The clock is ticking… there are now less than two weeks to go before Britain’s premier motor racing spectacle – the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – arrives at the country’s fastest circuit, Thruxton in Hampshire, for its latest battle royal on Sunday 1 May.
Just an hour by road from many major cities across the south – including London, Southampton and Bristol – and also the nearest motor sport venue for fans further South West, a bumper crowd is expected at Thruxton during the May bank holiday weekend. Indeed, this will be the BTCC's only visit in 2011 making the event the biggest of the year for the circuit, located just outside Andover.
FREE ADMISSION FOR CHILDREN Adding to the appeal, adult race day tickets start from as little as £23 and admission for children aged 16 and under is FREE. Furthermore, all admission includes access to the Pit Lane Walkabout when the public, including youngsters, can meet the star BTCC drivers for autographs, photos and plenty of team give-aways – something sadly lacking in many major sports today.
Easily accessed off the A303 dual carriageway, Thruxton’s annual BTCC fixture also has a reputation for producing an unmissable ‘family picnic atmosphere’ as its sizeable grassed spectator banks provide fans with both a relaxing countryside setting and excellent views of the high-speed action. Indeed, at Thruxton it is not uncommon to see the BTCC’s cars spectacularly running doorhandle-to-doorhandle at close to 150mph.
And there will be plenty of variety from which to pick a favourite as this year’s BTCC entry list comprises no fewer than ten different makes of car: Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Proton, SEAT, Toyota, Vauxhall and VW. With the season’s first six races having been won by four different drivers in four different makes of car, predicting who will come out on top at Thruxton where there’s often a sting in the tail is impossible.
CAN NASH BREAK HIS DUCK? Arriving at Thruxton, however, there’s a surprise championship leader – youngster James Nash from Bedfordshire in his 888 Racing with Collins Contractors Vauxhall Vectra. Although yet to win a race in the BTCC, consistent high scoring means that after last Sunday's (17 Apr) latest round at Donington Park the 25-year-old impressively leads the way. But he’s under massive pressure.
Right behind with two wins already this season is Honda Racing Team ace Matt Neal and, just one point further adrift, another of the championship’s rising stars, Mat Jackson, who took a victory in his Airwaves racing Ford Focus at Donington. Andrew Jordan, also a winner at Donington in his Pirtek Racing Vectra, is fourth and fifth Jason Plato in his Silverline Chevrolet Cruze which has also bagged two wins so far in 2011.
Reigning Champion Plato will go into Thruxton’s three BTCC races eager for strong points finishes after his title hopes were severely dented, quite literally, with a huge high-speed roll at Donington.
HANTS DUO HOPING FOR HOME CHEER There are also two drivers local to Thruxton on the BTCC grid – WSR BMW team-mates Robert Collard and Nick Foster, both from Hook. Collard is an established front-runner in the BTCC with four career race wins to his name so far, whereas Foster will be making his first appearance in front of his home crowd in what is his debut season in Britain’s most famous and highest profile motor racing championship.
Thruxton’s big BTCC race day on Sunday 1 May starts at 09.45am with the Pit Lane Walkabout autograph session. Then follow the BTCC’s latest three races of 2011 as well as seven more races for the high-profile supporting Ginetta Junior, Ginetta GT Supercup, Porsche Carrera Cup, Formula Renault and Renault Clio Cup categories which offer the very best in saloon, sportscar and single-seater action.
Race day trackside tickets from £23 per adult can be booked via the www.barc.net website or by calling 01264 882200.