Brands Hatch circuit boss Jonathan Palmer believes there could be a surprise in store among the pecking order when the world-famous track stages round one of this year's HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship this coming Sunday (5 April).

The first three races in 2009 of the UK's premier motor racing series will be around the Kent venue's shorter 1.2-mile Indy track. Its rollercoaster lay-out - particularly the blind, plunging Paddock Hill Bend corner - has a tradition for courting controversy and incident among the BTCC field.

Adding to the sense of occasion, ITV4 will be showing all three BTCC races live during a mammoth six hour-plus broadcast starting at 11.45am and finishing at 6.00pm.

A past BTCC racer himself, Palmer reckons the tension of the opening day of the season plus the fact there are a number of new team and driver combinations could lead to the unexpected - providing watching trackside crowds with a great sporting spectacle. Indeed, six different marques - BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, SEAT and Vauxhall - are all represented on this year's BTCC grid.

Palmer, whose MotorSport Vision company owns Brands Hatch, said: "I'm delighted that Brands Hatch is hosting the opening round of the BTCC for the fourth consecutive season. The BTCC's big characters and incredibly close racing have made the event a real favourite among fans, and we're expecting thousands of spectators to make the trip to Brands Hatch this weekend to catch their first glimpse of the drivers in action.

"With changes in driver line-ups and new cars on the grid, there's definitely an element of the unknown in this year's competition, and Brands Hatch may throw a few surprise results. None of the field will let up on the first run into Paddock Hill Bend, so I'm sure we're in for a weekend of great racing!"