Saturday 31 March 2012

Dave Newsham takes Pole Position at Brands Hatch BTCC

888's Vectras are clearly still potent machines in the BTCC

Dave Newsham has taken a shock pole position in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship’s first qualifying session of 2012 at the Brands Hatch circuit in Kent.
Inverness’s Newsham (pictured), driving a Vauxhall Vectra for the tiny ES team, set a best lap of 48.483s early on. All the fancied front-runners then had their attempts thwarted by ‘traffic’ on the cramped Brands Indy circuit and could not beat him. It meant a career-first pole for Newsham who will line up at the front of the starting grid for the first of tomorrow's three races.
Worcestershire’s Matt Neal, the reigning champion, was second fastest in his Honda Yuasa Racing Team Honda Civic ahead of Hampshire racer Robert Collard’s eBay Motors BMW.
Lichfield’s Andrew Jordan equalled Collard’s time to end up fourth in his Pirtek Racing Civic and it could have been higher had he not stumbled across the slowing car of Newsham’s team-mate Chris James on his final flying lap. Collard’s team-mate Tom Onslow-Cole, from New Malden, was fifth ahead of Oxford’s Jason Plato, the double Champion an impressive sixth in his MG KX Momentum Racing MG6 on its debut outing.

The elated Newsham said: “I’ve very surprised because we had some problems in the earlier practice sessions but over the moon at the same time. Our race pace seems good as well and I’m certainly not fazed at all by starting from pole position tomorrow – I’ve had plenty of experience of that in other formulae. Besides I’m here to win.”

Neal commented: “If you’d told me I’d have been second with a new car in its early stages of development I’d have bitten your hand off so I’m pleased with that. Hats off to Dave Newsham and ES Racing – they’re still new to the championship and have done a very impressive job. What we need tomorrow are three solid results.”

Meanwhile’s Neal’s Scottish team-mate Gordon Shedden, last year’s championship runner-up, was back in ninth after his car joined the session late following on-going mechanical problems in practice. Another of the top names, Mat Jackson, was back in 11th in his Redstone Racing Ford Focus ST.

Tomorrow’s three races will be shown live during a mammoth seven-hour broadcast on ITV4 and ITV HD as well as the website.
BTCC Qualifying, Brands Hatch Indy, 31 March 2012 (provisional)
1. Dave Newsham (GBR), ES Vectra, 48.483s
2. Matt Neal (GBR), Honda Yuasa Racing/Honda Civic, +0.132s
3. Robert Collard (GBR), eBay Motors/BMW 320si, +0.215s
4. Andrew Jordan (GBR), Pirtek Racing/Honda Civic, +0.215s
5. Tom Onslow-Cole (GBR), eBay Motors/BMW 320si, +0.385s
6. Jason Plato (GBR), MG KX Momentum Racing/MG6, +0.385s
7. Rob Austin (GBR), Rob Austin Racing/Audi A4, +.400s
8. Frank Wrathall (GBR), Dynojet/Toyota Avensis, +0.480s
9. Gordon Shedden (GBR), Honda Yuasa Racing Team/Honda Civic, +0.539s
10. Nick Foster (GBR), eBay Motors/BMW 320si, +0.595s

Friday 30 March 2012

BTCC Round 1 Preview


Matt Neal is hoping to hold onto his title this year, and will get off to a good start at Brands Hatch.
Kent’s world-famous Brands Hatch circuit is bracing itself for a bumper crowd this weekend (31 March/1 April) when the stars of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship arrive for the start of their much anticipated 2012 season.
Wrotham based Redstone Racing will hope that Mat Jackson and
Liam Griffin will bring them success at Brands Hatch and beyond
The two-day fixture is one of the South East’s biggest sporting events of the year with tens of thousands of public attending trackside. Swift access to the venue, near Dartford, from the M25 and M20 motorways plus free admission for children and the chance to meet the hero drivers from Britain’s premier motor racing championship all add to the public appeal.
Indeed circuit owner MotorSport Vision recently reported pre-sales of BTCC tickets were at record numbers and, due to demand, it has this week extended the booking deadline by an extra 24 hours until midday this Thursday (29 March). For more details visit or call the ticket hotline 0843 453 9000.

Worcestershire’s Matt Neal will be hoping to get the defence of his 2011 crown off to a flying start in his brand new Honda Yuasa Racing Team Honda Civic but faces a whole host of challengers from the 24-strong grid that features no fewer than nine different makes of car – some entered by local teams and drivers to Brands Hatch.
Another local team, Ebay Motors is coming to play with it's BMWs

Wrotham team Redstone Racing has entered three Ford Focus STs, one of them for Mat Jackson who came close to lifting last year’s title. Among his team-mates is Liam Griffin, MD of London’s biggest private hire cab firm Addison Lee. Team principal David Bartrum commented: “We’re always excited about our home race and we go into this weekend with high hopes as we’ve had more time to prepare with the Fords than in 2011. But the BTCC is a tough old nut to crack and we’re not underestimating anyone.”

