Friday 29 June 2012

The MG KX Momentum Racing team secured their second race victory of the 2012 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) season at the Croft circuit in North Yorkshire. Jason Plato recovered from a first race technical issue, to win the third race of the day - the 70th victory of the Englishman’s BTCC career.

For the second race meeting running, Jason failed to make it to his grid slot for the start of Race One, as the technical issues that blighted his qualifying session yesterday returned. The MG KX Momentum Racing Crew worked away at the problem and got Jason back out on track to record some running and check the issue was resolved. Andy Neate had a strong opening lap and moved forwards from his 9th place start, bringing his MG6 home in 6th to equal his best finish of 2012 to-date.

Jason set out in Race Two to repeat his heroics from Oulton Park two weeks ago, where he came from the back of the grid to secure a podium finish. Despite a determined drive he couldn’t quite match that, however he did come through to seventh to score solid points and put himself in the mix for the reverse grid draw. Andy had a solid run to score his second successive points finish of the day, coming home in 9th position.

The Triple Eight run, MG squad’s luck seemed to turn for Race Three of the day. The reverse grid draw was kind to the team, placing Andy on the front-row in 2nd position, with Jason directly behind in 4th. Both MG’s made good getaways to battle the fast starting rear-wheel drive BMW’s into Turn One. Andy then fought his way past Foster for the lead, with a brave move into Lodge corner. Jason was soon behind him, as the two MG6’s ran first and second. Jason then moved into the lead as Andy lost some pace in his car after some contact with one of the Honda Racing cars when battling for position, he fell backwards to finish 9th. Jason held on to win brilliantly, completing his back to front day and keep the pressure on his championship rivals.

Jason Plato (#99), BTCC Standings: 3rd – 192 points: “A great end to what had been something of a tough weekend. Getting the win means the team can head into the summer break with optimism for the second half of the season. We made some changes to the set-up in that last race, which took the car in the right direction and with some testing and some development parts, we’ll be ready to fight when we get to Snetterton in August”

Andy Neate (#44), BTCC Standings: 17th – 46 points: “It’s good to come away from Croft with three top ten finishes. It’s disappointing to have led the majority of Race Three and not won it, especially as I think I had the pace to do so. The Safety Car bunched everyone up and I lost some temperature and pressure in my tyres, which means I couldn’t hang on, but it’s pleasing to have at least been fighting right at the front!”

Ian Harrison, Team Principal, BTCC Standings: Teams - 4th – 235 points, Manufacturers – 2nd - 360 points: “It’s been a difficult weekend, with the technical problems that carried across from yesterday to this morning on Jason’s car. But he had a brilliant drive in Race Three, which is what I expect from him, he’s the stand out driver in this series. Andy had a solid weekend and it should have been even better, having lead the majority of the race, it’s just unfortunate that it fell away at the end, but at least he’s proved he can fight outright for wins”

Thursday 28 June 2012

Soccer legend joins the Silverstone grid

Soccer legend Steve Bull, MBE, is the latest star name to join the grid for the special fund-raising Celebrity Challenge race being staged at this summer’s Silverstone Classic powered by the AA (20-22 July).

Like the Silverstone Classic, Bull is a record breaker having scored an unprecedented 306 goals in a 13-year career with Wolverhampton Wanders. He was also capped 13 times for England between 1989 and 1990, scoring four goals.

Having been forced out of the game by injury in 1999, Bull is now ready for a new sporting experience when competing in next month’s star-studded Celebrity Challenge taking part on the full Silverstone Grand Prix circuit. The 47-year-old marksman successfully passed his ARDS test last week to qualify for an official MSA Competition Licence. Now he is ready to take his place alongside a host of personalities from showbiz, sport, TV and music all racing in lightweight, competition prepared Morgan sportscars capable of topping 130mph.

“It’s not just about winning,” says the Wolves goal scorer. “It’s about doing something that not many people get the chance to do. It’s a one-off opportunity and a massive tick in the box. I’ve got medals and lots of other trophies but coming to Silverstone is something else. When I’m watching the Grand Prix I’ll be able to say I went round there in a Morgan!”

While excited to be joining a grid that includes a host of famous faces such as award-winning chef Heston Blumenthal, Hollywood actor Sir Patrick Stewart, BBC Sport presenter Andrew Castle, legendary rocker Brian Johnson from AC/DC and Strictly Come Dancing’s Brendan Cole, the soccer star doesn’t rate himself as natural racing driver.

“I haven’t done any track driving,” he admitted. “At home I drive my big 4x4 around leisurely, just enjoying life. I’m actually quite a careful driver, so hopefully this will be good for me. I’ve just got to get used to the car and see how it goes.”

The special Celebrity Challenge takes place on Saturday 21 July and will raise funds for the Birmingham Children’s Hospital, the Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research UK and the RPJ Crohn’s Foundation.

Adult tickets for 2012’s Silverstone Classic powered by the AA (20-22 July) cost from as little as £35 (plus booking fee) and special two- and three-day weekend tickets are also available with savings of up to 20 per cent if purchased in advance. Full details are available via the event’s official HYPERLINK "" website.

Wednesday 27 June 2012


Millions of television viewers were given an insight into how the Motor Sports Association is developing the sport in the UK during the BBC’s live coverage of the weekend’s European Grand Prix in Valencia.

In the latest in a series of films highlighting the route to Formula One via karting and junior single-seater formulae, multiple Grand Prix winner and BBC F1 commentator David Coulthard MBE went back to his racing roots by focusing the cameras on Formula Ford. Now celebrating 45 years, the British Formula Ford Championship has long been the established stepping-stone into single-seater racing as highlighted by the roster of its past champions which includes Ayrton Senna and Jenson Button. 

