Thursday, 16 June 2011

BTCC in action at Croft

Not only is there loads of action going on at Donington Park this weekend with the Superstars in town, (see yesterday's post), the BTCC goes north to Croft for their latest round - naturally with their support series in tow. Here's reports from the teams on their preparations!


TOYOTA HOPES HIGH FOR STRONG MID-SEASON SHOWING

NGTC cars like the Toyota have proved popular
(but not with Mr Plato!)
Toyota-driving BTCC independent Frank Wrathall and his Dynojet Racing team head for North Yorkshire this weekend (18/19 June) with high hopes for some solid results in the three races at the Croft circuit which will mark the mid point of the 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season.
Following the squad’s best-yet showing with the all-new Avensis ‘Next Generation Touring Car’, at Oulton Park earlier this month, and some encouraging between-meeting trials, 24-year-old Wrathall believes Croft could provide him with his best opportunity to show the true potential of the Toyota.
“We covered around 200 miles in the car one day last week,” said Lancashire-based Frank, “and there were no significant issues at all. It was a good day – our best yet – and though we are still not 100 per cent performance-wise, it gives me hope that we are in good shape for Croft. No predictions; I am just hoping to have a good run and three solid races.
“It would be nice to end the first half of the season on a high note, ahead of the long summer break, and I have always gone well at Croft – it has a good mix of corners and I like the layout.”
Wrathall’s Dynojet Racing Avensis will be the sole Toyota in action in Yorkshire, the Speedworks Motorsport team having opted out of running Tony Hughes’s car in favour of further development work away from the TV cameras.
The Croft BTCC meeting is the circuit’s biggest event of the year. Practice sessions and qualifying are scheduled for Saturday (18 June), with qualifying streamed live on itv.com. Sunday’s trio of races will be screened live in HD quality on ITV4.
Following Croft, Wrathall and his Toyota will join some exalted company at the world-famous Goodwood Festival of Speed (30 June-3 July); they have been invited by Toyota, a long-standing event supporter, to join a number of Toyota and Lexus road and competition cars on the famous hill course. These include the Gazoo Racing Lexus LFA, which will be fresh from competition in the Nürburgring 24 Hours; a Group B Celica, which will be driven by four-time World Rally Champion Juha Kankkunen; and the Toyota GT One Le Mans sports car with which Belgian former Grand Prix ace Thierry Boutsen will be reunited.
Frank is thrilled: “It’s another great opportunity for me to showcase Dynojet Racing and the BTCC, and I can’t wait to get the Avensis on to that famous hill climb course to see how it goes.”



HONDA RACING TEAM: BTCC RACE PREVIEW REPORT
Honda Racing Team drivers Matt Neal and Gordon ‘Flash’ Shedden are feeling positive ahead of this weekend’s rounds of the 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Croft in North Yorkshire.

Former double champion, Matt Neal heads to the fifth meeting of the season on top of the drivers’ standings and Honda also leads the manufacturers’ and teams’ points tables too. Neal and team-mate Gordon Shedden are both hopeful that the demanding 2.25-mile track will help to deliver more success for the Honda Racing team.

“It has been a great track for us in the past and I think that we will be strong there again,” said Neal. “It’s a track that really rewards a car that has a strong chassis and that is something we have got with the Civic. It’s very strong in the fast sweeping corners and it’s also a good car when you have to be aggressive across the kerbing. I am going there confident of a strong weekend.”

Despite Neal’s optimism, he says that there will be one factor which could knock the team’s preparations ahead of the three races on Sunday – the good old British weather. “We saw at the last round at Oulton Park that difficult conditions can change everything,” said Neal. “I have looked at the forecast for the weekend and it looks unpredictable. I just hope we can have three dry races to get the most out of the car.”

Neal’s team-mate Shedden is just two points behind in the race for the drivers’ title and he says that Croft could be one of the turning points of the season. “I agree that our car is going to be strong around Croft and I took two wins there last season,” said Flash. “Our rivals don’t stand still though so we will have to push hard to stay on top.

“For each weekend, I need to take away 30 points to remain in the title hunt – that is the target. That means three solid top three finishes and if you can get any more than that, then it is a bonus. I think we can perform strongly because it is such a technical track and it has two distinct characters.

“It has some really fast corners around the back of the circuit which mean you need a great handling car but it also has the slow and technical stuff at the end of the lap so we need to make sure that the set-up is perfect. Getting all of those elements right is what makes it such a buzz when you hook it all up.”

The fifth meeting of the 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship takes place on Saturday and Sunday and the entire race day is broadcast live on ITV4. The first race takes place on Sunday at 12.10pm. Fans can also follow Honda Racing on Facebook and Twitter for news and race results as the action happens -
www.facebook.com/HondaRacingBTCC and www.twitter.com/hondaracingbtcc