Friday, 30 March 2012

BTCC Round 1 Preview


LOCAL TEAMS & DRIVERS LOOKING TO SHINE IN FRONT OF BUMPER BRANDS HATCH BTCC CROWD

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 www.brandshatch.co.uk 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 Tuning.com 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 www.btcc.net.



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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.”

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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 www.facebook.com/teamESracing.

Photos by Matthew Miller