Monday 26 September 2011

Ginetta Dominates Silverstone 24 hours

Ginetta boasts one of the largest numbers of same-marque entries, ahead of Porsche and second only to BMW, as the Brits prepare to take on the Germans at Silverstone - the home of British motor sport. The small volume manufacturer -famed for building successful endurance racers- will be out in force offering factory support for teams taking part in the Silverstone Britcar 24hr -Oct 1st-2nd as they combine to take on the formidable moneymen of BMW and Porsche with 2 x G40 - class 4, 5 xG50/GT4- class 3 and 1 x G55 - Class 2.

Ginetta Boss Lawrence Tomlinson will also be making a return to 24hr racing in a prototype laden G55 with Rollcentre Racing, alongside drivers Martin Short - famed LMP1 driver and Rollcentre Racing Team Principal, BTCC ace Colin Turkington, 2008 British GT4 champion Matt Nicoll-Jones and former British Karting Champion/Ginetta factory driver Mike Simpson. The Britcar 24hrs G55 mule is part of a continual testing programme for Ginetta’s newest machine, the G55 GT3, which will be released later this year.

The new G55 GT3 £147,000, 3.7lt machine – which will be on display in the Britcar 24hrs Silverstone paddock for the first time - boasts 58 carbon fibre panels, a wider track making maximum use of the GT3 permitted dimensions, a new aero packcreating impressive down force (designed with the aid of an F1 design team) and 10”/12” rims for increased traction and handling, along with a striking 1.8m curved swan neck rear wing assembly. 

Tomlinson said: “I’m excited to be back at Britcar this year following the amazing success of our G40 last year. We listen to what our customers want and Ginetta is all about producing competitive, cost effective machines. The G55 GT3 is no exception. Our G55 Britcar 24hr entry features elements of the GT3 machine as part of factory testing ahead of its release later in the year. I am yet to drive this car but having seen the work that’s gone into the development and the standard ofengineering it excites me. With the new design and continued engine development programme we expect the G55 GT3 car to be every bit as competitive as the GT3 Ferrari’s, Audi’s and Porsche’s. Our G50 GT4 model has become a proven race winner beating the competition at every stage since its launch back on 2008; we hope our G55 GT3 car will mirror that success in GT3”

Rollcentre Racing have 2 Ginettas entered for the Britcar 24hr at Silverstone, the G55 #30 and  ‘2010 Britcar hero’ the G40 #94. Tomlinson went on the say: “There is no bigger test for a race car than a 24hr endurance race, Martin Short and the Rollcentre Racing team are experienced endurance racers and I’m confident both cars will perform well. We have an excellent team of drivers and in between my own driving stints I will obviously be keeping a close eye on the other teams running Ginettas and wish them all the very best of luck.”

Sunday 25 September 2011

Toyota MR2 takes on Silverstone 24 hours

Rogue Racing is a familiar sight at the 24 hours

 A four-man team of Toyota enthusiasts is planning to mount a giant-killing assault on the UK’s toughest race, the Britcar 24 Hours, using a supercharged Toyota MR2 Roadster. Not only are they hoping for top honours in their class, but also have their sights set on a top-20 overall finish in the 1/2 October Silverstone enduro.

It’s the third time that Team Rogue Racing has entered an MR2 in the Britcar 24 Hours; last year the squad’s tenacity was underlined by an against-the-odds race finish. Now Patrick Mortell, Simon Aris, Alric Kitson and Lee McKee are hoping that substantial performance modifications and support from Toyota GB will help bring success.

The view the team hope that most of it's competitors will be seeing!
“The MR2 is fitted with a 3.5-litre V6 engine, a unit which is more used to delivering sufficient power to pull along a Lexus, so it’s quite a proposition in an MR2 weighing around 1100 kg – particularly when we add a supercharger to boost power output to 350-400 bhp,” said team leader Mortell.

In Class 3 of the race, the Toyota is up against some race-proven performance models, including GT4 cars from Aston Martin, Ginetta and Lotus, as well as several BMW M3s and a GT3 Porsche.

Nonetheless, Mortell is “quietly confident” that a good finish is on the cards: “I would like to think that so long as we don’t have any unforeseen problems the overall top 20 is a realistic opportunity, and with it a good finish in class.”

The MR2 bosts a 3.5l Lexus sourced V6. With a supercharger.
The four drivers all started their competitive careers in the MR2 Championship; two of them are flying from their homes at opposite ends of the globe to compete – Aris from Texas and McKee from Kuala Lumpur.
In addition to support from Toyota, as part of their campaign to support British Motorsport, Team Rogue Racing has several other blue-chip backers, including Microsoft, which is using the event to publicise its forthcoming Forza Motorsport 4 Xbox game, and Alpinestars.

The car looks perfectly at home at the race track!
“Our Alpinestars race suits will carry Forza branding,” adds Mortell, “and Microsoft will be demonstrating the new game to spectators in the paddock.” Emagine Productions will be filming a documentary about the team’s campaign.

