Category Archives: BTCC

BTCC – The Jack Sears Trophy So Far

The 2013 British Touring Car Championship season has so far been an intriguing one. The balance of power between the Hondas and MGs has been the main talking point, along with the emergence of a new title challenger in Andrew Jordan and the improving pace of the WSR BMWs.

But perhaps a little forgotten among many BTCC followers is the Jack Sears Trophy. It may only have six entries, but the competition between them has been worth watching since the off. Names that are normally at the back of the pack due to their small budgets, not necessarily their abilities, are being given the chance to stand on the podium for the first time. Unsurprisingly, these drivers are not prepared to let these opportunities pass without a fight. The other aspect of this competition that is worth noting is that unlike the other sub-championships in the series such as the Independents trophy, the Jack Sears Trophy does not use a points-based system. Instead it is the driver with the most wins in the class who will take the trophy, presented by Jack Sears himself, come October. This system brings a new dynamic to the racing between the S2000 cars. There are, quite literally, no prizes for coming second.

In the build-up to the season Lea Wood and Liam Griffin, who drive a Vauxhall Vectra and Ford Focus respectively, were touted as being the favourites for overall glory due to their experience in the BTCC. Wood has always been fast but has never had front running machinery underneath him while Griffin only decided to delay his retirement from the series because he was confident he challenge for the silverware.  The pair has been the Jack Sears pacesetters so far, sharing 75% of the victories with Wood leading the trophy with 5 wins to Griffin’s 4 out of 12 races.  Add to the mix BTCC veteran James Kaye driving the AMD run Volkswagen Golf, who himself has taken two wins, and you have a healthy little battle. The other half of the JST field is made up of BTCC rookies, but that doesn’t mean they are uncompetitive. M247 racing Chevrolet Cruze driver Joe Girling has shown impressive speed which has already been rewarded with a class victory at Donington Park. Welch Motorsport’s David Nye has also been on the pace this season but is yet to take a victory in his Ford Focus. The final JST runner is BMR Restart’s Warren Scott in his Seat Leon. The team have been blighted with bad luck so far this season, which was at its most obvious at Oulton Park, where apparent driveshaft and clutch problems forced a retirement in Race 1 and meant they were unable to start the following two races. Despite this, however, the ever enthusiastic Scott has managed, to his credit, to keep on smiling and enjoy his BTCC adventure.

There has been a one-off driver change already this season on the cup, with VW Racing Cup points-leader Aaron Mason replacing James Kaye, who had to see to unavoidable business commitments, for the last round at Oulton Park. The 33-year-old is the most successful driver in the history of the VW cup and certainly has aspirations of becoming a full time BTCC driver. He showed impressive pace on his debut, qualifying fourth in class and taking a best race result of 21st, before a driveshaft failure in Race 2 ended his weekend prematurely, as he got to grips with the Turbo engine in the S2000 Golf.

JST Pic: Griffin and Wood have been the men to beat so far

There will be another newcomer this weekend at Croft. Griffin, who lies second in the standings, also has business commitments and the Motorbase squad have worked with the cars primary sponsor, Addison Lee, to arrange a deal for 19-year-old Ginetta graduate Jake Hill to drive the Focus in his place. Hill, the son of ITV commentator Simon, has had a test in the car before with Motorbase at Brands Hatch last year and is also well accustomed to the TOCA package thanks to his time racing Ginettas in both the Junior and Supercup series’. He’ll be determined to prove his worth in the car so watch out for him at the pointy end on the Jack Sears field at the weekend.

So far then, the JST has been a great championship to follow. It’s had the competitiveness, thrills and spills to match the main championship with a fraction of the number of competitors. It’s great to hear series boss Alan Gow mention that he too is delighted with the success of the newly created trophy and has made clear his intentions to keep it going beyond 2013. With the S2000 cars being phased out of the championship completely for next season, however, the focus of the championship will have to change. It could therefore become a championship for rookie drivers or for cars running the standard TOCA engine, for example.

BTCC 2013 – Round 1 Action

Blink and you’ll miss it; That’s probably been the best way to describe the 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship so far. Its amazing to think we’re a fifth of the way into the season so far. So how’s it been? Well as you might expect, it’s been bloody entertaining. I’ll start with Round 1.

