The clock is ticking… There are now less than three weeks to go before the UK’s premier motor racing series – the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – bursts back into life for a new season with its first three races of 2011 at the world-famous Brands Hatch circuit in Kent on Sunday 3 April.
Brands Hatch hosts the first of the BTCC’s ten high-profile race events in 2011 as part of a calendar that sees the nation’s most popular and exciting motor racing championship – filmed live by ITV Sport and watched trackside by Premiership-sized crowds – in action at nine top circuits all over the country. Consequently, counties including Kent, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Hampshire, Cheshire, North Yorkshire, Norfolk, Fife and Northamptonshire will all host the BTCC in 2011 during its exhilarating, high-speed chase across the land between April and mid-October.
Furthermore, the BTCC’s opening fixture of the year traditionally marks the start of the UK’s motor sport calendar and Brands Hatch, easily accessed off the M25 and M20 motorways, is gearing itself up for a crowd of tens of thousands on 3 April.
Indeed, some 42,000 people came through the gate last October to see Jason Plato (pictured) achieve a record-equalling 60th BTCC race win and capture the second drivers’ title of his illustrious career. The 43-year-old from Oxford is eager to defend his coveted crown, but will again face massive opposition from a highly competitive grid made up of proven, rival title contenders – including Honda star and fellow former double champion Matt Neal – as well as many determined new names and winners from other categories.
A major draw, particularly for families, is free admission for children at every BTCC event. In addition, an ‘open paddock’ policy plus pit lane autograph sessions will once again mean terrific access for the public to the BTCC’s star drivers – almost unique among major sporting events in the modern day.
Meanwhile adding even more to the BTCC’s variety and public appeal, an astonishing ten different motor manufacturers are set to be represented on 2011’s grid: Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Proton, SEAT, Toyota, Vauxhall and VW. Notably, the presence of the Audi, Proton and Toyota badges are a direct result of the BTCC’s trail-blazing Next Generation Touring Car (NGTC) technical regulations that, thanks to an emphasis on slashing costs, have enabled no fewer than four new teams alone to enter in 2011.
Back to the championship’s opening day of the season at Brands Hatch on Sunday 3 April and it will be the venue’s short, doorhandle-to-doorhandle and often controversial Indy circuit on which the BTCC’s first three races of 2011 will take place – supported by a further seven races from the Ginetta GT Supercup, Ginetta Junior, Porsche Carrera Cup, Formula Renault UK and Renault Clio Cup categories. It all adds up to a packed race-day programme featuring the very best in saloon, single-seater and sportscar action and the perfect launch pad to the UK motor sport season.