Following daylight and night qualifying sessions, the 24-hour race will get underway at Silverstone at 4pm on Saturday 1 October. A field of around 70 cars is anticipated.

Saturday 24 September 2011

National Motorsport Week to include two major events

Goodwood Festival of Speed will kick start National Motorsport Week 2012

 Next year’s official National Motorsport Week (30 June-8 July) will feature the two most popular events on the UK motor sport calendar: the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Santander British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
The British Grand Prix date – 6-8 July 2012 – was confirmed last month by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), the governing body for world motor sport, while The Earl of March, patron of the Goodwood Festival of Speed, has just announced that the world’s largest celebration of motoring culture is provisionally scheduled to take place in the beautiful surroundings of Goodwood Park over the weekend of 29 June-1 July.
National Motorsport Week is jointly organised by the Motor Sports Association (MSA) and the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA) to celebrate the on-going success of British competitors, teams and companies as well drawing attention to less well-publicised parts of the sport in order to generate increased participation.
“We couldn’t have hoped for a better platform from which to promote UK motor sport,” says Colin Hilton, MSA Chief Executive. “Between them the Festival of Speed and British Grand Prix attract more than 300,000 fans and millions more followers via television and other media.”
“While these two high profile events will help us to put the spotlight on the UK’s world-leading achievements, it’s essential that we maximise the opportunity to engage with more people and encourage them to get involved. Whether it’s as a competitor at grass roots level, an active member of a local motor club, or a trackside volunteer – motor sport has so much to offer. There are lots of opportunities in so many different disciplines for those inspired and excited by these major events – and that’s what National Motorsport Week is all about.”
National Motorsport Week 2012 will build on the many accomplishments of this year’s initiative. The scheme generated a massive increase in activities and events ranging from open days at some of the county’s top teams to a plethora of novice taster days organised by motor clubs throughout the country.

The British Grand Prix at Silverstone will bring the week to a close
National Motorsport Week is building the momentum deserved by both our world class UK motor sport industry and sport,” says Chris Aylett, MIA Chief Executive. “Right now, the UK needs good news from business and our industry beats the world in high performance engineering. We export more than 65 per cent of all we make, underlining our vital importance to this country’s revival and international standing. We sell nearly £10 billion of services and engineering each year, which underpins no fewer than 40,000 jobs. What’s more the high-performance engineering and motor sport sector inspires the next generation of world-class engineers, which is good news for the future of British industry. And, of course, UK motor sport success continues to promote the UK’s image for the best quality right around the globe.”

Friday 23 September 2011

Croft set for thrilling finale

Another wonderfully diverse grid of sports and saloon cars piles into the first corner at Croft

Croft Circuit this coming weekend (24-25 September) sets the scene for the title-deciding rounds of the Darlington & District Motor Club’s hotly-contested Northern Sports & Saloon Car Championship.

In excess of 70 competitors could be turning out for their season finale at the North East’s premier motor sport venue, just south of Darlington off the A167 and very much a ‘spiritual home’ for the NSSCC which has thrived in 2011 – indeed nine different classes have attracted booming grids, a wide variety of car and highly entertaining racing making it one of the best local club championships in the UK.

The NSSCC’s title showdown headlines a packed programme of 19 races in total during the weekend which is being run at Croft by the famed British Automobile Racing Club. Six other hotly-contested series are also in action including: Dunlop Production Touring Cars, Scottish Legends, Intersteps single-seaters, Mini Miglias, Mini Se7ens and Austin Healeys.

Meanwhile Terry Wright, Darlington & District MC Chairman, commented on the success of its NSSCC: “Croft is a fitting venue to end our season which has been one of our most successful to date. We’ve worked hard to build numbers and there is now a great buzz and camaraderie among the members. It’s very sociable and that leads to a lot of respect and good, clean racing out on the race track.

“Nor is the paddock male-dominated – it is full of families who all help out one another if there’s a problem. We’ve made every weekend a ‘double-header’ to keep the number of events down and keep costs sensible by motor sport standards – our calendar still includes seven fixtures at four very challenging circuits. The bottom line is value for money and making it fun for our competitors, the circuit officials and marshals and the public who come to watch us.”

Mike Cutt is heading to croft likely to leave a champion
On the track this weekend, York’s Mike Cutt is almost certain to become the NSSCC’s new 2011 Champion thanks to his domination of Class B this season which has seen him achieve wins every time out in his BMW. Martin Lightfoot (Stockton-on-Tees), the runaway leader in Class E3 in his Striker kit car, and Cutt’s closest Class B rival Ken Hall (Middlesborough), in his MG Metro 6R4, can still pip him but require minor miracles.