Coulthard, who last raced a Formula Ford in 1989, took his chance to turn back the clock at Brands Hatch and report on one of the MSA Academy’s initiatives. He not only sampled the latest EcoBoost Formula Ford chassis introduced for this year’s series, but also experienced one of the MSA’s Performance Master Classes, a key component of the MSA Academy’s driver training modules set up to prepare those aged between eight and 24 years of age for the rigours of top level competition.

The MSA introduced the Performance Master Classes in 2010 to bring an introductory level of driver development and training to competitors aged 13-16 and their parents. Developed in conjunction with the Youth Sports Trust, with support from the Racing Steps Foundation, the Master Classes are delivered free of charge and cover topics including planning, nutrition, fitness, communication, sponsorship and technical understanding.

“Formula Ford has always been the ultimate proving ground for young drivers but it’s incredible how much this form of motor sport has moved on since I was competing in it back in 1989,” reported Coulthard. “I basically turned up with a mechanic, sponsor, car and went racing. Now these guys are getting a full briefing on how to interact with their team, how to work with their engineer, how to deal with the media… It’s very impressive.”

As well as attending the Master Class, Coulthard also interviewed various past and present Formula Ford drivers as well as Le Mans winner David Brabham who oversees many of these activities in his role as the MSA’s National Race Coach.

“It’s not just a case of turning up and driving fast anymore,” explained Brabham. “If you talk to any F1 team they are looking for a driver whose skill set is complete. The standard now is getting higher and higher – these guys need to be educated on how to look after themselves, how to get more out of their car and how to get more out of the team around them.”

Screened in the build up to qualifying in Valencia, it is hoped that the BBC coverage will inspire young Grand Prix viewers to take up motor racing at a junior level as well as putting the spotlight on the MSA’s investment in the future of UK motor sport.

“The MSA Academy is establishing an international reputation for its approach to talent development,” said Colin Hilton, MSA Chief Executive. “We are grateful to both the BBC and David Coulthard for shining a light on the MSA’s commitment to young drivers and their future success, which will help to shape the future growth of the sport.”

Monday 25 June 2012

Matt Neal (left) battling his way to both victory in today's first BTCC race at Croft and ultimately the championship lead

Matt Neal, Gordon Shedden and Jason Plato shared the wins in today’s three Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races at Croft Circuit which were full of incident, drama and controversy. It is Neal who tonight leaves the North Yorkshire venue leading the standings by just a point from Honda team-mate Shedden as the championship enters a lengthy summer break before resuming at Norfolk’s Snetterton circuit on the weekend of 11/12 August.
Worcestershire’s Neal set the fastest time in Saturday’s qualifying session to take pole position for the first of today’s races in his Honda Yuasa Racing Team Civic. He dropped to third at the start but fought back to win ahead of eBay Motors BMW driver Robert Collard and Shedden and take over at the top of the points table.
Fife’s Shedden then responded with victory in the second race to re-claim the championship lead. Neal took the runners-up spot to complete a 1-2 result for Honda – it was also the seventh win in a row for the Team Dynamics-prepared factory Civics. Behind, Rob Austin took his first podium result of the season in third in his Rob Austin Racing Audi A4.
Having missed the first race because of mechanical problems with his car, Oxford’s Plato, who hails from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, won race three to end a six-year wins drought in front of his ‘home crowd’. Tom Onslow-Cole’s eBay Motors BMW and Andrew Jordan’s Pirtek Racing Honda Civic were second and third.
Fourth place for Neal was enough to move him back ahead in the title race from Shedden who finished the race in sixth. Plato remains third in the standings, some 29 points – 20 are awarded per race win – adrift of Neal.
Neal’s win today was his fourth of the season and the reigning Champion commented: “I’m very pleased but all it does is give me the bragging rights for the next seven weeks before we get back to business. Plus maximum success ballast in my car for Snetterton! Our car, the Civic, is in a class of its own under braking and through the corners but we need to test during the break because Jason and Triple Eight Race Engineering who run the MG will come out all guns blazing in the second half of the season.”

Dalgety Bay’s Shedden, now with an unrivalled six wins in 2012, said: “I don’t mind being second at this stage – the lead is going to keep on changing hands all the way until Finals Day in October. It’s great to get another win but it’s all about scoring as well as possible in every race. I think I’ve achieved that today so job done.”
Double Champion Plato’s win was his second this year and he added: “Today’s win was crucial in making sure we keep the Hondas in sight but, as a team, we are still learning about the MG6. It’s important we manage our expectations but we have a few test days planned for the break and that will enable me to get more comfortable with the car and for the engineers to work their magic. I think we can still find another second per lap.”
Meanwhile Honda/Dynamics and the Honda Yuasa Racing Team have significantly increased their respective leads in the Manufacturers/Constructors and HiQ Teams championships. Jordan continues to lead the Independent Drivers Trophy but only just from Collard. eBay Motors has leapt from third to first in the Independent Teams Trophy ahead of Pirtek Racing which is just two points behind.
Elsewhere officials punished a number of drivers for on-track incidents during the weekend. Ollie Jackson received two penalty points on his competition licence and an official reprimand following an incident in race one involving Tony Gilham. Jackson was then handed the same penalty again after race three for an incident involving Chris James. Officials also took action after reviewing incidents in the third race at Oulton Park two weeks ago. Dave Newsham received two penalty points on his licence and an official reprimand for an incident involving Daniel Welch. Robert Collard was similarly punished for an incident involving Andrew Jordan and also received a verbal warning for a separate incident involving Mat Jackson. Will Bratt and Adam Morgan were given verbal warnings for an incident between them.

Sunday 24 June 2012


Wright in the Evo 9 he will use at the Goodwood Festival of Speed
Bentham-based rally driver David Wright has secured a new sponsor for his 2012 rally season ahead of driving his Mitsubishi Evo 9 at the prestigious Goodwood Festival of Speed next weekend.

