Local Teams & Drivers Looking To Shine In Front Of Bumper Brands Hatch BTCC Crowd
Kent’s world-famous Brands Hatch circuit is bracing itself for a bumper crowd this weekend (31 March/1 April) when the stars of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship arrive for the start of their much anticipated 2012 season.
The two-day fixture is one of the South East’s biggest sporting events of the year with tens of thousands of public attending trackside. Swift access to the venue, near Dartford, from the M25 and M20 motorways plus free admission for children and the chance to meet the hero drivers from Britain’s premier motor racing championship all add to the public appeal.
Indeed circuit owner MotorSport Vision recently reported pre-sales of BTCC tickets were at record numbers and, due to demand, it has this week extended the booking deadline by an extra 24 hours until midday this Thursday (29 March). For more details visit www.brandshatch.co.uk or call the ticket hotline 0843 453 9000.
Worcestershire’s Matt Neal will be hoping to get the defence of his 2011 crown off to a flying start in his brand new Honda Yuasa Racing Team Honda Civic but faces a whole host of challengers from the 24-strong grid that features no fewer than nine different makes of car – some entered by local teams and drivers to Brands Hatch.
Wrotham team Redstone Racing has entered three Ford Focus STs, one of them for Mat Jackson who came close to lifting last year’s title. Among his team-mates is Liam Griffin, MD of London’s biggest private hire cab firm Addison Lee. Team principal David Bartrum commented: “We’re always excited about our home race and we go into this weekend with high hopes as we’ve had more time to prepare with the Fords than in 2011. But the BTCC is a tough old nut to crack and we’re not underestimating anyone.”
The Sunbury-on-Thames based eBay Motors team with its three turbocharged BMWs is also chasing success – among its drivers is Surrey racer Tom Onslow-Cole. The 24-year-old from New Malden said: “This weekend’s event will be huge and, being the first round, there will be a great atmosphere as well. The BTCC is famed for its action-packed racing and nowhere does it get more exciting than at Brands Hatch.”
Meanwhile Dartford’s Tony Gilham is behind the wheel of one of last year’s title-winning Honda Civics which he will run under the Team HARD. banner. “There’s never a dull moment when the BTCC races at Brands Hatch and the lay-out there means the crowds can view the whole lap unfold,” enthused Gilham. “It’s going to be a big weekend for my team and I’m targeting top ten results, but I’m setting the goals high because I have a proven car and a very capable bunch of people behind me.”
Another to watch will be West Thurrock-based outfit AmD Tuning.com with its VW Golf raced by promising newcomer Ollie Jackson from Reigate, Surrey. Team boss Shaun Hollamby said: “Given Ollie’s pre-season testing form I truly believe we can achieve regular top ten finishes. It was always a three-year plan with the Golf so this is when we have to deliver and there’d be no better place to start than in front of our home crowd at Brands Hatch.”
Brands Hatch’s big BTCC weekend (31 March/1 April) will also include the first races of 2012 for the hotly-contested Ginetta Junior, Ginetta GT Supercup, Porsche Carrera Cup GB and Renault Clio Cup championships that represent the very best in sports and saloon car action. Nicolas Hamilton – the younger brother of Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton – will be among those on the Clio Cup grid.
For a full list of the BTCC’s 2012 race dates and circuits plus the latest championship news as the clock to Brands Hatch’s opening round counts down visit the championship’s official website www.btcc.net