Matt Neal hails Diamond Double win ‘one of the best of his BTCC career’

Matt Neal has hailed his victory in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship’s Diamond Double at Snetterton this past weekend (July 28/29) as one of the best of his career.

On what was a milestone weekend for the series as it continued its 60th Anniversary celebrations, the Halfords Yuasa Racing driver once again wrote his name into the history books with a 63rd BTCC victory.

Instead of the customary reverse grid format for race three at the Norfolk venue, round 18 was to be a 60-mile, 20-lap race where all cars would run without success ballast and on the same tyre. More importantly that than, double championship points were also on offer.

Having qualified in second place in the second of two qualifying sessions on Saturday, the triple-champion served up a masterful performance at the wheel of his Honda Civic Type R.

Chasing the WIX Racing with Eurotech Honda of Jack Goff, Neal took the lead on lap nine when a brief rain shower caught out Goff, sending him wide at the Wilson hairpin and allowing Neal to make the pass down the inside.

Despite coming under race-long pressure from Goff and the charging Tom Ingram, the 51-year-old used of all experience to power towards the chequered flag to take yet another famous victory.

“What a fantastic race,” Neal enthused. “To produce a result like we have done on a completely level playing field is testament to all of the hard work that everyone at Halfords Yuasa Racing has put in and underlines how strong this new Type R is.

“We qualified well but with the drizzle I wasn’t quite sure how we would fair – I was expecting us to go backwards at a million miles an hour. The car was really loose on the opening laps but it settled down soon after and I was able to push on a little bit more from then on.

“I was running halfway between a dry and full wet brake setting and that worked well for me. Both myself and Jack were strong in different areas but he was caught out a little bit by the rain at the hairpin, that opened the door for me and I was able to take the lead from there. Jack and Tom though both hounded right until the end.”

Since 1991, Neal has been a permanent fixture of the BTCC and in that time he has enjoyed some memorable moments. From becoming the first Independent driver to win a race outright and scooping £250,000 from Alan Gow in 1999 to his trio of championship wins, Neal has continued to add to his ledger as being one of the all-time greats in the series.

Basking in the glory of winning the coveted Diamond Double, Neal admits that his latest triumph ranks right up there as one of his best BTCC wins.

“I was hoping Alan was going to present me with another cheque when I got onto the podium,” Neal joked. “I’m not to sure where I am going to put this big trophy though, I think it will go in the workshop with the boys as they have earned it just as much as me.

“The BTCC has been my life so to win this race is so special, it was our day! There have been some highs and lows down the years but this is definitely up there as being one of the best achievements I have had in the BTCC.”

Virtue of his historic victory, Neal remains third in the overall standings, trailing new leader Ingram by just 16 points.

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship continues its 2018 campaign in under two weeks times on August 11/12, with Rockingham playing host to rounds 19, 20 & 21.

BTCC marks 60th Anniversary in style with Snetterton spectacle

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship marked its 60th Anniversary in fine style at Snetterton this past weekend (July 28/29) as Jack Goff, Ashley Sutton and Matt Neal all took race wins – the latter in the Diamond Double.

In-keeping with the series’ Diamond Jubilee, the second half of the season kicked off in Norfolk with two blockbuster races and a longer milestone encounter – all of which helped write the latest chapter in the illustrious history of the BTCC.

Saturday’s two qualifying sessions belonged to the WIX Racing with Eurotech Honda Civic Type R of Jack Goff. Having set the pace in the day’s earlier practice session, Goff came out of the blocks flying in the first battle for pole position, storming to the top of the times at the mid-point of qualifying and to a new lap record.

Following a short break, the BTCC contingent were back out on track for 15 minutes to decide the grid for the longer 60-mile race three encounter. As he had done previously, Goff produced a scintillating lap to break his own lap record and take the all-important pole position for the weekend’s marque event.

In contrast to the dry conditions of Saturday, drivers were greeted with heavy rain on Sunday morning as they lined up for the first race of the day – one that would ultimately go on to be an all-time classic.

Launching from pole position, Goff launched his Civic off the line and into an early lead. Further back, all eyes were on reigning champion as he jumped from ninth on the grid into second place by turn three.

As others struggled to master the treacherous conditions, Goff and Sutton got their heads down and began to build a gap to Dan Cammish in third. Further back, Tom Ingram joined the ever-growing list of retirements as he crawled to a stop having suffered an alternator failure on his Toyota Avensis.

With the laps ticking by, Sutton soon began eating into Goff’s lead – his Subaru Levorg working well in the pouring rain. Setting fastest lap after fastest lap, the 23-year-old soon began to fill the mirrors of Goff as they went onto the final tour.

Showing his nose at Agostini, Sutton made a bold and quite staggering move around the outside of the sweeping Coram corner, placing him on the inside for Murrays. Leading out of the final corner, the pair had a drag race to the line where Goff narrowly pipped Sutton to the chequered by just 0.152. Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Cammish rounded off the podium in third.

Riding high on the success of race one, Goff’s world came crashing down before the start of race two after missing the window to leave the pit lane and head to the grid. Forced to start from the back of the grid, Goff’s pole position spot was vacant and it gave Sutton clear road ahead.