Several of the nine class titles up for grabs also remain wide open. Notably, outgoing 2010 Champion Paul Moss (Darlington) can’t rest easy just yet in Class D. While he’s been on winning form of late in his Citroen Saxo, Peter Dixon and Simon Gibson – both in Hondas and both from Bishop Auckland – are within striking distance.

In addition, David Cox (Darlington) and Richard Ralston (Harrogate) will go into the event just six points apart at the top of Class C in their Peugeot 205GTi and Renault Clio respectively with more than 40 points still on offer.

The weekend’s timetable begins on the Saturday morning (24 Sept) with qualifying for all categories followed by eight races in the afternoon, starting at 1.00pm. A further nine races will follow on Sunday starting at midday.

Tickets (payable on the gate) cost just £12 each day. As ever at Croft, admission for children aged 15 and under is FREE all weekend. For more details visit the website or call the circuit on 01325 721815.

Thursday 22 September 2011

Hankey takes double in Porsches

Round 14
Euan Hankey (Taunton) set the seal on his victory with a peach of a start to lead the impressive field of 450 hp 911 GT3 Cup race cars through the banked Turn One and into the tight Deane Hairpin. In his wake were the three key title contenders; Michael Meadows (Banbury) slotted into second and Stephen Jelley (Leicester) briefly dived ahead of James Sutton (London) to take third. But in the scrum at Deane on the opening lap, Sutton drove boldly around the outside of the bunched cars to regain third place.

Hankey immediately stamped his authority on the race and went away on the opening lap. “I’ve got to make a habit of these starts,” he said afterwards, and he was able to control the race from the front. “I managed to get a lead on the first lap and concentrated on consolidating that.”

While Hankey edged his lead out to around three seconds, Meadows was secure in second but life was anything but settled for Sutton in third place. Having squeezed ahead of Jelley on the opening lap, Richard Plant (Sheffield) set about challenging Sutton for the final podium position and chased the SAS-liveried car for lap after lap. “Richard kept me honest all through the race,” said Sutton, who was only able to put space between himself and Plant late in the race.

Our pace was good all the way through,” said Hankey after a clear run to victory. “Massive thanks must go to Team Parker Racing.” For Meadows, second place and fastest lap maintained his Championship lead. “I just need to keep doing this,” said Meadows. Sutton completed the overall podium from the impressive Plant.

I couldn’t get past Sutton, but I can’t knock that result,” the Yorkshire driver said. Jelley ran fifth, but gradually dropped away from the battle between Sutton and Plant, while Kieran Vernon (Sussex) continued his strong qualifying form to take sixth place.

Gelzinis always led Pro-Am1, but in overall terms he challenged Vernon and, at the same time, battled to fend off Ben Hetherington (Hulme Walfield). On the final lap, Hetherington, the 2011 Porsche Carrera Cup Scholar, attacked at Tarzan and, after contact, Gelzinis ran wide and lost the place. Hetherington was later given a time penalty to reverse the positions. “It was more or less okay, but on the last lap he touched me,” confirmed Gelzinis.

There was drama in the battle for the other Pro-Am1 podium places as Derek Pierce (West Kilbride) came back from a first lap knock to fend off Ahmad Al Harthy (Oman) and Alex Martin (Somerset). Eventually, contact from behind put Al Harthy out with a rear puncture and then, on the last lap, contact between Martin and Pierce sent them both spinning. All of that opened the door for George Richardson (Nether Alderley) to nip through to second as Pierce recovered to salvage third. “I had a slow front puncture and I was just nursing it home,” admitted Richardson. The unfortunate Rory Butcher (Kirkcaldy) ran a secure second for much of the race before being forced into the pits with a rear puncture.

Ozbek drove a faultless race to win Pro-Am1 for the first time. “It was a good clean race,” he said. “I did not know where to be on the first lap, but I survived!” With George Brewster (Edinburgh) delayed after being tipped off on the first lap, Steve Parish (London) fended off the closing Keith Webster (Liphook) to complete the Pro-Am2 podium.

Round 15
Hankey completed a perfect weekend with his second race victory in the space of a little over three hours. In a race full of superb racing and fierce contests, Gelzinis completed a Pro-Am1 double and Ozbek took his second Pro-Am2 win of the day; his fighting performance earned the Turkish racer the ‘Driver of the Weekend’ award. Parker with Juta took the ‘Team of the Weekend’ award.

Once again, Hankey shot off the grid to lead the opening lap, but Sutton’s commitment through the first couple of corners saw him jump into second place from Jelley and Meadows. As Hankey and Sutton pulled clear, they ran neck and neck for much of the race and later in the race Sutton almost dived ahead.

But Hankey drove another superb race and won by just three-tenths of a second after a nail-biting finish. “What a day,” said an elated Hankey. “Massive hats off to James; that’s probably one of the hardest races I’ve ever had.” Sutton had pressured Hankey right through the race. “All the work was done at the start,” he said. “Euan drove a very smart race, and it was always going to be difficult but I thought I might get him in the traffic.”