The season started at Brands Hatch on a chilly  (that’s putting it mildly, especially considering some light snow decided to make an appearance) Easter weekend. Qualifying started on a sour note for both rookie Jack Goff and returning champion Colin Turkington after the former collected the latter on the exit of Druids just two minutes into the half hour session (Watch it here). When the session resumed after the stoppage caused by the incident, it was rising star Andrew Jordan who set the fastest time halfway through the session to take pole, albeit with the second half of the session rendered effectively pointless due to the arrival of that snow that I mentioned.

However, It was the BTCC’s main man, Jason Plato, who took the wins in the first two races of the season. In the first race, he took the lead from a fast starting Rob Austin (more on him in a bit) in the early stages and held on to take his 75th victory in the series, despite an ill-judged and somewhat desperate attempt of an overtake from pole-sitter Jordan on the last corner (Watch it here).

Plato led from lights to flag to take his 76th success in race 2, a race in which Frank Wrathall unfortunately blotted his copybook. Just two laps in to the race and Frank, who up to that point in his BTCC career had been praised for his clean driving style, went for an overtake on Turkington at the Paddock Hill Bend. It was an honest enough attempt, but he should of spotted that the gap on the inside of Colin’s BMW was not only tight, but it was also getting smaller. The pair inevitably came together, with the BMW being fired off into the gravel. Colin recovered, but way down at the back of the field. (Watch it here). A little later on in the encounter, Wrathall came up against his good mate Rob Austin. Going into Druids, Austin went wide to give Frank enough to room to make the pass, only for the Toyota man to run wide unnecessarily wide himself and hit the back of the Audi and take it out of the race. As we all know, bad things come in threes and thats exactly what happened to Wrathall. The pack was bunched up due to a safety car and on the restart, Wrathall was bundled into at the rear at Druids by Matt Neal, spinning him into the gravel. Fair to say then, Frank was glad to see the back of that race.

Race 3 was won by Matt Neal, who worked his way through the field after a sometimes trying weekend to tkae the checkered flag first. His Honda team mate and reigning champion finished second. However, the limelight belonged to MG youngster Sam Tordoff, who was competing in only his second ever BTCC meeting and his first in over two years, who put in a well measured and feisty drive to take a great maiden podium. The race was partially marred though by a massive shunt for Audi man Rob Austin, who was collected by a spinning Dave Newsham on the exit of Paddock and sent into the tyre barrier at a scary speed (Watch it here). Thankfully, Rob was OK but the car was wrecked and in need of a re-shell, not an easy task for such a small team with a limited budget. Adam Morgan wrapped up an already impressive weekend in his family run Toyota with a great drive to take his first independent win in fourth place, behind Tordoff.

In the Jack Sears Trophy for S2000 cars, Motorbase driver Liam Griffin took two wins, but the second of those only came when Vauxhall driver Lea Wood was excluded from the race after initially taking the victory in Race 3. James Kaye took the other win in race 2 in his AMD run VW Golf.

Race 1 Result (Top 5):

1) Jason Plato 2) Andrew Jordan 3) Rob Austin 4) Sam Tordoff 5) Jeff Smith

Race 2 Result (Top 5):

1) Jason Plato 2) Andrew Jordan 3) Jeff Smith 4) Matt Neal 5) Sam Tordoff

Race 3 Result (Top 5):

1) Matt Neal 2) Gordon Shedden 3) Sam Tordoff 4) Adam Morgan 5) Jason Plato

BTCC 2013 – Media Day

Unfortunately I was unable to attend today’s (Thursday) BTCC Media Day at Donington Park because of work, and it seems like a missed a great event. For those who don’t know what the media day is, it’s basically the launch event prior to every BTCC season. It’s where most of the cars, liveries and driver line ups are put on show, and the official entry list for the upcoming season is confirmed and announced.

The big news this year was what everyone was hoping for, a record grid of 32-cars. When you consider that 32 is the maximum number of entries allowed at any given round in the series, it’s pretty impressive. As ever, however, not all cars were present at the event. Tony Gilham’s Team HARD squad took the decision to not bring it’s 3 already completed cars to give the guys back at the workshop nough time as possible to finish them off before the season opener at Brands Hatch on Easter Weekend. Andy Neate, who confirmed yesterday that he would run two cars in 2013, was unable to bring his NGTC Chevrolet Cruze to the event as it no yet finished. Chris Stockton, who will start his campaign at Snetterton in his own NGTC Cruze, also did not attend.