With the track having predominantly dried out, all cars started on slick tyres and it was Sutton that made the best start. Resisting early pressure from Cammish, the Subaru driver began to stretch his legs out front whilst the chasing pack squabbled.

Whilst Sutton led, Speedworks Motorsport’s Ingram proved to be the star of the show as he scythed his way through the field from P27. Picking off drivers one-by-one, the Independents champion eventually finished on the podium, clawing third away from Cammish at the line.

Back at the front, a safety car period with just a handful of laps to go eroded Sutton’s gap and despite a strong restart he was to come under pressure from the charging Josh Cook, who ran him close as they took the chequered flag covered by less than a second.

Having started from the back of the grid, race one winner Goff struggled with the additional 75kgs of success ballast and crossed the line in P17.

As the dust settled on races one and two, all eyes were firmly focused on the Diamond Double; the 60-mile, 20 lap, double championship point extravaganza race to cap off the weekend.

Back on the front row of the grid, Goff made another lightening start and immediately began to build a gap over the Halfords Yuasa Racing Honda of Neal. Sutton’s chances of scoring big ended on the opening laps he was forced to serve a 30-second stop-go penalty for an infringement on the grid before the warm-up lap. Due to serving it incorrectly, he made a second visit to the pits a lap later to do the same thing.

At the front, the battle for the lead ignited after a brief safety car period. On lap nine, a sprinkling of rain hit the circuit, catching several drivers out. Heading into the Wilson hairpin, Neal showed his nose on Goff, who out-braked himself – thus giving the lead to the three-time champion.

From there Neal, Goff and Ingram were inseparable as they built up a substantial gap over Andrew Jordan and Tom Chilton in fourth and fifth. Despite Goff or Ingram being able to make a move on Neal, the three-way fight for the lead kept fans on the edge-of-their-seats until the final lap.

Further down the order was an almighty scrap for sixth, with Chris Smiley leading a train of more than 10 cars at one point. Fending off the likes of Colin Turkington, Cook and more, Smiley looked on course to maintain the position before damage late on put pay to those aspirations.

The chequered flag saw Neal write the latest chapter in what is becoming a storied career as he took victory in the winner Diamond Double, finishing ahead of Goff and Ingram.

At the end of the weekend it is now Ingram that sits at the top of the points standings, six markers ahead of Turkington whilst Neal is a further ten behind.

For the full classification of results and standings from all of the weekend’s sessions, click here.

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship continues in under two weeks time for rounds 19, 20 & 21 at Rockingham on August 11/12.

Matt Neal wins the BTCC Diamond Double

Matt Neal has written his name into the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship history books at Snetterton after winning the Diamond Double.

As a way of marking 60 years of the BTCC, round 18 of the series was a 60-mile, 20-lap race instead of the customary reverse grid format. In addition, and more importantly, double points were on offer for it too.

Following on from storming to pole position in the first qualifying session on Saturday, WIX Racing with Eurotech’s Goff produced another stellar performance to make it two pole’s from two sessions – underlining his superiority at the Norfolk venue. The cherry on top for Goff was that he also smashed his own lap record that he had set just a few hours before.

Joining Goff on the front row of the grid was Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Matt Neal, whilst Tom Chilton and Tom Ingram filled the second row of the grid in their respective machines.

With mixed weather conditions battering the circuit throughout the day, all eyes were fixed on the skies to see if it would be a wet or dry race. With the rain holding off, all cars started on slicks and Goff launched from pole position into an early lead.

Behind, Tom Ingram hounded the back of Neal during the early running whilst Andrew Jordan vaulted himself into fourth. Towards the rear of the field, Aiden Moffat and Rory Butcher saw their races ended on the spot at the exit of Wilson.

Further back reigning champion Ashley Sutton found himself in strife as he was hit with not one but two 30-second stop-go penalties. The race two winner was issued the penalty on the opening lap but was adjudged to have not served it in the correct way the first time, forcing him to visit the pit lane for again a lap later.

As the laps ticked by Goff’s early lead was beginning to be whittled down as Neal and Ingram gave chase, especially after a brief safety car caused by Brett Smith and Tom Oilphant. Lap nine proved to be a decisive moment in the Diamond Double as light rain hit the circuit and Neal made his move. Running into the Wilson hairpin, Goff was unable to stop his Civic Type R and slithered wide, giving Neal the lead.

The splattering of rain ended soon after however Neal was unable to pull away from Goff. From lap nine onwards, Neal was chased by Goff and Ingram with no more than a second ever separating them.

Try as he might, Goff struggled to find a way past his Type R compatriot and he soon had his mirrors filled with the Toyota Avensis of Ingram. On lap 20, Ingram showed his nose at the Wilson hairpin but had the door shut. From there

Behind the top three, Andrew Jordan and Tom Chilton enjoyed a feisty battle with the BMW driver getting the edge over the Motorbase racer, taking fourth.