As many as five cars ran in close formation for third place as Jelley bagged the final podium position from Meadows, Gelzinis, Plant and Hetherington. “That was better than the first race,” said title contender Jelley. “I’ve got to push hard at Brands Hatch,” he added, referring to the penultimate weekend of the season. Meanwhile, Gelzinis completed a double win in Pro-Am1. “I’m happy to be in the top five overall,” said Gelzinis, who was always in touch with Meadows.

For once, Pierce had a clear run to take second in Pro-Am1 from eighth overall as Al Harthy completed the Pro-Am1 podium. “A lonely race is a good race,” said Pierce, who has had his share of dramas in recent races. Motorbase Performance racers Richardson and Daniele Perfetti (London) took fourth and fifth as Perfetti had one of his best weekends to date in the Carrera Cup GB.

The absorbing contest in Pro-Am2 was a highlight of the race and finally resulted in a second victory for Ozbek after he fought back from an early spin. “I was watching someone else spinning,” he said of his indiscretion. With Brewster forced to pit twice with punctures and Webster having to stop to have an advertising hoarding removed from the front of the car, it was guest racer Chris Dyer (Keighley) who grabbed the Pro-Am2 lead after keeping out of trouble in the early laps. But Parish and the recovering Ozbek fought up ahead of Dyer and then Ozbek moved ahead of Parish after a tremendous battle. When Dyer spun, Webster was able to take the final podium position. “It was a great battle with Steve; a very fair battle,” said Ozbek after a mighty drive. “Brilliant fun,” added Parish. “That’s what we do it for.”

The next round of the Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship takes place at Brands Hatch in Kent on October 1-2.

Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship

Provisional 2011 Drivers’ Championship points positions

After round 15, Rockingham 18 September

1 Michael Meadows 250
2 James Sutton 240
3 Stephen Jelley 236
4 Euan Hankey 215
5 Richard Plant 152
6 Jonas Gelzinis 133
7 Sam Tordoff 109
8 Ben Hetherington 107
9 Michael Caine 84
10 Rory Butcher 79
11 Tim Harvey 66
= Derek Pierce 66
13 Ahmad Al Harthy 65
14 Kieran Vernon 47
15 Ben Barker 45
16 George Richardson 41
17 Alex Martin 21
18 Daniele Perfetti 18
19 Richard Denny 8
= Yucel Ozbek 8
21 Andrew Shelley 6
= George Brewster 6
= Michael Leonard 6
= Steve Parish 6
25 Keith Webster 3
26 Freddy Nordstrom 1
27 Tommy Dreelan 0
= Tautvydas Barstys 0
= John Taylor 0
= Rytis Garbaravicius 0

Pro-Am1 category

1 Jonas Gelzinis 154
2 Rory Butcher 83
3 Ahmad Al Harthy 67
= Derek Pierce 67
5 George Richardson 41
6 Alex Martin 21
7 Daniele Perfetti 18
8 Michael Leonard 6
9 Freddy Nordstrom 1

Pro-Am2 category – showing best seven weekend scores

1 George Brewster 113
2 Keith Webster 102
3 Richard Denny 88
4 Tommy Dreelan 83
5 Andrew Shelley 74
= Steve Parish 74
7 John Taylor 59
8 Yucel Ozbek 49
9 Tautvydas Barstys 26
10 Rytis Garbaravicius 11

Provisional 2011 Teams’ Championship points positions

After round 15, Rockingham 18 September

Pos Team Total pts Scoring drivers

1 SAS/Redline 490 Meadows and Sutton
2 Parker with Juta 451 Hankey and Jelley
3 Team Parker Racing 261 Plant and Tordoff
4 Nationwide/Motorbase 203 Caine/Parish and Harvey/Vernon
5 Redline/Oman Air 172 Al Harthy and Hetherington
6 Juta Racing 133 Gelzinis and Barstys/Garbaravicius
7 Dextra/J&D Pierce by Parker 87 Martin and Pierce
8 Celtic Speed 85 Brewster and Butcher
9 Parr Motorsport 59 Denny and Leonard/Barker
= Motorbase Performance 59 Perfetti and Richardson
11 Redline Racing 17 Shelley/Ozbek and Webster
12 GT Marques 1 Nordstrom

Round 2, Brands Hatch (3 April) Keith Webster penalised two points
Round 2, Brands Hatch (3 April) Rory Butcher penalised three points
Round 10, Snetterton (7 August) Alex Martin penalised two points
Round 12, Knockhill (4 September) Rory Butcher penalised six points
Round 12, Knockhill (4 September) Jonas Gelzinis penalised three points
Round 14, Rockingham (18 September) Alex Martin penalised four points
Round 15, Rockingham (18 September) George Brewster penalised two points

Tuesday 20 September 2011

BTCC Rocks Rockingham

Jason Plato, Gordon Shedden and, for the first time in his career, James Nash shared the victories in yesterday’s (Sun 18 Sept) three Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races at Rockingham. Leaving the Northamptonshire venue, Scotsman Shedden and his Honda team-mate, Worcestershire’s Matt Neal, are dramatically tied for the championship lead as the BTCC now heads to the world-famous Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit in Kent for the penultimate three races of its nail-biting 2011 season on 1-2 October.