The morning kicked off with the unvieling of entry list as well as the first look at some of the new liveries and cars being used in 2013. The afternoon slot was used as the only official BTCC test of the year. The results of the te

POS NO CL DRIVER NAT CAR TEAM CLASS TIME LAPS GAP
1 77 I Andrew JORDAN GBR Honda Civic Pirtek Racing NGTC 1:10.358 75
2 99 M Jason PLATO GBR MG6 GT MG KX Momentum Racing NGTC 1:10.429 56 0.071
3 1 M Gordon SHEDDEN GBR Honda Civic Honda Yuasa Racing NGTC 1:10.460 52 0.102
4 33 I Adam MORGAN GBR Toyota Avensis Ciceley Racing NGTC 1:10.748 59 0.390
5 17 I Dave NEWSHAM GBR Toyota Avensis Speedworks Motorsport NGTC 1:10.921 50 0.563
6 2 M Matt NEAL GBR Honda Civic Honda Yuasa Racing NGTC 1:10.972 47 0.614
7 88 M Sam TORDOFF GBR MG6 GT MG KX Momentum Racing NGTC 1:11.124 69 0.766
8 8 I Aron SMITH IRL Ford Focus Airwaves Racing NGTC 1:11.258 68 0.900
9 11 I Frank WRATHALL GBR Toyota Avensis Dynojet NGTC 1:11.592 68 1.234
10 29 I Colin TURKINGTON GBR BMW 125i M Sport eBay Motors NGTC 1:11.621 44 1.263
11 10 I Daniel WELCH GBR Proton Gen-2 Welch Motorsport with Sopp + Sopp NGTC 1:11.792 43 1.434
12 13 I Rob AUSTIN GBR Audi A4 WIX Racing NGTC 1:11.829 46 1.471
13 14 I Will BRATT GBR Audi A4 WIX Racing NGTC 1:11.995 79 1.637
14 7 I Mat JACKSON GBR Ford Focus Airwaves Racing NGTC 1:12.044 50 1.686
15 55 I Jeff SMITH GBR Honda Civic Pirtek Racing NGTC 1:12.084 21 1.726
16 5 I Rob COLLARD GBR BMW 125i M Sport eBay Motors NGTC 1:12.164 39 1.806
17 18 I Nick FOSTER GBR BMW 125i M Sport eBay Motors NGTC 1:12.337 53 1.979
18 66 I Liam GRIFFIN GBR Ford Focus Addison Lee Motorbase S2000 1:12.892 54 2.534
19 15 I James KAYE GBR Volkswagen Golf AmDTuning.com S2000 1:13.030 43 2.672
20 48 I Oliver JACKSON GBR Toyota Avensis Speedworks Motorsport NGTC 1:13.080 11 2.722
21 90 I Joe GIRLING GBR Chevrolet Cruze M247 Racing S2000 1:14.884 38 4.526
22 39 I Warren SCOTT GBR SEAT Leon Team BMR Restart S2000 1:14.913 35 4.555
23 12 I David NYE GBR Ford Focus Welch Motorsport with Sopp + Sopp S2000 1:15.245 56 4.887

(Information from btccpages.co.uk)

I’ve already written a preview of the 2013 championship in a previous post which includes a detailed run through of the participating teams and drivers. Here is the official entry list for the 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship;