Millers Oils, one of the leading independent blenders of oil and fuel additives, are joining Wright’s existing supporters Kumho Tyres, Proflex, Drenth, York Brewery, GPM and Grove Hill Garage as he aims to build on his recent excellent results which have included a win on the Tour of Hamsterley and second place on the Plains rally.

The first event for the new partnership will see Wright in action on the rally stage of the festival, which takes place at Goodwood House in Sussex. Joining Wright on the rally stage will be several rallying legends such as Hannu Mikkola, Russell Brookes and Jimmy McRae. Also attending the event will be Formula One stars such as Lewis Hamilton and world champion Sebastian Vettel.

“I am delighted that Millers Oils will be supporting us”, said Wright. “I am sure it will be a great partnership and it is fantastic that our first event will be something with the profile that the Festival of Speed has.”

“It is an honour to be invited to drive at the festival, especially alongside some of the most well known names in motorsport. I shall be doing my very best to put on a good show for the thousands of spectators and, of course, my sponsors.”

Friday 22 June 2012

New contract awarded as official tyre supplier for WTCC

The Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd, announced today that it would continue to supply its global flagship brand "ADVAN" tyre as control tyres for the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) through to 2015.

YOKOHAMA has been the official tyre supplier to the WTCC since 2006, and the performance of its ADVAN racing tyres has been highly evaluated by the FIA.  ADVAN racing tyres meet all of the FIA's stringent sporting and technical requirements, and the FIA has decided to extend the contract for another 3 years.

WTCC is one of the World Championships sanctioned by FIA, along with Formula 1 (F1) and the World Rally Championship (WRC). It is the world's premier touring car race which counts with the participation of leading car manufacturers including Chevrolet, BMW and Ford.

From this year Honda have also committed to participating in the asian rounds of the WTCC as a precursor to joining the full championship in 2013 as well as Russian manufacturer Lada, who have joined some of the European rounds and will now also consider wider participation in 2013.

For its part, YOKOHAMA Europe, will continue its promotional and support activities at all WTCC European rounds.

WTCC events are staged all over the world, mainly in Europe but also in Africa, Latin America, North America and Asia.

Thursday 21 June 2012


The MG KX Momentum Racing team heads north again this weekend for the fifth instalment of the 2012 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC). The Croft circuit in North Yorkshire will play host to rounds 13, 14 and 15, the final chance for the team to impress, before the BTCC series begins its six week summer break.

Last time out at Oulton Park the Triple Eight run MG KX Momentum Racing squad endured something of a bitter sweet weekend. Jason Plato secured his second Pole Position in four events, however failed to take the start of Race One after a technical issue on the way to the grid. Jason fought back in the second and third races of the day, taking two further podium finishes to limit the damage to his championship campaign.

Andy Neate’s weekend at Oulton Park ran somewhat in contrast to Jason’s. In Race One when Jason was forced to retire, Andy was busy recording his best finish of the season. Then as Plato fought back in races two and three, it was Andy’s turn to suffer with technical gremlins, as a double engine related failure robbed the young Englishman of improving on his strong start to the weekend.

With the summer break almost in sight, both MG KX Momentum Racing drivers and the entire team are determined to close the first half of the season on a high. Strong performances and results, for both sides of the garage are the recipe for Croft.

Jason Plato (#99), BTCC Standings 3rd – 161 points:

“I can't wait for Croft; it's like coming home for me, having been brought up in Newcastle. It's a great circuit with a fantastic combination of corners and I am confident we can get a great set of results this weekend. Having lost the championship lead at Oulton Park, I will start the weekend with 18kgs less success ballast. Pole position in qualifying is the target and then wins must be on our radar. Let's get ready to rumble!"

Andy Neate (#44), BTCC Standings: 19th – 21 points:

“I’m pleased that after Oulton Park which had a tough end to a weekend that showed a lot of promise, we’re able to get back racing so soon. I’m looking to build on the positives from Oulton and rectify the negatives, in order that I can head off into the summer break on a high“

Ian Harrison, Team Principal, BTCC Standings: Teams - 4th – 181 points, Manufacturers – 2nd - 284 points:

“Croft is a circuit that always throws up some strange results, and with the unpredictable weather which is forecast, I don’t see this year being any different. JP is well in touch with the opposition, even though we had a no score in Race One at Oulton and I expect him to be on it at Croft. Andy had a great first race at Oulton, but then the bad luck crept in again for him; I expect him to build on the positives from Oulton.”

Wednesday 20 June 2012


North Yorkshire's daunting Croft Circuit next stop for BTCC

There is now less than a week to go before the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship makes its eagerly anticipated and only appearance of the year in the North East at the Croft Circuit this weekend (23/24 June).

The event marks a rare opportunity for motor sport fans from across North Yorkshire and neighbouring counties to turn out in their tens of thousands to see the UK’s premier motor racing championship in high speed action in their region.

With swift access from both the North and, in particular, the South via the much improved A1 motorway as well as the cross-country A66 dual carriageway, plus FREE admission for accompanied children aged 15 and under, a bumper crowd is expected.

Furthermore the Croft Circuit track features several hair-raising high-speed sections right down to the tightest corner on the BTCC calendar – its hairpin. It also has a reputation for conjuring up incident, drama and controversy and boasts sizeable spectator banks overlooking it all. Indeed, many drivers will view the event as critical as it gives them a last chance to score big in Sunday’s three races and carry momentum into the championship’s lengthy mid-season break…

Scotland’s Gordon Shedden will arrive at Croft leading the drivers’ standings. But breathing down the Fife racer’s neck are his own Honda Yuasa Racing Team team-mate Matt Neal, from Worcestershire, and MG KX Momentum Racing’s Jason Plato, the latter although now living in Oxford very much a favourite among the Croft crowds thanks to his North East roots.