Frank Wrathal (right)  joins Neal (Left) and Shedden (Guess) on the podium
Starting from pole position in his Silverline Chevrolet Cruze, reigning Champion Plato from Oxford led the opening race all the way to record his sixth win of the season. Widnes’s Paul O’Neill, also driving a Cruze for the with tech-speed team, finished second ahead of Preston racer Frank Wrathall, third in his Dynojet Toyota Avensis. Neal was fourth and Shedden sixth. As a result, Neal edged past Shedden to lead the championship by two points.

Shedden then immediately struck back with his fifth win of the season in his Honda Racing Team Civic in race two ahead of Wrathall and Neal. This meant Shedden now held a five-point championship lead from Neal. Notably, Wrathall’s second place was the best result to date for a car built to the BTCC’s latest Next Generation Touring Car regulations.

Race three saw Nash, from nearby Newport Pagnell, achieve the first win of his BTCC career as his 888 Racing with Collins Contractors Vauxhall Vectra held off Pershore rival Rob Austin’s NGTC-spec Rob Austin Racing Audi A4. Hampshire’s Robert Collard took third in his WSR BMW. Nash’s win, incidentally, meant he became the eighth different winner so far this season and ensured the famed 888 team’s record of at least one victory every season since 1998 remains in tact. Behind, Neal took sixth to draw level on points with Shedden who finished well down after his Civic was damaged in a collision with a rival car.

As a result, Honda duo Neal and Shedden are now joint first at the top of the table from Plato in third, the Chevrolet driver having achieved the day’s highest cumulative score thanks to his race one win and then fourth and fifth place finishes.
Another bad day at the office for Mat Jackson
Shedden, from Dalgety Bay, Fife commented: “I keep saying it but today again has shown just how quickly it can all turn around. I hadn’t expected to win here but the car was dynamite in race two and I took my chance. Going into one corner in race three I was ahead of Matt and on for more decent points and 20 yards later I’ve been knocked aside and everyone has come sailing past. I can’t see the championship being decided until the very last lap of the season at Silverstone.”

Droitwich Spa racer Neal, Champion in 2005 and 2006, added: “Gordon is absolutely right. Yet again we’ve seen more teams, cars and drivers becoming increasingly competitive in shaking up the order. Nor can we discount Jason – he’s taken a fair chunk out of us today. He’s still a little way back but we’ve seen him make up more than that sort of ground in the final two rounds before.”

Plato added: “We’ve probably got more out of the day than we anticipated which is extremely pleasing. But although I think we can be strong again at Brands Hatch I still don’t see how we’ll be able to match the turbocharged cars at Silverstone. We’ll of course give it everything but it’s really for the Honda drivers to lose now.”

Meanwhile Nash has also moved past Mat Jackson into the lead of Independents Trophy. For the second event in a row, Jackson, who had led the outright standings just two rounds ago, again failed to score in any of yesterday’s races. Similarly, Nash’s 888/Collins outfit has moved past Jackson’s Airwaves Racing squad to head the Independent Teams Trophy. Honda/Dynamics and the Honda Racing Team remain comfortable leaders of the Manufacturer/Constructor and HiQ Teams championships respectively.

James Nash leads Rob Austin through the chicane
Elsewhere, a number of drivers were punished by officials at Rockingham for a variety of incidents, namely: Jason Plato and Matt Neal, both fined £1000, given three penalty points on their competition licences and handed a six-place grid penalty, suspended for the balance of the 2011 season for on and off-track incidents during qualifying; Andy Neate, fined £1500 and given three penalty points for an on-track incident in race one and subsequent abusive language; Alex MacDowall, Paul O’Neill and Nick Foster, all given two penalty points and official reprimands for on-track incidents in races one, two and three respectively. In addition, Tom Boardman was also fined £1000, given three penalty points and a six-place grid penalty for today’s first race for an on-track incident in the previous round at Knockhill.