No –   Driver – Team – Car – Class
1 –       Gordon Shedden – Honda Racing Team – Honda Civic – NGTC
2 –       Matt Neal – Honda Racing Team – Honda Civic – NGTC
4 –       Michael Caine – Motorbase Performance – Ford Focus ST – NGTC
5 –       Rob Collard – West Surrey Racing – BMW 125i – NGTC
6 –       Tom Onslow-Cole –  Tony Gilham Racing – Volkswagen CC – NGTC
7 –       Mat Jackson – Motorbase Performance – Ford Focus ST – NGTC
8 –       Aron Smith – Motorbase Performance – Ford Focus ST – NGTC
10 –     Daniel Welch – Welch Motorsport – Proton Persona – NGTC
11 –      Frank Wrathall – Dynojet Racing – Toyota Avensis – NGTC
12 –     David Nye – Welch Motorsport – Ford Focus ST – S2000
13 –     Rob Austin – Rob Austin Racing – Audi A4 – NGTC
14 –     Will Bratt – Rob Austin Racing – Audi A4 – NGTC
15 –     James Kaye – AmD Tuning – Volkswagen Golf V – S2000
17 –     Dave Newsham – Speedworks Motorsport – Toyota Avensis – NGTC
18 –     Nick Foster – West Surrey Racing – BMW 125i – NGTC
20 –    James Cole – Tony Giham Racing – Vauxhall Insignia – NGTC
22 –    Howard Fuller – Tony Gilham Racing – Volkswagen CC – NGTC
28 –    Chris Stockton – BTC Racing – Chevrolet Cruze – NGTC
29 –    Colin Turkington – West Surrey Racing – BMW 125i – NGTC
31 –    Jack Goff – Tony Gilham Racing – Vauxhall Insignia – NGTC
33 –   Adam Morgan – Cicely Racing – Toyota Avensis – NGTC
39 –   Warren Scott – BMR Restart Racing – SEAT León – S2000
43 –   Lea Wood – JWT Performance – Vauxhall Vectra – S2000
44 –   Andy Neate – IP Tech Race Engineering – Chevrolet Cruze – NGTC
48 –   Oliver Jackson – Speedworks Motorsport – Toyota Avensis – NGTC
55 –   Jeff Smith – Eurotech Racing – Honda Civic – NGTC
66 –   Liam Griffin – Motorbase Performance – Ford Focus ST – S2000
77 –   Andrew Jordan – Eurotech Racing – Honda Civic – NGTC
88 –   Sam Tordoff – Triple Eight Race Engineering – MG6 GT – NGTC
90-     Joe Girling – Tech-Speed Motorsport – Chevrolet Cruze LT – S2000
99 –   Jason Plato – Triple Eight Race Engineering – MG6 GT – NGTC
TBC –  TBC – IP Tech Race Engineering – Chevrolet Cruze – NGTC

(Information from TouringCarTimes)

Finally here are some pictures from Media Day;

Media_DP_130321_PS0180-630x354

Media_DP_130321_PS0351-600x401

BF38syjCYAEA2k-

Media_DP_130321_NT0471-600x401

Media_DP_130321_NT0130-600x401

Media_DP_130321_DD0247-600x401

BF5TqxdCEAAEfjm

BTCC 2013 – Season Preview

It’s not long now until the UK’s most prestigious racing series, the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, gets underway for the 2013 season. Already it looks like it might be a great year, as we have hit the grid limit of 32 cars for the first time ever. News like this is very much welcomed by most fans after what most would feel was a disappointing season last year, with some small grids (for example only 19 cars entering at Knockhill) and some suspect driving antics. The main reason for the fluctuation in grid sizes is the fact that we are now into the third season of the transition in regulations from the FIA-spec S2000 chassis’, to the newly founded NGTC (Next Generation Touring Car) chassis’. The idea behind the new cars is that they are designed to be cheaper to build and to run. Although this theory was met with some skepticism by a few team managers in 2011 when it was first introduced, it is generally accepted now as being a better platform than the older set of regulations. As a result, the overall NGTC count on the grid has grown from 6 at the end of its inaugural season in 2011, to an estimated 27 for the coming campaign. Only six S2000 will feature in 2013 and will not benefit from turbo boost increases as the season progresses as the NGTC machinery will do, unlike last year where the aim was parity between the two different types of car as the S2000/NGTC split was roughly 50/50. Therefore, to give smaller teams who can only afford to run in second-hand S2000 machinery something to fight for, the Jack Sears trophy has been created. This is a ‘mini-championship’ exclusive to S2000 entries, but don’t expect it to be fought out too fiercely, as I said only a handful of the chassis’ will compete.

The championship will, as usual, consist of 30 races spread evenly between 10 meetings, both starting and ending at the ‘spiritual home of the BTCC’, Brands Hatch. So whose racing in 2013 then? Well, let me give you a run through:

Honda Yuasa Racing (Team Dynamics)

Media_DP_130321_NT0471-600x401

As the team that effectively dominated the BTCC over the last two years and weren’t too bad in 2010 either, Honda returns in 2013 with it’s usual manufacturer entry of two Honda Civics, run by experienced outfit Team Dynamics. The driver line-up remains as it was for the last three seasons too, with reigning champion Gordon Shedden partnering former triple champion Matt Neal in the NGTC spec machines, or ‘pocket-rockets’, as Neal often refers to them as. Shedden finally took his first crown last year, after so many years of finishing the season as bridesmaid. He is one of the very quickest out there and is a consistent winner in the series having taken a remarkable 19 victories in the last three seasons alone, with an overall total of 29. Neal is a veteran of the series and is just as conistent with 17 of his 48 BTCC victories coming since the start of 2010. The team were expected to have a far less dominant season last year seeing as they only started developing the car not long before season begun. It had many gremlins at first, but the team’s experience meant they were quickly eliminated and Shedden went on to take the title with Neal finishing runner-up. It is hard to see them struggling to repeat that level of success in 2013.