Tony Gilham, from Dartford, will certainly stand out in his bright green
and pink honda Civic
The Sunbury-on-Thames based eBay Motors team with its three turbocharged BMWs is also chasing success – among its drivers is Surrey racer Tom Onslow-Cole. The 24-year-old from New Malden said: “This weekend’s event will be huge and, being the first round, there will be a great atmosphere as well. The BTCC is famed for its action-packed racing and nowhere does it get more exciting than at Brands Hatch.”
AmD Tuning - based in West Thurrock, hopes that Ollie Jackson will
bring them success in their VW Golf GTi
Meanwhile Dartford’s Tony Gilham is behind the wheel of one of last year’s title-winning Honda Civics which he will run under the Team HARD. banner. “There’s never a dull moment when the BTCC races at Brands Hatch and the lay-out there means the crowds can view the whole lap unfold,” enthused Gilham. “It’s going to be a big weekend for my team and I’m targeting top ten results, but I’m setting the goals high because I have a proven car and a very capable bunch of people behind me.”
Another to watch will be West Thurrock-based outfit AmD with its VW Golf raced by promising newcomer Ollie Jackson from Reigate, Surrey. Team boss Shaun Hollamby said: “Given Ollie’s pre-season testing form I truly believe we can achieve regular top ten finishes. It was always a three-year plan with the Golf so this is when we have to deliver and there’d be no better place to start than in front of our home crowd at Brands Hatch.”
Brands Hatch’s big BTCC weekend (31 March/1 April) will also include the first races of 2012 for the hotly-contested Ginetta Junior, Ginetta GT Supercup, Porsche Carrera Cup GB and Renault Clio Cup championships that represent the very best in sports and saloon car action. Nicolas Hamilton – the younger brother of Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton – will be among those on the Clio Cup grid.

For a full list of the BTCC’s 2012 race dates and circuits plus the latest championship news as the clock to Brands Hatch’s opening round counts down visit the championship’s official website


New Works Team ready for Debut

Andy Neate (L) and Jason Plato with the new MG6 GT BTCC car
The MG KX Momentum Racing Team is set for their debut race weekend at the world famous Brands Hatch circuit this weekend (31stMarch & 1stApril) for the opening three rounds of the 2012 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC).

The BTCC’s most successful driver (in terms of race wins, 68 to date) and double BTCC champion Jason Plato, will lead the MG challenge for the British brand; their first season back in Britain’s premier Motorsport series as a Manufacturer entry since 2003. Jason will be joined by rising star Andy Neate in the new MG6, having joined from the Ford squad he raced for in 2011.

It has been a huge challenge for Triple Eight Race Engineering to build and prepare the two brand new NGTC specification MG6 GT’s in time for this weekend’s curtain raiser, since the announcement surrounding the British marque’s return to the series was made just nine weeks (64 days) ago.

"Bring on the noise" indeed! And that's just the livery.
The KX Energy drink and Tesco Momentum99 premium fuel backed squad head into the season opener having completed extremely limited test running. The car took to the track for the first time last week, to complete just a handful of tentative laps at the BTCC’s Media Day at Silverstone, in the experienced hands of Plato.

Despite the team’s late start, they head to the short 1.22 mile Brands Hatch Indy Circuit optimistic for the season ahead, keen to see the potential of the new car and get some much needed mileage under the new MG6’s belt.

Jason Plato, MG KX Momentum Racing #99: 
“I’m incredibly excited about this weekend, the first in the new 2012 season. The car looks absolutely amazing and Triple Eight deserve a lot of credit for pulling all the stops out. This weekend is all about getting to grips with this NGTC car and realising its potential and the Indy Circuit is one I’ve had great success at so I genuinely can’t wait.”

Andy Neate, MG KX Momentum Racing #44:
“It will be fantastic to get to Brands Hatch and get the season underway, I’m so excited and really can’t wait to see what the MG6 is capable of. It’s been great seeing the car come together over the last few weeks and all credit to Triple Eight for getting us ready against such tight timelines.“

Ian Harrison, MG KX Momentum Racing Team Principal:
“The whole team has worked extremely hard to be ready for this opening race weekend. It has been tough for the crew, but they have risen brilliantly to the challenge as they always have done. It will be a proud moment for everyone at Triple Eight when the cars role out of the garage for First Practice on Saturday. However, this is the first step and inside the Triple Eight team we are realistic about what is possible, although we have clear objectives for these first few race weekends.”


Luton-based Team ES Racing head in to the first race weekend of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship on a positive note after an eventful pre-season programme.

Team Principal Chris James in his Vectra
Despite damage caused by a testing accident at Brands Hatch the team topped the timesheets with new driver Dave Newsham while team principal Chris James finished in ninth place with the 2011 spec engine.