The scrap for sixth was where everyone had their attention drawn towards as Chris Smiley defended the position. With a bumper queue building up, Smiley came undone after the multiple laps of scrapping with Colin Turkington, Josh Cook, Senna Proctor and more.

Smiley became undone near the end of the race, joining the long list of retirements with damage. That departure gave Turkington sixth with Cook, Matt Simpson, Daniel Lloyd, and Proctor rounding out the top ten.

In the wake of the Diamond Double, Ingram now leads the BTCC Driver standings by six points over Turkington. Neal’s victory brings him closer in third whilst Goff and Cook round out the top five.

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship returns in two weeks time with rounds 19, 20 & 21 taking place at Rockingham on August 11/12.

For the full classification of results and championship standings, click here.

Jack Goff and Ashley Sutton share BTCC spoils in contrasting Snetterton races

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship has marked its 60th anniversary at Snetterton in fine style so far this weekend (July 28/29), with Jack Goff and Ashley Sutton scoring wins in races one and two respectively.

In what is a totally unique meeting for the series, the opening two 12-lap encounters around the Norfolk venue are likely to live long in the memory.

Qualifying for race one of the weekend proved to be a record-breaking affair as Goff scorched his way to pole position in the searing heat. Powering his WIX Racing with Eurotech Honda Civic Type R to the top of the times at mid-point in the session, his 1:55.556 wasn’t to be bettered, giving him a second pole of the season.

Joining Goff on the front row was Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Dan Cammish in second whilst row two was made up of two more Civic Type R’s, Matt Simpson and Brett Smith.

Torrential rain and a bumper trackside crowd greeted the drivers on Sunday, with the weather adding further spice to the already unpredictable track action.

With all cars on wet tyres, Goff turned his front row start into a race lead that he ultimately would never lose, however it wasn’t easy. As the Honda driver enjoyed a strong start, reigning champion Ashley Sutton had an even stronger one as he scythed his way through the field, going from ninth to second on the opening tour.

Losing ground in the early stages to Goff, Sutton soon began to set fastest lap after fastest lap, closing the gap to Goff in the process. With just a handful of laps to go, Goff’s mirrors were soon filled with Subaru Levorg of Sutton, shades of 2017 where the pair diced for a victory at Snetterton then.

Having defended for a majority of the final lap, Goff found himself having a lary moment through the Bombhole, allowing Sutton to close the gap. Attempting to go around the outside of the Honda driver at Coram, Sutton was on the inside and in the lead exiting the final corner and onto the straight. In a drag race to the line, Goff and Sutton went door-to-door in the run to the line, with Goff emerging as the victor.

Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Dan Cammish rounded off the podium with a measured drive in third place; Josh Cook and Sam Tordoff capping off the top five.

The second encounter of the day saw drama before the race had even begun. Following on from his earlier victory, Goff missed the window to leave the pit lane and was forced to start from the back of the grid, automatically ending his hopes of scoring a second win.

With the rain having eased off, slick tyres were chosen by everyone and Sutton took advantage of the clear road ahead of him to storm to his third victory of the year. Despite coming under early pressure from Cammish, the 23-year-old was able to pull away from the Honda driver as the laps ticked by.

Further back, Tom Ingram proved to be the one to watch as he threaded his way up the order having started in P27. Championship leader Colin Turkington meanwhile endured a torrid time, suffering contact on the first lap that ended his race early.

Following a brief safety car period late on, Sutton attempted to make his escape but soon found himself defending on the final lap to Power Maxed TAG Racing’s Cook. Despite the best efforts of Cook, Sutton maintained his lead to thrust himself into title contention.

Ingram meanwhile continued to pick off his rivals and clinched third place on the line, taking his overtaking tally to 24 in race two.

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship will cap off the weekend at Snetterton with the Diamond Double, a 60-mile race with double points on offer. Scheduled to start at 17:15, Goff will once again start on pole position with Matt Neal joining him on the front row.

For the full classification of results from rounds 16 and 17, click here.

Special BTCC liveries unveiled to mark 60th Anniversary at Snetterton

Several cars on the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship grid will sport different liveries at Snetterton this weekend (July 28/29) as part of the series’ 60th Anniversary celebrations.

In what is set to be a milestone event at the Norfolk venue, the second half of the 2018 season will kick into a life with plenty of Diamond Jubilee commemorations, including a reformatted race three titled the Diamond Double.

Instead of the traditional reverse grid encounter will be a 60-mile contest, which is almost double that of the customary BTCC race distance at Snetterton, run over 20 laps. In addition, double championship points will be on offer whilst all cars will run on base weight and the same tyre compound.

Honouring the BTCC’s Diamond Jubilee, reigning champion Ashley Sutton’s Adrian Flux Subaru Racing is adorned in black, grey and white, instead of its usual striking blue for the weekend’s trio of races.

Commenting on the livery, Sutton said: “Seeing as it is the BTCC’s 60th years felt right that we had to do something. I’ve had this idea in my head since around about Oulton Park so to now see it in the flesh is brilliant.

“I’ve always loved the BTCC; I looked up to it when I was growing up so to be in it, let alone a champion is something that is very special to me. Going black, grey and white fitted in with the theme of going back in time and looking at some of the iconic moments.