neal  Pic: Matt Neal        shedden Pic: Gordon Shedden

MG KX Momentum Racing (Triple 8 Race Engineering)

Media_DP_130321_PS0180-630x354

Rather late on in the build-up to the 2012 season, MG announced it was to return as a manufacturer entry in the series, with a pair of NGTC-spec MG6’s run by Ian Harrison’s Triple 8 squad. A win at the first round at Brands Hatch was remarkable, and the team went on to mount a serious title challenge with the most successful driver in he series in terms of wins, Jason Plato. PLato is just one of those drivers you can never discount, he is always a man at the sharp end and even when things are seemingly going wrong, he finds a way of fighting back. This is made clear by the countless drives he has produced, carving his way through the field from the back. He is accompanied this year by rising star Sam Tordoff, who I went through in detail in an earlier post. The MG still looked handful towards the end of last year, but it was quick. And it will be even quicker in 2013, so can it deliver the title?

plato Pic: Jason Plato                    dr_207_pv Pic: Sam Tordoff

ebay Motors (West Surrey Racing)

 ebay

The experienced BMW squad have ditched their race winning but ageing S2000 BMW 3-Series’ for brand new NGTC-spec BMW 1-Series’. Rob Collard, who won 3 races last year, stays with the team for the fourth consecutive season with Nick Foster also staying with the team. The big news, however, is the return of 2009 champion Colin Turkington, which i went through in more detail in an earlier post. They don’t have the experience with the car that the others will have with theirs, so thoughts of a championship challenge might be a little optimistic, but they will certainly be up towards the front as the season progresses.

collard Pic: Rob Collard      dr_4_pv Pic: Colin Turkington  foster  Pic: Nick Foster

Airwaves Racing/Addison Lee Racing (Motorbase Performance)

btcc13030601 Test_BH_130307_045w-600x399

Every year, Motorbase aim for the title but their challenge always seems to fall apart. This year, there can be no excuses. They sacrificed their 2012 season at the half way point when they decided to swap Mat Jackson‘s S2000 Ford Focus ST for a brand new and ultimately undeveloped NGTC one. Progress was mightily impressive and a win at Silverstone was well deserved. Reliability was an issue, and two possible wins were lost due to engine and electrical problems. Jackson is always a BTCC front-runner no matter what he is in, and no one would begrudge him a title. His team-mate Aron Smith, however, is young and only has one full BTCC campaign under his belt, but he is talented. During the second half of last season, only eventual champion Shedden scored more points than Smith. He had a tremendous run of form, peaking with a maiden podium at Silverstone and a great debut win at Brands Hatch in difficult conditions. This year, he gets his own NGTC Focus and will be certainly worth keeping an eye for some more wins perhaps. Liam Griffin also remains with the team, but he will keep his S2000 Focus and will be going for the Jack Series Trophy. The squad have got chewing gum brand Airwaves back on board as a main sponsor for this year, resulting in a new look, blue livery. Griffin will race under a different banner to that of Jackson and Smith and will sport a black livery with Addison Lee sponsoring. Reigning British GT champion Michael Caine will dovetail his attempted defence of that title with a return to the BTCC with Motorbase. He will drive the team’s third NGTC Focus under the same Addison Lee banner as Griffin. He will start his season at Donington when the car is ready.

Jackson Pic: Mat Jackson  smith Pic: Aron Smith

Griffin Pic: Liam Griffin   Caine Pic: Michael Caine

Team Pirtek (Eurotech) 

10fam

For the second season running, the privateer Eurotech team will act as Team Dynamics’ satellite squad. They will run a pair of NGTC Honda Civics, identical to those of the reigning champions. Andrew Jordan is a four-time BTCC race winner at the age of just 23, and is tipped as a future champion but needs to up his game a tad. He’s quick, but not spectacular enough. His pole at Thruxton was sublime, but he threw it away by spinning on the first corner of the first race. He says he’s aiming for overall title this year having taken the independents crown last year, but he will need to be more consistent if he is to achieve that goal. He is joined for the thirs successive season by Jeff Smith, who seems to improve every year and took a great maiden podium at Knockhill in 2012.

