With the British Touring Car Championship making its return after a 5 week absence, and for anyone new to the biggest 4 wheel motorsport championship staged in this country; we thought a little recap was in order.
Honda Yuasa racing’s Matt Neal heads to Oulton Park as the championship leader, with 137 points after taking 2 wins and a second place at the previous round at Thruxton. Close behind him in the points are two drivers who suffered late punctures whilst leading when the series last took to the track. Both Andrew Jordan (Pirtek Racing Honda Civic) and Jason Plato (Triple 8 Racing MG6) will be looking to score big to put pressure on 3 times champion Matt Neal. Neal’s teammate and reigning champion, Gordon Shedden is next with Plato’s MG stablemate and series newcomer Sam Tordoff 5th.
Oulton Park’s first race of the day will mark the one third distance in the 30 race championship, it already looks like the championship will be fought out between 3 Hondas and the MG of Plato. However with 20 points on offer for a victory, plus single additional points for pole position, leading a lap, or setting the fastest lap nothing is ever certain! The addition of success ballast, (weight added or removed from cars depending on where they finish) and a selection of hard or soft tyre compounds helps to keep the racing close.
Although the main championship may well be fought out by the drivers mentioned above, there are several other car/driver pairings on the grid who are more than capable of reaching the podium on merit alone. The ones to watch are the eBay BMW’s of Rob Collard and former champion Colin Turkington (already a winner this season at Donington), Matt Jackson in the Ford Focus, the beautiful Toyota Avensis’ of Dave Newsham or Frank Wrathall, the utterly gorgeous (and recently repaired, after a big shunt at Brands Hatch on opening weekend) Audi A4 of Rob Austin. Also don’t be surprised if the new to the series VW Passat of Tom Onslow-Cole isn’t repeating his Thruxton heroics, and running at the sharp end of the grid again at Oulton.
For the third race of the day the grid is reversed, handing pole position to a driver finishing between 6th and 10th in race 2. This is decided by a blind draw after the finish of the 2nd race, and can make for a really close exciting racing! The quicker drivers in heavier cars attempt to pass arguably slower, lighter cars; in the pursuit of all important championship points. Since the BTCC started using the reverse grid and the 3 race weekend set up, there has only been 2 examples of a driver taking all 3 victories on a weekend. Dan Eaves, in a Honda Integra at Thruxton way back in 2005, and Jason Plato in a Chevrolet Laccetti, at Brands Hatch in 2009.
In short, if the idea of rubbing bumpers, swapping paintwork and trading door-mirrors sounds like fun to you, we can suggest no better place (other than Oulton Park itself!) to be on Sunday than sat in your armchair, in front of ITV4. Coverage starts from 11am till 6pm, a great days racing!