Rockingham & Silverstone races crucial to BTCC title outcome

The stars and cars of Britain’s premier motor racing championship – the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – are now less than a fortnight away from arriving in Northamptonshire for back to back race weekends that will play a crucial role in the outcome of this year’s thrilling title battle.

Three races at the US oval-style Rockingham track near Corby on Sunday 23 September will be followed by three more just 40 miles away at the world famous British Formula 1 Grand Prix circuit of Silverstone near Towcester on Sunday 7 October.

The events – the eighth and ninth of the ten-round championship trail – will have a major bearing on who is eventually crowned Champion for only three more races on Kent’s Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit will then remain (Sun 21 Oct).

Matt Neal, Honda Yuasa Racing
Matt Neal, Honda Yuasa Racing

Photo by: Pat Cranham

Leading the points table arriving at Rockingham is reigning Champion Matt Neal who, should he defend his title, will match Andy Rouse’s record of four BTCC crowns to his name. But the Worcestershire ace is only marginally ahead of his Honda Yuasa Racing Team team-mate Gordon Shedden who is aiming to become the first Scottish driver to win the BTCC for 17 years.

Lying third is Oxford’s Jason Plato – having seen a chance to draw level with his Honda rivals slip through his fingers in the most recent three races at Knockhill in Scotland, the double Champion knows how important it will be for his MG KX Momentum Racing MG6 to be on top form at Rockingham.

Fourth-placed Andrew Jordan in his Pirtek Racing Honda and double Knockhill winner Robert Collard in his eBay Motors BMW are also close behind. Jordan’s team-mate Jeff Smith is one to watch as well – the Wellingborough racer will be in action in front of his home crowd at Rockingham and he’ll arrive on a confidence high after the first podium result of his BTCC career, a second place at Knockhill.

Similarly, Team ES Racing.com from nearby Bedford will be looking for plenty of local support, particularly after its star driver Dave Newsham’s two recent breakthrough wins in its Vauxhall Vectra, at Snetterton and Knockhill.

But with a dozen drivers still in with a mathematical chance of becoming Champion, seven drivers having shared the wins so far this season and a large, hugely competitive grid consisting of nine different makes of cars – Audi, BMW, Ford, Honda, MG, Proton, Vauxhall and VW – the outcome is far from predictable.

Rockingham’s event includes the BTCC’s practice and qualifying sessions on the Saturday (22 Sept) as well as the championship’s headlining three races on the Sunday (23 Sept). Furthermore its lay-out – mixing its oval and infield tracks – enables fans to see the whole lap unfold beneath them from the vast grandstands that line the start-finish straight and banked first bend. Grandstand seats are included in the admission price.

In addition a further eight races from the high-profile Renault Clio Cup, Porsche Carrera Cup GB, Ginetta Junior and Ginetta GT Supercup categories will add to the bill of entertainment across the weekend. Hoping to dazzle in front on home ground will be Grantham’s Andy Richardson in the GT Supercup, Cambridge’s Ben Barker in the Carrera Cup and, in the Clio Cup, Kibworth’s Adam Bonham, Market Harborough’s Ronnie Klos, Wisbech’s Jake Giddings and Spalding’s Aaron Williamson.

Source: BTCC

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Series BTCC
Article type Preview
Tags bmw, btcc, ford, honda, mg, neal, northands, plato, proton, rouse, vauxhall, vw

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