Thruxton: Series preview

SPOTLIGHT ON HAMPSHIRE'S THRUXTON CIRCUIT AS IT STAGES TOP UK RACE SERIES' OPENING ROUND The scene is set: Hampshire will play host to one of the UK's most exciting sporting events this Easter Sunday (4 April) when the county's high-speed...

SPOTLIGHT ON HAMPSHIRE'S THRUXTON CIRCUIT AS IT STAGES TOP UK RACE SERIES' OPENING ROUND

The scene is set: Hampshire will play host to one of the UK's most exciting sporting events this Easter Sunday (4 April) when the county's high-speed Thruxton circuit stages the opening round of the 2010 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.

Tens of thousands of people reaching from the Midlands to London and right across to the South-West are expected to journey along major routes such as the A34, M3 and A303 to attend the event, just outside Andover. All will be eager for a first glimpse in 2010 of Britain's premier motor racing championship on its only visit to Thruxton as the series embarks on a six-month tour at nine top race circuits around the UK (ending at Brands Hatch, Kent in October).

Free admission for children and the chance for the public to meet the BTCC's star drivers during a specially organised morning autograph session - plus the fact Thruxton's vast spectator banks afford great views of the racing - make this an unmissable event for both dedicated and casual motor sport fans.

Headlining the bill of action are the first three races of the new BTCC season, plus seven more races from the supporting Ginetta G50, Ginetta Junior, Porsche Carrera Cup, Renault Clio Cup and Formula Renault categories that offer the very best in sportscar, saloon and single-seater racing in the country. The on-track action starts at 10.45am.

The big question is who can steal an early lead in the BTCC title race and with seven different makes of car represented on the grid - BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, SEAT, Vauxhall and VW - another season high in drama, unpredictability and controversy is surely in store.

Big names and arch rivals Jason Plato and Matt Neal lead official manufacturer entries from the Silverline Chevrolet and Honda Racing Team squads, although much of the home support at Thruxton will be for Hampshire's own BTCC star Robert Collard, driving a BMW for last year's title winning team WSR.

There is also the possibility of a Ford winning in the BTCC for the first time since 2000 in the shape of Team Aon's Ford Focus STs - driven by Tom Chilton and Tom Onslow-Cole and, uniquely, powered by LPG.

Plato, Neal, Collard, Chilton and Onslow-Cole are all proven race-winners in the BTCC as are three more drivers on the 23-strong entry list, namely Mat Jackson (Airwaves BMW), Gordon Shedden (Neal's Honda Racing Team team-mate) and Paul O'Neill (Sunshine.co.uk/Tech-Speed Honda Integra). Notably, Jackson has won at Thruxton twice in the past three seasons while Scot Shedden was also a winner there in 2006. Very impressively, meanwhile, Onslow-Cole achieved a victory double at Thruxton in 2008.

BTCC Series Director Alan Gow comments: "I'm often asked who I think will win but the answer is simple - the public. With such a great variety of cars, there's bound to be a lot of loyalty towards different teams and drivers from the crowds.

"It's absolutely wide open and I'm sure there are going to be plenty of fireworks at Thruxton. Remember it's the fastest circuit in the UK - the average speed alone is over 110mph - and after a six month winter break these drivers are now itching to go racing again. We very much look forward to welcoming the public at Thruxton this Easter Sunday. It's going to be a fantastic atmosphere and everyone watching trackside is in for a great day out."

Tickets for Thruxton's big BTCC race day this coming Sunday can still be pre-ordered at just 22.00 GBP per adult if booked online (www.barc.net) or by phone 01264 882200.

Showing extensive live TV coverage of the event will be the ITV4 channel, with a non-stop broadcast scheduled from 11.00am-6.00pm.

-source: btcc

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Series BTCC
Drivers Tom Chilton , Paul O'Neill , Jason Plato , Matt Neal , Rob Collard , Alan Gow , Tom Onslow-Cole , Gordon Shedden , Mat Jackson