All three drivers have achieved ‘double victories’ at Croft during their careers, although Plato has not sprayed the victory champagne there since 2006. Two other drivers on the current BTCC grid, Andrew Jordan in his Pirtek Racing Honda and Mat Jackson in his Redstone Racing Ford Focus, have also previously won around Croft.

Robert Collard, fourth in the standings, finished on the podium in all three races at Croft 12 months ago in his eBay Motors BMW but has still to break his victory duck at the track. And after a career-best fourth place just over a week ago at Cheshire’s Oulton Park, fellow Hampshireman Daniel Welch is seeking not only his maiden podium result but also the first top-three finish in the BTCC for a Proton since the late, great David Leslie achieved a second position for the Malaysian make at Croft in 2002!

The Croft fans will have plenty of local talent to support during the two days as well, namely in the supporting Porsche Carrera Cup GB, Ginetta GT Supercup and Ginetta Junior Championship.

In Porsches, Redline Racing from just up the road in Stockton-on-Tees leads the championship with its drivers Michael Meadows but three Yorkshire drivers, Leeds’s Sam Tordoff, Huddersfield’s Daniel Lloyd and Sheffield’s Richard Plant are also winners so far this season. In Leeds sportscar manufacturer Ginetta’s championships, 18-year-old Max Coates from Scorton is in the hunt for the GT Supercup’s G50 class as is Harrogate team HHC in the Junior series with its driver Charlie Robertson…

Tickets for Croft’s big BTCC weekend (23/24 June) can still be purchased in advance on the website or by calling the circuit on 01325 7

Saturday 16 June 2012

Race2Recovery delighted to welcome Land Rover's sponsorship support

The Race2Recovery team, now sponsored by Land Rover

Race2Recovery, the cross-country rally raid team comprised predominantly of injured British service personnel, is delighted to welcome Land Rover as major sponsor of its 2013 Dakar Rally campaign. The iconic British marque will provide vehicle and parts support, as well as invaluable training as Race2Recovery prepares to tackle the most arduous motoring adventure in the world, to raise money for service charities and inspire the wider disabled community.

Land Rover joining Race2Recovery is a perfect endorsement of the team's key values, of determination, inspiration and overcoming adversity. It is also a natural fit for Land Rover's brand and will see the marque support the team by supplying engines for the four Qt Wildcats that Race2Recovery will use on the Dakar, as well as Land Rover Discovery support vehicles and a wide range of parts.

Land Rover will also provide bespoke desert training for the team members, essential in making sure that they stand the best chance of achieving their goal of reaching the finish of the 2013 Dakar Rally after 9000 gruelling kilometres of competition through three countries in South America.

Race2Recovery has already clearly indicated its intention; it is currently competing in its second season of the British Cross Country Championship, recently brought two cars to the finish of the demanding Tuareg Rally in Morocco and took a stage win for each crew en route and is scheduled to contest the Pharaons Rally in October, part of the Dakar Series and a crucial preparation event ahead of the 2013 Dakar Rally.

The Race2Recovery Foundation charity is directing all funds raised to Help For Heroes which will then be restricted to supporting the Tedworth House Personal Recuperation and Assessment Centre. It also hopes to inspire the wider disabled community to realise their goals by demonstrating that injury or disability needn't be the end of one's dreams.

Race2Recovery driver and co-founder Captain Tony Harris said: "We are incredibly proud that Land Rover has chosen to support our Dakar Rally campaign. To have the endorsement of the world's leading off-road brand, combined with the direct support in terms of vehicles, components and training is invaluable to us as we work towards next year's event.

"We are also pleased that Land Rover is joining us until the end of July 2013. We already view our campaign as lasting well past the end of the Dakar in January next year and clearly, Land Rover shares this view. This will allow us to raise the maximum possible support for Help for Heroes and Tedworth House and the marketing and PR support that we will enjoy from Land Rover will be key in this."

The sponsorship will see the team benefit from Land Rover's technology and reputation for strength, performance and durability, key attributes when it selected the Qt Wildcat as the base for its campaign. As a result, all team vehicles, clothing, website and identity will feature the iconic Land Rover logo, demonstrating the brand's support.

The newly branded Race2Recovery team will be present at this month's Cholmondeley Pageant of Power (15-17 June) and the Goodwood Festival of Speed (29 June - 1 July). The team's next international rally raid will be the Pharaons Rally in Egypt from 1-6 October.

Friday 15 June 2012

Special silver anniversary for RS500

It’s 25 years since Ford’s iconic Sierra Cosworth RS500 burst onto the world’s roads and racetracks and next month’s Silverstone Classic powered by the AA (20-22 July) will pay homage to the winged wondercar. The RS500’s silver anniversary will be marked with two special touring car races plus a large display dedicated to both competition and showroom derivatives.

It was back in 1985 that Ford shocked the world by launching the original Sierra Cosworth – a turbocharged version of its basic family hatchback that came complete with a ‘whale-tail’ rear spoiler and ample performance to embarrass many a supercar.

Once 5000 of these ‘standard’ 150mph ‘Cossies’ had been produced, international Group A competition rules allowed Ford to develop an even hotter evolution version of which only 500 were needed to meet the homologation regulations – hence the introduction of the flame-spitting RS500 in August 1987.
Now armed with a bigger turbocharger plus a host of other aerodynamic and performance related upgrades, racing versions could develop more than 500bhp and were quick to make their mark in motor sport. In 1988 the RS500 dominated the European Touring Car Championship and won national titles in Germany, Belgium, Spain and Holland. It was in the coveted British Touring Car Championship, though, that the RS500 really earned its reputation with drivers such as Andy Rouse, Steve Soper and Robb Gravett enjoying a record unbeaten run of 40 consecutive victories between September 1987 and the end 1990 after which saloon car racing adopted a new non-turbo Super Touring formula.