“I think it looks fantastic. When you look at it alongside Jason’s (Plato) car you almost have to look twice, it really throws you. When it is on track alongside everyone else it will really stand out.”

Sam Tordoff meanwhile will add an extra splash of colour to the grid by hitting the track in his now bright pink Motorbase Performance Ford Focus RS.

“We had such a great reaction to the JCT600 70th anniversary platinum livery that we ran at croft in 2016,” Tordoff said. “As soon as I had signed the contract with Motorbase to return to the BTCC this year, I was adamant that we should do something similar once again. The 60th BTCC anniversary celebrations at Snetterton seemed the perfect time to do it.

“We wanted to choose a colour that really made an impact on the track and also on TV. Bright pink has become my signature colour over recent years. My pink helmet attracts a lot of attentions and comments – as you’d expect – and we wanted something special for the car, so it was a no-brainer to run it.

“It’s definitely going to grab people’s attention – who knows, we may even decide to keep it.”

Rob Austin’s HMS Racing Alfa Romeo Giulietta will also carry a special roof design this weekend, with the colour matching the same paint that adorned the title-winning Alfa Romeo 155 of 1994.

BTCC set for Diamond Jubilee celebrations as battle resumes at Snetterton

After a busy summer break the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship returns to action at Snetterton this weekend (July 28/29) with its 60th Anniversary set to be celebrated in style.

Following on from events at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and Silverstone Classic in recent weeks, Britain’s premier race series will continue to mark its milestone year as battle resumes in rounds 16, 17 & 18 at the Norfolk venue.

Marking the kick-off to the second half of the season, race three of the weekend is set to be the headline attraction. As opposed to the traditional reverse grid encounter, race three from Snetterton will be a unique ‘Diamond Double’ to celebrate the BTCC’s diamond jubilee.

Now a 60-mile contest, almost double the length of a traditional race distance at the circuit, and run over 20 laps, a standalone qualifying session will take place on Saturday to decide the starting positions.

In addition, all cars will compete on base weight and they will all also race on the same tyre, the Dunlop Sport Maxx Prime. Most importantly however is that round 18 of the season will see double championship points on offer. With strategy playing a greater role than usual and tyre management being key, the Diamond Double could well play a major role in the outcome of the title battle.

It has been another vintage year in the BTCC so far with the first half of the 2018 campaign underlining how highly competitive the grid and championship is. So far 11 different drivers have scored race victories whilst a further nine have ascended the second and third place spots on the podium.

Leading the standings heading into the weekend is double champion Colin Turkington. Despite only scoring one victory so far, the Team BMW driver has been a front runner consistently and holds a 19-point advantage over Speedworks Motorsport’s Tom Ingram.

Ingram is one of several driver heralded as the next wave of BTCC stars and he has been in fine form too, with two victories being the highlight. Three-time champion Matt Neal finds himself in third whilst BMW Pirtek Racing’s Andrew Jordan has real momentum on his side, elevating himself to fourth in the point’s last time out at Croft.

Tom Chilton and Adam Morgan are firmly in the title fight too whilst reigning champion Ashley Sutton can never be discounted. The Adrian Flux Subaru Racing driver ignited his title defence at Croft with a pair of wins and he will be keen to continue his fine form at Snetterton.

Jack Goff, Josh Cook and Senna Proctor all find themselves inside the top ten too. Goff led the way at the recent Dunlop tyre test held at Snetterton and will be one to watch over the course of the weekend.

Elsewhere, the likes of Croft race winner Daniel Lloyd, Sam Tordoff, Dan Cammish, Rob Collard, Rob Austin and Jason Plato, amongst others, will all be looking to shine too. Familiar faces in the shape of Dan Welch and Ant Whorton-Eales will join the fray too as they replace Jake Hill and Tom Boardman respectively.

With the BTCC celebrating its 60th Anniversary at Snetterton, it is set to be an unforgettable weekend of racing and one that could ultimately prove pivotal come the series finale at Brands Hatch GP.

Andrew Jordan wins BTCC shootout at Goodwood Festival of Speed

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship continued its Diamond Jubilee celebrations at one of the biggest motorsport events of the year this past weekend, the Goodwood Festival of Speed, with Andrew Jordan coming out on top as the victor.

Taking place from July 12th to July 15th, more than 100,000 spectators poured through the gates each day to soak up the sun and all things automotive, with the BTCC taking on its own starring role.

Last staging a shootout at the event in 2016, the series returned with six drivers all vying for the bragging rights of being fastest up the iconic 1.16 mile hill.

Triumphing two years ago, 2013 champion Jordan retained his monaca as the man to beat after firstly piloting his West Surrey Racing BMW 1-Series to the top of the times in the two sessions held on Friday and Saturday.

Once again leading the way on Sunday morning, the BMW Pirtek Racing driver lit up the timesheets when it really mattered during Sunday afternoon’s main event, clocking what was to be an unbeatable time of 52.58 to win the BTCC shootout.

