BTCC greats gearing up for anniversary celebrations at Silverstone Past, present and future Champions and drivers from the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) were at Silverstone today to help launch the Northamptonshire circuit's plans to...
BTCC greats gearing up for anniversary celebrations at Silverstone
Past, present and future Champions and drivers from the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) were at Silverstone today to help launch the Northamptonshire circuit's plans to celebrate the 50th, 60th and 80th Anniversaries of the BTCC, Silverstone and British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) respectively, at this year's round of the 2008 HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship on the last weekend in August (30/31 August).
In addition to celebrating the three special anniversaries, Silverstone is also looking forward to the BTCC's return to the Home of British Motor Racing. To launch the anniversary celebrations Silverstone invited a number of past and present BTCC drivers to meet at the historic circuit, itself celebrating 60 years since hosting the first-ever British Grand Prix in 1948.
BTCC legends Sir Jack Sears - winner of the inaugural British Saloon Car Championship, as it was known back then, in 1958; Andy Rouse - winner of a record 60 races and four BTCC titles (1975, and 1983-1985); Dave Brodie - a former BRDC Director who won his first ever BTCC race at Silverstone in 1963; and Tim Harvey - 1992 BTCC Champion and Director of the BRDC Superstars initiative, joined current drivers Jason Plato, Matt Neal and Colin Turkington at the BRDC Clubhouse to talk about great British Touring Car moments of the past, and Silverstone's round of the Championship on 30/31 August.
Current BTCC driver Mat Jackson, a BRDC Superstar and one of the UK's most talented young drivers, also attended the event, and was proud of his association with the BRDC. Many of the BRDC's Members have a long-established association with BTCC, including Jason Plato and Matt Neal who are both winners of the Club's prestigious Silver Award. A range of winning BTCC competition cars, spanning the five decades of the series, were also on display. An Austin Westminster A105 and Riley 1.5 from the late 50s, a Mustang and Escort representing Ford's participation through the 60s, 70s and 80s, an Audi Quattro A4 from the 90s, and the current SEAT Leon TDi and BMW 320si E90 all featured in a photo call alongside the distinguished driver line-up.
Speaking at the launch, Jack Sears commented, "It means a great deal to me that the BTCC is coming back to Silverstone. Seeing the first Grand Prix and Saloon Cars race, and then racing here myself for the first time in 1950, has always made Silverstone special to me. To be here 50 years later, and to see the enthusiasm of the current BTCC drivers gives me great pleasure."
Andy Rouse, the UK's most successful BTCC driver of all time, added, "Silverstone is the Home of British Motor Racing and I have many happy memories of racing here in the BTCC, especially on Grand Prix day. It is only right that Silverstone hosts a touring car race. There has been some great action here over the years and I'm sure that will continue."
SEAT Sport UK driver, Jason Plato, commented, "I think it's really important that BTCC comes to the Home of British Motor Racing, the epicentre of all things motor sport in the UK. It's a great venue and one we should definitely be at."
BRDC Superstar Mat Jackson, added, "The 50th and 60th anniversaries of the BTCC and Silverstone are fantastic landmarks. It would be a great privilege to take the win here and hopefully head away with a result that would go down in history."
Fans will once again be able to enjoy the wheel-to-wheel action of the highly-charged domestic series at the UK's premier motorsport venue, after Silverstone's absence from the calendar in 2007. Silverstone will showcase what promises to be a nail-biting penultimate racing weekend in the BTCC calendar and to celebrate the series' golden jubilee there are a number of anniversary activities planned to take place over the two-day event.
British drivers Matt Neal, BRDC Superstar Mat Jackson, Jason Plato, Colin Turkington and Tom Onlsow- Cole are all currently locked in battle at the top of the drivers' leaderboard and will be desperate to clinch the title from defending champion, Italian Fabrizio Giovanardi. With only three rounds to go before the penultimate event at Silverstone, you can guarantee that everyone in this exhilarating series will be going all out to claim valuable points and wrap up the championship ahead of the final race of the season.
Spectators will be able to watch the drama unfold over an action-packed weekend featuring not only the three BTCC races on Silverstone's tight 1.6 mile National Circuit, but a superb line-up of support races, including the Porsche Carrera Cup, Renault Clio Cup, Formula Renault UK Championship, SEAT Cupra Championship and Ginetta Junior Championship, providing fans with a full day of top class entertainment. It is a weekend not to be missed by motor racing fans as the tin-top action is fast and furious, with plenty of thrills and spills to wow the crowds.
Away from the track race-goers will also enjoy free access to the centre of the circuit and BTCC paddock, while a spectacular Red Devils parachute display, driver autograph sessions and FREE family entertainment, including fairground rides - in addition to taster experiences such as the Caterham Autotest (Saturday and Sunday) and helicopter pleasure rides (Saturday and Sunday) - will add to the festival atmosphere and ensure there's plenty to keep younger fans entertained.
Richard Phillips, Managing Director of Silverstone Circuits Limited, looks ahead to the race weekend in August, "The British Touring Car Championship is the premier domestic racing series in the UK and we are delighted to see it back where it belongs at the Home of British Motor Racing, especially for 2008 when the series, Silverstone as a circuit, and the BRDC are all celebrating such prestigious anniversaries.
"The BTCC is a fantastic British Championship and we are looking forward to hosting the penultimate round. We're expecting a good turn out from the fans and would encourage them to book their tickets in advance, taking advantage of race day prices of only 23 GBP - which includes a grandstand seat."