Team principal Chris James is looking forward to a more even playing field in the Vauxhall Vectra for the start of the year after his debut year in the Chevrolet Lacetti.

“We’re looking forward to getting out on track and seeing what we can do. Dave proved at media day we have the pace to run at the front and we’ll be looking to emulate that at Brands Hatch.
“The team have done a fantastic job in the lead up to Brands Hatch with all the preparation work put in to ensure the cars will be running smooth out of the box.”

Dave Newsham at Speed at Silverstone
Team-mate Dave Newsham is positive following his pre-season tests, he admits the car handled well at the Brands Hatch test prior to media day and gained some valuable data to give the team a head start going in to first practice.

“Before driving the car I was thinking we would be aiming for reverse grid podiums, I think now we can go in to Brands Hatch with outright podiums from outright speed rather than relying on the reverse grid.” Commented Newsham.

Talking at media day team manager Andrew Dean commented: “Obviously the team are still learning the cars and still learning to work with two cars because it’s a big step up for them from one car, but I have to say my initial impression of the guys is that they are massively enthusiastic and very capable so hopefully as the season goes on and we gel as a team we can build on some decent results.”

You can follow the team on twitter at @teamESracing, Chris James directly at @ChrisJamesBTCC and Dave Newsham at @newshamracing. The team are also on facebook at

Photos by Matthew Miller

Thursday 29 March 2012

Bulldog Rally Round Up

Bulldog Rally points haul for Cotton..

Matt Cotton at the finish of the Bulldog Rally
British Rally Championship contender Matt Cotton finished on the podium once again last weekend when he contested the second round of the world renowned series, The Bulldog International Rally of North Wales. Cotton piloted his AVS Motorsport run Ford Fiesta ST to a worthy 18th overall and 2nd in class, ensuring he remains in the championship title hunt for the remaining rounds of the season.

International competitors from all corners of the globe assembled in the market town of Welshpool in Powys to tackle 90 competitive stage miles in the classic Welsh forests of Dyfi and Gartheiniog. With 15 of those miles to be contested in the dark on Friday night, the event was already shaping up to be a classic battle for all the British Rally Championship crews.

With co-driver Glyn Thomas alongside, the South West pairing were looking forward to the challenge ahead which included night stages for the first time this year. But a bitter blow was dealt just a few hours before the event was due to start when the organisers of the rally had to cancel the 2 stages on Friday which were due to run in the dark. This meant that the 10 stages planned for Saturday would become more critical for the team as they would need to attack from the very first stage.

After the ceremonial start in Welshpool town centre, the first loop of stages took crews into the fast and undulating Dyfi Forest complex where Matt would need to remain focused on the task in hand if he was to return to the first service of the day in the lead of his class. Matt said “I had a very scrappy first stage and we lost a lot of time with a few overshoots. It was hard adjusting to the different surface of the Welsh forests compared to Rallye Sunseeker as we haven’t got the budget to carry out testing between events, but hopefully we can learn quickly as its loosing us time on the faster sections”.

After a brief service halt, the crews returned to complete a second run of the morning’s stages which would prove critical for the Cornishman. As the stages were repeated, Matt started to build his confidence on the slippery gravel and set some encouraging stage times. He said “Every mile I drive in the car I feel more confident and comfortable with how it performs. We should be able to claw back the seconds we lost this morning when we tackle the afternoon stages for the first time”.

However with the event running behind schedule due to a number of incidents, the organisers were forced to cancel the last 3 stages meaning the results were declared final after the second service of the day and the crews were re-routed to the ceremonial finish in Welshpool.
Can't see the wood for the... Cotton??
I’m pleased that we have shown good pace today but we know what areas we need to improve on the remaining rounds. It was a shame we had 5 cancelled stages as we were building confidence with every stage. We need to look forwards to the Pirelli Rally where we can really push for that illustrious win” said Glyn at the finish.

Matt lies in 14th place in the British Rally Championship, 2nd in class 8 and 4th in the Fiesta Sport Trophy. The next round of the series The Pirelli International Rally based in Carlisle, takes place on 27th/28th April. Keep up to date with Matt’s progress both on and off the stages by visiting, following us on Twitter, or finding us on Facebook.


Tom Cave Celebrates Multiple Wins in Wales

Tom Cave's borrowed Citroen (Read on)
 After brief testing just days before Round Two of the MSA British Rally Championship, young rally driver, Tom Cave celebrated his first win in the Citroen DS3 R3 rally car. Building on his past success, Tom, partnered with Craig Parry, took the win at his 'home' event, the Bulldog Rally in Wales, finishing three seconds ahead of Keith Cronin/Marshall Clarke. Tom also won the Pirelli 'Star driver' award. 

