MG/Triple Eight aiming for Manufacturer glory
The MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save Team heads to the Brands Hatch finale this weekend (11-12 October) looking to lift the Manufacturer’s title for MG after cementing second in the Driver’s standings a fortnight ago with Jason Plato.
The Triple Eight-run squad has for the last two rounds fixated efforts on securing the Manufacturer’s title for MG, along with improving Sam Tordoff’s eighth place position in the Driver’s standings. With another good weekend of qualifying and race performances, fifth place in the final standings is achievable for the 25-year-old and would represent a step forward from his rookie year, in arguably a much more competitive series this season.
MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save Team Principal, Ian Harrison sums up the situation neatly: “Although the Brands Hatch round is the last in this year’s Championship, we are going to keep it simple and, as ever, try our hardest to get some good results. The aim is to finish all three races with both cars and see where it washes out in terms of the titles up for grabs at the end of it”.
The testing 2.433 mile GP configuration at the Kent track is a challenge for both man and machine. With only minor changes over the years, the circuit remains largely unchanged from its original layout, which uses the majority of the ‘kidney-shape’ Indy circuit too, and is a firm favourite with the drivers.
While the challenge for driver is well documented, the engineering test presented by the undulating GP circuit is less so. Carl Faux, Jason’s engineer on the #99 MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save car explains what is required to be successful at Brands.
“Technically challenging corners such as Druids and Stirling, combined with the huge driving commitment of Hawthorn and Westfield make this a circuit that really shows the driver’s skill and car’s balance alike. The setup compromises we have to make for the circuit are fairly common; we need stability through Paddock Hill and the fast GP loop, but with enough rotation in the car for Druids and Stirling.
“Traction is very important out of Surtees for the long uphill drag to Hawthorns bend, and the change in grip between the Indy circuit and the GP loop presents another factor to consider, especially when it is damp.”
Over the years, the GP circuit has presented lots of good racing and plenty of action on track. This season is the third successive year the nine-turn former home to British Grand Prix has hosted the championship finale. With lots of drivers seeking to end the year on a high, not least Plato and Tordoff, we asked Faux where the action might happen and which cars might be strongest.
“There’s little doubt that the RWD cars will be strong here,” remarks the talented engineer. “Especially in the traction areas out of slow corners and the final turn, Clearways. However, Andrew Jordan and the other Hondas will all be up for a fight for wins as well, and I can see the Volkswagens perhaps springing a surprise with the regular pace they are starting to show now.”
Faux continues: “At Brands, the battles and overtakes are planned half a lap in advance; there are very few opportunist moves around the GP circuit. For example, you can expect an overtake manoeuvre into Druids to actually have started at Sheene, just by clever positioning of the car from the driver.”
Last year the MG pair of Plato and Tordoff were dominant on the GP circuit, locking out the front row by over 0.3s to third, which resulted in the two-time BTCC Champion taking two wins and two fastest laps, while Sam took third in the first race and gave the team a 1-2 finish in the second race of the weekend. With seven champions on the grid this weekend a repeat performance will be a challenge, but confidence is high in the MG camp ahead of the finale.
MG’s Sales and Marketing Director, Guy Jones adds: “MG has a famous sporting pedigree and we returned to the BTCC in 2012 with a view to adding to this with our new product – the MG6 GT.
“Thanks to the passion from MG’s staff, customers, supporters and sponsors coupled with the skills of Triple Eight Race engineering and those of the drivers, we’ve been winning races together from the very first meeting; lifting the manufacturers title would be a fitting tribute to everyone involved.
“The BTCC is an important part of our overall strategy and helped us reach a key target group of motorsport and car enthusiasts – it gives us cost-effective TV-led national media coverage and the opportunity for tens of thousands of race goers to see and touch the new MG6 and MG3 in the metal.”
The final weekend of the 2014 season gets underway with the first of two forty-minute free practice sessions at 10:00, followed by the second at 12:40. Qualifying takes place in the latter stages of the afternoon at 15:35 and runs until 16:05. On Sunday, the first fifteen-lap race will get underway at 11:32, with race two at 14:22 and the reverse grid race closing out the day at 17:09.