Commenting on the victory, Jordan said: “It’s an amazing feeling to be the BTCC’s King of the Hill and a great way to get my first ‘win’ of the season. The Goodwood hillclimb is an incredible challenge and you have to straddle that fine line between being incredibly brave and a bit cautious to get to the top in the best time.

“I’ve had a fantastic time so my thanks go to the guys from WSR for preparing the car and to the Duke of Richmond and his organising team at Goodwood for putting on such an incredible event again. I’m certain this success can inspire us to go and take BMW Pirtek Racing’s first BTCC race win of the year very soon.”

Power Maxed TAG Racing’s Josh Cook finished second after hustling his Vauxhall Astra between the hay bales to record a time of 54.06, narrowly ahead of Adam Morgan who was third despite having a wild moment on the grass exiting Molecomb.

Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Matt Neal was fourth with Speedworks Motorsport’s Tom Ingram fifth, the pair separated by little under eight tenths of a second at the end.

Rounding out the list of runners was Rob Austin in the HMS Racing Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Despite starting strongly, Austin appeared to encounter trouble towards the middle part of the climb and was unable to push on further, ultimately setting a time of 65.53.

Away from the modern day touring car machinery there was also a host of iconic machines on display. The Austin 105 that piloted Jack Sears to the inaugural British Saloon Car Championship title in 1958 took pride of place, as did a Volvo 850 Estate and Alfa Romeo 155 from 1994.

Elsewhere a Ford Galaxie 500, Ford Escort Twin Came, Triumph Dolomite Sprint, Rover SD1 Vitesse, Jaguar MK1 and Morris Mini Cooper S all garnered plenty of attention.

For the full classification of hillclimb times from the BTCC contingent, click here.

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship returns to action on July 28/29 at Snetterton for rounds 16, 17 & 18. In-keeping with the BTCC’s 60th anniversary, round 18 of the series will be a ‘Diamond Double’ race which will see all drivers compete on the same tyre and without success ballast, whilst points will be doubled too.

BTCC brings sunshine, spectacular racing, a homegrown winner and fabulous fundraising

The sun shone as the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship sped into Croft Circuit last weekend (23/24 June), with thousands of fans enjoying riveting racing capped by a new, homegrown winner and helping to raise more than £550 for a local charity.

On a weekend of sky-high temperatures, the action on-track was every bit as sizzling, with the best very much saved until last as Huddersfield’s Dan Lloyd converted pole position into his and BTC Norlin Racing’s maiden triumph in the UK’s premier motor sport series in dominant fashion – to the clear delight of the packed spectator banks.

In a true victory-against-the-odds story, both BTC Norlin cars had to be completely rebuilt after incurring heavy damage not of their own making in a start-line shunt at Oulton Park two weeks earlier – with Lloyd’s spectacular success, in only his fourth race for the team, repaying the mechanics for all their hard work.

“I’m absolutely buzzing – just lost for words and so, so happy,” the 26-year-old enthused at the end of the weekend. “This win means so much to the team – we didn’t even know if we were going to be out at Croft after the damage at Oulton, so full credit to the boys. Emotionally, I was really having to hold it all together for the last few laps. To finish the weekend with this kind of result is just awesome – absolutely perfect.”

Lloyd was joined on the race three rostrum by Power Maxed TAG Racing’s Senna Proctor (Driffield), while a third Yorkshireman – Halfords Yuasa Racing ace Dan Cammish – may have been out-of-luck on the circuit but made his own mark by organising and leading a track walk on the Saturday evening in aid of nearby Butterwick House Children’s Hospice.

Along with Lloyd, Chris Smiley, Stephen Jelley and Ollie Jackson, Cammish visited the Stockton on Tees-based hospice – which cares for babies, children, teenagers, young adults and their families – and was so moved by what he saw that he was determined to set up a fundraising activity over the weekend.

A track walk for spectators was hurriedly devised, with more than 100 fans joining Cammish, Lloyd, Smiley, Jackson, Andrew Jordan, Tom Ingram, Rory Butcher and local hero Max Coates for a rare opportunity to spend some time with the BTCC stars and an even rarer opportunity to literally follow in their wheeltracks.

“Doing what we do and with the profile that the championship enjoys, we are in a position to make a difference in this kind of situation,” Honda driver Cammish explained. “Going to the hospice and seeing the vital work they do, there was a lot to take in and I was in no doubt that we needed to do something to help them.

“It was all pulled together very last-minute, but it was great to see so many people turn out for the track walk. It’s good for the fans to spend some time with us – everybody that came along said how much they enjoyed it – and most importantly of all, we raised some vital funds for Butterwick House, which is what it was all about.”

A total of £551.30 was collected, while Jelley has additionally established a Virgin Money Giving page in aid of the hospice for the Ironman UK challenge he will tackle in Bolton on 15 July, comprising a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and a marathon. Donations can be made at: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/StephenJelley

Next up during Croft’s summer of non-stop entertainment will be No Limits two-wheeled thrills on 14/15 July, the fast-and-furious MSA British Rallycross Championship on 29 July and the much-loved Nostalgia Festival on 4/5 August, showcasing a feast of retro racing, classic cars, military magic and culture from yesteryear. Discounted advance tickets are available for all events from www.croftcircuit.co.uk/racing or by calling 01325 721815.

