As the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship reaches the half way point this weekend at Croft in North Yorkshire, Team RAC driver Colin Turkington firmly has the championship lead in sight; and after his fantastic double last time out at Oulton...
As the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship reaches the half way point this weekend at Croft in North Yorkshire, Team RAC driver Colin Turkington firmly has the championship lead in sight; and after his fantastic double last time out at Oulton Park he trails Matt Neal just by two points despite going into the third race at Oulton with the championship lead.
Not only does Turkington go into this weekend on fantastic form but also in a car that despite ballast should be the car to beat and says, "On the back of our performance last week we should have a really good chance at Croft. Team RAC have a really good history here and the track should suit the BMW, although it's never easy carrying 2nd place ballast."
Turkington is also hoping for much of the same in terms of weather this weekend as his rear wheel drive BMW suits the hot weather better than the Vauxhall's, a point reigning double champion Fabrizio Giovanardi admits by saying, "If it is as hot at Croft as it was at Oulton Park we will face similarly difficult conditions. I would prefer it to be cooler, although rain might favour us. That is one factor that is outside of our control, but could play a big part in our fortunes over the weekend. The rear-wheel-drive cars will undoubtedly be more suited to this track than the Vauxhall, but as a team we have the experience and determination to give them a run for their money."
This should also benefit the three other BMW drivers, the pair from Airways BMW Jonny Adam and Rob Collard, who is fresh from his outstanding drive at Oulton where he moved from 20th to 4th, and the other Team RAC driver Stephen Jelley who thinks this might finally be the place where he secures his first podium saying, "Croft provides a great chance for me to hit my first podium which is exactly what I need to put the last two meetings behind me and get the points ball rolling again."
Teammate Turkington feels his BMW will be well suited to the circuit saying, "Croft should be a very strong meeting for Team RAC, even more so than Oulton Park."
Hoping for a good weekend is Team Silverline driver Jason Plato, who originally is from Newcastle which is near the Croft circuit, who now feels his Chevrolet is the pace setter especially in qualifying but hopes there are not any BMW's near him on the grid saying, "I think we've now turned the Chevrolet into the fastest front-wheel-drive car on the track, certainly in qualifying trim, but there are those pesky rear-wheel-drive BMWs to worry about. Even if I can get pole position again, the only way I can hold onto the lead into the first corner is if I make the start of my life and then they really mess it up - if they make even just an average getaway they'll still tear past me. That's precisely what happened at Oulton with Colin. And I believe the performance gap between the two cars will be less at Croft."
Plato was full of praise for the fantastic crowd at Croft and went on to say, "The atmosphere at Croft is always really good. The locals really embrace the BTCC and it's because there's not a lot of top line motor sport in their neck of the woods. There's one big race meeting and this is it and they come out in there tens of thousands."
Championship leader Matt Neal agreed with Plato about the knowledgeable Croft fans and said, "The atmosphere there is great, the North Eastern crowds are brilliant and they really get stuck in with the cheering and the booing." As well as liking the atmosphere Neal is also a big fan of the circuit and said, "I love Croft. It has a good mixture of everything with some big commitment, high speed corners as well as long straights and slow corners in the mix."
Croft will mark the home race for Tempus Sport racing driver Harry Vaulkhard who has shown some encouraging pace lately and admits this weekend will mark an important date on the sporting calendar in the North- East, particularly after other sporting disappointments and urges the fans to turn up en masse saying, "We've not been having a good time of it lately, sports-wise, in the North East but the BTCC always brings a really big feel-good factor to the area. Croft has also had a few problems recently but the BTCC gives people a great opportunity to get behind the circuit and show their support. It's a real jewel in our crown."
If you're not one of the thousands of people who are making the journey to Croft, all races from the day will be shown on ITV4 from 12noon, and be sure to come back for a full review to see who leads the championship going into the series six weeks summer holidays!