For full Rockingham race reports and results visit the BTCC’s official website

2011 Dunlop BTCC Drivers’ Points after Rockingham (round 8 of 10):
1. Matt Neal & Gordon Shedden, 204pts
3. Jason Plato, 180
4. Mat Jackson, 159
5. James Nash, 158
6. Andrew Jordan, 124
7. Robert Collard, 102
8. Tom Chilton, 98
9. Paul O’Neill, 78
10. Alex MacDowall, 74

Manufacturers/Constructors’ Points:
1. Honda/Dynamics, 504
2. Chevrolet/RML, 423
3. Arena/Ford, 327

HiQ Teams’ Points:
1. Honda Racing Team, 372
2. Silverline Chevrolet, 238
3. 888 Racing with Collins Contractors, 159
4. Airwaves Racing, 153
5. WSR, 145
6. Pirtek Racing, 142
Independent Drivers’ Points:
1. James Nash, 220
2. Mat Jackson, 196
3. Andrew Jordan, 175
4. Tom Chilton, 148
5. Robert Collard, 146
6. Paul O’Neill, 126

Independent Teams’ Points:
1. 888 Racing with Collins Contractors, 233
2. Airwaves Racing, 213
3. Pirtek Racing, 198
4. WSR, 195
5. Team Aon, 174
6. with tech-speed, 150
*All points remain provisional

Sunday 18 September 2011

Rockingham from the Chevrolet perspective

The following press release comes to us from Chevrolet. It's important to note that...

Plato leads Austin, O'Neil and Neal at Rockingham
He got too close to Neal in Qualifying!

A superb qualifying session and a textbook victory in the first of the Rockingham races in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship have helped keep reigning champion Jason Plato’s championship title hopes alive as the season heads towards its climax.

Despite some controversy during Saturday’s qualifying session (Read on, dear Overdrive visitor), the Oxfordshire-based ace put the RML-prepared Silverline Chevrolet Cruze on pole position to lead Race One from start to finish at the Northamptonshire circuit. And it was a Chevrolet Cruze 1-2, with independent driver Paul O’Neill bringing his privately entered Cruze home in second, his best result of the season.

The first race wasn’t so lucky for Plato’s team mate, 20-year old Alex MacDowall. The Cumbrian driver was heading for a solid points finish, but tangled with Andy Neate’s Ford Focus on lap 8, somehow managing to recover his Cruze from what could have been a massive high-speed accident to avoid further collision.

Race Two was always going to be a challenge, with Rockingham’s fast home straight and NASCAR-style oval turns limiting the first race winner’s acceleration, thanks to 45kg of success ballast. Plato was immediately put under pressure by the two turbocharged Hondas, which were carrying no success ballast, but remained in contention throughout to finish a solid fourth.
Plato celebrates victory in race 1
But it was further frustration for his young team-mate. Having started from 15th on the grid, MacDowall had climbed to 10th overall before he was pushed into a spin by Rob Austin’s Audi on the unlucky 13th of the race’s 16 laps.
Race Three saw another stunning drive from Plato, passing four cars, including both Hondas, in one manoeuvre and then edging ahead of Jeff Smith on Lap 7 to finish 5th overall, from a mid-table start. Critically, Plato finished ahead of both Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden, who scored no points in the day’s final race, to edge closer to contention in the title. MacDowall’s race was, thankfully, uneventful and he finished 11th overall.
Plato now trails championship leader Gordon Shedden by 24 points, with a maximum of 104 points available from the last two meetings of the season, at Brands Hatch, Kent, on October 2 and Silverstone, Northants, on October 16.
To find out more about the Silverline Chevrolet BTCC team, visit, or follow the team on Facebook at

Championship Standings
Gordon Shedden, Honda Racing 204
Matt Neal, Honda Racing 204
Jason Plato, Silverline Chevrolet 180
Matt Jackson, Airwaves Ford 159


Brilliant. Well Done Mr. Plato! But what about that controversy then? ITV sport captured the moment and the consequences afterwards):

Now we all know that drivers can come under the influence of the red mist, and tempers do occasionally flare up, but these two are professionals - Plato is even a director of the BRDC - Whatever happened on the track was no call for either of them to kick off in the manner that they did... these are supposed to be role models for the new crop of young drivers coming up through the ranks. I think that both of them deserve their penalties ... do you agree? Have your say over on our Facebook page :

Friday 16 September 2011

Frank Wrathall Looks forward to Rockingham

You'll certainly see Wrathall's bright orange Toyota coming... Straight past you.

