The BTCC teams are reading for the third meeting of the season, this time around UK’s fastest circuit - Thruxton
MG and Honda are set to continue their battle in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship this weekend, as the series rolls into the UK’s fastest circuit, Thruxton in Hampshire, for rounds 7, 8 and 9 of the series.
So far this season MG and Honda have taken 5 of the 6 victories and this weekend looks set to be another battle between the MG KX Momentum team, and the two Honda teams belonging to the works Honda Yuasa Racing team and Pirtek Racing; but who will have the advantage?
Heading into the weekend it is Jason Plato in the MG who holds a narrow 5 point lead at the top of the standings, but with the championship lead comes the disadvantage of carrying the maximum 45kg of ballast during qualifying and race 1. Although the MG is regarded as perhaps the quickest car in a straight line, which will definitely benefit the double champion around the ultra high speed Thruxton circuit, the ballast may come into play getting the extra grunt out of the corners. There is no doubt that the ballast really does affect the car’s performance when looking back at the times from the last round at Donington where if you take off the increased time that the ballast adds on to your lap, which was believed to be around 0.400 of a second, this would have meant that Plato would have started from pole but instead meant that he qualified in 5th.
It is of no surprise that so far this year a Honda driver has got on the podium far more than any other car, however it is a surprise that so far the highest place Honda driver is Andrew Jordan, who leads the works Honda drivers so far, in his Pirtek Racing Civic. He is currently 2nd in the outright points as well as leading the Independents championship, which he won last year, following an outright win and 3 2nd place finishes so far this season.
Jordan now heads to a circuit that he likes very much and believes once again he will be able to challenge strongly and said, “Thruxton is one of my favourite circuits: it’s probably the best track we go to. I think we’ll be strong at Thruxton: We did some testing there in February and the cars were really, really good.”
Another advantage pointing towards the two Honda teams is that they were the only two teams testing at the circuit back in February, where they completed two days of cold but dry running. When the series visited the circuit last year Shedden took a superb double victory in the wet and Jordan put his Pirtek Civic on pole position during the only dry session of the weekend.
Despite taking victory in race 3 at Donington Park for Colin Turkington, after taking advantage of the reverse grid draw, so far to date the brand new West Surrey Racing prepared eBay Motors BMW 125i M sport has only been a P8 car at best, while regular drivers Nick Foster and Rob Collard have yet to finish a race inside the top 10.
The latter two will be hoping to improve on their 2013 form to date as they, along with Welch Motorsport driver Dan Welch in his Proton and joint Jack Sears Trophy leader James Kaye in the AmD tuning.Com VW Golf, will be taking part in their local race.
So far the surprise of the season has been Adam Morgan in his family run Cicely Racing Toyota Avensis. After winning the 2011 Ginetta Supercup championship for the team, Morgan, as part of his prize, won a fully fledged BTCC drive for Speedworks in 2012. Despite showing great pace at times, Morgan often suffered bad luck; some self inflicted and some due to being in the wrong place at the wrong time. However having moved back to his family run team, Morgan has already scored more points this season than in 2012 thanks to not finishing any lower than 7th in the 6 races. He currently sits as best of the rest in 6th in the points and 2nd in the Independents trophy.
Morgan now heads into Thruxton hoping for more of the same and speaking on what has changed from last year said, “It is no reflection on the Speedworks guys and nor is my performance so far this season. It’s hard to know what’s changed really, but I have the year of experience and I understand the game a little more. I am trying to be there or thereabouts all season and I’m 100 per cent confident that a podium will come. I will be more than happy if I can replicate the results I had at Brands Hatch and Donington. I think we should be there or thereabouts; I really like Thruxton. I just hope it’s dry.”
So who will have the best chance this coming weekend at Thruxton? Well, thanks to carrying less ballast than his main rivals and with the advantage of having tested at the circuit already this year, that Shedden will take his second pole in a row and win race 1 with Plato fighting back as the MG loses its weight over the course of the day, ending the weekend with the championship lead still intact.