments. Cook’s car slid onto the grass, as did Cook’s, with the likes of Colin Turkington and Mat Jackson following suit.

Some recovered from the incident, some didn’t, but it was Jackson who eventually took fifth from Sutton. Goff held on from Adam Morgan’s Mercedes, whilst Sam Tordoff took an impressive ninth. The Yorkshireman had to respond following a frustrating opening race when contact with Collard sent him tumbling down the order. Starting 16th in race two, Tordoff made solid progress throughout to eventually finish ahead of Jeff Smith, with the latter rounding out the top ten.

image

Jake Hill was cruelly robbed of a tenth place finish when his Team HARD car limped out of the race with a suspected fuel pressure sensor issue.

image

Tordoff’s joy was further heightened after the race when #9 was picked at random in the reverse grid draw, meaning the Team JCT600 with GardX car will start race three from pole position.

image

Aiden Moffat’s Mercedes was 11th while Dan Welch is enjoying his best day in the BTCC for nearly three years, backing up his race one points finish with another in the second bout.

Jason Plato scored the first ever points for Subaru in 13th, with Rob Austin’s Toyota and Hunter Abbott’s Chevrolet completing the scoring order.

Gordon Shedden said: “It all got a bit congested early on, and I thought I was going to get collected at one point when Ingram and Collard came together. Fortunately, I managed to avoid it all and then made my best plan to escape. I think my car was actually slightly better with the ballast on-board, which wasn’t at all what we had expected, but it’s fantastic to come away with a one-two finish for myself and Matt with the Halfords Yuasa Racing Honda Civic Type R.”

Matt Neal said: “Two races and two podiums – it doesn’t get much better than that! I’m over the moon – dead chuffed with the day so far. The race got a bit sketchy at times; ‘Flash’ and I were settled in third and fourth when it all kicked off ahead of us between Ingram and Collard, and then there was oil down on the track at Graham Hill Bend later on. We both called into the pits almost simultaneously saying we had a puncture, but thankfully, that obviously turned out not to be the case.”

Jeff Smith said: “This one’s for the team. Hats off to the whole BKR crew – they’ve been unbelievable. To think that three weeks ago we weren’t even racing here, to be back on the grid and back on the podium almost straight away is incredible.”

RACE THREE…

MORGAN’S MERCEDES HOLDS OFF BMW CHALLENGE

image

Adam Morgan celebrated victory in race three of the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch after holding off a near race-long threat from the West Surrey Racing duo of Sam Tordoff and Jack Goff.

Morgan’s win made it three different winners on the opening day of the BTCC season, but the WIX Racing driver was forced to work extremely hard throughout this contest. He started the race on the attack after getting a good getaway and slotting in behind pole-sitter Tordoff.

Running the soft Dunlop SportMaxx tyre, the Mercedes of Morgan was crawling all over the back of the fast-starting BMW after just one lap. Morgan immediately eyed his opportunity and darted past on the run down to Paddock Hill Bend.

image

The action behind the lead trio was also fast and furious, which included slight contact between the two Motorbase Performance Fords. Andrew Jordan recovered after a wild slide and while team-mate Mat Jackson continued for the next few laps, he was eventually forced into the pit lane with a puncture.

image

The safety car was called for after Kelvin Fletcher’s Chevrolet and Mark Howard’s VW visited the gravel in separate incidents, but the drama soon returned.

Both Hondas of Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden squeezed by Aron Smith’s VW on lap seven, but reigning champion Shedden would face a disappointing finish. His ballast-laden Civic Type R was already fading down the order before a puncture sent him off and into retirement at Paddock Hill Bend.

Neal couldn’t hold on to fourth, as the recovering Jordan dragged his Ford Focus alongside as they crossed the finish line. Jordan got the nod by just 0.037s as WSR’s Collard looked on behind in sixth.

The Jordan/Neal battle wasn’t the closest scrap of the finishers, however, as Jeff Smith went side-by-side with Aron Smith and took seventh by an incredible 0.003s. Laser Tools Racing’s Aiden Moffat took ninth, whilst Ashley Sutton recovered to take tenth despite getting bogged down off the line and dropping way down the order.

image

The final laps for the rostrum positions can be described as tense with the BMWs of Tordoff and Goff hauling their machines onto the back of Morgan’s Mercedes. The WIX Racing man kept his powder dry, however, and saw off several attacks to take the win.

With an opening weekend that saw 3 different winners in three different makes of car and one of those winners being a first time victor, this year is going to be a hard one to predict. What is clear is that the Halfords Yuasa Honda Team are fast out of the blocks, meaning that they will be the pace setters for the beginning… but expect the field to catch up soon.

image

Donington Park is a fantastic place for Touring car racing and it never disappoints when the BTCC arrives. Expect the field to close up even more and for those not ballasted by championship weight in both Qualifying & Race one to make inroads into those already coping with weight. Again, Donington has some great pedigree for racing.

So until next time, All the best!!

Phil

2016 BTCC Media Day Roundup

image

Its almost BTCC Time!!! This weekend sees the start of the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship and its looking to be an interesting season ahead with a good mix of experienced heads as well as newcomers to the championship.

With this is mind, here is a recap of all the news & confirmations that took place on Media Day last Tuesday…

(WOW! Was it only 7 days ago????)

Record 32-car full-season entry announced

Five former champions, proven race winners and a growing number of young contenders to challenge for 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship

image

A capacity 32-car entry has been announced for the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship during the annual Season Launch event at Donington Park.

The line-up represents the largest ever full-season entry in the history of the BTCC. With all 32 TOCA BTCC Licences (TBLs) now in operation, which are required to gain entry, series organisers also had to turn away two further proposed entries from the now capacity grid.

image

Eleven marques are represented in the 2016 entry list with Japanese motor sport icon Subaru joining the fray as a fully-fledged manufacturer squad. Subaru join Honda, MG and BMW in the contest for manufacturers/constructors’ honours, whilst a host of independent outfits will also fight for teams’ glory.

image

An enthralling BTCC campaign went down to the wire last year as five former titleholders fought it out on the final day of the season. It was Honda’s Gordon Shedden who emerged victorious to win Britain’s most coveted motor sport prize, but this year the Scotsman and his fellow proven champions face a challenge from an ever-growing number of young contenders.

While the competitiveness and staggering diversity of cars remains unparalleled in comparable series around the world, the successes the BTCC enjoys on-track have been more than matched off-track, with a number of hugely significant partnerships confirmed in recent months.

New long-term contracts have been secured with loyal and valued partners in Dunlop and ITV, whilst two vital technical partnerships have also been awarded to the RML Group and Swindon Engines.

Dunlop continue as title sponsor and official tyre supplier until 2022, while ITV will continue to broadcast each and every race live, free-to-air and in high definition on ITV4, plus extensive highlights programmes, for the same period.

This year’s Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship will again comprise of 30 races across ten events at nine venues around the UK, with the season commencing at Brands Hatch on 2/3 April and concluding on the legendary Grand Prix circuit at the same venue on 1/2 October.

Champions ready, challengers ready…

Gordon Shedden joined an elite group of two-time champions when he took the crown in the closing moments of the 2015 BTCC season at Brands Hatch.

image

The brand new Honda Civic Type R was immediately quick when it hit the track on the eve of the 2015 campaign. In fact, the world-renowned Type R raced in the BTCC before it was even available to buy as a road car, which added to the challenge for the Team Dynamics-run squad.

Development of the machine continued throughout its championship-winning campaign and the team has been hard at work testing during this pre-season too, so expect Shedden and team-mate Matt Neal to again be among the contenders this time around.

image

Arguably the biggest story over the winter was the announcement that Subaru would be joining the BTCC for the first time in its history. Team BMR is running the four-car operation and also boasts both Jason Plato and Colin Turkington in its armoury. Faced with the ‘new car’ challenge experienced by Honda last year, the team will be buoyed by its rivals’ exploits in 2015 and will look to hit the ground running.

image

The remaining champion on the grid is Andrew Jordan, who has swapped MG for Ford machinery in 2016. Pirtek-backed Jordan will be driving the form car too, as Motorbase Performance produced some sensational results in the second half of last season, largely thanks to star driver Mat Jackson. The former BTCC runner-up is back onboard with the Kent-based squad for 2016, with many of the experts suggesting Jackson has the best chance in his career of finally winning the title.

The other manufacturer-supported squads at MG Racing RCIB Insurance and West Surrey Racing also have championship challengers in their respective ranks.

image

WSR’s trio of BMWs conquered all before them in the 2014 season – winning all four championships it contested – but the squad is looking to bounce back from a fast but inconsistent campaign last time around.

In Sam Tordoff and Rob Collard the two GardX and JCT600-backed BMWs have two recognised winners. The former is one of a growing number of young contenders looking to turn sporadic race wins into a genuine title tilt while the latter’s race craft and experience is well known.

image

The Team IHG Rewards Club BMW – also run by WSR – will be driven by Jack Goff this year. The former UK Clio Cup champion is another talent on the rise as IHG puts its faith in Goff becoming a BTCC champion of the future.

image

MG has taken a similar route by also investing its opportunities in two young starlets. Josh Cook won the Jack Sears Trophy for rookie drivers and emerged as one of the gems of 2015 in his maiden BTCC campaign. A hugely popular podium with Power Maxed Racing at Rockingham proved his standout moment and Cook now gets his chance with a works team. The meteoric rise of his new team-mate, Ashley Sutton, has been even greater, as the 22-year-old graduates from Clio Cup champion to MG driver in the blink of an eye, and will surely be one to watch in his rookie season.

The young gun theme continues with more drivers than ever graduating from BTCC supporting series’. Adam Morgan and Aron Smith are among the BTCC race winners who progressed from the junior ranks a number of years ago while Tom Ingram and Aiden Moffat will be looking to reach the top step of the podium after their rostrum exploits in 2015.

Emerging rookies Michael Epps and Chris Smiley plan to establish themselves in the BTCC having now progressed to Britain’s premier motor sport series. They will join a list of six drivers contesting this year’s Jack Sears Trophy.

image

Rob Austin is among those who’ll be looking to string an outright championship challenge together while James Cole and Andy Neate will hope to make the most of their manufacturer-backed drives with Subaru and Honda respectively.

The entry list was completed with today’s announcement that TV star and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge race-winner Kelvin Fletcher will be joining Power Maxed Racing in its second Chevrolet Cruze, and the arrival of BKR with its new two-car team ensures the popular VW CC and Aron Smith return to the grid. Debutant Mark Howard also joins BKR as Smith’s team-mate.

In total there will be a full grid of 32 drivers with Audi (AmD Tuning),BMW (Team IHG Rewards Club, Team JCT600 with GardX), Chevrolet(Power Maxed Racing), Ford (Dextra Racing, Maximum Motorsport, Motorbase Performance), Honda (Halfords Yuasa Racing, Eurotech Racing, Speedworks Motorsport), Mercedes (Laser Tools Racing, WIX Racing), MG (MG Racing RCIB Insurance), Proton (Goodestone Racing), Subaru (Subaru Team BMR), Toyota (Handy Motorsport, Speedworks Motorsport, TLC Racing, RCIB Insurance Racing) andVolkswagen (BKR) all represented.

Partner pride

The BTCC prides itself on the strong and close relationships with its long-term partners, which was further enhanced during the off-season with both Dunlop and ITV committing to unprecedented new multi-year deals.

image

The ITV network will continue to screen the BTCC live and free-to-air until at least 2022 after a new contract was signed between Britain’s biggest motor sport series and the UK broadcasting giant – making it the largest TV contract in the BTCC’s history and also the longest sports broadcasting contract that ITV4 has ever entered into.

The ITV network has broadcast the series since 2002 – with its coverage levels increasing hugely in recent years – and this latest contract will take the partnership into an incredible 20th year.

With the current term concluding at the end of the season, this new contract commences from 2017 and will see the network continue its current broadcast arrangements, which feature at least seven hours of live coverage from each race day.

image

Highlights programmes will also continue to be aired on ITV4, whilst qualifying will be shown via ITV’s dedicated BTCC website –www.itv.com/btcc.
All transmissions will be streamed ‘as live’ via itv.com with highlights programmes being available to watch via the newly launched ITV Hub. The ITV network screened more than 230 hours of BTCC coverage in 2015.

image

This incredible news quickly followed the announcement that Dunlop had also committed to a further five years, as title sponsor and official tyre supplier to the BTCC from 2017.

The contract extends both the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship title sponsorship, which began in 2005, and the official tyre supplier partnership, which began in 2003, into a third decade – making it one of the most enduring major sponsorships in top-level motor sport.

image

In addition, HiQ, the nationwide fast fit network (which is also part of the Goodyear Dunlop parent company) will continue its sponsorship of the MSA British Touring Car Teams Championship for 2016.

