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.

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

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

Pride of Yorkshire keen to steal the show in front of Croft faithful

Half-a-century on from the first Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race to be held at Croft – known then as the British Saloon Car Championship – the UK’s biggest motor sport series is speeding back to the popular North Yorkshire circuit next weekend (23/24 June), with a quartet of homegrown drivers all primed to shine.

Yorkshire is the most populous county on the current BTCC grid, with four of the 32 high-calibre protagonists hailing from there – and all of them potential race-winners next weekend.

Honda rookie Dan Cammish (Leeds) is the best-placed of the four in the championship standings approaching the midway stage of the season, having taken a brace of podium finishes from the opening 12 races as he adapts to the cut-and-thrust of what is arguably the world’s most fiercely-disputed tin-top series. The 29-year-old – a two-time Porsche Carrera Cup GB Champion – would love nothing more than to reach the top step for the first time on home soil.

“Racing a touring car around Croft is something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time,” Cammish acknowledged. “It’s great to finally be in the main show! I’ve driven round Croft a lot – it’s a fast circuit where you really get a sense of speed, and I’ve gone well there in the past – but I’ve never driven the Honda there before. Hopefully we can do a good job for the home crowd, and I see no reason why we can’t pick up some very solid points.

“Being in Yorkshire, I’m sure I’ll have a fair few supporters and I’m really looking forward to it. There’s definitely a bit of home advantage, and you do get a real kick out of knowing the crowd’s behind you – the Croft paddock is always a great place to be.

“This year is a very steep learning curve for me, but I’ve been in the mix at every race so let’s see what comes. I’ll give it absolutely everything to make sure that I get the best out of both myself and the car – and I hope everybody has a great day out.”

Right behind Cammish in the points table are Senna Proctor (Driffield) and Sam Tordoff (Bradford). The former – in his second season in the series – claimed his breakthrough BTCC victory in a dramatic wet/dry race at Brands Hatch earlier this year, while the latter is a former championship runner-up. Although plagued by ill-fortune since the start of the 2018 campaign, Tordoff has the best qualifying record of anybody in the field and both men are sure to be leading contenders next weekend.

“I’m looking forward to going to Croft,” enthused Vauxhall young gun Proctor. “I love the circuit and always receive a lot of home support there, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be fighting up at the front. It is a rear wheel-drive track historically, but a front wheel-drive car won a race there last year – so that’s what we’re looking to do this year!

“It’s a real drivers’ circuit; you’ve got to push flat-out through the first two sectors and just hold your breath, before refining it all for the last sector, making sure you clip all the apexes and above all remaining patient. There’s obviously a bit more pressure than usual going to my home race meeting, but nothing I can’t handle and I’m feeling more confident than ever and working harder than ever to keep this dream going and keep the results coming.”

“I’ve got fond memories of Croft,” echoed Ford star Tordoff. “Last time I was there with BMW, we had a fabulous set of results. It’s always great when you finish on the podium at your home event, and I’m hoping to do so again this year in the Focus RS. I really think we can be up at the front. We’ve been blighted by bad luck so far this season but it’s slowly coming round our way, and in terms of one-lap qualifying pace, we are as quick as anybody.

“Croft is a circuit with a very tricky, technical section coupled with a really quick sequence of balls-out corners round the back, which makes it a tough lap to master and invariably generates exciting racing. It’s really abrasive as well, which means tyre management is key and it’s certainly an event I enjoy. The local support always helps, and with a lot of family coming, it just feels like home.”

The fourth Yorkshireman in the mix is Daniel Lloyd (Huddersfield), who only returned to the BTCC last weekend at Oulton Park following a year’s absence. The last time the 26-year-old competed at Croft, he put his Honda Civic Type R second on the grid – and now he is set to return in the same car, albeit fielded by a different team.

“I love going to Croft,” he asserted. “It’s my home track and I always get a warm welcome there. It’s where I made my BTCC debut back in 2010, and then to qualify on the front row two years ago was really special.