More information on all of Croft’s driving experiences and racing events can be found at www.croftcircuit.co.uk

Ashley Sutton ignites BTCC title defence with Croft double

Defending Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Champion Ashley Sutton ignited his title defence at Croft this past weekend (June 23/24) with two wins, whilst Daniel Lloyd scored his and BTC Norlin Racing’s maiden victory in race three at the Yorkshire venue.

On what was a scorching weekend which saw a bumper crowd soak up the sun trackside, Sutton underlined his credentials as the reigning champion by vaulting up the championship standings.

After a frustrating first half of the season up to Croft, the Adrian Flux Subaru Racing driver came out of the block flying on Saturday as he charged to pole position, leading a Team BMR 1-2 in the process as Jason Plato ended the session second.

Sutton’s charge to the chequered flag in race one was relatively straight forward as he held position as the lights went out and then dually began to stretch his advantage. Behind, Plato diced with the BMW of Andrew Jordan for much of the contest, getting the better of him in the end and then going on to chase down Sutton.

Struggling with tyre degradation, Jordan’s hopes of a podium slipped away as he ran wide at Clervaux, which allowed the impressive Tom Ingram to take the final podium spot in his Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis.

The start of the second race saw Ingram make a flying start as he emerged from the first sequence of corners in the lead having gone three wide with Sutton and Plato.

Further behind Josh Cook found himself in strife as he suffered brake failure at the wheel of his Power Maxed TAG Racing Vauxhall Astra. Heading down the back straight and into Tower Bend, the two-time race winner experienced a heart-stopping moment as he narrowly missed those ahead of him and went sideways into the field. Cook was thankfully okay and managed to return to the pits.

Back at the front and despite being ladened with 75kgs of success ballast, Sutton wasted no time in wrestling the lead back off of Ingram, making his move at the final hairpin on lap two to reclaim control. Plato meanwhile was adjudged to have jumped the start and was forced to serve a drive through penalty, ruling him out of contention.

Almost flying under the radar in race one, points leader Colin Turkington was firmly in the mix in the second, halving the amount of ballast he was carrying on his BMW and hot on the heels of Ingram. Drawing on all of his experience around the challenging layout, the ‘King of Croft, couldn’t find a way past Ingram, who had put up a resolute defence, for second place. Sam Tordoff meanwhile notched his sixth fourth place finish of the season.

Back at the front, Sutton proved to be a in a league of his own and romped to his second win of the day, becoming the first driver to win two races on the same weekend and with 75kgs on-board this season thus far.

The reverse grid draw was made by double champion John Cleland and the Scotsman pulled number nine out of the bowl – promoting local star Daniel Lloyd onto pole position.

Joined on the front row by fellow Yorkshireman Senna Proctor, the BTC Norlin Racing driver launched his Honda Civic Type R off the line and into a lead that he would never lose. Tom Chilton fired his way from fourth to second off the start but couldn’t challenge Lloyd, who ultimately crossed the line little under six seconds ahead of the Motorbase driver.

Further behind Proctor gave the Croft crowd plenty to smile about as he ensured to Yorkshire drivers would end the day on the podium, finishing third. Matt Neal starved off a raft of drivers to take fourth whilst Sutton ended the day with a seventh place finish.

Virtue of the weekend’s results, Turkington leads the championship standings heading into the annual summer break, 19 points ahead of his nearest challenger Ingram.

In the BTCC Teams Championship, Team BMW sit at the summit of the standings whilst BMW also lead the BTCC Manufacturer/Constructors Championship. The Independents category sees Ingram and Speedworks Motorsport lead the Drivers’ and Teams’ Championship’s. Rounding off the list of points leader is Dan Cammish, who controls the Jack Sears Trophy at the half-way stage.

For the full classification of results from all BTCC sessions over the weekend, click here.

The 2018 Dunlop MSA Touring Car Championship returns on July 28/29 for rounds 16, 17 and 18 at Snetterton. As part of the series’ 60th anniversary celebrations, the third encounter at the Norfolk circuit will be contested over 60 miles, equating to 20 laps.

‘King of Croft’ leads BTCC battle into Yorkshire

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship reaches the half-way point of the 2018 season this weekend (June 23/24) at Croft Circuit, with Team BMW’s Colin Turkington leading the charge as the series heads to North Yorkshire.

Marking its 60th Anniversary this year, the BTCC has once again hit new heights with the usual mix of wheel-to-wheel thrills being produced and nine different drivers picking up race wins along the way.

Celebrating 50 years since first hosting a BTCC event also, Croft has become a popular fixture on the calendar and one that is favourite amongst drivers and spectators alike.

Nobody undoubtedly has a greater love for the North Yorkshire-based venue than series leader Turkington, who enters the weekend with a 12-point advantage. Well-suited to rear-wheel-drive cars, Croft has become a happy hunting ground for the West Surrey Racing driver down the years.