Series organiser TOCA also awarded two vital Technical Partner contracts over the winter as part of its ‘mid-term’ evaluation of the NGTC regulations.

image

The RML Group will supply specified chassis, suspension and associated components over the next six years, while Swindon Engines will continue to supply engines to the BTCC with a new NGTC-spec ‘TOCA’ unit being produced for the 2017 season onwards.

image

BTCC Series Director Alan Gow said: “This truly is a golden era for the BTCC and our developments in recent months further underline its strength and position as Britain’s most successful motor sport series – and by a very big margin.

“I’m also really pleased with the increasing amount of new talent that’s been coming into the BTCC over the last few years. Make no mistake, many will go on to become the future ‘household names’ of the BTCC and are set for great long-term careers in Britain’s biggest championship.

“With our title sponsor, television, tyre and technical partnerships all secured until 2022 it not only underlines the incredible strength and success of the BTCC – but also importantly provides a rock-solid foundation on which our teams can continue to invest and build their businesses.

“Our fantastic capacity line-up for 2016 looks set to be even more competitive and enthralling than ever – I’m genuinely excited to see how the season unfolds. The anticipation amongst our enormous number of fans is also very plain to see… the off-season has been full of intrigue.

“These really are the ‘good old days’ that, one day in the future, we will look back on with great fondness and delight. But today is all about the ‘here and now’ and we’re all looking forward to witnessing another classic year of the BTCC.”

Neal steals Sutton show with last-gasp flyer

Halfords Yuasa Racing star pips rookie in closing moments of
pre-season BTCC test

image

Tin-top legend Matt Neal topped the timesheets in the only official 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship pre-season test, with the Halfords Yuasa Racing driver pipping young rookie Ashley Sutton in the closing moments at Donington Park.

Neal was languishing down the order until his late flurry of laps, which initially saw the triple champion fall short of Sutton’s benchmark by just 0.003s. The run continued and minutes later the Civic Type R racer had eclipsed the MG6 driver’s best by nearly a tenth of a second.

image

Sutton’s efforts still represented a highly productive outing for the manufacturer-backed MG squad, further bolstered by team-mate Josh Cook. The BTCC podium man also featured in the upper echelons of the order, eventually taking fifth – all the more impressive considering it was the first time that either of the young talents had driven the car.

The Handy Motorsport Toyota of Rob Austin led the way for much of the early running, before Sutton took top spot heading into the final hour – Austin eventually had to settle for third. Tom Ingram’s performance went some way to proving the pace of the Avensis by setting the fourth fastest time for Speedworks Motorsport.

image

Eurotech Racing enjoyed a competitive afternoon with Martin Depper and Jeff Smith finishing in sixth and seventh respectively. WIX Racing’s Adam Morgan placed eighth, whilst both Motorbase Performance and West Surrey Racing could only manage ninth and tenth in the order with Mat Jackson and Sam Tordoff.

image

Notable absentees from the top ten included reigning champion Gordon Shedden in the other works Honda and Andrew Jordan’s Pirtek Racing Ford Focus. The lap times throughout the field were hugely competitive, however, with the top 17 cars finishing within just one second of the pace-setting time.

The session was punctuated by a number of red flag incidents, but overall the reliability shown and mileage clocked-up by the competitors was impressive. Almost half the runners completed more than 50 laps of the 1.98-mile circuit, with AmD Audi man Ollie Jackson covering the most ground, 71 laps, on his return to the series.

The four Subaru Team BMR cars were unable to run during the session, although the striking white Levorg proved a hit when it was unveiled to the media earlier in the day. The machines of Michael Epps, Kelvin Fletcher and Stewart Lines were the others not to turn a wheel from the capacity 32-car grid.

The BTCC now moves on to Brands Hatch for the opening rounds of the season on the 2/3 April.

Matt Neal said: “It’s a nice start isn’t it, but it’s going to be very, very close out there. The TOCA engine looks strong and there are also a lot of new faces coming in, so that’s a bit of an unknown for us. Most of the day we’ve been working on TOCA components with the RML guys. It’s been a productive day, so that’s all good. I’ve just been doing back-to-back stuff for them and at the end of the day we just wanted to see what it was good for so we opened her up. We’re back at Brands tomorrow where we had a tough test last week. We weren’t fastest by a long margin so we’ll see what we can wind ourselves up for there.”

Ashley Sutton said: “We’d only had 39 laps in the car when we went quickest – to achieve that sort of pace in such a short running time was clearly more than we’d expected. I was surprised that only Matt Neal pipped us in the end. I’m very happy, and we know there’s more time in the car. You’re never sure what the other guys are doing in these situations, but we know what we were doing and the MG is just spot-on – a dream to drive. It will be nice to get a solid qualifying session under my belt at Brands Hatch. It’s not going to be easy, of course – I’m the new kid on the block, so I’m going to get pushed and shoved around a bit initially – but I’m aiming for podium finishes throughout the year, that’s where I want to be.”

Rob Austin said: “It’s been a good, solid day – we’re very happy with that. We didn’t try anything special or push too hard to be up at the front; we just went about our pre-planned programme, and to end up second quickest was a really nice feeling. I’m still very aware that I have a lot to learn with regards to front-wheel drive and race runs in the Avensis, so we are keeping our expectations in check but the car is mega – the team has done a great job with it. The target for Brands Hatch will be to bring home what points we can. I’ll be happy with top ten finishes on the first weekend – although as we’ve proved today, there’s definitely potential for more…”

BTCC prepares for season opener at Brands Hatch

Huge grid to challenge for honours in Britain’s best motor racing series

The 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship kicks off at Brands Hatch next weekend (2/3 April) with a record 32-car full-season entry preparing to do battle.

image

An exciting line-up of five former champions, proven race winners and an ever-growing number of young chargers will take to the 1.2-mile Indy Circuit in front of what is expected to be a huge crowd at the famous Kent venue.

Honda driver Gordon Shedden clinched Britain’s most coveted motor sport crown in last year’s pulsating tussle that went down to the wire, but the Scotsman faces a monumental challenge if he’s to retain his title this time around.

Eleven marques are represented on this year’s grid with the legendary Japanese manufacturer Subaru joining the BTCC for the first time in its history.

image

The ten event, 30 race format will be played out in front of hundreds of thousands of fans trackside throughout the season and there will be millions more watching each and every race live on the ITV network.

While the likes of Formula One moves its attention towards subscription-based television channels over the coming years, the BTCC will continue to provide free-to-air coverage across the UK. ITV will broadcast each and every race live and exclusively on ITV4 until at least 2022, plus extensive highlights programmes over the same period.

Talking point: It’s anyone’s guess…

Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Gordon Shedden will likely start the season as favourite, having clinched a second BTCC title in 2015, but he’ll face a growing threat from a dozen or so challengers.

The championship-winning Honda Civic Type R has been developed and tested extensively during the off-season, so both Shedden and his triple champion team-mate Matt Neal are well placed to contend.

Subaru’s entry means Jason Plato and Colin Turkington will be driving the newly-prepared Levorg, which turned heads during its unveil at Donington Park earlier this week. While the credentials of the Team BMR-run squad are not in question, the car itself is still yet to turn a wheel in anger – so it remains to be seen if the squad can hit the ground running next weekend.

image

One team that will be looking to pick up where it left off is local favourite Motorbase Performance. The Wrotham-based outfit won twice during the season finale at Brands Hatch in October and many are predicting that driver Mat Jackson is best placed to win a maiden title. Jackson will face a huge challenge, however, from within his own camp with 2013 champion Andrew Jordan joining Motorbase over the off-season.

MG Racing RCIB Insurance hit the track in some style during the only official BTCC test session at Donington, as its young duo wowed onlookers.

The MG6 is a proven race-winner and the squad has this year handed driving roles to two talents of the future rather than established stars. The pair immediately defied their rookie status at Donington Park when reigning UK Clio Cup champion Ashley Sutton set the second quickest time on his maiden outing in the car. Stablemate Josh Cook also featured, ending the session inside the top five.

West Surrey Racing boasts a trio of contenders in Sam Tordoff, Rob Collard and Jack Goff, whilst the best of the rest list includes the likes of Rob Austin, Adam Morgan, Aron Smith and Tom Ingram.

Local Heroes: Home advantage for Motorbase and Co…

image

A quartet of local teams, Motorbase Performance, Team HARD and AmD Tuning and West Surrey Racing will be hoping to impress at the season opener.

Absent from the grid over the first half of 2015, Motorbase returned with a bang last summer and was the team to beat over the final few meetings with its Ford Focus. Team HARD and AmD Tuning, meanwhile, both showed flashes of form last year and will be eager to shine on home turf.

image

RCIB Insurance Racing’s Jake Hill is Kent born-and-bred, and invariably produces his best performances in front of Brands Hatch’s capacity crowds. Ollie Jackson returns to Britain’s premier motor sport series in 2016 and in AmD’s Audi S3, the Surrey-based racer is behind the wheel of arguably one of the best-looking cars on the grid. West Drayton’s Matt Simpson bolsters Speedworks Motorsport’s ranks as the former European Hot Rod champion prepares to make his BTCC bow in a Honda Civic Type R.

image

Surrey squad WSR has three new-look BMW 125i M Sport machines in its arsenal for the 2016 campaign, as the outfit look for ‘home’ comforts at Brands Hatch to kick off its season in style.

Timetable…

image

The opening race weekend of the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship takes place on Sunday 3 April, with the entire race day broadcast live and in high definition on ITV4 from 10:15am. Those in attendance at the circuit can stay in touch with the commentary and live timing from every session, available on the btcc.net Live Zone throughout the weekend.

In addition to the BTCC, the support series on the TOCA package are set to bring even more action to the fans at Brands Hatch. Sportscar racing fans will get their fix with races from the Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup, Porsche Carrera Cup GB and Simpson Race Products Ginetta Junior Championship. The Renault UK Clio Cup – often seen as a stepping-stone to reaching the BTCC – will also feature on the huge bill of British racing, as will the MSA Formula.

image

So! This season looks to be a cracking one in prospect!! Personally I can’t wait for Sunday when all the action kicks off! As is now the usual MO, I have setup a league over at Fantasy BTCC where I am looking to secure my 3rd Fantasy BTCC Title in four years. I’m always up for a little harmless competition so if you want to join in, setup a team & take a look for the Tintop Guru BTCC Fantasy league! Look for League No.12 and its a public league as well.

image

A Plethora Of Touring Car Action this weekend!

To add to this, if your as mad about your tintops as I am (I know theres a few of you…) don’t forget that Eurosport will be showing the first two races live of the FIA World Touring Car Championship. This year sees a reduced Works Citroen prescence, the new Works Volvo team, 2012 Champion Rob Huff in a Works Honda & Tom Chilton in a privately run Citroen at Sebastien Loeb Racing!

image

Meanwhile over on YouTube & Motors TV, you can see the first two rounds of the 2016 TCR International Series (Which I understand is on the support bill of some confused, poorly run & organised single seater world championship…) which takes place at Bahrain. 2015 saw a Titanic battle between five drivers throughout the season and this year looks to be even more competitive with the addition of new cars and teams. Well worth a watch!

image

And to throw in one final choice of awesome tintop action, don’t forget that the V8 Supercars are racing at Symmonds Plains in Tasmania this weekend. After the epic Clipsal 500 weekend, Nissan driver Michael Caruso leads the standings. However with Red Bull Racing Australia & Holden Racing Team at the sharp end of the action at the non-championship Albert Park event, expect a fightback from Ford, Volvo & Nissan to take place. These are shown on BT Sport live or via the internet.

Anyway, the buildup to the weekend will no doubt continue so itsabout time I said…

BRING ON THE TINTOPS!!!

All the best!

Phil!!

2016 BTCC News Update No.3…

So with what seems to be a busy but also an interesting and intriguing 2016 BTCC season ahead of us, heres the run down of recent news stories. I will happily apologise if these seem a little out of date. Unfortunately my time away from the blog has been rather busy of late so I am on a little catchup.

If you’ll forgive me, I’d appreciate that…

So, the news!!!

