BTCC heads to Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit
Posted on 24 September 2011
There is now little more than a week to go before the nation’s premier motor racing championship, the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, rolls into the South East for the crucial penultimate round of its 2011 season – staged on the world-famous Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit in Kent over the weekend of 1-2 October.
The fixture represents the last opportunity for drivers to ensure they are still in with a chance of winning the biggest prize in UK motor sport – indeed one of the most coveted motor racing titles in the world – prior to the championship’s ‘Finals Day’ event a fortnight later at the British Formula 1 Grand Prix venue of Silverstone, Northamptonshire (15-16 Oct).
Furthermore, this ‘crunch’ event takes place on a circuit that the BTCC has historically considered to be its spiritual home – it was at Brands Hatch that the championship’s first race was held back in 1958. Indeed a bumper crowd is anticipated for Brands’ big BTCC weekend. Giant screens feeding ITV Sport’s live coverage of the action will add to the experience for spectators, while race day (Sunday) tickets can still be booked at the special advance rate of just £25 from the www.brandshatch.co.uk website or ticket hot line 0843 453 9000. Admission for children aged 12 and under is FREE all weekend – moreover all admission includes access to the BTCC drivers’ autograph session in the pit lane on the Sunday.
Dramatically, Honda Racing team-mates, Worcestershire’s Matt Neal and Fife’s Gordon Shedden, will arrive at Brands Hatch tying for the championship lead in their turbocharged Civics. Oxford’s Jason Plato is their nearest challenger in third in his Silverline Chevrolet Cruze – he has 25 points to make up on the pacesetting pair if he is to retain his 2010 crown. With a maximum of 104 points (52 each from Brands Hatch and Silverstone) still up for grabs, though, he’s still right in the title chase and sure to be in the thick of the action.
Mathematically seven drivers can still win the title, the other four being Warwickshire’s Mat Jackson (Airwaves Racing Ford Focus), Buckinghamshire’s James Nash (888 Racing with Collins Contractors Vauxhall Vectra), Staffordshire’s Andrew Jordan (Pirtek Racing Vauxhall Vectra) and Hampshire’s Robert Collard (WSR BMW 320si).
Jackson in particular will be hoping to still be in the frame leaving Brands – not just because it is his Wrotham-based team’s home circuit but because just two rounds ago he was leading the championship. Failure to score in any of the last six races in events at Knockhill and Rockingham has demonstrated how quickly fortunes can change in the dramatic BTCC and as a result he is now a distant fourth in the standings. In addition, Jackson and the Airwaves outfit have also lost their respective leads in the Independent Drivers and Teams championships to Nash and 888/Collins.
It is anticipated that the entry list for Brands Hatch’s BTCC event will nudge a near-record 28 cars with no fewer than ten different manufacturers – Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Proton, SEAT, Toyota, Vauxhall and VW –being represented on the colourful grid.
And in addition to the Airwaves team, Brands Hatch is home to a number of other competitors, namely Dartford’s Tony Gilham in his Geoff Steel Racing team BMW, Team Aon Ford drivers Tom Chilton and Tom Onslow-Cole from just round the M25 in Reigate and New Malden respectively, plus the West Thurrock-based AmD MIlltek Racing.com team with its VW Golf, driven by Colchester’s Martin Byford.
In total the public will be treated to no fewer than 14 races during Brands Hatch’s BTCC event (1-2 Oct). The headlining BTCC will be in action three times, supported by races for its resident supporting Ginetta Junior, Ginetta GT Supercup, Porsche Carrera Cup, Formula Renault UK and Renault Clio Cup championships. F1 star Lewis Hamilton’s younger brother Nicolas is expected to be on the grid for the Clio Cup, the title of which will be decided at Brands.
For a full Brands Hatch BTCC event timetable plus all the latest news in the run-up to the weekend visit the BTCC’s official website www.btcc.net