Reigning Touring Car Champion Jason Plato, Gto Sportscar Champion Kelvin Burt, Formula One Test Driver Darren Turner And Mg Le Mans Racer Warren Hughes, Take Up The ASCAR Challenge. No less than four of Britain's top racing drivers have...
Reigning Touring Car Champion Jason Plato, Gto Sportscar Champion Kelvin Burt, Formula One Test Driver Darren Turner And Mg Le Mans Racer Warren Hughes, Take Up The ASCAR Challenge.
No less than four of Britain's top racing drivers have announced a switch to the ASCAR racing series to take up the challenge of racing 500 horsepower American V8s more than 170 mph on high-speed banked oval tracks in Britain and Germany. The 18-race series features races on Britain's first banked oval racing circuit in a generation at Rockingham, near Corby in Northamptonshire. The banked circuit encourages overtaking and continuous high speeds -- with lap speeds averaging more than 140mph. In addition to six meetings at Rockingham in the UK, the series goes international in 2002 with three further events at Eurospeedway, near Dresden in Germany.
Heading a star-studded line-up of drivers for the 2002 season is the reigning British Touring Car Champion and Channel 4 TV presenter Jason Plato, who will switch from his title-winning Vauxhall Astra Coupe to a 5.7-litre GM V8-powered racer prepared by Bintcliffe Sport, the Yorkshire-based team itself run by former touring car racer John Bintcliffe. Plato (34), has raced in the BTCC since 1997 with Renault and Vauxhall. He is looking forward to the new challenge.
"This series is where it's at" said Plato. "Big cars, big horsepower, big speed and big television coverage, means big entertainment. I've been a fan of this type of racing in the States and I've been itching to try these cars for a while. With drivers like Kelvin, Darren and Warren around, as well as guys like last year's champion John Mickel, we'll have some great races for sure."
Kelvin Burt (34), who last year dominated the GTO class of the Privilege GT Championship, Britain's top sports car series, is aiming for success in the ASCAR championship driving for the Torquespeed Team, as team-mate to the reigning ASCAR Champion John Mickel. A true all-rounder, the Staffordshire driver's career began in Formula Ford in 1988 and 1989, when despite winning a dozen races his title claim was twice thwarted by one man -- David Coulthard.
Burt's single-seat racing career culminated in winning the 1993 British Formula Three Championship with the Paul Stewart Racing team and becoming a test driver for the Williams and Jordan Formula One teams. He was snapped up by Andy Rouse Racing in 1995 to make his British Touring Car debut -- and taking a win in his debut year in the Ford Mondeo, before switching to the Volvo team. After racing for Toyota in Japan Burt returned to the UK in 1999 and rapidly became one of the quickest drivers in the GT Championship -- he's certainly going to be a force to be reckoned with in ASCAR.
Darren Turner (27) originally from Reading but now resident in Norfolk, is another driver attracted to ASCAR both by the close racing and the unprecedented package of television coverage that the series, still in just its second year of operation, the fastest accelerating motor sports category in Europe. For the past two years Turner has combined the position of test driver for the West McLaren-Mercedes Formula One team with racing for the AMG Mercedes Team in the prestigious German Touring Car Masters series -- matching established European stars including Berndt Schneider and former British touring car champions, Alain Menu, Jo Winkelhock and Laurent Aiello.
Warren Hughes (33) from Sunderland, is another driver whose performance in single-seater racing cars matched and frequently beat established Formula One names including David Coulthard, Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button. Hughes worked with the MG Sport and Racing team during 2001, racing at Le Mans in the Lola MG Sports Prototype and helping to develop the MG ZS touring car, with which he claimed pole position in the last race of the 2001 Championship at Silverstone. Hughes is another driver who is relishing almost double the horsepower in the V8 ASCAR!