BTCC Champ Dave Newsham moves to Rallycross with

Power Maxed Racing

Newsham

Power Maxed Racing (PMR) are delighted to announce that 2014 BTCC Jack Sears Trophy Winner, Dave Newsham has signed to race for the team in the 2016 MSA British Rallycross Championship. Confirming his sabbatical from the BTCC, Newsham will compete in his maiden season in British Rallycross as Power Maxed Racing look to contest their first ever championship in the formula.
Power Maxed Racing have confirmed they will enter a 600 BHP, All-Wheel-Drive Ford Fiesta in the Supercar class. The team have been working non-stop on their 2016 expansion plans after completing their first season in the BTCC in 2015. They will enter teams into British Rallycross, British Touring Car Championship as well as other championships to be released over the coming weeks.
Dave Newsham had a strong 2015 season with Power Maxed Racing in the BTCC putting his Chevrolet Cruze in and around the top ten. The Scotsman is no stranger to British Rallycross having competed previously in the Super 1600 class. Both Power Maxed Racing and Dave Newsham have also confirmed that key sponsors including 3M, Joyce Design, Coffee Drops, Norscott, Automatic Retailing, Kitwave, Vendman and One Estates will also be supporting the British Rallycross programme.
Adam Weaver, Power Maxed Racing Team Principal commented, “I’m thrilled to continue our relationship with Dave, he is a highly talented driver and a great guy. It is great news for the team that he has agreed to take a sabbatical from the BTCC to help PMR in our development year in British Rallycross. I was planning to drive myself but when the opportunity arose to put Dave in the seat, it was one not to be missed.”
Weaver continued, “British Rallycross has long been on my radar and I am really pleased to be entering this year. I’m incredibly passionate about Rallycross and its potential and bringing a proven name like Dave Newsham is not only good news for us but good news for the championship. We are taking a phased approach into the championship, this year we will be entering a proven car from 2015 before going on to build our own cars for 2017.”
Dave Newsham remarked, “I’m really looking forward to a great season in British Rallycross. I love watching the action on TV, it is one of the most exciting forms of motorsport there is. I had the pleasure of sampling it for myself at the 2014 GP, that got me hooked. I really enjoyed working with PMR last year and I am delighted to be remaining part of the family and looking forward to a long future with the team. Their professionalism and skill will stand us in good stead in British Rallycross.  It’ll take a bit of getting used to as I’ve spent the last few seasons trying to avoid the gravel but getting behind the wheel of a 600BHP monster is going to be fantastic, I can’t wait!”
Newsham continued “I’ve had five incredible years in BTCC with some very good memories. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the whole BTCC community for their support and my sponsors for the opportunity of making the switch to BRX possible”.
2016 MSA British Rallycross Championship will be contested over eight rounds taking place across seven weekends from March to October. The first round is on the 6th March at Croft.

Power Maxed Racing sign Hunter Abbott

wp-1456057434261.jpg

Power Maxed Racing (PMR) are proud to announce that they have moved quickly to sign Hunter Abbott to drive the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze for Power Maxed Racing in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC). Hunter has also been engaged as brand ambassador for Automotive Brands, Steel Seal, Power Maxed and J-B Weld, which will see him complete a number of engagements for the brands during 2016.
Power Maxed Racing have made great strides forward since they joined the championship at the start of last year. Following the change of ownership to Power Maxed and the appointment of Martin Broadhurst as Technical Director, they have pushed every element of their racing programme to find improvements. They were chosen as development partner to RML being the first team to test the new BTCC components, as well as forming a close working relationship with Swindon Engines and developing a host of new initiatives including a new engine for this season.
Hunter Abbott has a long and distinguished racing career and this will be his third season in the BTCC. His racing CV is full of accolades starting from his Karting career. He is one of only two drivers to have won a championship in his first year of karting, the other being F1 Star, Jenson Button. He has been awarded Driver of the Year by NASCAR legends Roush Racing while racing in SCSA, winning the Rookie Championship in 2005 and finishing vice-champion on his return to the series in 2007. He continued to a successful GT career as 2008 British GT4 vice-champion and 2013 Benelux Porsche Carrera Cup Vice-Champion with many poles, podiums and wins to his name between. Proof of Hunter’s pace and versatility is that he has held lap records at Zolder, Spa-Francorchamps, Donington Park National and Brands Hatch Indy circuits.
Adam Weaver, Team Principal, Power Maxed Racing commented, “I have had my eye on Hunter for a while now and am looking forward to giving him his chance to shine and show his true potential. There’s so much more that goes in to being successful than just driver talent and this is more prevalent the higher up you go, preparation, team and machine are vital ingredients. I have been a good judge of motorsport talent in the past and I see something in Hunter, racing is a learnt skill you’re not born a driver and Hunter is highly intelligent with lots of experience. I believe pairing him with the technical skill of the PMR team and engineers, we can help Hunter unlock his true BTCC pace. That is why I am happy to support Hunter as a driver and Brand Ambassador.”
Weaver continues, “Hunter has a great track record and we believe that if we guide him through the switch to front wheel drive, he will flourish in the team, turn a few heads and deliver some of his best results. We run a very ‘open book’ team approach, sharing data and setups as we believe that treating both drivers as equals moves the whole team forward, he will be no understudy.”
Hunter Abbott commented, “I am very much looking forward to the new opportunities presented by PMR, I want to show the paddock what I can achieve and repay Adam’s faith in my abilities. I have had 2 good years in the BTCC and I can’t wait to get out in the Chevrolet with PMR. It will also be great to try my hand at front wheel drive especially as the Chevrolet has enjoyed such a high level of development.”
Abbott continues, “I am looking forward to working as a Brand Ambassador with Adam and the Automotive Brands – Steel Seal, Power Maxed & J-B Weld, there are so many synergies between our businesses, mine being Alcosense Breathalysers and I know this strategic partnership will offer massive opportunities all round.”
Negotiations are well underway to fill the final PMR seat with a number of names in the frame. Adam Weaver explains, “We have a number of options for our final seat, we are talking to some familiar faces, a BTCC multi-champion and one or two new ones. All the drivers we are talking to will make a great pairing with Hunter, but you know what this part of the season is like for speculation and rumour, we will just have to wait and see”.

Support Our Paras Infinity BTCC Team withdraws from 2016 season

PA1686222.0003

British Touring Car Championship team Support Our Paras Racing has withdrawn from the series with immediate effect.
The team, operated by Derek Palmer Sr, began last season with two factory-supported rear-wheel-drive Infiniti Q50 machines, but lost its works backing after the Thruxton round of the 2015 campaign. The project was staffed by injured servicemen.
The decision to withdraw was made by team principal Palmer Sr and came after the targeted budget for 2016 was not forthcoming.
“Naturally it’s a huge disappointment to the team, and the injured guys from the Parachute Regiment who prepared and operated the car,” he said.
“We appreciate these are tough times financially for companies across the country, but that doesn’t make our disappointment any less. We will now focus on returning to motorsport in a different series.”

Team HARD. Awarded 2nd TBL for 2016 BTCC

12394120_561380727347755_1157820590_n.jpg
Team HARD will run two cars in the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship after Series Organiser TOCA approved its purchase of an additional TOCA BTCC Licence (TBL).
Kent-based Team HARD already owned one TBL – required for each entry to guarantee participation – and has now concluded successful negotiations to obtain another as part of its expansion plans for the coming season.
“This is an exciting time for Team HARD and now we’re facing arguably the biggest year we’ve ever had,” said Team Principal Tony Gilham. “This is great news and we’ll bring you further information on our second seat over the coming weeks.”
Young talent Chris Smiley has already been signed by Team HARD and expected to drive the outfit’s Toyota Avensis, but Gilham has also admitted he is evaluating a number of car options for the future.
Team HARD, along with the rest of the BTCC entry list, will make its first official outing of 2016 during the Season Launch event at Donington Park on 22 March. The opening rounds take place at Brands Hatch on the 2/3 April.

Austin looking forward to Handy Motorsport season

 IMG_6492-586x286
Rob Austin produced an unsurprisingly rapid showing during his maiden test at the wheel of Handy Motorsport’s brand new Toyota Avensis in Portugal at the weekend – an outing which left the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship squad feeling justifiably excited for the 2016 season.
Adapting to the front-wheel drive Toyota impressively well, having raced rear-wheel drive cars in the BTCC in recent years, Pershore driver Austin concluded the outing at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve within just a few tenths of the quickest touring car on track
Reflecting on the test, team principal Simon Belcher said: “I’ve no doubt if we’d had the benefit of the full three days, we would have been even quicker. Considering the problem we had with the engine, and the amount of testing time we missed, we all returned to the UK feeling extremely positive – the car is quick and, as we already knew, so is Rob!
“Our guys then worked through the night on the second day to fit the engine so we could get Rob back out for the final day – it was a real team effort and everyone did a great job. Unsurprisingly, Rob adapted very quickly to the front-wheel drive and by the end of the test he was within just a few tenths of the quickest touring car. All in all, it’s been a very positive start for everyone.”
With additional testing in the UK scheduled over the next couple of weeks, Austin’s first ‘official’ appearance as a Handy Motorsport driver will come during the annual BTCC Season Launch at Donington Park in Leicestershire on Tuesday 22nd March.
The season itself commences over the weekend 2nd/3rd April at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in Kent.

Team HARD. Confirm Jake Hill to join Chris Smiley & 3rd TBL

Gilham4.jpg_backup-720x400

Jake Hill will join Chris Smiley at Team HARD for the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship campaign – driving an RCIB Insurance-backed Toyota Avensis.

Hill, 22, a BRDC Rising Star, made his BTCC debut at Croft in 2013, coming out on top in the Jack Sears Trophy battle. He also raced in the series at the Brands Hatch season finale in both 2013 and 2015.The Kent-based racer is delighted to have secured a full-time drive in the UK’s premier motor sport championship, praising the vital support of RCIB Insurance.

“I am thrilled to have been given this amazingopportunity thanks to Tony Gilham at Team HARD, RCIB Insurance and of course our long-term supporters Sportif Motor Group and our other fantastic partners,” said Hill. “I have loved the BTCC races I’ve competed in so far and I hope I can show what I can do with a full programme. I’m now gearing up for the Season Launch in a couple of weeks and testing.”
Team principal Tony Gilham has long been a fan of Hill’s and is effusive about the prospect of him joining the outfit.
“With Jake and Chris [Smiley], we have one of the most exciting pairings of young talent in the series,” said Gilham. “As soon as it became apparent that we were in a position to run a second car, Jake was my absolute first choice. I really couldn’t have asked for a better line-up, and having seen how quick Jake is in everything he’s raced so far, it’s fantastic to finally have him as part of our family.”
Hill will begin testing at the BTCC Season Launch at Donington Park on 22 March, before further running prior to the curtain-raiser at Brands Hatch – home circuit for driver and team alike – over Easter weekend.
“Both the team and I are based in Kent so I know we will have lots of local support, especially from family and friends, which makes things even more special,” Hill said. “I really can’t thank everyone who has helped make this happen enough – I just can’t wait to get started!”
Managing Director of RCIB Insurance, Mike Joseph, said: “Jake is a great young prospect and we had many people asking us to help him get a drive. It’s exciting to be part of this reborn team, which we believe can surprise a few people this year and be competitive. We love working with the guys at Team HARD and have enjoyed working together since they first entered BTCC.”
After announcing Hill joining the team, Team Principle Tony Gilham confirmed several days later that the team had gained a 3rd TBL for the 2016 season:
Kent-based Team HARD will expand to a three-car operation in the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship after securing a third TOCA BTCC Licence (TBL) in recent days. The news follows last week’s announcement that Jake Hill will contest a full campaign with the squad, alongside the previously signed rookie Chris Smiley, but now the ambitious outfit is committed to building a third Toyota Avensis ahead of the new BTCC season.
It has been an extremely busy winter for Team HARD and this latest development is another signal of intent in its bid to move further up the grid in the UK’s premier motor sport series.
Team Principal Tony Gilham and his loyal staff have worked tirelessly over the last 12 months to reinvent the team and piece together what they believe to be a ‘dream team’, with the third driver being confirmed later this week.
“With Jake Hill joining Chris Smiley, we already have one of the most exciting pairings of young talent in the series,” said Gilham. “As soon as it became apparent that we were in a position to run a third car, we decided to again look to young talent to fill the seat. I really couldn’t have asked for a better line-up and to be in a position to be able to support these young drivers in the BTCC thanks to our amazing sponsors is unbelievable.”
The team faces a huge task ahead as it continues building its second and third cars, with the intention of running all three at the BTCC Season Launch at Donington Park on 22 March. The trio of Toyotas, which will all run the TOCA engine, will then test further before the season opener at Brands Hatch.
The latest driver to join the RCIB Insurance Racing squad will be announced this Wednesday at 8am. This signing will join Hill in a pair of RCIB-backed cars, whilst Chris Smiley will move across to race under a new team name that will be announced in due course.