Twenty five years on, those remarkable achievements will be showcased in two momentous Fuji Film Touring Car Trophy races to be staged at the Silverstone Classic. Marking the occasion, no fewer than five RS500s will head an impressive entry list that includes close to 50 of the world’s finest touring cars from 1975-1999  – and more are expected to be announced in the coming weeks. Among the RS500s already confirmed is Dave Brodie in his familiar ‘Run Baby Run’ Sierra, a regular BTCC front-runner back in the late Eighties.

Adding to the celebrations the RS Owners Club is putting together a large collection of more than 40 road and racing RS500s for display over the weekend.

“The RS500 is already part of motor sport folklore and we are thrilled to have so many participating at this year’s classic,” enthused event director Nick Wigely. “Watching the mighty Cossies racing against the more modern generation of Super Tourers is going to be every bit as intriguing as spectacular. The newer cars may be more advanced in terms of technology but with rear-wheel-drive and massive turbos the dramatic RS500s are sure to be huge crowds pleasers.”   

Adult tickets for 2012’s Silverstone Classic powered by the AA (20-22 July) cost from as little as £35 and special two- and three-day weekend tickets are also available with savings of up to 20 per cent if purchased in advance. Full details are available via the event’s official HYPERLINK "" website. 

From Coronation Street to Silverstone Circuit

Soap star Tony Hirst is now ready to fulfil his childhood dream and become a fully-fledged racing driver. Known to millions of Coronation Street viewers as fireman Paul Kershaw, Hirst has just passed his official ARDS racing driver test and is now gearing up to make his track debut in a special Celebrity Challenge race at this summer’s Silverstone Classic powered by the AA (20-22 July).

I know this might sound silly but this is really quite a significant moment in my life,” admitted the 45-year-old actor who has also appeared in a host of other television programmes including Hollyoaks and Holby City. He added: “I know I’m a grown up responsible parent and all that, but this is something I’ve always wanted to do. I don’t know why I haven’t done it sooner.”

I’ve always been a complete petrol head,” he continued. “I was brought to Silverstone as a baby by my mum and dad. Then, as a teenager, I hid and slept under a Portaloo just to watch Nigel Mansell win the British Grand Prix.”

Though clearly a Mansell fan, Hirst actually has even stronger ties to another of Britain’s former F1 World Champions. “My parents are both huge motor racing fans, so the sport was a big part of my life when I was growing up,” he explained. “My dad was a Jim Clark fan but my mum always followed Graham Hill. He had his son Damon at the same time as I was born, so I’m actually named after him – Damon is my second name! When he won the World Championship it was obviously a fantastic moment for British motor sport but I actually felt in some weird perverse kind of way that I was sharing a bit of his glory.”

Despite naming her son after a world champ, Hirst’s mum would rather see Tony propping up the bar in the Rover’s Return than revving it up on the race track. “My mum is now petrified about me racing,” commented the man known to millions as ‘Fireman Paul’. “She’ll probably come along to the event but I don’t think she’s actually going to be able to watch me out on track. She’s too worried that I’m going to put it in the wall.”

Having now passed his racing driver test and secured his MSA competition licence, Hirst is hoping to put his mother’s understandable concerns to rest. “You realise when you’re getting the instruction that it’s actually very safe out there,” he said. “To get that level of advice all tailored for you and for your driving style is such a fantastic opportunity. I’m actually a lot more worried about getting back on the M6 now than I was when I was tearing round the track.”

The Corrie star will line up on the starting grid alongside a host of personalities from showbiz, sport, TV and music all racing around the famous Silverstone Grand Prix circuit in lightweight, competition prepared Morgan sportscars capable of topping 130mph. Those taking part include award-winning chef Heston Blumenthal, Hollywood actor Sir Patrick Stewart, lifestyle guru Jo Wood, ‘Comedy Dave’ Vitty from Radio 1, Sky Sports presenter Vicky Gomersall, legendary rocker Brian Johnson from AC/DC, Strictly Come Dancing’s Brendan Cole plus fellow soap stars Kelvin Fletcher from Emmerdale and Nicola Stapleton from EastEnders.

Having waited so long to go racing, the experience now can’t come too soon for Hirst. “I can’t tell you how exhilarated and excited I am,” he enthused. “I’m buzzing like a silly little kid right now! I can’t wait to get out there and get racing.”

The Celebrity Challenge takes place on Saturday 21 July and will raise funds for the Birmingham Children’s Hospital, the Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research UK and the RPJ Crohn’s Foundation.

Adult tickets for 2012’s Silverstone Classic powered by the AA (20-22 July) cost from as little as £35 (plus booking fee) and special two- and three-day weekend tickets are also available with savings of up to 20 per cent if purchased in advance. Full details are available via the event’s official website.


  • Much more to see and do – on land, on the water and in the air
  • New Supercar race category will herald battle for fastest-lap honours
  • Interactive activities for all ages boost the fun factor
  • Ace Cafe leads biggest-ever collection of motorcycles; fast laps performed by TT racer John McGuinness
  • German Sinsheim Museum sends amphibious vehicle to brave the famous British summer!
  • Cobras at the Castle’ will be largest gathering of AC Cobras in the UK
  • Red Arrows and Tri-Services Helicopter Agility competition lead airborne schedule
The Cholmondeley Pageant of Power (15-17 June,, the UK’s biggest celebration of power and speed, is gearing up for its biggest and best event yet in 2012 – with more race cars and supercars, more motorcycles, more helicopters, more powerboats, and more interactive features for visitors to grapple with than ever before.

The on-track action will again be a centrepiece for the three-day event, with a packed schedule of timed sprints and parade runs taking place on the venue’s 1.2-mile circuit. The four-wheeled machinery will be an eclectic mix of classic and modern. The noisiest, if not quite the fastest, of the 100 or more vehicles taking to the challenging Pageant circuit will be the weird and wonderful collection of early 20th-century cars powered by aeroplane engines, with monsters such as the 500bhp 47-litre ‘Brutus’ taking centre stage.