As the first outing for Tom in the DS3 R3, he hopes to build on this success as the BRC progresses as well as continuing to impress in the newly created Citroen Racing Trophy.
Who wanted a shower?

The new Citroen DS3 R3 offered a multitude of challenges. The main one came with testing, as the car wasn't ready in time to offer a significant testing period. Converted to gravel spec by DMS, Tom had only a few days to get a feel for the  Citroen before driving in a competitive environment. However, he was satisfied that the set-up he developed would perform brilliantly come the event.

The morning of the Bulldog rally went well, though Tom admits the first stage was a little slower than his usual pace as he was getting used to the car. Such worries were soon in the past though, as Tom pushed harder in stages two and three. A tyre change between those timed tests was a wise tactical move, leaving Tom with fresh tyres for the longer, more aggressive third stage.

Commenting, Tom said: "We knew that stage three was going to be really hard on the tyres. Not only because of the gravel, but also because it was really warm. That's strange for Wales in March! With new tyres on the front we could push harder with a 10-15 second gain a real possibility. We carried the two tyres we'd used in stages one and two as spares though, just in case something did happen."

Tom went back to service after stage three with a five second lead, though the decision was made not change the setup of the car in any way. After the performance in the first three stages, Tom was confident he could push even harder through the next three without taking any unnecessary risks.

What would turn out to be the final three stages of the day saw similar tactics from Tom, with a slightly more aggressive push on stages 4 and 5 along with a considerable increase in pace on stage 6. Much like the morning's stages, tyres were used sparingly leaving plenty of life in them for the longer, more important stage six. Tom explains:

"We only carried one spare for stage six because the front tyres still had loads of life left in them. Again, like the morning's stages, we just wanted to push hard on the longer stage and create the biggest time difference we could. We did have one moment on a long right-hander. It tightened towards the end and there was the danger of colliding with some logs. Luckily the car powered out of the trouble and we were able to carry on. Lucky really, as some other drivers were having much bigger moments."

The last few miles of stage six offered even more challenges, thanks in no small part to the heat and gravely conditions pushing the tyres to their extremes. Even so, Tom easily held onto the lead. More stages were due to take place, but due to safety concerns surrounding lighting issues, the Bulldog Rally came to a close after stage six, securing Tom and Craig's first win the brand new Citroen DS3 R3, along with their first MSA British Rally Championship victory.

Tom's next event will be the Pirelli International leg of the BRC, centred around 100 miles of Welsh and Cumbrian forests during the 27th and 28th of April. Another two-day event, it promises even more challenges, though Tom is confident that with the AutoMeca Racing prepared Citroen DS3 R3 beneath him, he can achieve another podium finish. 

Sykes storms into championship lead after Bulldog rally success

Richard Sykes in action on the Bulldog Rally
Stourbridge’s Richard Sykes took his first rally win in three years on the Bulldog Challenge event last weekend, a performance which put him in the lead of the BRC Challenge rally championship.
The Welshpool-based event, which was round two of the championship, started with the Big Ray stage. Keen to get a good haul of points Sykes and co-driver Simon Taylor were immediately on the pace, setting third fastest time in their Bathams Brewery, G I Sykes Ltd, Boroughbridge Marina and Silverstone Tyres-supported Citroën C2 R2 Max.

Sykes maintained his position after the second stage in Dyfi forest before powering into the lead with a stunning time in stage three, Gartheiniog.

"We made a decent start to the event although we had small problems in both of the opening two stages," said Sykes. "We got held up in the dust of the car in front on stage one which cost us around 10 seconds and then we beached the car on a corner in stage two. Fortunately some spectators got us going again so we didn’t lose too much time."

"It was brilliant to be leading after the third stage, we didn’t know how we were getting on till we got back to service so it was pleasing to see we were fastest."

The rally headed north for a pair of stages near Bala, Llangywer and Penllyn, with Sykes 30 seconds ahead of his nearest rival. Despite his lead Sykes continued to push hard, setting the fastest time on both stages to extend his lead by a further nine seconds.
Celebrating the win and the lead of the BRC Challenge

There was no let up in the final Dyfnant stage either, Sykes taking his fourth consecutive stage win to complete a dominant performance.

"Even though we had a relatively comfortable lead I wanted to keep going as quick as I could on the final three stages and I was aiming to set as many fastest times as possible. I was delighted to be quickest on them all!"

"It was my fourth time contesting the Bulldog, the previous three occasions resulted in the car breaking so it is great both to finally finish the event and to win it."

"The event was very tough, some of my main championship rivals didn’t make it to the finish so we didn’t get to have a battle with them although I think we had the pace to still do the job. For once we have had a great start to the season while other crews are having problems and we will continue working as hard as we can to try and take the championship win."

Sykes now leads the BRC Challenge championship on 56 points ahead of James Watts on 46. The next championship round will take place in April with the Carlisle-based Pirelli Challenge rally.