Ollie Jackson returns to the BTCC with AmD Tuning

89efbf49-2cf6-414a-94c2-e937601e20c0.jpg

 AmDTuning.com can confirm that it has re-signed Ollie Jackson to spearhead its assault on the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
The 31-year-old, originally from Reigate but now based in Tamworth, previously raced with the West Thurrock-based team in his first full season in the BTCC back in 2012 – taking three top ten finishes at the wheel of a VW Golf en-route to 18th in the standings.
Ollie then went on to spend a further two seasons in the series with rival teams, before moving into the supporting Ginetta GT4 Supercup last year after a tough season on track in 2014.
With a solid year of racing behind him in 2015, Ollie now returns to the BTCC eager to show his true potential at the wheel of AmDTuning.com’s Audi S3. Ollie is set to get his first run in the car at the BTCC’s annual Media Day event at Donington Park later this month, with the team hopeful of additional running prior to the season opener at Brands Hatch in early April.
“If I’m being honest, I didn’t really think a BTCC return was on the cards this year and I was expecting to return to Ginettas again for a second season,” Ollie admitted. “However, I had a chat with Shaun and before you know it, we’d agreed a deal for me to race the Audi this year. I’m absolutely delighted to be back on the touring car grid, especially with the guys at AmDTuning.com as my best season in the BTCC came with them back in 2012 with the Golf.”
“My last season in the championship didn’t go to plan and is one I would rather forget, but I feel I’m coming back into the series in good shape and view this deal as a fresh start and an opportunity to show what I can do. There is no doubt that the Audi has a lot of potential, but we also have to be realistic in what is going to be a very strong field. I see no reason why we can’t challenge for points on a regular basis during the season and if we can also break into the top ten as we go along then I think we can be happy.”
Team boss Shaun Hollamby said he was pleased to bring Ollie back into the AmDTuning.com fold as the team embarks on a first full season running the Audi, which it campaigned in the second half of 2015.
“We had a lot of interest in the car for this season, particularly after people had chance to see it in the flesh in the new livery at the Autosport International show,” he said. “We’re pleased to have agreed a deal with Ollie to return the fold and are looking forward to resuming the relationship we enjoyed with him when he raced with our Golf.”
“Ollie is a driver who comes back into the series with a point to prove after a tough year in 2014 and we are confident that we have a package that will allow him to show his true potential. We showed the pace of the Audi in the second half of 2015 and with Ollie back in the team, we are confident of being able to regularly challenge for points during the year ahead.”

Michael Epps Joins Team HARD. for Maiden BTCC Season

ie1XgWXMkqYK1qPEPeri8DRD0w9UD7rl-UL0wY-wAmg

Team HARD has confirmed that Michael Epps will complete RCIB Insurance Racing’s driver line-up for the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship campaign.

Epps will join Chris Smiley and Jake Hill following a 2015 season spent competing in the VW Racing Cup, where he picked up multiple wins and podiums. The step up to Team HARD and the BTCC is one Epps is relishing.

“It’s probably the most exciting time in my career so far. I could only dream of a BTCC seat at one stage and now it’s really happening – I’m struggling to take it in,” the 24-year-old said. “There was a prospect of driving in the BTCC from the very beginning of my relationship with Team HARD and RCIB, but over thewinter we have come closer and closer to actually being able to make a dealwork.”

“The opportunity presented itself and we had to grab it and work it into this. Now here we are and I can’t wait to go blasting up to Paddock Hill on that first weekend at Brands! The aim is obviously to get as high up as possible and with the current situation of cars changing packages and lots of money being spent, you just never know. I’m optimistic and hoping to bring home points.”

With Epps alongside Smiley and Hill, the outfit has a driver line-up with an average age of just 23. Promoting young talent has been a conscious effort on the part of Team Principal Tony Gilham.

“We have chosen to support young up-and-coming drivers once again,” he acknowledged. “We’re rewriting the rulebook and focusing on skill rather than just looking for drivers with big budgets. Mike is another very exciting prospect and I can’t wait to see what he can do in the Avensis. Having witnessed his pace last year, we are confident he will enjoy a very promising debut season. This isjust the start of a long-term plan for the team as we now look to establish a solid platform on which to build moving forwards.”

Team Dynamics/Honda Confirm Return of Halford’s Sponsorship

340575

Halfords returns with Team Halfords Yuasa Racing for the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season, with the team ready to defend its driver and manufacturer titles with Gordon Shedden, Matt Neal and new signing Andy Neate.

Halfords will be back on the BTCC grid after a seven-year absence, as co-title sponsor of last year’s championship winning team, which now competes as Team Halfords Yuasa Racing. Scotsman Gordon Shedden will return to defend his drivers’ championship title after an exhilarating 2015 season, with team-mate and three-time champion Matt Neal entering his 26th year in the UK’s premier motorsport category.

The team also expands to three cars for the first time since 2006, with the experienced Andy Neate joining the squad. Halfords sponsored Team Dynamics’ motorsport programme for five years from 2004 to 2008, with Matt Neal winning the first two championships of his BTCC career behind the wheel of the famous Honda Integra Type R, also becoming the first independent driver to win the overall drivers’ championship in the British Touring Car Championship’s history. Gordon Shedden joined the Halfords and Team Dynamics family in 2006, taking four wins and helping Team Halfords to its second consecutive teams’ championship title in his debut season.

Paul Tomlinson, Motoring Expert at Halfords: “It’s fantastic to bring the Halfords and Halfords Autocentre brands back into the country’s biggest motorsport championship. We’re looking forward to laying down the gauntlet this season and bringing orange and black back to the grid with Team Dynamics, as well as our partner Yuasa Batteries, to defend the driver and manufacturer titles.”

Andrew Taylor, Managing Director of Yuasa Battery Sales (UK): “We’ve had an amazing journey so far in the British Touring Car Championship with Matt, Gordon and the Honda Yuasa Racing Team, and now we look forward to working with Halfords to defend our championship with the team in 2016. Our sponsorship of the team now enters a new era, and one that we’re very excited about.”

Richard Tait-Harris, Commercial Director, Team Dynamics: “Having worked with Halfords for five years in the past and winning two championships with Matt, we look forward to a long and successful future together. We’re also excited to be continuing our fantastic relationship with Yuasa Batteries and to the challenge of retaining our title as champions of the BTCC this year.”

The full livery of the team’s Honda Civic Type R’s will be unveiled at the BTCC 2016 Season Launch event at Donington Park, Leicestershire, on March 22nd.

B-TEC Development Series Postponed until 2017

 

fb_img_1453998334156.jpg

Following a review of the current situation, B-TEC announces the postponement
of the 2016 B-TEC Development Series until 2017.

While there has been unprecedented interest in this new touring car series over the
past few months, recent developments in other categories have diverted the attention
of potential entrants away from the Development Series, leading us to this
postponement.

Ian Harrison – Director, B-TEC Development Series;

“Naturally we are disappointed to have to postpone like this, but that is all it is, a
postponement. We want to ensure that we have the strongest possible grid when we
start, and at the moment there are a lot of carrots being dangled in front of potential
entrants from other categories. During 2016, we will be running some on track
experience events for entrants to come along and driver the cars and to hear our 2017
plans. Hopefully this will confirm to them that the Development Series is a cost effective
solution over an entire season. We will be announcing these events in due course. I
would like to thank everyone who has put the effort in up to this point and look
forward to working with them as we go towards 2017”

Ian Watson BARC General Manager;

“We are obviously disappointed to have arrived at this point but believe it is right to
postpone the start of what I am sure will be an interesting option for both drivers and
teams. The idea of starting the series in 2016 was always going to be pushing the
boundaries of what was possible to be achieved in the time and having a further twelve
months to get everything in place will I am sure make a big difference.”
B-TEC will continue to work with current commercial and supply partners to ensure
the category provides drivers and teams a solid development platform in 2017.

plato-race-one-victory-doni.jpg

With the BTCC Season due to start at Brands Hatch on April 2nd on the Indy Circuit, things are looking exciting for another cracking year of racing ahead. There has also been the promise of a surprise announcement on Tuesday at Media Day from racer Mark Howard via Facebook…

The Team at Tintop Guru will aim to keep a regular roundup of the season as it progresses with any news roundup’s provided on a regular basis.

Until Next Time!

All the Best!

Phil!!

2016 BTCC News Update No.2…

Hello BTCC Fans!!

image

As is the usual case with the build up each year for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, the news doesn’t stop flowing… So here are the latest updates!!!

JAMES COLE JOINS SUBARU TEAM BMR FOR 2016 BTCC

James Cole will join Team BMR for the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship to complete the line-up of the Subaru UK manufacturer team for the forthcoming season.

image

James will be behind the wheel of the fourth new Subaru Levorg Sports Tourer in what will be his fourth season in the BTCC.  The former British Formula Ford Champion will make his switch from Motorbase Performance where he competed in the second half of the season with the team after they joined the grid at Snetterton in August..

The Liverpool based driver joins the Team BMR line up alongside his three team mates Colin Turkington, Jason Plato and Team Principle Warren Scott.

A delighted Warren Scott commented “It’s great to welcome James to the team and I look forward to seeing how well he does in the Subaru Levorg.  He has lots of experience to bring to the BMR team and I believe this is the right time and place for him to showcase his ability.”

James Racing career began in 2007 competing in the BRSCC North West Formula Ford championship where he took the title, before progressing to the main championship in 2008 where he finished in tenth.

He went on to win the British Formula Ford championship title in 2009 and was nominated for the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award.  After graduating to the British Formula 3 and then Formula 2, James made his BTCC debut in 2013.

Speaking of his new team James stated “I’m very excited to be joining Warren and the talented team of people he has brought together at BMR. I’ve still got loads to learn in BTCC and I couldn’t be in a better place to do that alongside Carl & Kevin, my engineer Richard Owen, and two of the best BTCC drivers, Jason and Colin. My previous successes came in rear wheel drive so I believe a big step forward can be made this year. I would also like to thank Warren for this great opportunity, I intend to make the most of it.”

Team Manager Alan Cole added “I am pleased to welcome James to the team, I look forward to adding his rear wheel drive experience to our new project and I am expecting good things for the season as he learns from his team mates.”

WIX RACING CONFIRM NEW ENGINEER LINEUP FOR 2016 BTCC

Ciceley Motorsport, the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship team that operates WIX Racing, has announced major changes to its engineering personnel for 2016.

image

Marco Calovolo will replace Paul Ridgway in heading up the engineering squad, concentrating on Adam Morgan’s Mercedes-Benz A-Class and he will be joined by Federico Turrata who will oversee Aiden Moffat’s similar car having recently been successful in the Chinese Touring Car Championship.

image

Calovolo has over 25 years of experience on touring car race engineering, most recently looking after James Thompson in the World Touring Car Championship and he is relishing the challenge of a new team, a new car, new circuits, a new specification of touring car and a new championship. Having worked in Formula 1 and the DTM, he was a key part of Alfa Romeo’s success in the WTCC before most recently working for the LADA project.

Paul Ridgway will leave Ciceley Motorsport to pursue an opportunity, which presents a new challenge that he just can’t resist. Ridgway joined Ciceley Motorsport in 2013 and has been a major factor not only in turning the Mercedes-Benz A-Class into a winning car but also in helping Adam Morgan make the graduation into a touring car race winner.

Ciceley Motorsport team owner Russell Morgan said: “It is with great sadness that Paul is leaving us, not only for his brilliance as an engineer but also as a close friend to both Adam and me. Paul has made it clear that he still wishes to see ‘his Merc’s’ fighting at the front and will always be on hand to assist where possible. We are, however, incredibly excited and lucky to have Marco and Federico joining us, as their pedigree is there for all to see.”

Bob Moffat of Laser Tools Racing said: “Changes like this are always inevitable in racing. We have a strong engineering team joining us and, with the introduction of the new RML components, I believe we have a strong platform to build on. I would like to thank Paul for his tremendous efforts and would like to wish him all the best in his new role.”

A handover period will begin during a three-day test for the team in Portimao in late February with both WIX Racing and Laser Tools Racing eager to form a successful relationship with their Italian engineers – and develop a taste for Espresso!

THRUXTON SEES FIRST MAJOR BTCC GATHERING…

Thruxton kick-started its 2016 motor sport campaign in fine style this week, with a busy pre-season test that gave a number of BTCC drivers the opportunity to get some crucial mileage under their belts come both rain and shine.

image

Whilst not exclusively TOCA-oriented, Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship competitors and support series drivers and teams made up the majority of the 50-plus entries at the two-day test around Britain’s fastest circuit.

image

Former BTCC Champion Andrew Jordan got to grips with his strikingly-liveried new Pirtek Racing Ford Focus run by Motorbase Performance, as Jack Goff similarly spent more time acclimatising himself to the IHG Rewards Club BMW 125i M Sport.