After blazing a trail to the BTCC podium at Knockhill earlier this month, independent Toyota driver Frank Wrathall and his Dynojet Racing team will this weekend (17/18 September) be seeking further glory at the Rockingham circuit in Northamptonshire, venue for the latest thrill-packed rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
The super-fast semi-oval track, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary, should suit the powerful Avensis even better than tight and twisty Knockhill, where the Toyota became the first of the ‘Next Generation Touring Cars’ to claim a top-three finish.
“We were good at Snetterton and good at Knockhill, and if we can go well at those two tracks then we should be strong for the remaining circuits this year,” says Frank, 24. “It will be nice to get to Rockingham, which is fast, flowing and smooth, as are Brands Hatch and Silverstone; all three should suit the Toyota. Bring it on.”
Rockingham is one of Frank’s most successful circuits: he was the outright victor in two of last year’s three Rockingham Ginetta G50 Cup races, which results helped him well on his way to the 2010 Ginetta G50 championship title. “I think I have won more races at Rockingham than any other circuit – it has certainly become one of my favourite tracks…”
Wrathall and the Toyota qualified third at Knockhill and claimed third place in two of the three races, as well as another Independent class win to add to that secured at Snetterton in August, and a fastest lap. While enjoying the limelight, Wrathall has not lost sight of the battles so recently fought: “We have had a lot of DNFs this year, a lot of problems and have been through some tough times. It’s been an incredible roller-coaster of a year. The low points have been terrible, I’ll make no secret, but every time we have had a set-back the whole team has dug deep and we have bounced back. Getting to the podium makes it all worthwhile.”
Wrathall’s recent results have promoted the Lancashire man to 12th place overall in the BTCC driver standings, and to 10th in the Independent rankings. They have also brought him a steady flow of champagne: it has just been announced that Frank is the first driver to win two successive BTCC ‘HiQ Champagne Moment’ awards after fans logging on to voted the Dynojet ace their top performer at Knockhill. He attracted 58 per cent of the vote.
Rockingham BTCC timetable
Saturday 17 September: free practice 0925 &1220. Qualifying 1455, live on
Sunday 18 September: races at 1130, 1400 & 1650, live on ITV4 & ITV4HD.
For Rockingham tickets click the link

Thursday 15 September 2011

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Mark Gibbons and his Prize

ONE lucky Rockingham spectator has just won the prize-of-a-lifetime – a place on the starting grid of the Air Asia Renault Clio Cup at the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (17th – 18th Septmber).

Mark Gibbons from Northwood in Middlesex, beat nine other fans following a day of intense assessment with The Racing School (TRS) at Rockingham, and will now go head-to-head with Lewis Hamilton’s brother, Nicolas, at the Northamptonshire circuit.

The 38-year-old was selected from ten finalists who were chosen at random from customers who had purchased an advance ticket to Rockingham’s round of the British Touring Car Championship next weekend (September 17/18).

Contestants were assessed on their potential to be a racing car driver through a series of challenges including taming a V8 Touring Car , racing a MINI Cooper S, putting their handling skills to the test in a Alfa Romeo Giulietta on the Wet Grip facility, while V1 Championship provided training on the Rockingham simulators.

It was by no means an easy ride, as TRS Chief Instructor Chris Hodgetts made clear to participants at the start of the day. The former two-time BTCC winner, said: “One of you will be granted a licence to participate in one of the biggest race series in the UK.

“You will be watched by thousands of people at the circuit, and by millions of viewers who tune into the live coverage on ITV4. This is a big deal – whoever wins must be capable of holding their own out there, and it is our job to ensure that one of you is up to the challenge.”

Following the one-to-one driving tuition and intense training, Chris and his team shortlisted the three best candidates; Mark, 24-year-old forklift truck driver, Andrew Mendy from Cambridgeshire, and 39-year-old Roy Beal, an Alfa Romeo technician from Devon.

All three wannabe racing drivers were then assessed on their ability to drive one of the Renault Clio Cup cars around the International Super Sportscar Circuit – the actual race track which will be used over the BTCC weekend.

“If you make one mistake, you’re out,” Chris warned the finalists before they took to the track. “You can’t afford to make any mistakes on the day as you will be competing against professional drivers who have been racing for years.”

An agonising wait followed, while Chris and his team compared final scores. When Mark was announced as the winner, his face broke into a huge grin.

“This is absolutely brilliant,” he said. “Thank you so much to Rockingham and The Racing School for this opportunity. I have been trying for years to get into motor sport – it’s been a dream since I was six years old.”

Mark, who works as a computer programmer for a bank, is not a complete stranger to being on the race track, and already holds his ARDS licence.

He added: “I’ve been karting since I was 17, and I raced in the MG Trophy in 2005. However, due to money restraints, I’ve never been able to fully pursue my dream of being a professional racing car driver. These days I’ve just been making-do with practicing on the PlayStation!”

The next week will be crucial for Mark. He will now receive further time on track before the big race weekend. “I will perform to the best of my ability. This really is the opportunity of a lifetime!” he said.

Chief Executive of Rockingham, Charlotte Orton, said: “Congratulations to Mark – he showed he has true potential to further a career in motorsport and we are really excited to watch him show us what he’s capable of at the BTCC next weekend.

“We wanted to celebrate Rockingham’s 10th anniversary in style and by holding this competition we’ve given one of our customers the experience of a lifetime. I wish Mark all the best of luck on the day!”

The final ten competitors included Elizabeth Kingsholt from Guildford in Surrey – the only woman to take part in the training – and two local men, Piers Cadogan from Corby and Russell Jarvis from Rushden.

Despite being disappointed at not winning the DreamDrive competition, the other finalists have pledged to support Mark, and they will be cheering him on from one of the glass-fronted hospitality suites after receiving a free VIP upgrade. They will also have the chance to meet the Renault team.

