BTCC Grid of 2013

BTCC Grid of 2013

Defending champion Shedden faces Neal, Plato and Turkington in huge touring car grid

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship’s 2013 season opens at Brands Hatch this weekend (30-31 March), with four champions lining up on the grid amongst a huge entry of almost 30 cars.

Reigning champion Gordon Shedden embarks upon his first title defence this weekend alongside team-mate Matt Neal, who is chasing a record fourth BTCC crown. “I guess it takes the pressure off now my name is on the trophy,” admitted Gordon. However he expects a tough fight this year: “There’s a good half a dozen in with a chance and there could even be 12 drivers able to win races.”

Shedden also aims to emulate his team-mate in the long term: “I think it’s got to be a goal to pursue year on year. Both Matt and Jason (Plato) are in their mid 40s and I’ve got ten years on them. I’ll try and maximise the opportunities.”

“Of course we are each our best ally but also biggest threat,” warned Neal. “He’s definitely on form and I am also very focused so it should be interesting. With the closeness of racing an element of luck always helps, so it could go either way but I will be pushing hard.”

Matt also has a few words on the subject of age for his team mate: “The fire still burns brightly inside me yes, obviously my approach and attitude have changed since my early days but my motivation to win races and potential of a championship is still there as strong as ever so bring it on!”

This year the previously dominant Honda pairing face a returning adversary in 2009 champion Colin Turkington, who also has a brand new BMW 1-Series to acclimatise to. “It could be the best car we’ve ever built or it could take a bit of work,” he said. “If it goes as well as it looks it’ll be a great package.”

Colin’s looking forward to his comeback: “It’s going to be great, I’m very much looking forward to it. The buzz and excitement about a BTCC race is something you never forget, especially at a theatre like Brands Hatch.”

However all three will have to beat Jason Plato, who as ever, is relishing the prospect of a title fight, especially in a new car that was edging closer to the opposition during 2012. “In actuality 888 developed the MG into the quickest BTCC car in dry conditions from mid season onwards last year.”

Jason also has a new team mate, with rookie Sam Tordoff tipped for wins. Far from feeling threatened, the double champion is hoping to emulate Honda’s successful partnership in the MG garage: “Genuinely, I will assist Sam as much as I can to help him to produce his maximum performance. It is in my interest to have a quick team mate. With regard to watching my back…that’s an absolutely vital skill in the BTCC!”

With arch rivals Jason and Matt no longer the only champions on the grid and with at least a dozen pretenders to their throne, there’s a good chance that this weekend’s opening race will mark the dawning of a new era in the BTCC. Jason’s response to this idea is characteristically dismissive: “Dream on… ”