“It was disappointing not to be able to race at Croft last season, but it’s great to be back and with such a potent package as the Honda Civic Type R and no ballast on-board, I’m confident of being able to challenge right up at the sharp end again. Bring it on!”

Tickets to the event are available 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. Pre-orders can be made online at www.croftcircuit.co.uk/racing/btcc or over the phone (01325 721815) up to and including Tuesday, 19 June. After this date, tickets can still be purchased on the gate.

BTCC battle speeds into ultra-fast Thruxton

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship descends on the home of the British Automobile Racing Club, Thruxton Circuit, for the third event of what is shaping up to be a season to remember this weekend (May 19/20).

Celebrating the BTCC’s 60th anniversary this year, the championship has produced six blockbuster races across Brands Hatch and Donington Park, with somewhat of a changing of the guard taking place as a host of young drivers have come to the fore.

It isn’t just the series that is celebrating a milestone year, Thruxton is too as it marks its 50th year in 2018 too. The beloved circuit is set to open parts of its brand-new, industry-leading £2 million hospitality facility – The Thruxton Centre – ahead of a full official opening on Sunday 3 June amid a weekend of 50th Anniversary celebrations.

Speeding into rounds seven, eight and nine, the drivers’ standings has a distinctly familiar feel to those of last year, with Tom Ingram sitting at the summit. Two wins paired with consistent points finishes has handed the Speedworks Motorsport driver a seven-point advantage and he will be keen to extend that at a circuit where the Toyota Avensis has gone well at in the past.

Leading the chase for Ingram and top spot is Donington Park race winner Adam Morgan. Enjoying a solid start to the year, the Ciceley Motorsport driver has been a force to be reckoned and has a prove package around Thruxton, making him a clear contender.

Josh Cook scored a breakthrough win at Donington Park and the local driver will be keen to add further silverware to his collection. The Power Maxed TAG Racing competitor is one of several emerging talents in the BTCC this year and it is hard to discount any of them.

Jack Goff, race winner in round one, and reigning champion Ashley Sutton have been in the thick of the action and round out the top five whilst Aiden Moffat has impressed with two podiums. Factor in his strong pace at Thruxton and the Scotsman can’t be discounted from podium contention either.

Dan Cammish and Chris Smiley will be ones to watch as well, piloting their respective Honda Civic Type R’s. Both picked up their maiden podium finishes last time out and given the track record of the Honda at Thruxton in the past, both will be confident of what they can achieve.

Duo Motorsport with HMS Racing’s Rob Austin is another home hero for fans to cheer on and he, along with Colin Turkington, round out the top ten.

Beyond that, a whole host of race-winning drivers sit on the fringe of spring boarding themselves into front-running contention. Andrew Jordan and Matt Neal have both thrived around the high-speed layout in the past and will be keen to ignite their championship challengers; as will local man Rob Collard, Jason Plato, Motorbase Performance – to name just a few.

With five different winners from six races and a total of 14 drivers have graced the podium so far, the landscape of the BTCC is as unpredictable as it ever has been and that trait is set to continue around Thruxton’s famed 2.356 mile track.

Tickets for the BTCC’s visit on 19-20 May can be purchased on the gate, priced at £16 for Saturday (qualifying) and £33 for Sunday (race day). Saturday grandstand seats are an additional £5. Accompanied children aged 15 and under will be admitted free of charge.

Spoils shared as BTCC young guns come to the fore at Donington Park

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship saw another three frenetic races at Donington Park serve up three different race winners this past weekend (April 28/29) – with the series’ young guns coming further to the fore.

Coming off the back of a memorable curtain-raiser at Brands Hatch, the capacity 32-car grid descended on the Leicestershire venue with it all to play at the top of the standings.

Qualifying proved to be a dramatic affair with times tumbling right until the end of the session. As the clock ticked to zero, Power Maxed Racing’s Josh Cook displaced Chris Smiley to score his first BTCC pole position.