Scoring 12 wins, 19 podiums, five pole positions and eight fastest laps, Turkington has earned himself the moniker of being called the ‘King of Croft’ and many expect him to be on top form once again. Winning last time out at Oulton Park, the Northern Irishman could well add to his impressive strike rate, despite carrying 75kgs of success ballast into qualifying and race one.

Hot on the heels of the BMW driver are a quartet of young guns, all of which are leading the fight against the established guard. Adam Morgan and Jack Goff sit tied on points in second place whilst two-time race winners Tom Ingram and Josh Cook are also in the mix.

Matt Neal, a winner at Thruxton, sits on the fringe of the top five and should go well in the Honda Civic Type R, as will Andrew Jordan and Rob Collard. Both sit behind the wheel of a BMW 1-Series and both will be highly confident of scoring big around a circuit which has delivered success for WSR in the past.

Tom Chilton edged closer to a taking his maiden Motorbase Performance race win at Oulton Park, bagging two podium finishes and he too will have his tail in the air.

Four of the 32 drivers on the BTCC grid are proud Yorkshiremen and each would count themselves as potential race winners heading into next weekend as they look to leave their mark in front of their home crowd.

Daniel Cammish, Sam Tordoff, Senna Proctor and Daniel Lloyd have all at some stage underlined their credentials in the BTCC and all four will be keen to sign off the first half of their campaigns with silverware in front of what is expected to be a bumper turnout of fans.

Matt Simpson scored a popular breakthrough pole position and race win in Cheshire a few weeks ago and the Type R racer will be eyeing further success too.

One team that will be looking for a change in fortunes is Adrian Flux Subaru Racing. Enduring performance issues that have hampered their chances of fighting towards the front, the trio of reigning champion Ashley Sutton, Jason Plato and Josh Price will all be hoping to take a step in the right direction at a circuit that has treated them well in recent seasons.

With rounds 13, 14 and 15 of the 2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship marking the half-way point of the season, expect to see everyone fighting to head into the annual summer break on a high.

Tickets will be available to purchase on the gate on Saturday and Sunday this weekend, priced at £15 for Saturday, £30 for Sunday and £38 for the full weekend. Children 15 and under go free when accompanied by an adult whilst gates open at 08:00 both days.

Croft braced for more magic moments as BTCC speeds into town

Fans will have ‘plenty to get excited about’ when the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races into North Yorkshire this weekend (23/24 June). That’s the prediction of Tim Harvey, as the 1992 title-winner forecasts more magic moments in the Croft Circuit story.

Croft first hosted the UK’s premier motor sport series all the way back in 1968 – then known as the British Saloon Car Championship – making 2018 the 50th anniversary of the circuit’s relationship with the BTCC.

That initial stint lasted until 1971, and while a major Croft regeneration in the 1980s meant the championship did not return to the north-east until 1997, it has featured on the calendar every year since, becoming a hugely popular stop on the schedule for competitors and spectators alike.

Harvey was on the grid for the 1997 event – one that very nearly didn’t go ahead due to rain flooding the circuit – and he has fond memories of the track.

“Croft always generates great action, with plenty of opportunities for overtaking and, dare I say it, incidents!” reflected the 16-time race-winner turned ITV4 commentator. “It’s a difficult circuit to master; the first half of the lap is a high-speed challenge, before you get to the Complex, where you need to slow it all down. There’s a bit of everything, which is what the drivers really appreciate.

“I always enjoyed racing at Croft, whether in the BTCC, Porsche Carrera Cup GB or my one-off outing in the Ginetta GT SuperCup a few years ago. The first year – 1997 – was certainly an interesting one. The one thing no venue can control is the weather, and Croft didn’t drain well back in those days – it’s much, much better now – but it’s testament to the circuit’s strength-of-character that the race meeting went ahead and went well, and Croft has remained a favourite on the BTCC calendar ever since.”

Fast forward 19 years to 2016, and Croft provided the platform for Ashley Sutton to scythe through the spray in changeable conditions to claim his breakthrough BTCC victory. Barely a year later, the Subaru star clinched the coveted drivers’ crown at the end of only his second season, but it was Yorkshire where he first made his mark.

“That was a really significant moment – the point at which people properly sat up and said, ‘boy, this kid has got something special’,” acknowledged Harvey. “He made the most of his opportunity in tricky conditions, so I’d say Croft was where he really announced his arrival – and in some style. And then obviously he went on to fulfil that potential by winning the championship last year…”

Results might be proving hard to come by for Sutton at present, but the man currently leading the charge – BMW’s Colin Turkington – has earned the sobriquet ‘King of Croft’ for his stellar success at the track over the years, tallying 12 race wins, 19 podium finishes and eight fastest laps. Harvey, however, suggests the Ulsterman won’t have it all his own way this weekend, with a quartet of local heroes all eager to steal the spotlight for themselves.

“Colin’s results can be attributed to consistently putting the standout rear wheel-drive driver in the best rear wheel-drive car,” he opined. “That said, things have now evened out a bit in terms of the front wheel-drive / rear wheel-drive difference at Croft, and while I still expect him to have a slight edge, running with maximum ballast in qualifying and race one as championship leader certainly won’t make life easy for him.