The team at the Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim, Germany, which is home to Brutus, have been observing the recent spells of inclement weather sweeping the UK and are responding by sending to the Pageant another of their exhibits – the amphibious VW Type 166. Who says the Germans don’t have a sense of humour?!

Competition to set a new Cholmondeley circuit lap record will be intense this year, and the fastest time is expected to be set not by any of the legendary race and rally cars competing, but by one of the entrants in the new-for-this-year timed Supercar class. Entrants will include the brutally quick Lamborghini Aventador and new Porsche 911 Carrera S, and dedicated single-seat track weapons such as the British-built BAC Mono and Ariel Atom V8. Visitors can expect to witness some of the most exciting high-octane action ever to take place at the Pageant as a series of drivers make an assault on the 62.68-second lap record set by racer Nikki Faulkner in a Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera LP570-4 in 2010.

The Pageant of Power will also give visitors the chance to see a large selection of modern and classic supercars during the many parade laps throughout the weekend, including the stunning Aston Martin One-77 – one of only five registered in the UK – and the beautiful race-inspired Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the iconic AC Cobra, the Pageant will host the largest gathering of the Anglo-American sports car in the UK this year, in a special display entitled ‘Cobras at the Castle’. The event is also introducing a special race category – the ‘AC Cobra 50th Anniversary Class’ – that will see the most famous Cobras, including one of only three ‘Lightweight Cobras’ ever built, compete for top race honours.

Motorcycling will feature more prominently than before thanks to a new partnership with legendary petrolhead mecca, Ace Cafe London. There will be many more eye-catching hot rods and superbikes – classic and modern – on display, and the Ace Cafe will host a ‘Rockers Restaurant’, recreating the iconic rock ‘n’ roll atmosphere for which the venue in Stonebridge, North London is famed.

Taking to the track will be a host an exciting line-up of some of the most innovative and amazing motorcycles ever seen, including the famed 500cc Moto Guzzi V8 concept, which held the record for fastest Grand Prix motorcycle for 20 years, and which will be ridden throughout the weekend by Double European Trials Champion, Sammy Miller.

Fresh from the latest in a very long line of TT triumphs will be John McGuinness, who will take to the Cholmondeley sprint circuit on the latest incarnation of the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade. The 2012 model, raced by McGuinness for the Honda TT Legends team, celebrates 20 years as one of the world’s most iconic sports bikes.

James Bond fans are sure to be left shaken and stirred as Pageant organisers have partnered with the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu, to display a thrilling line-up of genuine Bond cars. Cars on show will include the vanishing Aston Martin V12 Vanquish from ‘Die Another Day’, complete with its twin .50-calibre autocannons, rocket projectiles, dorsal target-seeking shotguns, and a passenger ejector seat. Also on show will be the Jaguar XKR and Ice Dragster driven by Bond-villains Zao and Gustav Graves in ‘Die Another Day’, and the beautiful BMW Z8 from ‘The World Is Not Enough’.

Taking to the skies will be the ever-popular Tri-Services Helicopter Agility competition, the only public demonstration of its type in the UK, together with an air-sea rescue display by RAF Valley. Bringing added thrills will be the famous Red Arrows, Breitling Wing Walkers, Abarth 300L stunt planes and the RedHawks Duo display team.

The Pageant isn’t just about spectating – this year’s event will be more interactive than ever. Passenger rides will be available throughout the three day event in helicopters, powerboats (taking to the venue’s lakes), hovercraft and even tanks. The event also features more in-field activities than ever before, with attractions ranging from a Top Gear Experience simulator and mini tank-driving arenas, to Segway hire, quad biking and assault courses. A crèche will also be available throughout the three-day event.

There is simply no other event in the whole of the UK that is so packed with action – on land, on our lakes and in the skies above – and which has so much for visitors to experience first hand,” comments James Hall, Event Director at the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power. “This year’s Pageant will be the biggest and best ever, with even more for people to do and see. There will be continuous on-track action, water-based thrills and aerial displays, as well as over 40 different rides and activities for visitors to participate in for themselves. The Pageant has secured its place as Britain’s most thrilling and most interactive day out.”

In 2012, the Pageant of Power has teamed up with two charities – Remount, which helps Armed Forces re-adjust to civilian life, and the Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust in Liverpool. The Pageant has pledged support to both organisations, raising funds through visitor participation during the course of the Pageant.

Now in its fifth year, the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power will take place on the Cholmondeley Estate in Cheshire from Friday 15 to Sunday 17 June, with day passes for the event starting from just £26 for an adult and £5 for a child when ordered in advance. To buy tickets or find further information, visit

Thursday 14 June 2012

Busy June for Race2Recovery

This June will be a busy month for Race2Recovery, the team of predominantly injured and disabled service personnel raising money for charity by targeting a finish on the 2013 Dakar Rally. The team will be attending two of the season's highest profile events to raise awareness of the campaign and funds for the Race2Recovery Foundation charity, which in turn supports the Help for Heroes Tedworth House project.

This weekend, the team will be at the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power, held in the grounds of Cholmondeley Castle in Cheshire. The event is in its fifth year and brings together some of the highest-octane action on land, water and in the air.

There is a huge array of action for any enthusiast and particularly relevant for the Race2Recovery team are two main areas: the Dakar Rally arena will allow the team to demonstrate its Qt Wildcats, which it will be using on next year's gruelling event in South America while the event's Military Combat Vehicles Area will have a familiar feel, as many of the Race2Recovery team members are serving military personnel.