Defending title-holder Gordon Shedden put in an appearance on day two as Wednesday’s showers made way for wall-to-wall sunshine, with the Scot taking advantage of the clement conditions to further hone Honda’s potent new Civic Type R, carefully camouflaged until its 2016 livery is unveiled.

There was something of a Civic community in Hampshire, indeed, with Jeff Smith and Martin Depper taking to the track for Eurotech Racing alongside series newcomer Matt Simpson in his Speedworks Motorsport-run car.

Goff was joined by West Surrey Racing stablemates Rob Collard and Sam Tordoff, whilst Alex Martin’s bright yellow Dextra Racing Ford Focus was instantly recognisable around Thruxton’s high-speed sweepers.

The BTCC boys shared the circuit throughout the test with protagonists from the Renault UK Clio Cup, MSA Formula, Ginetta Junior Championship and Ginetta GT5 Challenge – and 2013 title-winner Jordan confirmed that it had been a positive and productive pre-season outing.

“It’s been good,” said the man who annexed pole position at Thruxton every year between 2012 and 2014 and still holds the BTCC qualifying lap record. “We’ve done enough running and got somewhere near with the baseline set-up for the wet. It’s the first time we’ve tried out the new suspension kit in those conditions actually.

“Despite a minor issue that cut Thursday short for us, it was another very promising day and our pace was there or thereabouts throughout. I always love driving here. Thruxton is so quick and probably my favourite circuit. You’ve got to be brave but you’ve also got to have a bit of finesse; you’re almost dancing with the car.”

DRIVERS & SEATS FOR BTCC 2016…

Theres also been a more clearer picture building regarding the 2016 BTCC season this week.

With seats or drivers yet to be confirmed at MG/Triple Eight, Power Maxed Racing, AmD Tuning, Welch Motorsport and Support Our Paras Racing, along with the potential 3rd seat at Eurotech Racing, some drivers are struggling to secure budgets for these positions.

image

Lets be clear, MG have renewed their commitment to the BTCC for next three years and are looking return to winning ways with their updated MG6’s this year. Theyre looking for good fast drivers to race against the established works programmes of Team Dynamics/Honda, Team BMR/Subaru & WSR/BMW and take not only race wins but challenge for the Drivers Championship, Teams Championship and Constructors Championship…with updated machinery and a fresh driver lineup, never ever count out Triple Eight…

image

Power Maxed Racing had a great debut year in 2015 with both Dave Newsham and Josh Cook hassling the top teams at most venues, whilst Cook took a podium finish in his first BTCC season. The team also debuted the new RML NGTC parts at the Brands Hatch Finale and the team has seen several drivers test the updated Chevrolet Cruze over the winter to get an idea of how the cars will react with new RML NGTC parts.

Both of these teams will surely be frontrunners in 2016 but we’ve already seen that Dave Newsham has been struggling to secure a seat (although last week he confirmed on Twitter he’d passed his medical to race), Hunter Abbott confirmed he wouldn’t be joining Rob Austin at Handy Motorsport due to a lack of budget and Josh Cook is working hard to try and secure a seat despite losing a backer. Theres also the question of where Aron Smith will go. The 3 time BTCC race winner will not be returning to BMR, thats now clear, but like Newsham, Abbott & Cook, Smith is another fast driver in need of a seat.

Mike Bushell has confirmed he will return to the TOCA Support package in the Renault Clio Cup and it could be that a step back could open up a better step up for 2017. To add to this, Handy Motorsport have confirmed that they will run one car despite having secured a second TBL… Therefore the chances to get on the 2016 grid are getting more difficult.

image

Consider one final thought… This week is the final week of February. Media Day takes place on 22 March at Donington Park, which leaves about 5 weeks before the season opener at Brands Hatch on the first weekend in April. Thats not long to secure a budget and get seat time in the car…

The clock is ticking…

As usual, I will be keeping you up to date with all the BTCC News as the Tintop Guru Blog continues to cover the buildup to the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!

Global Touring Cars Africa Series

image

As regular followers of The Tintop Guru blog are aware, we will be keeping an eye on a few series in 2016:

The British Touring Car Championship
The B-TEC Development Series
The TCR International Series
The TCR Asia Series
The TCR Benelux Series
The ADAC TCR Germany Series

But theres one more that we will be keeping an eye on in 2016 and its one that I (Phil) have been following for the past 12 months or so:

The Global Touring Car Africa Championship

image

As your aware, I was and still am a big fan of the SuperTouring days of Touring Car racing and back in the nineties SuperTouring was big in South Africa. The small amount of knowledge I have recalls names such as Mike Briggs, Shaun Van Der Linde & Shaun Watson-Smith spring to mind in a country that saw Opel, Audi & BMW see success in a very competitive series.

image

Well in 2016, South Africa will see a major Tintop series relaunched and it follows the same thinking as the successful NGTC regulations or V8 Supercars or the new TCR Regulations. Based on those three sets of regulations alone, its already got a fighting chance of starting well.

So, whats it all about?

Well 3 years ago, originally the concept was based on using cars that would kept equal using a balance of performance formula similar to TCR, where the engines used would be V8’s. However with the global move in motorsport to use either 1.6 litre turbocharged engines or 2 litre turbocharged engines, GTC revised its rules set to using 2 litre turbocharged engines. In a similar move to the BTCC’s NGTC regulations, the cars are all built by a specific company but allows for different body panels to be used to allow for different makes and models to be raced against each other.

image

The car used as an example for the concept is the Mk3 Ford Focus saloon, not seen on sale or in use in Motorsport in the UK. The car looks like this:

image

As you can see there is also a control spec aerodynamic package built to the car as well, to allow for equal and close racing, again, similar to BTCC, V8 Supercars & TCR. There are a few videos on YouTube where the car has been tested extensively.

Here is another of the MARC Cars Australia Focus doing a lap of Bathurst in 2014…

image

To add to this, the MARC Cars Australia organisation has been racing various models of this concept in the 24H Series, most notably at the Bathurst 12 Hours amongst other events, plenty of success. The cars in use include the Focus Saloon and the Mazda 6 Saloon and they use the V8 engines…

image

As you can see, the cars have a similar look to NGTC, with them looking big, wide and mean but as fans of the BTCC & V8 Supercars are aware, that means plenty of panels to bash and good close racing.

If your interested in this series, you can follow them on Social media here on Facebook and also at @gtcafrica on Twitter, where there are plenty of updates taking place as the championship builds to its first season.

image

Theres an excitement about this series for me and I also admit to having a love of the Kyalami Circuit from back in my younger days of watching Formula One and I will be watching this series with interest to see how it finds its place in the tintop world along with such strong series as the BTCC, WTCC, DTM, ETCC, V8 Supercars and TCR at a time when having different and diverse Touring Car regulations is actually helping the sport of Touring Cars to grow even more.

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!

2016 BTCC News Update No.1…

image

As well as covering all things TCR related and B-TEC in 2016, the Tintop Guru Blog will once again provide coverage of my favourite Touring Car series: The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship! This series goes from strength to strength and 2016 looks to be another belter of a season.

So, heres a roundup of the recent driver announcements…

TEAM HARD SIGN MINI CHALLENGE ACE CHRIS SMILEY

image

Team HARD has regular points-scoring finishes in its sights this season, after signing former MINI Challenge champion Chris Smiley for the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.

Smiley contested the Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup in Germany in 2014 before making a one-off appearance in the VAG Trophy with the Kent-based outfit at Oulton Park last October – dominating with a double victory.

Now graduating to the pinnacle of British tin-top competition, the 23-year-old Northern Irishman will pilot the squad’s updated Toyota Avensis – a car worked on extensively over the off-season, resulting in a much lighter chassis – throughout the forthcoming campaign.

Team principal Tony Gilham sees no reason why points should not be an achievable target for Team HARD in 2016, having secured a driver he rates extremely highly and given the gains made on the team’s Toyota chassis since the end of last season.

“We have obviously worked with Chris before and have followed his progress closely throughout,” said Gilham. “Everyone who has come into contact with him knows he is a talent, and we are convinced he is more than ready to make his debut in what we regard as the world’s premier touring car championship. He is quick, dedicated and has a burning passion to succeed.

“The BTCC is ultra-competitive, but with Chris behind the wheel and the raft of updates we have brought to the Avensis in recent months, there is no reason at all why we can’t finish regularly inside the points this year. That has to be our target.”

Smiley previously tested Jason Plato’s Triple Eight Racing-run MG6 after winning the MINI Challenge JCW Class in 2013. He acknowledges that he will face a learning curve in terms of the feel of the Toyota, with the current NGTC machinery exhibiting different behaviour to what he has driven in the past.

“Whilst the NGTC Toyota cars aren’t a world away from the Minis or the Scirocco – they’re all turbocharged and front-wheel-drive – they are weighted very differently and the suspension behaves differently as they aren’t production cars, so they feel racier,” he explained. “I also have to learn about the tyres, because this will be the first time I’ve raced in a series with two different compounds. That all adds to the challenge, but I can’t wait to get going.

“The BTCC has been a dream of mine for many years, right back to when I was in karting. It will be exciting to renew battle with some of my former rivals like Jack Goff and Tom Ingram – just like old days!

MOTORBASE TO HOST 2016 RENAULT CLIO CUP PRIZE TEST

image

For the fourth consecutive year, Motorbase Performance will host Dunlop’s highly prized BTCC test award for the 2016 Renault UK Clio Cup Champion.

The coveted test offers the UK Clio Cup Champion the chance to sample the multi-race winning Motorbase Ford Focus ST and to experience a full BTCC test day with exclusive support from the Wrotham-based team alongside Dunlop’s own motor sport tyre technicians.

“Dunlop are an outstanding asset to British Motorsport and the BTCC and we’re delighted to be teaming up with them again to offer a fantastic opportunity for young talent to sample a BTCC car in its full glory,” commented Oly Collins, Motorbase Performance’s Team Manager.

“We’ve seen how many young Renault Clio Cup drivers have made the natural progression through to the BTCC and I don’t see that changing any time soon. We’re proud at Motorbase Performance to continue this longstanding young driver development programme in partnership with Dunlop and look forward tracking their progression through the ranks of motorsport.

“Only last weekend we were proud to watch Jonny Adam, our young BTCC driver from 2009 compete the Daytona 24 hour race.”

Micky Butler, Dunlop’s UK Motorsport Manager added; “We pride ourselves on being able to give the top drivers in championships we support a further chance to learn and impress as part of the next step of their careers.”

“The UK Clio Cup has a reputation for producing some of the very best drivers in touring cars and also GT and sportscar competition and that was certainly reflected in the immediate professionalism and abilities of its last two champions (Mike Bushell and Ashley Sutton) when they took part in our test with Motorbase.

“The 2016 UK Clio Cup grid is looking phenomenal and whoever wins the title will richly deserve it. We look forward very much to meeting the new Champion at our test with Motorbase later in the year.”

Will Fewkes, Renaultsport’s UK Motorsport Championship Manager, said: “Dunlop are to be applauded once more for their very generous support of the UK Clio Cup Champion – in fact of motor sport in Britain. It would be very easy for a company not do to something like this but Dunlop, like Renaultsport, genuinely enjoy bringing on talent.

“Tyre technology and understanding how to get the most performance from it are among the biggest strengths any driver can ever have in motor sport. So for the driver who wins the UK Clio Cup to glean such data from a test with one of the world’s most successful motor racing tyre manufacturers and in one of the fastest cars on the BTCC grid this prize is a massively important bonus.”

The race to become the 2016 Renault UK Clio Cup Champion – and win Dunlop’s big British Touring Car test – begins on Sat 2/Sun 3 April with the opening two rounds of the championship at the Brands Hatch circuit in Kent.

HONDA YUASA RACING SIGN ANDY NEATE FOR THIRD CIVIC TYPE-R

image

Andy Neate has signed with Team Dynamics to take the third driver position in the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship. Partnering with triple champion Matt Neal and double champion Gordon ‘Flash’ Shedden, Neate will be driving a third factory Honda Civic Type R.

Having claimed the double last year with both the drivers and manufacturers championships, with Flash taking the championship to the wire by pipping Plato to the post by just four points in the last race at Brands Hatch, the Honda works team will be looking to successfully defend both their titles in the 2016 season, which kicks off at the start of April, again at Brands Hatch.

Neate has competed in British Touring Cars for several years, most recently in 2013 in the Chevrolet Cruze with IP Tech. His most notable season in 2012 was with MG KX Momentum Racing as a factory driver, piloting the MG6 GT alongside Jason Plato.