jordan Pic: Andrew Jordan   jsmith Pic: Jeff Smith

Rob Austin Racing

A4

If there is a team that deserves some luck, it’s this one. One of the first teams to commit  to the NGTC regulations in 2011, they have shown tremendous  determination to get their Audi A4’s as near to the front as possible, although simply getting them on the grid oftem seems to be the bigger problem due to unstable finances. The car has  had two podiums in the hands of the ever-charismatic Rob Austin, who was forced to miss a few rounds last year because of the team’s money problems. Wix filters has confirmed it sponsor Austin all  season, meaning that the NASCAR-style livery which appeared at the final round last season gets a further ten outings. Former Formula 2 race winner Will Bratt, who contested a few rounds last season, also gets a full campaign in the second A4. Lets hope we get to see the true pace of the Audis in 2013.

dr_182_pv  Pic: Rob Austin   dr_199_pv Pic: Will Bratt

Team HARD.

st_9537_0cec  402581_509675052401268_465431506_n 32636_509674979067942_1393258771_n

Former Cagefighter, VW Racing Cup UK champion and Porsche Carrera Cup racer Tony Gilham set up the team at the beginning of last year to run his S2000 Honda Civic. Having bought both of Thorney Motorsport’s NGTC Vauxhall Insignias, he set the ambitious target of increasing its participation to four NGTC machines in 2013,  with the two Insignias being parterned two VW Passat CC’s built by the team themselves. The team has signed BTCC race winner and potential future champion  Tom Onslow-Cole to race one of the VW’s. Even at the age of just 25, TO-C enters his seventh consecutive BTCC season this year, and will be expected to move this relatively new team forward. Reigning Renault Clio Cup champion Jack Goff steps up to the series to race one of the team’s Vauxhalls (a move which I explained in more detail in an earlier post) and will be accompanied in the Insignia line-up by former Formula Ford and Formula 2 racer James Cole. There is some doubt as to whether the second Passat, which will be shared throughout the season by Howard Fuller and American racer Robb Holland, will be on the grid for the first round at Brands, but the team remain hopeful. In fact, there’s even rumour of a third Passat being built if either Holland, Fuller or another driver find the budget for a full season. In difficult financial times, it has to be said it is great to see such enthusiasm, determination and optimism from a small privateer team. Their target will be to finish consistently in the top 10.

toc Pic: Tom Onslow-Cole   dr_205_pv Pic: Jack Goff

dr_204_pv Pic: James Cole  holland Pic: Robb Holland

dr_198_pvPic: Howard Fuller

Dynojet Racing

frankie

The small Lancashire-based squad are proving to be one of the most popular on the BTCC grid in recent years. The family run team joined the series in 2011 with reigning Ginetta G50 Champion Frank Wrathall, taking advantage of the then brand new NGTC regulations to run a Toyota Avensis in the outfit’s distinctive orange and black livery. As you would expect with a small, inexperienced team and a brand new, relatively undeveloped car, progress was slow initially. Countless reliability issues plagued the first half of their 2011 campaign. In the second half, though, we began to see what this package could really do. Their first points came at a strong Snetterton round, and from there the ball finally started to roll. Three successive podiums came at Knochill and at Rockingham, where he narrowly missed out on victory. 2012 was a better year, but the results didn’t really reflect that. He took a maiden pole at Snetterton but couldn’t convert it into a win. Going into the last race of the season at Brands Hatch, Wrathall only had one podium to his name all season. But that was about to change. In the reversed grid race, he inherited the lead early on from Mat Jackosn who suffered electrical issues. He did incredibly well to keep former champion Matt Neal at arms length throughout the race and took a great maiden win, in what were difficult conditions to master on a challenging circuit. 2013 should be a better year for Frank and the Dynojet Team, and he should be full of confidence having taken his first victory. He could be a dark horse for some more champagne this year.

wrathall Pic: Frank Wrathall

Welch Motorsport

welch 2

The Proton squad have been a on a steady rise to the front in their one and a half years in the BTCC.  There has been definite progress, and they do seem to be getting nearer the sharp end. Dan Welch was unlucky not to be on the podium at Oulton Park and at Silverstone. The car looks a good one on its day and is becoming a regular feature in the top 10, both in qualifying and in the races. There has been rumour of the team running a second Proton Persona this year, but instead they have opted to buy one of Redstone Racing’s old S2000 Ford Focus’, and run it for former SEAT Cupra Cup racer, David Nye, who will be competing for the Jack Sears Trophy. Expect to see the team becoming a regular front-runner. Podiums and possibly wins will come soon if the team continues this rate of progress.

welch  Pic: Dan Welch   dr_209_pv Pic: David Nye

IP Tech Race Engineering

ip

BTCC regular Andy Neate has set up his own team for the 2013 season to run a newly built NGTC Chevrolet Cruze. The car was started by the RML Chevrolet team in 2011 before they decided to pull out of the championship. Andy has bought the shell and his team will finish building it. This would be the fourth team Neate has raced for in four seasons in the BTCC, so now he needs to create some stability. Don’t expect points early on, but the car could be one to watch in latter stages of the campaign. The team will skip the fisrt round at Brands Hatch so that they can get a little more testing under their belts.  A second Cruze has been entered for 2013 which will be built after the Donington Park round.

