COUNTING DOWN TO BRANDS HATCH With just over three weeks to go before their home round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) at Brands Hatch on 26/27 July, Britain's trio of leading drivers are ramping up their...
COUNTING DOWN TO BRANDS HATCH
With just over three weeks to go before their home round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) at Brands Hatch on 26/27 July, Britain's trio of leading drivers are ramping up their preparations.
With an intense programme of 12 race meetings over three continents throughout the year, three-time FIA WTCC Champion Andy Priaulx, two-time British Touring Car Champion James Thompson and proven race winner Rob Huff are more than used to their hectic schedules at, and away from, the track.
However, the pressure, and the excitement, is always turned up a notch when racing at home. All three have a point to prove: Priaulx has won at Brands for the last two years, Thompson was a close second in 2007, and Huff is re-visiting the scene of his first BTCC win back in 2004.
The preparations in terms of physical fitness are the same as for any other race. The drivers follow a strict regime throughout the year, training for a minimum of three to four hours every day. Upper body strength is particularly important, as the World Touring Cars are very physical to drive due to a lack of driver aids that guarantees close racing. A good level of cardiovascular fitness will allow the drivers to withstand the extreme conditions within the cockpit that are a strong possibility at the end of July.
As for sponsor and PR commitments, Brands Hatch is likely to be the busiest event of the year for the three British drivers. Priaulx, Thompson and Huff will all undertake promotional activities on behalf of their manufacturers (BMW, Honda and Chevrolet respectively) before and after the race, with Priaulx soaking up most of the attention as Britain's only current reigning World Champion driver.
"It's manic but I enjoy doing it," says Priaulx. "If people are interested in you, it shows that you're doing something right." One of his most spectacular PR missions will be to demonstrate a BMW-Sauber Formula 1 car around the Kent circuit in between races.
-credit: wtcc uk