However, the activity will begin even earlier than the official start of the Pageant, as the team has been invited to take part in a cavalcade from MediaCityUK in Salford to the venue on Thursday 14 June. This will see one of the Race2Recovery Qt Wildcats on display at Media City early on Thursday morning before forming part of the procession to the event, which will eventually mark the official opening of this year's Pageant.

Two weeks later, the team will again be out in force, this time at the world-famous Goodwood Festival of Speed. Here, it will be split across three distinct areas: several Qt Wildcats will be seen running through the Forest Rally Stage. The team will also have a presence in the main arena where visitors can find out more about the personalities of the team, a chance for fans to donate to the cause as well as purchase Race2Recovery merchandise.

However, by far the most interesting aspect for visitors will be the team's 'Dakar Experience' area set up close to the Formula One paddock. Here, they will build a section of sand dunes, similar to those they faced on the recent Tuareg Rally in Morocco and will face again on the Dakar next year.

But this will not be a static display; fans will have the opportunity to experience, first-hand, some of the pressure and demands that the most arduous motorsport adventure in the world places on team members. The Race2Recovery team will be running a Wheel Change competition, where members of the public can try their hand at changing one of the Silverline wheels and Cooper Tires that the team uses on its Wildcats.

Determination and teamwork, two of the key qualities personified by the team, will be crucial to success here and there will be daily prizes for the fastest time, as well as a unique, money-can't-buy prize donated by the motorsport community for the best time over the course of the three-day event.

Commenting, team driver and co-founder, Captain Tony Harris, said; "We are incredibly excited and honoured to have been invited to attend these two events. They are both very high profile and attract a huge attendance, so we are hopeful that not only will we be able to raise significant funds for the Race2Recovery Foundation and therefore, to directly support Help for Heroes and the Tedworth House project but also, raise awareness of the campaign even further than so far.

"The Cholmondeley Pageant of Power may be a relatively young event but it is one that is incredibly close to our hearts. The fact that it draws together action from land, sea and air makes it particularly relevant to us, as our team is made up of personnel from all three branches of the services. The combat power on display will also be very interesting to see, bringing our 'Day Jobs' into contact with the project we have chosen to demonstrate that our injuries, and wider disabilities, don't necessarily mean an end to your dreams.

"The Goodwood Festival of Speed is probably the best-known motoring event in the world and it is an honour to be invited to attend, and in so many ways. We are delighted that several Qt Wildcat owners are supporting us, as they did at RallyDay last year, by providing passenger rides on the rally stage with proceeds going directly to the Foundation.

"We will also have a big presence in the main arena, where we will be able to chat to people, explain what Race2Recovery is all about and raise more funds for the charity. But of course, it's the Dakar Experience that we are most excited about.

"We know from this year's Tuareg Rally just how demanding competing in the sand dunes can be - half of the eight-day event was run in the Sahara. So it will be really good to see how people react to changing a wheel and tyre on one of our Wildcats. We have had some amazing prizes donated by members of the motorsport community and will be giving these to the best time of the day, as well as the best overall time all weekend."

The Cholmondeley Pageant of Power takes place at the Cholmondeley Castle, Malpas in Cheshire on 15-17 June while the Goodwood Festival of Speed takes place at Goodwood House, Chichester, from 29 June - 1 July.


After a short absence, Renault - one of the Goodwood Festival of Speed’s earliest supporters – will be returning to the world’s largest celebration of motor sport and car culture in three weeks time, as the 2012 Festival and Moving Motor Show (28 June - 1 July) get underway.

Renault has chosen the 2012 Festival of Speed to celebrate 110 years of its engine expertise, and to debut a number of interesting and important new models and concepts.

Renault will be displaying some of the French marque’s most iconic vehicles at Goodwood, including the Type K - fitted with Renault’s first 4 cylinder engine - which won the Paris to Vienna race in 1902, as well as the 1935 Viva Grand Sport, the legendary Alpine A110, plus the contemporary Megane Renaultsport and Clio Renaultsport. Renault’s all-electric ZOE will be making its British debut, and its new electric Twizy urban commuter will also get its UK public airing in the Goodwood Moving Motor Show.

Other exceptional Renaults are due to participate actively, driving up the 1.16-mile Festival hillclimb. These will include the British premier of the brand new Renault Alpine A110-50 concept, built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the famous Alpine A110 Berlinette, along with the RS01 and RE40 Formula 1 cars, the rally-winning R5 Maxi Turbo, the Alpine A443, Megane Trophy, plus …a very big surprise! These vehicles will be driven by Carlos Tavares, Chief Operating Officer of Renault, as well as Alain Prost, Jean Ragnotti and other well-known Renault drivers.

Tickets and further information for the 2012 Festival of Speed and Goodwood Revival can be found on the Goodwood website ( sport/), or via the Ticket Hotline as follows:
Telephone: +44 (0)1243 755055
On-line via the Ticket section of the website sport/

For all Media enquiries, please contact Gary Axon or Janet Bradley at the Goodwood Motor Sport Press Office:
Telephone: +44 (0)1243 755109
Fax: +44 (0)1243 755115

Goodwood on Facebook:

Goodwood on Twitter:
Festival of Speed:

The Goodwood Festival of Speed is proud to support the National Motorsport Week in the UK. For more information visit

Wednesday 13 June 2012


Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship leader Seb Morris (Marford, Wrexham) will arrive at Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire next Sunday, 17th June, hoping to add to his tally of three race wins during rounds six and seven of the 2012 season.

Following on from a victorious double last time out at Rockingham, the Fortec Motorsports driver currently holds a 12 point advantage at the top of the standings after an excellent start to his first season in single-seater racing – one which has produced an unbroken run of five pole positions.

The annual visit to Thruxton will be the sole ‘one-day’ event of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC season with practice, qualifying and two races all packed in to a very busy schedule for the teams and drivers.

