NORTH-EAST TRACK NEXT STOP FOR UK'S PREMIER MOTOR RACING CHAMPIONSHIP
The countdown has begun: there are now less than two weeks to go before Britain's premier motor racing series - the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship - arrives in the North East for its only visit of the year to the Croft circuit in North Yorkshire on Sunday 14 June.
Tens of thousands of die-hard and casual motor sport fans alike from the region are expected to descend on the Darlington circuit for a trackside view of what is one of the most popular and exciting race series in the world. Indeed, easy access from the A1 motorway, free admission for children and the lure of seeing world-class names such as Plato, Neal, Thompson, Giovanardi and Turkington in high-speed action means Croft always attracts one of the biggest and most enthusiastic raceday crowds of the BTCC season.
Furthermore, ITV4's cameras will be broadcasting the Croft event live to households across the nation - adding to the sense of occasion at what will be one of the region's biggest sporting events of 2009.
The crowds will surely be out in force to cheer on their home heroes, notably former champions Jason Plato and James Thompson as well as promising youngster Harry Vaulkhard. Newcastle-raised Plato won the BTCC title in 2001 while Thompson, these days based in both York and Leeds, also lifted the crown in 2002 and 2004. Vaulkhard, from Newcastle, will be hoping to achieve his first BTCC podium finish in front of his home crowd.
Following yesterday's (31 May) latest BTCC round at the Oulton Park circuit in Cheshire, Matt Neal in his VX Racing Vauxhall Vectra leads the championship, but by just two points from Team RAC BMW driver Colin Turkington. Plato lies fourth in his Racing Silverline Chevrolet and Thompson - who took a race win yesterday - sixth in his Team Dynamics Honda Civic.
Seven different drivers have won the 12 races held so far this season - underling the BTCC's terrific competitiveness. Other drivers in other types of car, including SEAT and Ford, are also showing signs of challenging for race wins and podium results - adding to the unpredictability ahead of Croft's forthcoming three races.
Admission to see the BTCC's latest three races of 2009 at Croft on Sunday 14 June is GBP23.00 per adult and free for children aged 16 and under. Tickets can be booked online at www.croftcircuit.co.uk and include access to the BTCC race paddock and the specially-organised Pit Lane Walkabout when the public is invited into the pit lane to meet the BTCC's star drivers for autographs, photos and plenty of give-aways.
Adding to the entertainment, there will be a further seven races from the supporting Ginetta, Porsche and Renault championships.