James Rodgers, Team Manager at Team Dynamics, commented: “We are delighted to have signed Andy to take on the third car and help our team point scoring capabilities for this season. The trend for increasing numbers of cars in teams has meant we are very keen to bolster our presence on the grid this year. Andy joins the Honda works team with plenty of experience to build on and a hunger for podium places, which is just what we are after.”

Andy Neate added: “Like Matt, I’ve been involved with multiple teams in British Touring Cars and so bring with me a wealth of understanding and familiarity of the championship. I’m really excited to be working alongside two of the greats in Matt and Flash and it will be brilliant to have team mates that I can learn so much from.

“The car looked epic last year and I am sure this year will be no different. I can’t wait to get behind the wheel and begin to support Honda in achieving back to back manufacturers’ championships, and of course be challenging for those hard fought podiums.”

WSR CONFIRM COLLARD AND TORDOFF RETURN FOR 2016

image

Rob Collard and Sam Tordoff will contest the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship for Team JCT600 with GardX after a deal was struck for the race-winning pairing to remain at the squad for a second successive season.

This will be Collard’s seventh consecutive BTCC campaign with the West Surrey Racing-run outfit while team-mate Tordoff joined under the new JCT600 and GardX-backed banner in 2015.

An impressive season for the duo resulted in five overall wins for the team, with Collard taking three victories, while Tordoff ended the year as the highest non-champion in the ultra-competitive field.

Such was the success of the team’s maiden campaign that it was keen to build on momentum with a settled and proven line-up. Whilst much about the team has an air of continuity about it, the same cannot be said for the new look Team JCT600 with GardX BMWs.

The base white machines have made way for a striking silver and blue livery design, whilst the multiple championship winning cars have also undergone an extensive development programme during the off-season.

Further ties have also been made with manufacturer BMW appointing Tordoff as an Ambassador for the giant German marque, whilst GardX becomes an official supplier to BMW with its ProtectX protection products.

The silver bullet BMW 125i M Sports will now embark on a pre-season testing programme over the coming weeks with both Tordoff and Collard enjoying significant time behind the wheel. The JCT600 with GardX squad will then contest the only official test day during the BTCC Season Launch event at Donington Park on 22 March, before the opening round of the season takes place at Brands Hatch in early April.

Rob Collard said: “I am delighted to be continuing with Team JCT600 with GardX and extending my long relationship with WSR. I enjoyed a fast but sometimes inconsistent season in 2015, but there’s little doubting that we have the ingredients to fight for championships again this season. The whole team works well together and I have a good relationship with Sam, so we’re really looking forward to another successful season in the BTCC.”

Sam Tordoff said: “I really enjoyed my first season with Team JCT600 with GardX and I can’t wait to get going in 2016. Everyone at WSR is so friendly, experienced and hugely talented, which is why I know this is the best place for my career. It was fantastic to score some wins last year but now we need to do so on a consistent basis in order to challenge for the championship. We’re all focussed and driven to achieve our goals so bring it on!”

Dick Bennetts, WSR Team Principal, said: “It is great to have both Sam and Rob continue in the Team JCT600 with GardX WSR BMWs this year. Considering that Sam has only done three years in the BTCC and only one in the RWD BMW, I reckon he’ll really shine this season. Rob really lifted his game in 2015, to the point where three-time World Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx acknowledged his pace on race day. The guys have been working really hard through the winter to move the 125i M Sports on to a new level, as we all know just how competitive the BTCC is!”

JACKSON JOINS JORDAN AT MOTORBASE FOR 2016 BTCC

image

Motorbase Performance has ignited an ambitious challenge on the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship confirming Mat Jackson’s return to the squad alongside 2013 champion Andrew Jordan.

2016 marks Jackson’s seventh consecutive year with the Wrotham-based squad after a sensational return to the BTCC grid for the second half of the 2015 season that saw Jackson and Motorbase amass an incredible seven independent race wins, four outright wins and four further podiums in just four race weekends.

Running under the Motorbase Performance banner for the 2016 campaign, Jackson returns to the grid in the #7 Ford Focus ST with backing from DUO and completes David Bartrum’s formidable driver line-up partnered with new signing Andrew Jordan in the #77 Pirtek Racing Focus.

David Bartrum, Motorbase Performance Team Principal commented; “We’re obviously delighted to have Mat back on board for his seventh year with us. Hopefully the number 7 will prove to be our lucky number this year with Mat racing back under his number 7 and Andrew as 77!

“We’ve known Mat for a long time and enjoyed one of our best periods together at the end of last season so the aim now is to carry that momentum on into this year and to focus on challenging at the front as soon as the first flag drops. There’s work to be done, particularly around the new suspension, but I can honestly say that if I was asked to pair two drivers together then Mat and Andrew would be my first choice all day long. They both tested with us at the end of last year and worked well together; there’s a great dynamic between them so I’m looking forward to seeing how they will bounce off of each other’s experience as time goes on.

“They may be in different coloured cars but they are very much team-mates and equal parts of the Motorbase stable. We have a great team behind them, so now is our time to shine.”

A name familiar to many through its various motorsport partnerships, DUO operates internationally providing specialist material processing systems to the construction industry from its Coventry headquarters and has extended its partnership with Motorbase and Mat Jackson for the 2016 season.

“It’s great to welcome back DUO for a full challenge on the BTCC;” continued Bartrum. “DUO has a great outlook on business and combines it well with motorsport and I’m looking forward to our relationship growing stronger as the season progresses. It’s thanks to DUO’s support that Mat will become Motorbase Performance’s longest serving driver.”

Mat Jackson said; “It is great to be returning with Motorbase for 2016 and to be able to carry on from last year’s performance and mount our assault on the championship. I have to say huge thanks to DUO and to Motorbase for their continued loyalty and it’s fantastic to be able to bring DUO in for a full season this year.

“We’ve got an extensive testing programme planned which starts today, and with the new regulations it will be more important than ever before to get a head start as the season kick off at Brands in April.”

Alex Moss, CEO of DUO said: “We are delighted to be working with Motorbase Performance for what will be our first full partnership year after successfully working with the team in the later part of the season last year. We had three excellent performances with Mat Jackson which has led to our association and partnership. As a business we already support several top level drivers within the sport, and the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship is going from strength to strength, so the decision to get involved was an easy one to take. Motorbase Performance are a winning team and we are delighted to be working with them.  For us to be part of a driver’s career as they progress through the ranks is something that we are proud to be part of.”

Motorbase Performance launched its 2016 pre-season testing programme today (February 11) at its local circuit Brands Hatch ahead of the opening rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship on the GP Indy layout on April 2/3.

The full 2016 Motorbase Performance livery design and new partners will be revealed at the official BTCC media day to be held at Donington Park on March 22.

Seeing as there are more seats waiting to be confirmed before Media Day on 22 March, keep your eyes peeled for more BTCC updates from the Tintop Guru Blog!

All the best!

Phil!

B-Tech Series Update No.1…

During the 2016 Autosport International Show, it was announced that original GPRM built NGTC cars would now be eligible to run in a new club level based series that would begin this year.

image

(Credit: B-TEC Development Series)

The cars, originally built for Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship between 2011 & 2015, will be run in a series kept separate from the BTCC and its support championships to allow other Drivers and Teams a chance to run and drive the cars. This allows for experience to be gained and also gives a chance for Teams looking to join the BTCC in the future a chance to make the step up with experience of the regulations in force.

So far there have been several announcements from the Series and here at the TinTop Guru Blog, we’ll be keeping an eye on the B-Tech Development Series as it grows in its first season. So here are some of the updates released so far…

B-Tech Development Series Introduction

image

(Credit: B-TEC Development Series)

The B-TEC Development Series is being managed by Ian Harrison, the boss of Triple Eight Racing and is tailored for aspiring touring car teams and drivers, providing an opportunity to develop thekills required for the British Touring Car Championship, away from the spotlight.  The Development series will also create a platform for young managers, engineers and mechanics to hone their skills, providing a relevant and recognised training ground.

The series is open to non BTCC entrants, cars must be fitted with GPRM components, the B-TEC Development Series Swindon engine (310 bhp) and Dunlop Tyres.

Six national meetings will be held across the country and will incorporate 14 races, beginning at Brands Indy on 27/28 March as it supports the headlining the BARC truck racing event and will then travel to Croft, Rockingham, Donington, Anglesey and Pembrey.  The format will include one 40 minute Practice Session and one 30 minute Qualifying Session on Saturday and two 30 minute Race’s on Sunday, with three Races at Brands Indy and Donington.

The 2016 B-TEC Development Series Champion and Runner Up will receive a test drive with a current BTCC Team.

Team BKR to run Ex-Team BMR cars in B-TEC Development Series

image

(Credit: BTCC.net)

Following the recent announcement at the Autosport International Show of the B-TEC Development Series for 2016, the B-TEC Development Series are pleased to announce the involvement of Team BKR who will enter 6 cars in the newly formed category.

Team BKR have formed an alliance with Team BMR taking control of the four Volkswagen CC’s and Two Vauxhall Insignias, previously raced in the BTCC at the hands of Jason Plato & Colin Turkington to name just a few.  The race winning cars will run in their current specification with the subframes built by GPRM and the Development Series engine built by Swindon Engines.

The arrangement between the two teams came as a result of Team BKR pursuing a T.B.L. towards the end of last year’s race season as Nico Ferrari, Team Manager explains, “Warren and I were really close to getting a package together last year which would have seen us entering the BTCC and returning at least one Insignia to the grid. For various reasons this plan didn’t work out as we hoped but now I am more excited by this new opportunity which gives us the chance to work alongside the biggest team currently in the BTCC”.

Team BMR Principle Warren Scott, delighted to have all six of his NGTC cars from past seasons back out on circuits for the fans to enjoy commented “This B-TEC Development Series is really starting to pick up momentum, myself and Nico are in talks with various drivers and are looking to get the first testing dates secured shortly. Team BKR were unfortunate not to get the T.B.L they worked so hard for but I believe this is a better option for them as they will learn how to run these cars the same way we’ve been running them so successfully for the last few seasons”.

Team BKR previously competed in the Renault Clio Cup Championship in 2015 as well as having a history of entries in Brit Car and other club level motorsport championships.

Both teams are keen to hear from drivers of all skill levels and abilities as explained by Nico, “It needs to be made clear this is club motorsport, we welcome enquiries from all drivers! For any driver who is serious about progressing to the likes of BTCC or even making a return, there is no other place to be right now than in the B-TEC Development Series. To have the opportunity to drive NGTC spec cars under the watchful eye of Team BMR and all the other BTCC teams involved is not to be missed!”

Kieran Gallagher Signs for Team BKR in B-TEC Development Series

image

(Credit: BTCC.net)

Team BKR have officially announced that BTCC driver Kieran Gallagher signed a one year deal earlier this week when he flew into London from his hometown Glasgow to meet with Nico Ferrari & Team BMR Principle Warren Scott, who is involved in the B-Tec Development Series project alongside series Director & Triple Eight Boss Ian Harrison

“I knew as soon as I read about this series that it would be a wise move for me, I am keen to continue my progress in NGTC machinery and what better way for me to move forward than with the help of Team BKR” explained Gallagher.

Gallagher has made no secrets of the fact that he hopes to make a return to the BTCC soon, this deal presents him with the opportunity to gain extensive experience in the NGTC spec Volkswagen CC’s that were driven in last year’s Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship by the likes of Team BMR’s Colin Turkington and Aron Smith, in addition to the Vauxhall Insignia that was successful in the 2013 and 2014 championship.

On asking Gallagher how he felt about the upcoming season, he said “I just cannot wait to get out in the car now and begin testing, to be given the chance to pilot a proved BTCC race winning car is a real privilege and an opportunity I will make the most of.”

Team BKR Manager Nico Ferrari described his joy at having the first driver secured, “I’ve been keen from the start to have a recent BTCC driver on our team, to have one from just last season is superb! I’ve never worked with Kieran before but we get on great and I’m looking forward to giving the guy the chance to show his ability and pace in a front running NGTC.”

Ferrari also commented on some of the added benefits associated with the newly signed driver, “Kieran has a massive social media presence which is really exciting, we’re already talking about some great initiatives to welcome his huge fanbase to our team and continue building his profile, preparing him for a strong return to the BTCC which I have no doubt is in the pipeline.”