“The BTCC is proving absolutely impossible to predict this year, with ten or 15 drivers that can realistically win races – including the four Yorkshiremen in the field. None of them will be carrying any extra weight, and Sam Tordoff in particular has been quick everywhere while Dan Cammish is due a good weekend and the Honda he drives has traditionally gone well around Croft – so there should be plenty for the home crowd to get excited about.”

Tickets to the BTCC’s only north-eastern event of the year can be purchased on the gate, priced at just £15 for Saturday, 23 June (BTCC Qualifying), £30 for Sunday, 24 June (BTCC Race Day) or £38 for the full weekend. Accompanied children aged 15 and under are admitted free of charge.

More information on all of Croft’s driving experiences and racing events can be found at www.croftcircuit.co.uk

Rapturous reception as Thruxton doubles up on 2019 BTCC calendar

Following this morning’s confirmation that Thruxton will host two race meetings in the 2019 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC), the series’ leading drivers have expressed their excitement at travelling to the UK’s fastest circuit not once but twice next year – for the first time in more than a decade – totalling six breathless, high-octane races.

An annual fixture on the calendar of Britain’s premier motor sport series since 1968 – the year the circuit opened in its current configuration – Thruxton has always been a popular stop amongst competitors and fans alike, with its high-speed layout and flat-out sweepers generating superb slipstreaming scraps and no shortage of spectacle. Next year, fans will be able to enjoy that action twice – on 18/19 May and again on 17/18 August.

Over the years, many of the biggest names in the BTCC have tamed Thruxton’s formidable challenge to climb onto the top step of the rostrum in Hampshire – amongst them the likes of Andy Rouse, Steve Soper, Gabriele Tarquini, Alain Menu and Jason Plato, tin-top legends all.

“Thruxton is a completely unique circuit,” acknowledged 1992 BTCC Champion-turned-ITV4 commentator Tim Harvey, who came within a whisker of scoring Peugeot’s breakthrough victory in the series there in 1997. “The layout has gone largely unchanged over all these years, and as a driver, it remains mightily challenging. I have many happy memories of going there and I always love going back. Thruxton invariably produces great racing – and long may that continue.”

Three-time title-winner Matt Neal – gunning for a record-equalling fourth drivers’ crown in 2018 – is one of the most successful of the current BTCC crop around Thruxton, achieving his 62nd and most recent career win at the track last month.

“I think it’s brilliant we are going to Thruxton twice – it means double the fun!” he smiled. “It’s an awesome place to go and one of my favourite circuits on the calendar because it is unspoiled, challenging and heart-in-mouth – a proper old-school, balls-out track that really rewards the brave, and as a driver, that’s exactly what you relish. It’s also like a home grand prix for us, with Honda’s UK manufacturing base just up the road in Swindon, so the fact we will be having two events there will be absolutely fantastic and I cannot wait.”

Hailing from Bath, Vauxhall ace Josh Cook counts Thruxton as his local circuit and the 26-year-old stormed through the field to register his second BTCC victory on ‘home’ soil earlier this year. Like Neal, he is thrilled to be returning twice next season.

“I love Thruxton!” Cook enthused. “Winning there last month was an amazing feeling, to get to stand on the top step of the podium in front of family, friends and sponsors who have supported me for so long. It’s a wonderful place to go racing – a proper white-knuckle ride the whole way round, and a case of ‘he who dares, wins’. It’s the kind of track where you really get to push your car to the limits – and to have chance to do that six times in 2019 is hugely exciting.”

“Thruxton is a phenomenal circuit,” echoed fans’ favourite Rob Austin. “It’s somewhere that has always been close to my heart, and with HMS Racing being based in Swindon, it’s our ‘local’ track too. The effort that has gone into the venue in recent years to improve facilities for fans and competitors alike is tremendous, and for Thruxton to be given another event on the 2019 BTCC schedule is just reward for Bill Coombs and his loyal, hard-working team. I think it’s brilliant news!”

The investment to which Austin alludes is part of a long-term plan designed to keep Thruxton firmly at the forefront of the national motor racing scene. Earlier this month, the state-of-the-art new Thruxton Centre was officially inaugurated by Nigel Mansell CBE and Murray Walker OBE at the circuit’s 50th Anniversary Celebration – just the first stage in a multifaceted improvement programme over the coming years.

“Thruxton is in the midst of a multi-million pound development,” explained Thruxton Group Managing Director Coombs. “We have worked hard – and continue to work hard – to enhance the safety aspect to ensure our venue conforms to the most exacting of standards, and the new Thruxton Centre has shifted the goalposts in terms of our corporate offering at and away from race weekends.

“There are further exciting plans in the pipeline to significantly upgrade facilities for competitors, spectators and media, and we are delighted to see that hard work repaid with a second British Touring Car Championship visit next season. As the country’s foremost car racing series, the BTCC always draws huge crowds and delivers outstanding entertainment – so there’s more to look forward to than ever at Thruxton in 2019!”

For more on Thruxton’s race meetings and driving experiences, see: www.thruxtonracing.co.uk