This weekend will see the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship head to the home of British Motorsport, Silverstone, for the penultimate race meeting of 2013 where Pirtek Racing’s Andrew Jordan will hold a 30point lead heading into the event.
Last time out at Rockingham Jordan headed into the event 6 points behind Matt Neal in the works Honda Yuasa Racing Civic, however thanks to a superb double victory for Jordan and the former triple BTCC champion suffering a nightmare weekend with a 7th and 14th, a spin and non finish saw him lose 36points to the reigning Independent champion in his identical Honda Civic.
There has been little doubt that Jordan has been the quickest driver over the course of the season, as well as the only driver to score points in every race so far in 2013 as he bids to secure his maiden BTCC crown. Heading into Silverstone Jordan, who also currently holds a 42 point lead in the Independent championship, said, “I have believed from the start of the year that I can do it. There are a lot of things that can interfere with it – reliability, or a bit of bad luck. Anything can happen, but it is looking good at the minute. I’ve had a podium at every race, and I’ll be surprised if that continues at Silverstone. But we are racing the Hondas mainly, so if we can just be competitive compared to them, we should be ok.”
The reason Jordan might not be too optimistic heading into Silverstone is the fact that his Civic does not go particularly well around the national circuit, due to the long straights where the Honda suffers from boost restrictions and lack of twisty sections where the short wheel based Civic excels.
Thankfully for him his main title challengers will also be in Honda’s and also will suffer the same issues, meaning that clear favourite heading to Silverstone will be Jason Plato in his MG KX Momentum Racing MG6 GT.
Rockingham was once again a meeting where MG should have dominated and all looked to be going to plan with yet another MG 1-2 in qualifying. Unfortunately, like last year, the car struggled in the damp conditions and it wasn’t until race 3 that Plato got back on the podium for the first time in 8 races; although with more rain threatening for the weekend once again that could prove to be the team’s biggest threat at Silverstone.
As a result of the car’s issues over the past two meetings plus Plato’s two DNF’s from what should have been a dominating weekend at Snetterton, he now trails Jordan by a massive 62 points. The 2001/10 BTCC champion admits all championship hopes are firmly on hold till 2014 and said, “Realistically we’re too far away from the top to be thinking about the championship. It would require everyone ahead of us to have a disaster and that simply isn’t going to happen – just look at Andrew Jordan, he had a brilliant day at Rockingham. The most important thing for us is to keep learning about the car, and hopefully get some more wins before the end of the year.”
At Rockingham something happened that hadn’t happened in the BTCC since 1997 as an Audi entered the winner’s circle, for the first time since Frank Biela, after Rob Austin took a hugely popular maiden win. Austin is very quickly becoming the firm fans favourite as his own prepared Rob Austin Racing team take on the big boys of the BTCC.
The season had started brilliantly for Austin with a podium during race 1 of the season; however a big crash in race 3 of that opening meeting followed by constant engine issues since meant Austin had remained anonymous for much of the opening half of the season.
Austin bounced back at Knockhill where he shocked the BTCC paddock by taking a superb pole before ending the day as highest points scorer with a double podium and a 4th. Once again the former Formula 3 racer was on the pace straight away at Rockingham and after taking 3rd heading over the line in race 1, went on to take a memorable victory in race 2.
Following Rockingham Austin remains full of confidence and wants more of the same during the remainder of 2013 and said, “We need to carry this momentum over into the final two fixtures on the calendar. The drivers embroiled in the title fight, who have quite a bit more to lose, will know that we now really mean business when we're out on track. We're a real threat and will be going to Silverstone and Brands Hatch fully intent on more wins.”
Once again this weekend we will see another driver behind the wheel of the Team Hard’s VW Passat, following Tom Onslow-Cole’s departure to Airwaves Racing, with 16 year old Aiden Moffat stepping in for the final two meetings of the year following his debut in the series earlier in the season at Knockhill, then driving an S2000 Chevrolet Cruze.
Moffat’s debut was encouraging, although he was let down by mechanical failures and missed Rockingham by racing and winning in the Scottish Fiesta championship that he normally competes in, beating many drivers with decent racing experience in the process.
Moffat will get his first taste in the Passat at Brands Hatch prior to Silverstone and team boss Tony Gilham has no doubts that he has a great future ahead of him in the making by saying, “Aiden is a real star of the future in the BTCC. We’ve been talking to him for a while and we’re delighted to be able to give him this opportunity for the rest of the season. He showed good promise at Knockhill but unfortunately the reliability wasn’t there in his car. We hope to change all that by providing a reliable and quick car for him show his potential. There’s no pressure on him but we’re excited to see how he gets on before hopefully building a long-term relationship.”