Cook’s Saturday dominance translated to race day as he converted pole position into a commanding first victory – becoming the 19th different driver to have scaled to the top step of the podium.

Launching his Vauxhall Astra off the front row, Cook held off the advances of Smiley on the opening tour before stretching his advantage over Dan Cammish and Aiden Moffat, who moved themselves into the remaining rostrum places.

Race two went the way of championship leader Tom Ingram, who became the first driver to win two races this year. Having scored a handful of points with maximum weight and the hard tyre in race one, the Speedworks Motorsport racer scythed his way through the field from P13 in the second encounter.

Picking his way through the top ten, Ingram shuffled BTC Norlin Racing’s Smiley to second on lap ten and was never challenged thereon after. WIX Racing with Eurotech’s Jack Goff rounded off the podium after also charging through the pack.

Goff had been hot on the heels of Ingram at one stage but a valiant defence from Cammish, who had led early on, saw the Honda Civic Type R driver lose ground to the leaders.

One of the star performers in race two however was the Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes Benz A-Class of Adam Morgan, who crossed the line fifth having started 25th.

With the top nine reversed for race three, Rory Butcher lined up on pole position with reigning champion Ashley Sutton lining up alongside him. As the lights went out, five cars fell victim to the close-quarter racing down the Crater Curves, with James Cole, Josh Price and Sam Tordoff all out on the spot.

At the front, Sutton propelled himself into the lead but soon fell into the clutches of the chasing pack, with Morgan leading the way. Making his move on lap eight, Morgan held his nerve, withstanding a late charge from Cook to score his first win since Thruxton 2016.

Laser Tools Racing’s Moffat made it two Mercedes on the podium as he scored his second third place finish of the day. Standout performances from Rob Collard and Andrew Jordan saw them round out the top five, piloting their West Surrey Racing BMW’s through the field.

Following on from another exciting day’s racing, Ingram extended his advantage in the drivers standings with Morgan and Cook filling the top three spots.

For the full classification of results, click here.

The 2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship returns on May 19/20 with rounds seven, eight and nine taking place at Thruxton.

Thruxton gains second event as 2019 BTCC calendar is unveiled

Series organisers, TOCA, have confirmed the official calendar for the 2019 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – boasting a fresh look.

Comprising of 30 races spanning ten weekend’s across the length and breadth of the UK, Britain’s premier race series will once again dazzle thousands throughout the year.

The most notable change to the 2019 calendar sees Rockingham not included due to the impending sale of the facility not providing TOCA with sufficient clarity at the time of finalising the calendar.

In its place instead is a second event at Thruxton, which will add an August summer visit to its regular May date. Croft and Oulton Park have also changed berths in the order of events, the latter now following the annual trip to North Yorkshire.

Brands Hatch Indy will once again play host to the curtain-raiser on April 6/7 before the series moves on to Donington Park, Thruxton, Croft and Oulton Park. Following the traditional mid-season break, the action will resume at Snetterton before once again returning to Thruxton.

Knockhill, Silverstone and the iconic Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit cap off the season, where a champion will be crowned.

2019 BTCC Calendar:

Rounds 1, 2 & 3 – Brands Hatch Indy – April 6/7

Rounds 4, 5 & 6 – Donington Park – April 27/28

Rounds 7, 8 & 9 – Thruxton – May 18/19

Rounds 10, 11 & 12 – Croft – June 15/16

Rounds 13, 14 & 15 – Oulton Park – June 29/30

Rounds 16, 17 & 18 – Snetterton – August 3/4

Rounds 19, 20 & 21 – Thruxton – August 17/18

Rounds 22, 23 & 24 – Knockhill – September 14/15

Rounds 25, 26 & 27 – Silverstone – September 28/29

Rounds 28, 29 & 30 – Brands Hatch GP – October 12/13