If you would like to come and support Mark on his Rockingham debut, tickets are still on sale.
Fans can save up to 20 per cent on adult admission prices by booking before 17:30 next Wednesday (September 14). Advance race day tickets cost just £26 and can be booked on-line at or via the ticket hotline on 01536 500500 and select Option 1.

Rockingham prides itself on providing access to all motorsport fans, children aged 15 and under get in free while those who are registered disabled can apply for a complimentary admission ticket for their carer. Written proof is required.  

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Twingo Trophy Prizes unveiled.

Renault's Twingo Trophy has announced some attractive prizes
The prize structure for both the Twingo Renaultsport R1 Trophy UK and Twingo Renaultsport R2 Trophy UK have been confirmed at the MSA British Rally Championship’s Open Day, the series that both will follow in 2012.
The Twingo Renaultsport R1 Trophy UK* champion will win a fantastic Renaultsport drive on the 2013 Rallye de Monte Carlo in a Twingo Renaultsport R2. This will provide a real opportunity to experience a classic event and introducing the winner to the next level in the Renaultsport rally range. 
Providing further progression, the Twingo Renaultsport R2 Trophy UK champion will win a Renaultsport drive on Rallye de Monte Carlo in a Clio Renaultsport R3 Maxi Evo or Mégane Renaultsport N4, again making the step up to a more powerful Renault.
These prize drives are supplemented by an attractive on-event prize fund, which will take the form of parts/services vouchers to redeem with the Twingo Renaultsport Trophy UK technical and parts supplier.
Per event prize fund for both Twingo Renaultsport R1 and R2 Trophies*:1st - £750
2nd - £500
3rd - £250
On event support and a Renaultsport “village” will be present at each round and will not only be for competitors in the one-make series, but crews using the Clio Renaultsport R3 or indeed any Renault rally car in the BRC or BRC Challenge will also benefit from the same service.

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Formula Ford Evolves

Still lacking wings, the FFord is a very distinctive car
Ford unveiled a bold new 2012-specification Formula Ford car to visitors at the Frankfurt Motor Show Yesterday. It's the formula that has been an essential step in the professional racing driver’s career for more than 40 years and this all-new car for next season's MSA Formula Ford Championship will have talented young drivers around the world eager to get behind the wheel to prove their mettle.

The new-generation Formula Ford cars will use a production-based 1.6-litre Ford EcoBoost direct injection, turbocharged engine, limited to producing around 165PS and 220Nm, and mated to a 6-speed sequential transmission with mechanical shift mechanism. The 2012 specification car represents another advance in technology and performance for the formula.

Includes extra vent for cooling the driver's feet
Freedom of chassis design, engine build and numerous technical items of specification have always been standout features of Formula Ford and this continues with the 2012 specification car. With only Formula 1 and Formula 3 offering this same level of freedom, it helps drive technical standards to exceptionally high levels from car manufacturers, teams and drivers alike. The different implications of car set-up and each individual chassis variation, create a steep learning curve for drivers in particular, helping to accelerate the development of their abilities to take the next step in motorsport.

Ford’s global kinetic design philosophy is also echoed in the new-generation car, giving fans of the championship a style they can easily recognise. Car manufacturers will still be able to add that crucial individual touch to their cars though, with only the requirement to keep specific parts developed for aerodynamic equivalence mandated in the regulations.

We think that this is the first Formula Ford car to boast a
Turbocharger. Are we right?
Creating a safe environment is a key concern for Formula Ford, and the new car boasts increased levels of safety including a tubular chassis - the first in a single seat racer to comply with the latest, stringent FIA safety standards - front and rear carbon crash structures, side intrusion panels, FIA specification head restraint system, wheel tethers and an FIA removable seat.

FIA compliance will allow the 2012 specification car to be applicable for Formula Ford championships around the globe, especially in emerging markets where alignment to FIA regulations is commonplace.

The 2012 specification car’s FIA approved safety attributes, powerful Ford EcoBoost engine and striking kinetic design, make for a really appealing proposition for race teams and drivers,” said Mike Norton, motorsport manager, Ford of Europe. “Formula Ford is already well-known as the perfect proving ground for up-and-coming drivers and engineers, and it is Ford’s desire to continue nurturing this by supporting teams and manufacturers across the globe with the safest environment, latest technologies and most attractive packages. Formula Ford is in its 44th consecutive year and remains a very popular choice for drivers around the world. Many Formula Ford drivers have gone onto careers in Formula 1. This is a great compliment to Formula Ford and we are at Ford proud of this achievement.”
For race teams and car manufactures Formula Ford represents a fantastic opportunity to prove their abilities and highlights Ford’s dedication to continuing its support of motorsport. From World Rally Championship to single seat racing, Ford’s motorsport heritage is one of the longest and strongest of any manufacturer. The 2012 specification Formula Ford car will carry that torch into the future with some style.
Is this the dawn of a new era for Formula Ford?