Nick Allen and Tony Bull toast their success on the Bulldog Rally
 Californian Nick Allen and British co-driver Andy Bull won the inaugural event in the 2012 Twingo Renaultsport R2 Trophy UK this weekend, Scots pairing Garry Pearson and Craig Wallace taking the R1 Trophy honours on their second event in this series.

The event, Bulldog International Rally of North Wales was the second round of the MSA British Rally Championship, this year an all two wheel drive affair which has attracted drivers from around the world.

Having only contested a small number of events in his home country, Allen has been putting in the stage mileage since moving to the UK to fulfil his BRC ambition. He cites himself as a long-time follower of rallying in the UK, so this was a real dream come true for the ever-smiling American. However as with all rallies, it is not always the fastest on a given stage that wins.

It was actually Formula 1000 graduate Chris Ingram who set the early pace in his freshly upgraded Twingo R2 Evolution, although his path to the start of the rally was not an easy one.

Allen and Bull in action on the Bulldog
Having opted for the 190 horsepower upgrade, courier delays meant that the car was literally completed hours before the start on Saturday, the youngster benefitting from the cancellation of Friday’s two tests. He and co-driver Joe Cruttenden attended the 6pm ceremonial start on foot, leaving the team to bolt on a new engine computer and attend a late safety check arranged by the organisers.

But with the bit between his teeth, he set about the stages, climbing to an impressive 14th place by the eventual penultimate stage. Sadly the fuel filler had not been attached after refuelling and given the low level remaining in the tank, he took the sensible option to limp through to service, handing the lead to the American.

It was at this point that Allan and Bull proved the immense camaraderie in rallying. With Ingram’s car now out of fuel and potentially out of the rally, Allen stopped to see if he could help. This he duly did by pushing the youngster’s Twingo with his own, eventually changing to a tow rope when their engine temperature soared through lack of air-flow.

Pearson and Wallace in their R1 version of the Twingo
Meanwhile Garry Pearson and Craig Wallace were on their way to another maximum points haul in the Twingo Renaultsport R1 Trophy UK, Class 10 and Junior categories in the MSA British Rally Championship.

Their rally went according to plan, the sole Scottish crew on the event even finding themselves too quick on a couple of stages. Having made excellent time, they caught the dust of the car ahead, eventually managing to pass it, but losing time in the process.

Like Ingram, they also had a problem in the penultimate stage, clipping a log pile and bending the rear axle. But a degree of skill and commitment got them through the next stage relieved that it could then be repaired at service.

However on the road section back to the Dolgellau service area, a car from one of the preceding events had caught fire, the fire brigade and police closing the road. The subsequent delay forced the cancellation of the final three stages leaving just the ceremonial finish back in Welshpool.

Undeterred, the crews arrived at the finish, Pearson and Allen spraying champagne while Ingram rued a missing fuel filler cap, nevertheless picking up valuable points in the R2 Trophy.
Garry Pearson and Craig Wallace
Importantly, as the end of season Twingo Renaultsport R1 Trophy prize drive depends on Junior victory, Pearson leads the MSA British Junior Rally Championship too, beating Fiesta rival Steve Røkland in their first real encounter.

The next event in the BRC calendar, counting towards both Twingo Trophies, is the Pirelli International Rally which is based in Carlisle and uses the infamous Kielder Forest complex. The rally starts on Friday 27th April with stages continuing into Saturday 28th.

For more information on the Twingo Renaultsport R1 & R2 Trophy UK visit



Citroen Drivers lock out the podium at the Bulldog rally. 
Round two of the MSA British Rally Championship, the Bulldog Rally, marked the best ever result for Citroën in British rallying history. Young Welsh ace Tom Cave took a splendid overall victory in his DS3 R3, and the 1600 turbo charged rockets filled the following three places. All eight of Citroën DS3’s that started the event finished in the top twelve places! Citroën UK now lead the Manufacturers series after two rounds.

Rallying is a dramatic sport, and the dramas were even happening before the start in Welshpool, particularly for young Welsh man Tom Cave! The Davies Motorsport team had worked hard to finish his new DS3, and Tom was testing the Tuesday before the start when a freak mechanical failure in the steering caused the car to plunge off the road in 5th gear! “We landed on a jump, something broke and we plunged 50 yards through a bog, and landed on our side in 5 foot of water, before the car turned onto it wheels. It was a real mess with water everywhere, and I didn’t even know if we could be starting the rally at all.” With just 25 miles of testing before-hand, they had nevertheless arrived at a new set up. Frantic phone calls were made to hire a replacement DS3 and the French Auto Meca, run by Citroën rally legend Philippe Bugalski came up trumps. “We phoned them on Tuesday night and they had a car here for Friday morning, and Andy and the Davies team did a great job helping to run us on the event, and applying our test settings to the car.” It would prove to be a dream run for Tom and also very good for 2009 and 2010 British Rally Champion, Keith Cronin. After a deal to drive a Honda fell through the DGM Sport team’s second DS3 was readied at the eleventh hour for Keith to take the start. Leader for much of round one, Jarkko Nikara had a rebuilt engine in his DS3, and both Jonny Greer and James Grint were making their DS3 debuts.