Andy+Neate+BTCC+Media+Day+LNPayGkFsArx Pic: Andy Neate

Speedworks Motorsport

speedworks

Now in their third season in the series, Speedworks now have an oppurtunity to make a name for themselves as regulars in the points places. Like Dynojet, their Toyota Avensis was a real handful to get on top of due to reliability issues in 2011 with Tony Hughes driving. They were closer to the pace in 2012 with Hughes and Adam Morgan, but the results still didn’t come. BTCC fan favourite Paul O’Neill made a return to the series, replacing Hughes for 2 events, and he scored the teams best points finishes, showing just how good the car could be. Unfortunately, O’Neill couldn’t find the budget to compete in 2013, Tony Hughes decided to retire and Adam Morgan has left to race for his own team (more on that in a bit). This meant that the team had two empty seats for 2013, but it has already filled one of them. Former Clio Cup champion and BTCC race winner Dave Newsham has joined the team. Newsham, who also starts his third season this year, was a revelation last year, winning two races and scoring multiple podiums in the ageing S2000 Vauxhall Vectra for the small and inexperienced Team ESRacing.com. The team has signed former AMD driver Ollie Jackson to drive the second Avensis, and he will be looking for a consistent run of points scoring results.

dr_175_pv Pic: Dave Newsham    dr_191_pv Pic: Ollie Jackson

Ciceley Racing

IMG_4378-600x400

As I just mentioned, 2011 Ginetta GT Supercup champion Adam Morgan has left Speedworks to race with his own family run squad in 2013, and this is it. The team has purchased the Toyota Avensis raced by Frank Wrathall in 2011. Adam himself looks a promising talent, but needs to be more consistent. Many potential good points finishes were thrown away last year either by driver error or lack of luck. This was more evident than ever last year when he took the reverse grid pole at Rockingham and lead for half a lap but went wide and slipped well down the order. If he can get some consistency going, regular points finishes are possible.

morgan Pic: Adam Morgan

BTC Racing

BTC Racing returns for the first time since 2008 to race one of the Chevrolet Cruze’s initially developed by RML. We won’t see the team until later on in the season as the car won’t be finished for some time due to low-budget and a small number of resources. TVR ace Chris Stockton will also make his return to the series to drive the car.

stcokton Pic: Chris Stockton

AMD Tuning.com

Media_DP_130321_PS0351-600x401

AMD-Vauxhall-Astra

There remains a little bit of confusion as to what the AMD’s 2013 entry will consist of. We do know that throughout the season, the team will run, as it has done for last three years, its turbo powered  S2000-spec VW Golf for BTCC veteran and returnee James Kaye. We also know that from Snetterton onwards we should be seeing the team’s new challenger, a brand new NGTC-spec Vauxhall Astra. What we are still unsure of is whether we will be seeing a S2000 Ford Focus, with team having struck a deal with Motorbase to purchase the car. It has been said that whether or not we will see it depends on if they can find a well-budgeted driver to fund the seat. With the new car coming late in the season, it is clear the team’s eyes are firmly fixed on 2014.

dr_11_pv Pic: James Kaye

M247 Racing (TechSpeed)

IMG_4080-600x399

When RML Chevrolet announced their withdrawal from the series in 2011, their sattelite squad Techspeed had no choice but to follow suit with its pair of Chevrolet Cruze’s as they did not have the resources to run them without aid from Ray Mallock’s outfit. They did not feature in 2012, instead deciding to focus on raising funds to fit both Cruze’s with NGTC engines ready for a 2013 assault. This was achieved before the end of last year, but plans to make an early comeback at the final two rounds of 2012 with former Dunlop Production Touring Car racer Joe Girling were dropped in order to save money. It’s great to see them back because the S2000 Chevrolet Cruze chassis is arguably one of the best in Touring car history and it was sad to see it missing from the BTCC grid last year.

dr_208_pv Pic: Joe Girling

Team BMR Restart

ct_btcc_bmr_golf

Like the Cruze, the S2000 Seat Leon will also return to the grid after a year’s absence as former bike racer Warren Scott has purchased one from Belgium, fitted it with an Turbo engine, and has entered it for 2013. Scott says he’s in the BTCC for the long run and has made clear his ambition to build full NGTC spec cars for 2014. He’ll be competing in the Jack Sears Trophy this year and has a realistic chance of winning it.

