BTCC champions to take on a new challenge at The Silverstone Classic
Three of the seven champions on this year’s huge Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship grid will undertake a new challenge during the summer break. Swapping out their latest-spec touring cars for classic racers from ages past, Matt Neal, Gordon Shedden and Colin Turkington will all be on-track at the Silverstone Classic at the end of the month (25-27 July).
After making a splash this year with the introduction of the now race-winning Honda Civic Tourer, Neal and Shedden will be heading out in a Lotus Cortina, which they will be sharing in the two-driver race for Under 2-Litre Touring Cars (U2TC) on Saturday morning.
“It’s pretty well-documented that Matt and I get on well – although that said, we’ve never actually shared a car like this before,” said Shedden who won the coveted BTCC crown in 2012.
“I did have to chuckle when Matt told me we’d need to get some in-car cameras sorted. I asked if they would be for data-gathering, and he said, ‘no, it’s because it’s my car and I want to make sure you’re not beating the hell out of it!’ Of course the race will be primarily for fun, but as ever, we will go out there and do the best job we can. What I particularly appreciate about historic racing is that there are no expectations.
“In the BTCC, there’s always so much at stake, with a massive weight of pressure in front of thousands of people every race weekend from the manufacturer to the team to the sponsors and fans. In historic racing, you can just go out there and have some fun, which is what I’m looking forward to the most. The Silverstone Classic looks like being a fantastic event, and I truly can’t wait!”
Back in May, Neal attended the Silverstone Classic Media Day and the three-time titleholder was clearly impressed with what he experienced.
“It was amazing walking around the pits as there were cars – and people – whose photos I had pinned up on my bedroom walls when I was growing up. It was just fantastic!” he enthused.
“The whole classic scene is growing massively and it’s something I’ve always fancied having a go at… though, I’ve got to say, it’s something of learning curve – I was braking twice as early as I normally would and still didn’t think I was going stop.”
As it’s exactly 50 years ago that racing legend Jim Clark took the BTCC crown racing a Lotus Cortina, it’s doubly fitting that two former BTCC champions should be sharing one of these souped-up saloons from the Sixties – even more so as Shedden, like Clark, is a Scot.
Joining the two Honda drivers on the bill is current championship leader Colin Turkington. The highly rated Ulsterman is maximising the mid-season break not only to get married but also to spend his honeymoon competing in two very different saloon cars at the Classic. He is racing a mighty V8-powered Ford Galaxie from the Sixties plus an iconic BMW 3.0 CSL ‘Batmobile’ in the two Super Touring Trophy races. The BMW wears the famous BMW ‘Art Car’ livery as penned by US artist Alexander Calder back in 1975.
“I’ve never raced anything like it,” admitted Turkington. “I’ve no idea how competitive we’ll be, but I’d like to do some more historic racing if I can. It sounds like a great event and I just want to go and enjoy it – more so as it’s my honeymoon and I don’t know quite how I’ve managed to be at Silverstone!”
As an added bonus, there’s another BTCC champion racing at the Classic – Tim Harvey. While he now spends his time behind the microphone commentating on the current BTCC for ITV, Harvey will don his race suit and get behind the wheel of a Ford GT40, and having raced at the event previously, he is undoubtedly keen to get back out on-track.
“The Silverstone Classic is an absolutely awesome event with so many fabulous cars – what’s more they are not just on show but actually competing at flat-out speeds,” said the 1992 champ. “To be racing a wonderful GT40 this year will be every bit as special as it was to be reunited with my old RS500 last year. It’s a thrilling prospect and I can’t wait.”
To celebrate the fact there’s going to be so much BTCC on-show at Silverstone, we’ve teamed up with organisers to give away two pairs of weekend tickets to the event! Click here to go to our Facebook page and enter.