“It’s all going well for us so far”, commented the 16-year-old, “It was nice to come away from Rockingham with the two results we’d hoped for before the weekend so hopefully we can do the same again at Thruxton.

“It’s going to be a different race meeting this time, with everything packed into one day – qualifying and both races – it’ll be very busy. We’ve only got one short practice before qualifying as well so it’ll be vital to adapt as quickly as possible. I’m confident we can do well though, the team has given me a fantastic car all year and there’s no reason that should be any different at Thruxton.”

Morris’ closest challenger in the points is two time McLaren Autosport BRDC Award finalist Scott Malvern (Barkingside, Ilford) who has proven his class despite precious little time in the car. Only joining the series in the days leading up to the season-opener thanks to a late deal with Cliff Dempsey Racing, the 23-year-old overcame a series of issues at Snetterton to record his first win.

Three other podiums, two last month at Rockingham and a new lap record at the Northamptonshire track, show Malvern will be an increasingly potent force as the season progresses. Somewhat surprisingly though, next weekend’s race meeting will mark Malvern’s first ever visit to Thruxton.

“I think it's the only track in the UK I've never been to, I've driven past it a couple of times but that's it - it's all completely new territory for me”, said Malvern, “I've not actually sat in the car since Rockingham, we haven't tested at all but I know Cliff [Dempsey] and the team have been working hard to make improvements.

“In some ways I'm disappointed to be second in the championship. Looking at the situation we're in though, coming in literally days before the start of the season, having never driven a Renault in anger, with a team that's not been in Renault for about 10 years and with a car that hasn’t run for a couple of years, we’re not doing that bad!”

MGR Motorsport’s Josh Webster (Stowmarket, Suffolk) is the season’s other race winner and he actually held the lead of the championship after the opening three rounds of the campaign. Dreadful misfortune at Rockingham though, where he was caught-up in a qualifying accident which wrecked his entire weekend, dropped him to third in the standings.

Although 41 points adrift of Morris, the MSA Team UK driver certainly has the pace and pedigree to begin closing the gap during rounds six and seven and he’ll be more determined than ever to get back on the top step of the podium.

Scorpio Motorsport’s Macaulay Walsh (Northampton) leads the chase behind the top three and after such a tough weekend for Webster at Rockingham, the impressive teenager is just four points shy of the 2011 Vice-Champion. MGR team-mates David Wagner (Glasgow) and James Fletcher (Windlesham, Surrey), meanwhile, are tied for fifth in the standings.

Once again, a near-capacity entry is expected for the Thruxton event which will begin with a 15 minute practice session at 10.45 on Sunday, 17th June. Qualifying for both races will follow at 12.20 with round six beginning at 14.45 and round seven at 17.25.

Along with headline sponsor Protyre, Formula Renault BARC is additionally supported by Michelin, The Lubricant Consultancy, Petronas Syntium and NGK Spark Plugs.

Provisional 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship Driver Standings (after Rd5):
1st Seb Morris, 140pts
2nd Scott Malvern, 128pts
3rd Josh Webster, 99pts;
4th Macaulay Walsh 95pts
5th David Wagner & James Fletcher, 86pts

Fast and Furious Honda Action at Goodwood Festival of Speed

Honda will be setting thrilling new challenges and encouraging visitors to get involved in some racing of their own at the 2012 Goodwood Festival of Speed.

The Honda Racing-themed stand will be a buzz of excitement as visitors race ride-on lawn mowers and navigate a mini British Touring Car Civic around a scale version of the iconic Goodwood Hill Climb against the clock.
Honda’s Mini Goodwood Hill Climb
Honda, alongside Racing Bug Motorsport; manufacturers of the world's leading scale motor racing systems, will be creating an exciting new challenge for the Festival to give visitors the chance to take on the famous track for themselves. The new challenge will allow participants to navigate a remote controlled Civic on the Hill Climb by using real steering and pedal controls to pit their skills against Honda BTCC drivers Matt Neal and Gordon 'Flash' Shedden who will have set a time at the beginning of the weekend.

Precision timing will measure driver performance to within a hundredth of a second and prizes will be awarded to the fastest drivers to ascend the hill.
Honda Lawn Mower Action
Honda’s ride-on lawn mowers will be racing at a more leisurely pace on a 20 metre course as guests go head-to-head with friends and family to try and top the leader board and be named the ultimate Honda lawn mower racing champion at the end of the weekend.
Relax and soak up the atmosphere in the ‘Pit Stop’
The Honda stand will also feature a specially designed ‘Pit Stop’ chill out area where people are encouraged to stop by, pull up a deck chair, rest their feet and soak up the adrenaline-fuelled atmosphere.

All the activities on the Honda Racing stand are completely free of charge.
Civic MUGEN Concept Unveil
Goodwood Festival of Speed is also providing the ideal backdrop to unveil the new Civic MUGEN Concept. This Concept highlights the magic the MUGEN Euro team can weave and hints at what a production Civic MUGEN could look like. The concept will sit alongside Gordon Shedden’s BTCC racing Civic, the 2012 Samsung Honda Fireblade and James Toseland’s 2007 championship winning Ten Kate Honda Fireblade.
Full Size Goodwood Hill Climb
Fans of the full-sized Goodwood Hill Climb will see triple British Touring Car Champion Matt Neal take his BTCC new racing Civic up the track everyday. Meanwhile, two-wheel enthusiasts will see Michael Laverty and John Kirkham riding the 2012 Samsung Honda Fireblade, John McGuinness on the Honda TT Legends Fireblade and Jason O’Halloran riding the 2006 HM Plant Fireblade machine.

All riders and drivers will be regular visitors to the Honda stand throughout the weekend to take part in the activities and sign autographs.
Book your Tickets NOW
The Goodwood Festival of Speed runs between 28 June and 1 July and tickets can be booked in advance by visiting the website -