Gallagher who has previous experience in the Vauxhall Insignia when he competed in the BTCC at Knockhill in 2013, is set to begin testing in the near future. As the first driver to commit to the series he has received strong support from B-TEC Development Series Director and Triple Eight boss Ian Harrison, “I am delighted that Kieran has signed the deal with Team BKR and with his previous BTCC experience I am certain that the B-TEC Development Series will aid his development as a driver in a car that will show what he can really do behind the wheel.  I look forward to watching his journey as the series progresses”.

Prior to his 2015 season racing a Toyota Avensis, Gallagher has also competed in the Volkswagen Racing Cup, Porsche Carerra Cup GB and Scottish Legends Car Championship.

The B-TEC Development series, open for none BTCC entrants, is tailored for aspiring touring car teams and drivers, providing an opportunity to develop the skills required for the British Touring Car Championship, away from the spotlight.  The Development series will also create a platform for young managers, engineers and mechanics to hone their skills, providing a relevant and recognised training ground.  The Series are keen to hear from drivers of all skill levels and abilities.

No doubt there will be more announcements for this new Tintop Series & Tintop Guru will keep you all updated on the latest news during the winter buildup.

All the best!

Phil!!

BTCC 2015: BMW Rules At Croft

image

The 2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship moved to Croft for its fifth weekend of racing and the final weekend before the halfway point and the series summer break. Now if anything was certain in the BTCC, it is that Croft is a RWD circuit, regardless of how good or bad the car maybe that year, RWD rules at this circuit and 2015 was nothing different…in fact, it cemented the race weekend…

Lets see how it panned out…

QUALIFYING…

image

Sam Tordoff claimed his first pole position with West Surrey Racing in qualifying for round 13 of the British Touring Car Championship season at Croft, ahead of team-mate Andy Priaulx and the Honda of Gordon Shedden.

Setting a best time of 1:23.886s, Tordoff claimed his first pole position since Rockingham last year to beat his team-mate by 0.050s, with Shedden a further half second back in third. It was the former WSR driver Colin Turkington who set the early pace in the session, lapping his Volkswagen CC in 1:24.728s.

image

The yellow flags made a brief appearance shortly afterwards when the third BMW of Rob Collard spun in the final sector, although the nine-time race winner was able to recover to the pits. Having experienced an under-par start to the campaign, Rob Austin went fastest briefly in his Audi A4 at the midway stage, before Priaulx went fastest with Tordoff splitting the pair.

image

The two then stayed in that order until the final five minutes of the session, when Priaulx improved to become the first man to break the 1:24s barrier that weekend, only to be usurped by Tordoff. Collard looked as though he had given the team a 1-2-3 on the grid for the opening race, only to have his time disallowed for exceeding track limits. That put him back in fourth, with Shedden benefiting – the Scot carrying 66 kilograms of ballast.

Fifth place went the way of Turkington, who finished with a time one-hundredth-of-a-second faster than Matt Neal in the second Honda Civic and an improved Austin in seventh. Jack Goff was eighth ahead of Adam Morgan, while Andrew Jordan completed the top ten.

image

RACE ONE…

Andy Priaulx claimed a first win since returning to the British Touring Car Championship, heading team-mates Sam Tordoff and Rob Collard for a West Surrey Racing 1-2-3 in the first race at Croft.

image

The result, Priaulx’s second win in the championship and first in nearly 13 years, was West Surrey Racing’s first podium lockout in the BTCC. It was Priaulx who got the better start as the race got underway, but polesitter Tordoff held his lead into Clervaux as Collard swept by Gordon Shedden into third.

image

The front three began to pull away in the early stages, with Shedden having to defend from the fast-starting Audi of Rob Austin, who had jumped Colin Turkington and Matt Neal off the line. The decisive moment in the race came on lap six, when Tordoff made a small error on the exit of the chicane to allow Priaulx to close up, with the three-time World Champion completing a move up the inside into Tower bend.

And although Tordoff stayed with the Guernseyman for the remainder of the race, he was unable to retaliate as Priaulx brought his BMW home for a first victory in the series since Knockhill 2002.

Collard had threatened the leading pair for much of the race, but began to drop towards the end of the race with the soft tyres and came home a distant but welcome third, with Shedden putting in a sensible drive to claim fourth.

image

Fifth went to his team-mate Neal, who finished just in front of Andrew Jordan. Turkington had been set for fifth, but an issue on the final lap dropped him behind the duo, and forced him to fend off Tom Ingram to hold onto seventh, while Adam Morgan and Jack Goff completed the top ten.

image

Erstwhile championship leader Jason Plato was forced to join after the start of the race, and was make any progress, while newcomers Max Coates and Nic Hamilton finished 21st and 25th respectively.

image

RACE TWO…

Sam Tordoff made it two wins from two races for West Surrey Racing in the second British Touring Car Championship race at Croft, as he eased to victory ahead of Team BMR stablemates Jason Plato and Colin Turkington.

image

After starting on pole for the second race in a row, Tordoff steadily increased his gap back to second – even when Plato and Turkington overtook the second WSR BMW of Andy Priaulx on Lap 3 and then for the entirety of the race to claim a second win in three BTCC races. Much like the race one start, Priaulx made a marginally better getaway than pole-sitter Tordoff, but the latter was able to hold his lead through Clervaux and into the rest of the lap, as Turkington resisted Rob Collard in the third BMW.

As Tordoff began to ease away, Plato saw the need to pounce and carried his speed through the chicane before throwing his Volkswagen CC down the inside of Priaulx for second on lap three, with Turkington following suit through the next turn. But Tordoff remained composed and despite carrying 66 kilograms of ballast, raced home in the remaining laps to claim a second win of the season.

image

Plato and Turkington nevertheless picked up welcome podiums, the former having opted to miss the start of race one in order to set a faster time in clear air after qualifying in 12th, while Priaulx stayed with the duo with 75 kilograms onboard his BMW.

image

Gordon Shedden made a bold move on Rob Collard stick late on to claim fifth ahead of the WSR driver, with Rob Austin right on their tail in seventh. Tom Ingram had another useful run to eighth, ahead of Adam Morgan and Jack Goff.

image

Josh Cook had been set for points until the penultimate lap, when he appeared to pick up a puncture and went head on into the tyre wall at Clervaux. Cook was unharmed, but his car received substantial damage in the crash.

RACE THREE…

Rob Collard won the third British Touring Car Championship race of the day at Croft ahead of team-mate Andy Priaulx and the Honda of Gordon Shedden to give West Surrey Racing a clean sweep of race wins at the Yorkshire circuit.

image

Having forfeited the lead to Shedden on the third lap, Collard came back into the race as the former’s tyres fell away, and after giving the Honda driver a small nudge on lap 12, raced clear to claim a tenth career win. Collard made a traditionally quick getaway at the start of the race, with minimal contact through the opening corners aside from some rubbing between Rob Austin and Tom Ingram.

image

But despite the quick start, Collard was not allowed to escape down the road and Shedden quickly returned to his tail. The 2012 champion had a look for the lead into Clervaux, but after lining up a move into Tower, he made the pass stick into Sunny In, with Collard quickly closing the door to stop team-mate Priaulx following him through. In a race that threatened to get messy but stayed relatively clean, the gaps stabilised for some time before Collard began to reel the Honda in.

By lap ten, the pair were nose-to-tail throughout much of the lap and after getting a run onto the start/finish straight two laps later, Collard forced his way through after a slight tap to Shedden’s rear through the chicane, before escaping off into the distance. With Shedden unable to catch up to the BMW, his attentions quickly turned to defending second from a charging Priaulx.

image

The Honda man looked to have done so, but after holding off Priaulx through much of the final lap, Shedden drove slightly too deep into the penultimate corner, with Priaulx rounding the hairpin onto the straight in second as Collard took the chequered flag. Behind the podium finishers, Colin Turkington headed team-mate Plato home in fourth, ahead of race two winner Sam Tordoff who stole sixth from Matt Neal after a pass two laps from the finish.

image

Neal fell to ninth as he was re-passed by Tom Ingram and Jack Goff before the flag, while Warren Scott came through the field to claim a first top-ten finish of the season.

So, as proven once again, only a fool would bet against a BMW win at Croft, except this year it was a crushing BMW performance from all three WSR drivers with the Honda’s & VW’s the closest to them. The outcome? Sam Tordoff is now fourth in the Drivers Championship and is poised in the second half of the season to be an outside challenger for the Title, should Plato, Neal or Shedden falter…

Add into this that the Turk is in fifth place in the championship and improving further and thats at least five drivers. Snetterton is next after the Summer break and judging by the recent tyre test, Motorbase will be a threat on their return having spent the first half of the season testing updates on the Focus and their new Mountune EcoBoost engine whilst searching for sponsors.

Doubts on this? Well I’ll silence those here and now. Remember back in 2012 when the NGTC Focus made its debut at Snetterton, scoring points and taking a race victory at Silverstone?

Yeah, this series is about to get even closer in the 2nd half…

All the best!

Phil!!

BTCC 2015: Plato Dominates At Oulton Park

image

The 2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship moved to Oulton Park for its fourth weekend of racing and questions were needing answers ever since the move last year to use the full International circuit and a lack of exciting racing. So the series decided to return to the Island layout, but with the series being such a close affair in 2015 the question was…

Would it work?

Lets see how it panned out…

QUALIFYING…

image

Jason Plato continued his dominance of the British Touring Car Championship at Oulton Park to take pole position from Honda’s Matt Neal and WSR’s Andy Priaulx by less than a tenth of a second.

image

Team BMR’s Plato smashed his own pole position lap record to take his first pole position of the season, ahead of the Honda of Neal and the BMW of Priaulx. The Volkswagen driver continued the fine form he had shown earlier in the day to rise to the top of the times after ten minutes, before improving his time further inside the final ten minutes.

image

Fourth fastest was MG’s Andrew Jordan, 0.453 seconds adrift of Plato and with little answer to the top three drivers. Gordon Shedden was fifth fastest with a lap in the closing seconds of the session, despite the Scot being forced to carry 75 kg of success ballast for leading the championship.

Team BMR team-mates Colin Turkington and Árón Smith were sixth and seventh fastest respectively, around half a second off the pace, although the latter had his best lap time removed for exceeding the track limits. MG’s Jack Goff was eighth quickest, despite losing all of his times posted in the first 20 minutes of the session due to failing the ride height check. Goff was forced to put in a pair of flying laps late in the session to ensure his place in the race one top ten.

image

Speedworks Motorsport’s Tom Ingram was ninth quickest, unable to replicate the pace he had shown in the morning’s practice sessions. WIX Racing’s Adam Morgan completed the top ten. Neither of the two JCT600-backed BMW drivers could make it into the top ten, with Sam Tordoff in 11th position and Rob Collard down in 19th position after a trying qualifying session.

RACE ONE…

Jason Plato dominated a shortened first British Touring Car Championship race at Oulton Park to take the lead of the championship, heading home Honda’s Matt Neal and Andy Priaulx.

image

The team BMR driver led away from the line and never looked likely to relinquish the lead, with a red flag shown in the latter stages of the race after a crash for Stewart Lines at the pit entrance. Plato was able to build a 1.310s lead by the end of the first lap as the traditionally fast-starting BMW of Priaulx fought Neal for second into Turn 1, with the former initially squeezing up the inside before Neal dived back through at Cascades.

image

That squabble effectively ended any hope of a challenge to Plato at the front, with the Volkswagen CC driver carrying his fine form over from Saturday with two laps that bettered the circuit’s previous lap record. Plato would only build his advantage until lap 13, when the safety car was deployed to recover the stricken Toyota Avensis of Stewart Lines, who crashed at the pit entrance after colliding with Alex Martin.