Tom Cave in his borrowed DS3 somewhere in the Welsh forests
With the cancellation of the two Friday night stages, stage three - Big Ray 1 was the first and it was Nikara fastest from his round one rival Mark Donnelly in his Clio. But Donnelly’s challenge ended against a tree just after the finish line of stage 2, and it was set to be a DS3 battle. Keith Cronin was an impressive third, despite his very limited mileage in the car, but it was Tom Cave who set the pace, fastest on the next test to leap into the lead. With a further fastest time on the famous Garheiniog stage he had a three second lead over Jarkko Nikara. “Our first stage wasn’t great. I still had Tuesday’s incident in the back of my mind,” commented Tom. “On stage two however it seemed to click again, and we got into a good rhythm. At least we got a setting on our brief test, and without that we wouldn’t have been on the pace, but the car felt very good, especially on the fast stuff where it was very stable. The harder we went the more planted it seemed to be, and with so much torque it drives almost like a four wheel drive out of the corners.” There was even more to come from Tom as on the Dyfi Main test he took ten seconds off his nearest rival, who at this stage was Keith Cronin. Keith had his own dramas, stopping to assist Alastair Fisher on stage 5, after the Fiesta caught fire. The resultant nominal stage time he felt cost him a little, but he was to charge in the late afternoon stages, closing the gap to just 3 seconds at the finish, but just unable to catch the flying Cave. However he was lucky to finish at all, arriving late after a fuel pump related failure on the final road section.

Indeed the event wasn’t the smoothest with frequent delays starting the stages, and the last loop being cancelled due to a fire on a road section, meaning a total of just 56 competitive miles. It was maybe just as well for Jarkko Nikara, who limped home in third after breaking a drive-shaft on the final stage. In fourth place was 19 year old Osian Pryce in his Davies Motorsport DS3, a result that leaves him in a fantastic joint second place in the British Rally Championship. However the Welsh youngster feels he’s more improvements to make. “We still have some work to do, as we have to make up about a second a mile in some places on the leaders. I think I started too cautiously and was braking too early on the opening stages, having to go on the throttle again before some corners. I was happier with the handling of the car, with the improvements that we made, and had no problems all day. Certainly it’s good for the championship, but for the next couple of events we need to aim and see if we can climb onto the podium.”

The first non Citroën was Elfyn Evans who had a great drive in his R2 class Fiesta, with Jonny Greer making his DS3 debut claiming sixth. Jonny was getting used to front wheel drive again, and a new co-driver in Damien Connolly, and aside from a spin and a dash-board read out issue had a trouble free day. Desi Henry in eighth wasn’t quite so lucky with a costly puncture on stage 5, and the Co.Antrim driver who claimed second place on round one couldn’t get into the groove during the day. Eleventh place was an impressive finish for James Grint, on his first event in a DS3, and with his relative lack of rally experience. Just 13 seconds behind him was welcome French visitor Vincent Dubert.

The day however very much belonged to Tom Cave and co-driver Craig Parry, scooping €6000 of Citroën Racing Trophy UK prize money for their first overall finish. “It’s a dream result, and I’ve been waiting on a result like this for a while. Everything seemed to click, and the car ran perfectly. It was a tough fought event. We knew Keith would get quicker in the afternoon, but we had enough to hold on. It’s probably my best ever result, particularly after the steering failure on Tuesday. It’s brilliant!” Keith Cronin’s second place awards him €3500 whilst Jarkko Nikara claims €1500 for third.

With Citroën UK moving into the lead in the manufacturer’s table and the DS3 R3 proving its speed, reliability and durability it’s a fantastic performance for the Citroën brand in this extreme competition. The next round of the MSA British Rally Championship is the Pirelli International Rally on the 27th and 28th April.

Results Bulldog Rally 2012- Round Two MSA British Rally Championship

1 Tom Cave/ Craig Parry Citroën DS3 56 min 39s
2 Keith Cronin/Marshall Clarke Citroën DS3 +3s
3 Jarkko Nikara/ Petri Nikara
Citroën DS3 +14.7s
4 Osian Pryce/ Iestyn Williams
Citroën DS3 +49.4s
6 Jonny Greer/ Damien Connolly Citroën DS3 +1m17.9s
8 Desi Henry/ Niall Burns
Citroën DS3 +2m04.5s
11 James Grint/ Craig Drew Citroën DS3 +2m39.3s
12 Vincent Dubert/Stephane Rey
Citroën DS3 +2m52.6s

Manufacturer Standings after Round Two

1 Citroën UK 71points
2 Renault UK 61points
3 Ford Motor Co 60points

Monday 26 March 2012

BTCC Ready to burst back into action

The grid is augmented by the colourful MG team this year
(Photo : Matthew Miller)
The waiting is almost over. There is now little more than a week to go before Britain’s premier motor racing championship – the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – bursts back into action for a pulsating new season of hard-fought action with the first of its ten events in 2012, at the world-famous Brands Hatch circuit in Kent on the weekend of 31 March-1 April.

