Thursday, February 28 2013
Four champions will be going head to head in the opening round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch this Easter (30/31 March). The series returns after a thrilling climax to the 2012 season that saw Gordon Shedden crowned for the first time at the Kent circuit.
Shedden and team mate Matt Neal, who is chasing a record-equalling fourth title, will continue their successful partnership at the Honda Racing team. The squad's Civic is on form but there will be a strong challenge from the MG team, which came close to overall honours last season with Jason Plato at the wheel. The two-time champion, whose long-standing rivalry with Neal has provided plenty of fireworks, returns with the Triple 8-run outfit, with whom he won the 2001 title. Joining him will be Sam Tordoff, a title challenger in the BTCC-supporting Renault Clio Cup and Porsche Carerra Cup, who is tipped to be a future Touring Car star.
Rejoining the fray will be 2009 champion Colin Turkington, who makes a long-awaited return to the series, his first appearance since taking the title at Brands Hatch that year. He will be back in a BMW, this time a brand new 1-Series run by the eBay Motors team, and is expected to be fighting for victories from the start. Turkington will be joined by Rob Collard, who won last year's opening race on his way to fifth place in the overall standings.
There are two dark horses for the title in the field, with Andrew Jordan and Wrotham-based Motorbase's Mat Jackson aiming high for 2013. Jordan was a contender at last year's finale in the Pirtek-run Civic, whilst Motorbase came on strong late last year with their brand new Ford Focus. Both drivers are ready to make the next step to championship victory and will be tough to beat.
The BTCC is set for another highly-competitive season, with many more drivers in the pack ready to take victory at the first round. Frank Wrathall made the breakthrough late last year and continues to improve, whilst Rob Austin has secured a big sponsor to help his progress towards the front, and former title contender Tom Onslow-Cole fronts local outfit Team HARD's ambitious line-up. With so many more contenders for the race wins and an expected grid of over 25 cars, the opening races should be the most fiercely-contested for some time. The BTCC is renowned for bumper-to-bumper action and is rarely short on thrills, and with so many points to prove the opening weekend is unlikely to disappoint!
In addition to the three BTCC races, the support package features non-stop action from the Renault Clio Cup, Porsche Carrera Cup, Formula Ford Championship, Ginetta GT Supercup and Ginetta Junior categories. The circuit's natural amphitheatre setting plus giant TV screens for the event mean that fans will miss none of the action, whilst off-track entertainment for all the family includes a fun fair, go-karting and a free pitwalk and autograph session on raceday.
Tickets for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch on 30/31 March are available from £26, with free entry for children aged 12 and under. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or click here.