The race distance was initially extended by a lap, but the decision was quickly taken to red flag the race with two laps to spare in order to repair the tyre wall. With Plato winning – his fastest lap also meaning he will start race two from pole – Neal held on to second after resisting Priaulx, with Andrew Jordan in sight of the pair for the majority of the race, finishing as the best-placed soft tyre runner in fourth.

image

Aron Smith was fifth after passing Gordon Shedden, the erstwhile championship leader having been forced to defend throughout the race having started the day with maximum ballast. Colin Turkington had earlier squabbled with the pair, but finished a lowly 25th after making a costly error that saw him go straight on past the Island hairpin and onto the extended Oulton Park circuit.

image

Jack Goff was seventh ahead of Tom Ingram, with Sam Tordoff and Dave Newsham completing the top ten.

image

RACE TWO…

Jason Plato resisted Honda’s Gordon Shedden to win the second British Touring Car Championship race of the day at Oulton Park by 0.093s, with Andrew Jordan in third.

image

A second victory in as many races means that Plato became the first man to win in the championship with maximum ballast of 75 kilograms, as he just edged Shedden over the line. Plato was able to hold his lead off the line as Shedden moved quickly to cover off Jordan in third, with Rob Collard making an excellent start to jump up to fourth.

image

Those four broke away from the chasing pack, but unlike the day’s opening race, Plato was unable to shake off the chasing Honda, with Shedden occasionally dropping back only to quickly reappear on the tail of the Volkswagen. Shedden continued his pursuit of Plato as the pair edged away from Jordan and Collard, with the Honda man twice nudging Plato into the Island hairpin.

image

Plato seemed to have done enough for victory having gaped Shedden slightly in the closing laps, but on the final tour the Scotsman drew close to the double champion into Lodge corner, before drawing alongside in his Civic on the run to line. Plato had just enough of advantage to keep first place, however, and in so doing claimed a 92nd win in the championship.

image

Jordan had another fruitful outing as he completed the podium in third – having earlier finished fourth in Race One – as he pulled enough of a gap to avoid some last-lap drama behind. Collard had looked well placed to score fourth after his strong start, but team-mate Andy Priaulx had narrowed the gap to the former heading into the final lap. As the pair headed into the hairpin, the pair squeezed into one another and collided, with Collard pulling off immediately on the exit with left-rear suspension damage. Priaulx too was in trouble, as he struggled with his front-right tyre and dropped to 15th by the flag.

image

That promoted Matt Neal to fourth, while there was some good news for West Surrey Racing as Sam Tordoff brought his BMW home in fifth. That was just reward for the Yorkshireman after two fantastic passes on Adam Morgan and Aron Smith – the latter a well-judged late lunge into Lodge. Morgan was able to follow Tordoff through in that pass to claim sixth, which will see him start race three from pole, while Smith finished just in front of team-mate Colin Turkington, who recovered well having started in 13th.

image

Jack Goff was a quiet ninth in the second MG ahead of Jeff Smith, who claimed a first top-ten finish of the season in his Eurotech Honda Civic

RACE THREE…

Sam Tordoff claimed a first British Touring Car Championship race win with West Surrey Racing in the final race of the day at Oulton Park, fending off the MG of Andrew Jordan and Honda’s Matt Neal.

image

Tordoff grabbed the lead of the race after an error from Neal allowed him up the inside on the run to Old Hall, with Jordan making a pass later on the same lap. Polesitter Adam Morgan led away from the start in his Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes A-Class, forcing Tordoff off the circuit on the exit of Old Hall and allowing Neal into second.

image

A win for Morgan would have been his second race three victory in as many meetings, but his stint at the front was short lived as he was given a drive-through penalty for moving past his grid slot before the start of the race. That handed Neal the lead of the race, and he looked comfortable for the first two-thirds of the race until he ran wide at Lodge on lap nine, presenting Tordoff with the opportunity to drive up the inside of the Honda man along the start/finish straight to claim the lead.

image

Jordan then capitalised on Neal’s frustration by forcing a pass at Lodge on the same lap, and quickly closed up to Tordoff as he hunted down a first win of the season of his own. But it was not to be as Tordoff placed his car well on the final lap to block any passes, to score a first win in more than a year.

image

Behind the top three, Gordon Shedden came home in fourth to keep the pressure on Jason Plato at the head of the championship, the latter having finished in fifth. He was the first of a trio of Team BMR cars, with Colin Turkington in sixth and Aron Smith seventh. Jack Goff came home eighth, with Jeff Smith scoring his second top-ten finish of the weekend in ninth and Tom Ingram rounding out the top ten. There was also some joy for Dan Welch, who finished in 15th – his first points score since October 2013.

image

So after a good days racing that was filled with action and incident aplenty, does Oulton Park hold up to the challenge of the BTCC? Well there were plenty of opinions on and after raceday saying how the racing was boring with no or little action going on (despite the close race two finish) and its well known that Oulton has a unique tight racing line to it as well.

image

With such a close season of BTCC amongst us where the cars are as close as they have ever been and the oppurtunities to pass have to be worked harder for, Oulton did look like a procession at one stage with it being difficult to pass on a good day. But it offered close racing as well, something which the BTCC offers on a plate at each venue.

We’ll have to see what happens next year.

All the best!

Phil!!

BTCC 2015: Thruxton Delivers Action Aplenty…

The third weekend of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship took place at the ultra fast Thruxton circuit in Hampshire and it delivered another spectacular days racing, however there were a few incidents in the run up to Race Day…

image

Heres how it panned out…

QUALIFYING…

image

Aron Smith claimed a maiden British Touring Car Championship pole position at Thruxton in a chaotic qualifying session, beating the Honda duo of Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal to pole.

In a session that was both frenetic and disjointed – with two red flags disrupting proceedings – Smith posted the fastest time of the session in the dying moments to deny the pair of Hondas a first pole of the season.

Only Jason Plato was able to register a representative time in the opening stages – a 1:17.507s – before the first red flag was shown, with Mike Bushell and Simon Belcher involved in a big crash at the start of the lap.

As Bushell exited the pits, both he and Belcher appeared to misjudge one another with the former tapping Belcher’s rear, sending the Toyota Avensis into the air before the pair smashed into the barrier on the exit of Allard.

With both cars heavily damaged, Bushell has been taken to Southampton Hospital with a suspected broken left femur, although the AmD Tuning driver was conscious and responsive as he left the track.

With a substantial delay, the session finally restarted and times immediately started to tumble, with Neal and Shedden jumping straight to the top of the times with respective efforts of 1:17.125s and 1:17.189s.

The pair then went quicker on their second laps with Shedden going fastest, but as a second red flag was shown following a shunt for Hunter Abbott, the Scot’s time (along with those of Rob Collard, Sam Tordoff and Dave Newsham) was disallowed for exceeding track limits.

The second stoppage left seven minutes for drivers to improve their times, and Dave Newsham immediately made an impact by setting an identical time to Matt Neal before Adam Morgan went fastest with a 1:16.808s – although both he and Newsham had their efforts disallowed again for exceeding track limits.

It was then that Smith popped up to post the fastest time – a 1:16.785s – and with neither Honda driver able to respond, the Irishman secured his first pole in the championship.

Morgan ended the session in fourth with a second quick lap, ahead of Andy Priaulx in fifth. Plato finished the session in sixth, with Jack Goff leading the MG charge in seventh.

Josh Cook had another impressive run to eighth in his Power Maxed Racing Chevrolet Cruze, while Colin Turkington and Collard rounded out the top ten.

Martin Donnelly joined Dan Welch on the sidelines, after a power steering issue prevented him from running.

RACE ONE…

image

Gordon Shedden won the opening British Touring Car Championship race of the day at Thruxton, heading home Honda team-mate Matt Neal and the Mercedes A-Class of Adam Morgan.

Having started the race in second, Scotsman Shedden got a better start that polesitter Aron Smith to take the lead, and remained unchallenged to the flag to finish 1.106s clear of Neal, with Morgan completing the podium after a puncture for Smith at the three-quarter distance.

As the race started, Shedden took full advantage as Smith span his wheels off the line to grab the lead, with Neal also slithering past the BMR driver into second place.

A fast-starting Andy Priaulx looked to sneak into third in his West Surrey Racing BMW, before dropping back into fifth after Smith and Morgan battled their way back past.

After regaining his composure, Smith looked to fight back into second past Neal – who had been gapped by his team-mate – but couldn’t make the most of a look up the inside of Goodwood, with Neal then defending the position by braking later than Smith and Morgan into the chicane.

Having set the fastest lap, Jason Plato found a way past Priaulx on lap four but was unable to make much progress in his pursuit of the battle for second.

Things stayed relatively settled until the closing quarter of the race, when Smith went wide on the exit of Church. rejoining the circuit, the Irishman spun his Volkswagen CC with a flat front-left, and returned to the pits as another podium finish slipped from his grasp.

There were no such problems for Shedden, however, as he cruised to a second win of the season with Neal and Morgan both comfortable in second and third.

After Smith’s late demise, Plato had a quiet but useful run to fourth in his BMR Volkswagen, and will start the second race of the day from pole after his early effort was the fastest lap of the encounter.

Plato’s early pass on Priaulx had been the start of a plummet down the order for the Guernseyman, but he fought back well to claim fifth as a gaggle of cars squabbled for the position with two laps to go, with the equally opportunistic Andrew Jordan claiming sixth.

Colin Turkington came home in seventh ahead of Jack Goff – who will start race two in second – while Josh Cook and Tom Ingram completed the top ten.

RACE TWO…

image

Jason Plato resisted West Surrey Racing’s Rob Collard to clinch a second win of the British Touring Car Championship season at Thruxton, with race one winner Gordon Shedden finishing in third.

Collard had jumped the Team BMR driver off the line, but Plato fought back with a decisive move at the chicane at the end of the second lap, before holding off the BMW man for the remainder of the race.

It was the second phase of the start where Collard made his mark, out-dragging Plato’s Volkswagen CC on the run through Allard. Adam Morgan, Andy Priaulx and Shedden went three-abreast off the line, with Priaulx sent into a half spin as he and Morgan collided as Shedden swept by.

Things got worse for Priaulx moments later as he was involved in an incident with Mark Lines and Warren Scott, while there was chaos throughout the order as Jeff Smith and Josh Cook were forced to pit after collecting advertising boards.

Plato had stayed with Collard at the start of the race and after stalking the BMW in the opening part of the lap, dived down the inside into the chicane to regain the lead.

And the pair remained in that order until the flag, with Plato holding off Collard despite the latter’s best efforts, with a winning margin of 0.442s flattering Plato.

Shedden had stayed with the lead duo at the start but dropped back midway through the race, with Jack Goff giving the Scotsman something to think about at the end of the race as he finished just shy of a second podium of the season.

Colin Turkington was fifth ahead of Sam Tordoff, with Andrew Jordan finishing in seventh. Morgan recovered after his contact at the start of the race to claim eighth and with start the reverse grid race from pole, while Rob Austin and Aiden Moffat completed the top ten.

RACE THREE…

image

Adam Morgan won the final British Touring Car Championship race of the day at Thruxton, ahead of the MG of Andrew Jordan and West Surrey Racing’s Sam Tordoff.

Morgan claimed a second win in the championship in impressive fashion, leading the reverse grid race from the start and managing a safety car period to win by 1.452s from Jordan.
The Ciceley Motorsport driver got a decent enough start away from the grid, showing Jordan the outside line before holding station through the first few corners.

Morgan grew his lead over the first few laps and had moved 2.097s clear by lap four, with most on their best behaviour with little change throughout the competitive order.

But a safety car on lap eight to recover Warren Scott’s stricken Volkswagen CC eroded what had become an even more comfortable lead for the Lancastrian, as the field bunched behind him.

If there were any doubts about his credentials, Morgan quickly put them to bed when the race restarted on lap 12 as he shot off into the distance once again, as Aron Smith and Matt Neal – the latter having started in 25th – passed Rob Collard to move into the top ten.

Morgan remained unchallenged to the flag, to secure a first win on the road in the championship, after his last win came following a post-race penalty for Jason Plato at Brands Hatch last season.

After a trying weekend, second place nevertheless marked a positive end for Jordan, while Tordoff kept his cool to claim a first podium of the season.

Colin Turkington finished fourth in his Volkswagen CC, ahead of Gordon Shedden and Neal, who made a late pass on Plato through Church.

Race two winner Plato came through to finish in seventh, with team-mate Aron Smith following him home. Josh Cook secured another top ten finish in his Power Maxed Racing Chevrolet Cruze, while Tom Ingram rounded out the top ten.

image

Thruxton once again proved that its fast nature provides good racing from the BTCC on each visit, however it also showed the dangers of the UK’s fastest track such as the incident between Simon Belcher and Mike Bushell. Both cars were written off on the spot with severe doubts in both cases that getting to Oulton Park was possible and more over, affecting the chances of both drivers completing the season.

However, there is a silver lining to this incident. The Fan Power of the BTCC or should I say more accurately, the #BTCCFamily has stepped in. Mike Bushell will get to race at Oulton Park in a repaired AmD Ford Focus after the fans acheived the goal of raising £10,000 and over. As we speak, Fan power is helping to get Simon Belchers season back on track as well.

The moral here: Never ever doubt on the generosity and support of your fans.

image

With a small break of a few weeks until Oulton Park hosts the BTCC, many teams and drivers will rest, relax and charge their batteries for the next encounter whilst teams will be repairing, rebuilding and testing to find that vital edge at a circuit that was once called a “Mini-Nurburgring” by a certain Jo Winkelhock. It will also provide us with another chapter in a season that is incredibly hard to predict, with the championship lead changing hands st almost every race.

Just the way we like it!

All the best!

Phil!