WORLD FAMOUS BRANDS HATCH CIRCUIT TO DECIDE THREE-WAY BTCC TITLE THRILLER
The fight to win the UK's most coveted motor racing series - the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship - will come down to a thrilling three-way title-decider at the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit in Kent on Sunday 4 October.
The fixture is traditionally one of the biggest of the UK motor sport calendar and with free admission for children, easy access from the M25 and M20 motorways and live ITV4 coverage adding to the sense of occasion a huge trackside crowd is expected to see the crowning of the 2009 BTCC Champion.
Northern Ireland's Colin Turkington and Italy's Fabrizio Giovanardi remain the red hot favourites but Oxford's Jason Plato has significantly improved his chances with some strong results in the season's penultimate round at Rockingham in Northamptonshire yesterday (Sun 20 Sept).
Team RAC BMW driver Turkington (pictured leading above) holds a 13-point advantage at the top of the table and could well be on course for his first BTCC Drivers' crown. But with 15 points for a race win and three races on the day, VX Racing megastar Giovanardi, the champion these past two seasons, remains very much in the hunt for a third consecutive title.
Plato is 28 points behind Turkington and therefore the outsider. However, with more than half of the 22-car grid capable of challenging for podium results and mixing up the order, plus the fact his Racing Silverline Chevrolet is in stunning form, Plato knows that a second championship - to add to the one he won in 2001 - is still a realistic possibility.
Furthermore, both the BTCC's outright and Independent Teams' championships will go to the wire at Brands Hatch. VX Racing leads Team RAC by 58 points at the top of the outright table with a possible 81 on offer at the world-famous Kent circuit. In the battle for Independent honours, Team RAC is ahead of Racing Silverline by 38 points with a maximum of 45 still to be won.
Adding to the nail-biting unpredictability, the final three races of the season will be fought out around Brands Hatch's full-length Grand Prix lay-out which has not been raced on by the BTCC since 2005. For many team-driver-car combinations, it will be their first experience of the former British Formula 1 GP track.
Notably, Finals Day will mark the first time that ex-F1 star Johnny Herbert will have raced on the Brands GP lay-out since his terrifying crash there in 1988. Romford racer Herbert has recently turned his hand to the BTCC and made an immediate impact - at Rockingham he was involved in a controversial clash with title contender Giovanardi.
Brands Hatch is a home event for Wrotham-based team Airwaves BMW as well. In the season's opening round held at the circuit back in April, driver Robert Collard gave the local outfit its first race win in the BTCC and both he and team-mate Jonathan Adam will be fired up to end their season on a high with more victories.
Trackside admission to BTCC Finals Day at Brands Hatch (Sun 4 Oct) is FREE for children aged 12 and under and just GBP23.00 per adult if booked in advance on the www.brandshatch.co.uk website or by calling 0870 950 9000. That includes complimentary access to the BTCC drivers' autograph session in the Brands Hatch pit lane.
While the BTCC action headlines the bill of entertainment, Finals Day will see the supporting Ginetta Junior, Ginetta G50, Porsche Carrera Cup and Formula Renault UK title battles also come to a head. They, plus the Renault Clio Cup (which has already been decided), provide an additional seven mouth-watering races for the public to savour.