Warren+Scott+BTCC+Media+Day+Za-rG1J_8F3l  Pic: Warren Scott

Wheel Heaven / Houseman Racing

btcc12081403-600x354

Lea Wood announced on the eve of Media day that he would remain in the BTCC in 2013, with his family team, in the trusty S2000 Vauxhall Vectra. Wood has driven for his own team in recent years and is quick, even if he doesn’t always get the results to back this up, losing an almost certain maiden podium finish to a gearbox failure at Snetterton last year for example. The Vectra has long been a very quick car and Wood is a capable driver, and as such they are many people’s favourites to take the Jack Sears Trophy in 2013.

dr_160_pv  Pic: Lea Wood

So that’s it, the class of 2013. There will be more drivers confirmed in the next few weeks and there will be, as always, changes in line-ups as the season progresses.

Lets hope 2013 recaptures the magic of the biggest and best racing series in the British Isles.

BTCC 2013 – Return of a Champ

Perhaps the biggest news story around in the lead up to the 2013 BTCC season is the return of 2009 champion Colin Turkington, who hasn’t raced in the series since wrapping up that crown over 3 years ago.

The 30 year old Northern Irishman is one of the most popular drivers around, known for his clean, yet very effective, driving style and well spoken nature, and the news of his return was certainly a popular one among st the BTCC faithful, it even had BTCC trending on Twitter!

Turkington made his first appearance in the series back in 2002 in one of the Team Atomic Kitten MG’s, taking a remarkable podium in Race 1 at Croft. He went on to take a total of 19 wins in 8 seasons which saw in the MG ZS, Vauxhall Astra VXR and BMW 320si.

ct20027269782276_2683ee1153_z

Since taking the 2009 crown at Brands Hatch, Turkington has competed in both the WTCC (in which he took his maiden win in Japan in 2010 after Augusto Farus’ exclusion) and the STCC.

Colin returns with the team who took him to the title 3 years ago, Dick Bennetts’ West Surrey Racing squad. He will be racing one of the team’s brand new NGTC-spec BMW 1-series’.

Colin-Turkington-BTCC-WSR_2887646

It’s fair to say Colin will be one to watch in 2013, the WSR squad are an experienced bunch and it won’t take long for them to get on top of the new machinery. Winning the title this year may prove to be a long shot, but if there’s one man who can spring a suprise, it’s Turks.

BTCC 2013 Rookies – Sam Tordoff

The next BTCC rookie I’m going to write about is Triple 8’s newest recruit Sam Tordoff.

Tordoff, 23, first appeared on the TOCA package in the Renault Clio Cup in 2009, driving for Total Control Racing (TCR). This was Tordoff’s first season in car racing, making his debut win at Snetterton even more impressive. He stayed with the team for the 2010 season, taking 2 wins and 10 other podium results on his way to third in the overall standings.

For the 2011 season, Tordoff stepped over to another TOCA package series, the Porsche Carrera Cup GB. Despite the leap in car performance, he acquitted himself well, finishing 7th in the overall standings. 2012 was an even better year for him in the series, taking 4 wins and 3rd in the standings.

Now, techinically, calling Tordoff a BTCC rookie might be a little misleading, as he drove a Triple 8 run Vauxhall Vectra in the final round of the 2010 season at Brands Hatch. But his return to the championship for this season will be a different challenge. He finds himself driving for one of the successful outfits in the BTCC, Ian Harrison’s Triple 8 squad, and has the most successful driver in terms of race wins as a stable mate, a certain Jason Plato. However, bearing in mind his proven talent, and label as one of Britain’s up-and-coming tin top stars, it isn’t silly to believe that Tordoff will be running at the sharp end of the season. And with the pedigree and experience of the team surrounding him, Tordoff’s MG6 could definitely be one to watch in 2013.

SavedPicture-2013217132827.jpgSavedPicture-2013217132834.jpg

SavedPicture-2013217132842.jpg