In front of huge trackside crowds and millions more watching ITV4’s live coverage, the BTCC’s popularity among the British public continued to spiral in 2011 when it culminated in an unprecedented, nail-biting five-way shoot-out for the title on the final day of the season.

Five months on, the nation’s favourite four-wheeled motor sport attraction is back with a truly turbocharged grid – indeed all teams to have announced their plans so far have switched to spectacular, flame-spitting turbo engines as the championship’s latest Next Generation Touring Car regulations really begin to take hold.

Furthermore, team announcements to date indicate that at least nine different makes of car will be represented on the starting grid, thereby giving the BTCC’s ever-expanding fanbase plenty of variety from which to choose a favourite.

Matt Neal will be looking to hold onto his title
(Photo : Matthew Miller)
The 2012 BTCC title race will be played out in front of vast audiences at nine top race circuits located in eight different counties throughout the country – ensuring that it remains accessible for hundreds of thousands of people right across the UK: Brands Hatch, Kent (1 Apr & 21 Oct); Donington Park, Derbys-Leics border (15 Apr); Thruxton, Hants (29 Apr), Oulton Park, Cheshire (10 June); Croft, North Yorks (24 June); Snetterton, Norfolk (12 Aug); Knockhill, Fife (26 Aug); Rockingham, Northants (23 Sept) and Silverstone, Northants (7 Oct).

Another of the BTCC’s massive appeals, notably among families, is that admission to all ten of its race weekends is FREE for accompanied children* – this includes access to specially organised pit lane autograph sessions with the star drivers plus, at most events, the race teams’ central paddock.

Brands Hatch’s big BTCC weekend (31 March-1 April) will also include the first races of 2012 for the hotly-contested Ginetta Junior, Ginetta GT Supercup, Porsche Carrera Cup GB and Renault Clio Cup championships that represent the very best in sports and saloon car action. Nicolas Hamilton, the younger brother of Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton will be among those on the Clio Cup starting grid.

Tickets for the event are still available at discounted prices including £25 per adult for Sunday’s main race day. For all ticketing options for the event visit or call the ticket hotline 0843 453 9000. Admission is FREE for children aged 12 and under all weekend.

For a full list of the BTCC’s 2012 race dates and circuits plus the latest championship news as the clock to Brands Hatch’s opening round counts down visit the championship’s official website

* Individual circuit policies may differ, eg. some circuits employ a 16 and under policy, others 12 and under etc.

Sunday 25 March 2012

Porsche Round Up

Mann lines up for Porsche Carrera Cup GB

Tania Mann
Tania Mann has become the first female racer in the championship’s 10-year history to commit to a full programme in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB.

The Essex-based Australian has unveiled plans to contest the Pro-Am2 category with Sibsport Performance as the Gateshead-based team joins the Carrera Cup for the first time. Mann only started racing last season when she competed in a Lotus Elise, but has already shown encouraging pace and was fourth fastest in Pro-Am2 during the pre-season test day at Silverstone on Tuesday (13 March).

"I'm following a huge dream,” said Mann. “I want to learn as much as I can from the people around me. I’m a competitive person and it's important to me that I progress. I'm still in awe of these cars: they are unbelievable. I don’t know the car or many of the circuits, so it will be a steep learning curve.”

Mann, who works in project management in the investment banking industry, has a long-time love of Porsches and has driven cars on track days. She only started racing a year ago and is now making a massive leap up the racing ladder. However, she is taking a sensible approach and has enlisted coaching support from Tim Harvey ahead of the opening two races of the season at Brands Hatch on 31 March/1 April.

The only other female driver to score points in the Carrera Cup GB to date was the un-related Pippa Mann, who contested a limited programme of races in 2008.

Irish team to contest Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge

Dublin-based ASK Racing will be competing in this year’s Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge, entering at least two cars and possibly three is as many of the 12 races as possible.

Lead driver for the team will be Tom Hallissey from Co Wicklow, who has 20 years of racing experience behind him. He won the Irish Porsche title in 2005 and has more recently raced in GT Cup. He will campaign a 996-model 911GT3 Cup car in Class Two this season with backing from Monsoon Estate Coffee.

