BTCC blasts back into action
Second half of tin top season to set off at Snetterton
The 2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship gets back on track at Snetterton in Norfolk next weekend (8/9 August) with its headline stars and cars ready to reignite the titanic title battle.
With its annual summer break coming to an end the BTCC will be travelling east with more than 30 talented tin top drivers taking on the longest circuit on the calendar.
The Snetterton 300 layout is a delight for drivers and fans alike with a combination of fast straights and twisty infield sections encircled by a plethora of grandstands and spectator banking. Giant TV screens and further panoramic viewing areas add to the experience and ensure that every moment is captured.
There will be a whole host of family entertainment on offer too with forecasters also predicting a mini-heatwave over the coming weeks, so this event looks set to be a summer sizzler both on and off the circuit.
Story so far: Cream rises to the top
Former champions occupy five of the top six positions in the current standings, highlighting just how challenging it is to break through in Britain’s toughest series.
Not for the first time in his career, Team BMR’s Jason Plato is the filling in a Honda sandwich at the top of the order with Gordon Shedden currently leading the way while his Civic Type R team-mate Matt Neal is third.
With nearly 200 race wins between them it’s hardly surprising to see the three most successful drivers in the field topping the table, but there’s at least another trio of contenders hounding them down.
The nearest challenger is young gun Sam Tordoff who is now in his third BTCC season. The multiple race-winner is mounting his first real title tilt having moved to West Surrey Racing in the off-season, but it remains to be seen if he can maintain the speed and consistency required over the course of a full campaign.
“I love Snetterton,” said Tordoff. “I’ve taken many wins here and I think our season is coming together at just the right time. It was a difficult start to the year, but the wins at Oulton Park and Croft have fired us right back into championship contention. More circuits in the second half of the season seem to suit our BMW so we’re feeling confident.”
There’s little doubting the credentials of the next two contenders in the standings – reigning champion Colin Turkington and 2013 supremo Andrew Jordan. Both drivers have pace and experience in abundance but they’re arguably still trying to unlock the full potential of their respective machines having both changed teams for 2015.
MG Triple Eight’s Jordan and Team BMR’s Turkington are very much still in the mix but they’ll be looking to make their move sooner rather than later.
Another hat-trick of superstars have already won races this season with Adam Morgan (WIX Racing Mercedes), Rob Collard (JCT600 with GardX BMW) and Andy Priaulx (IHG Rewards Club BMW) separated by just two points.
With eight drivers having taken victories in 2015 and a whole host of others reaching the rostrum, you’ll be hard to pushed to back a winner ahead of what is sure to be an entertaining and unpredictable weekend of racing.
Talking point: Motorbase makes return
Adding to the dozen or so potential race winners in Norfolk next weekend will be the hugely popular Motorbase Performance squad.
Having taken a sabbatical from the BTCC for the first half of the 2015 season, Motorbase has continued to develop its recently unveiled new 2-litre mountune-powered EcoBoost engine.
Its Ford Focus package has been working well in testing with star driver Mat Jackson topping the times in a BTCC group test at Snetterton in early July.
“We’re not here to make up the numbers, we’ll definitely be up for the challenge and we’ll be going all out for race wins come Snetterton,” warned Jackson.
His younger stable-mate James Cole is also eagerly awaiting his first race with the team, “We’re all really looking forward to getting back to the BTCC grid,” he said. “It’s been interesting watching from the sidelines this year and some would argue that we may have learnt more than if we’d been racing, but we’ll see! I’ve just got to grab what’s already there and put it into practice.”
Jackson scored a podium at Snetterton last season so there’s a good chance the team could be sipping champagne on its series return.
“It’s been a long winter for us but we’ve been far from resting on our laurels,” commented Motorbase Team Principal David Bartrum. “The development work with the new mountune engine has gone really well and it’s exciting to be re-joining the BTCC and to see where we are compared to the rest of the grid.
“It will be an exciting challenge for Mat, James and the whole team. A lot of hard work has gone into this project and l hope we can go out there and get some decent results as a reward. Obviously we can’t win the championship in the second half of the season, but we can go out there to win races and podiums and we’re up for the challenge.”
Timetable and Tickets
Three BTCC races will take place on Sunday, with the entire day broadcast live and in high definition on ITV4.
In addition to the BTCC, there will be a number of races on the support bill, which will also see some of the region’s top racing drivers competing. The main sportscar contests will see Stowmarket’s Josh Webster defending his Porsche Carrera Cup GB title, whilst King’s Lynn racer Carl Breeze is hoping to continue his championship challenge in the Ginetta GT4 Supercup.
There will also be races from MSA Formula, Renault UK Clio Cup and Ginetta Junior Championship.
Tickets for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Snetterton are available from £26, with free entry for children aged 12 and under. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or visit www.snetterton.co.uk. All admission includes access to Sunday’s autograph session with the BTCC drivers in the pit lane as well as free parking.