Hallissey will be joined in the squad by Pat O’Sullivan and team boss Alan Kessie is hoping to attract a third driver from Ireland. “It is a big commitment for us to travel to all the rounds,” said Kessie. “We attended the pre-season test and media day and were impressed with the GT3 Cup Challenge. I’m hoping to tempt a third driver from Ireland to join the team.”

The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge is open to all 911 GT3 Cup cars from the 2009 model year or earlier, and starts with a double-header at Snetterton over the Easter weekend (7/8 April). Subsequent races will run at Rockingham, Thruxton, Croft and Donington Park, with the final two races at Silverstone running alongside the Carrera Cup GB during the BTCC weekend on 6/7 October.


Butcher targets Pro-Am1 title in Carrera Cup GB

Rory Butcher is hoping to take home lots of silverware this season
Rory Butcher is targeting the Pro-Am1 title as he prepares for his second season in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB. The young Scot has re-signed with Celtic Speed and says that going one better than last year, when he finished runner-up in Pro-Am1 to Jonas Gelzinis, is the clear target.

“I finished second last year so the aim has to be to win Pro-Am1,” said Butcher, who recently celebrated his 25th birthday. “But I also want to be as competitive as we can in overall terms. I got very close to an overall podium at the Nurburgring last year and I want to see if I can do it this year.”

In his first full season in the Carrera Cup GB, Butcher won Pro-Am1 four times and also finished fourth overall among the Carrera Cup GB racers within the Porsche Carrera World Cup at the Nurburgring. His Pro-Am1 rivals include fellow Scots Derek Pierce and Oly Mortimer as well as Ahmad Al Harthy, who finished just eight points down on Butcher last year.

Butcher will continue to race with the Montrose-based Celtic Speed team, which is managed by former racer Alan Keith. Joining the squad this season in an engineering role will be Paul Leach.

“I’m really excited about the new season,” said Butcher. “I feel good about our complete package and I would like to say a huge thank you to Tommy Dreelan for his support.”

Backing for Butcher’s programme comes from Celtic Speed, William Waugh Ltd and William Johnston and Company Ltd, as well as a number of valuable partners.


Exciting TV package for Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge

An exciting new TV package, taking advantage of changing viewing trends and the power of the internet, has been unveiled for the 2012 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge GB.

Each of the season’s six events will be filmed and magazine programmes will be broadcast on both Porsche’s massively popular YouTube channel and on the Porsche Origin website. Using Porsche’s very well established social media access, each race-highlights video will get an instant potential exposure of up to 49,000 Porsche YouTube subscribers. For specialist videos broadcast on the Porsche Facebook page, there is a potential exposure of up to 3.5 million enthusiasts, giving a total package that compares very favourably with audiences on traditional motorsport-based television channels.

The filming will be done by the expert team at Circuit Pro and their film of the GT3 Cup Challenge test and media day at Silverstone last week can be seen here

Each race programme will include on-track action, in-car footage and the story behind the race from the drivers’ perspective. The films will be available on-line within a few days of each event, thus keeping the coverage very fresh and up to date.

In addition to the race reports, Circuit Pro will provide competitors in the GT3 Cup Challenge GB with a unique service across the course of the season. Teams and drivers can have a bespoke promotional film produced for them to support their sponsorship arrangements. The tailored film will focus on the individual team and driver and is an unparalleled service within national motor racing. Teams and drivers will also have the facility to further develop films to suit their own regional media, including regional TV.

“This new media arrangement really encapsulates the spirit of GT3 Cup Challenge; giving teams and drivers unprecedented value and support to go racing and enjoy their race weekends,” said Marion Barnaby, Porsche Motorsport Manager. 

The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge season starts at Snetterton over the Easter weekend (7/8 April)


Protyre backs Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge

Protyre Motorsport has been confirmed as the official tyre partner for the 2012 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge. Protyre will be the series tyre service provider at all races, supporting the teams and drivers with Michelin tyres, a full fitting service and technical back-up.

Managed by Porsche Cars GB, the GT3 Cup Challenge will have a six-weekend, 12-race season starting at Snetterton over the Easter Weekend and culminating with a high-profile date alongside the Porsche Carrera Cup GB at the Silverstone BTCC meeting on 6/7 October. The GT3 Cup Challenge is open to any 911 GT3 Cup car from the 2009 model year or earlier and the cars will run on the same tyres as used in the Carrera Cup GB.

“This is another boost for the GT3 Cup Challenge,” said Marion Barnaby, motorsport manager at Porsche Cars GB. “It is great to extend our relationship with Protyre Motorsport and I am very pleased that they will be supporting the GT3 Cup Challenge. I know that our teams will receive an excellent tyre service.”

“Protyre Motorsport is very proud to work with and support both the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge and the Carrera Cup GB. We have a long-standing relationship with Porsche,” said retail director Simon Hiorns.

Protyre Motorsport is the largest provider of track day and championship tyres and support services in the UK and runs a fleet of four fully specified motor sport trailers.