After another record-breaking weekend in the 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Knockhill, the series heads to Rockingham in Northamptonshire ten years after its landmark first visit in 2003.
Battle recommences with the championship title race reaching boiling point, as just nine of the 30 races remain to be decided. Currently the top four drivers are separated by just 30 points with over 200 points still up for grabs, with Honda Yuasa Racing’s Matt Neal only six points clear of Pirtek Racing’s Andrew Jordan at the top.
Last time out the UK’s most action-packed championship made the trip to Knockhill in Scotland to do battle in front of the biggest crowd the circuit has seen in 15 years. The racing was as enthralling as ever, with the eBay Motors BMW of 2009 BTCC champion Colin Turkington grabbing the headlines with a double victory in the first two races. In contrast to the tight, twisty Scottish track, the championship now rolls into Rockingham, where fast sweepers and tight hairpins are sure to provide some of the best overtaking opportunities of the season – all visible from the immense grandstand seating that is FREE to all spectators.
Britain’s newest racing circuit is expecting its biggest crowd of the season, as the BTCC draws fans from the surrounding towns and cities including Corby, Kettering, Peterborough, Leicester and beyond. With fantastic transport links from the M1, A1, A14 and A6, fans of the BTCC are sure to turn out in force to make Rockingham one of the busiest sporting venues in the country this coming weekend.
Last time out: Highs and lows for front-runners
With two victories from the first two races at Knockhill, Colin Turkington became the winningest driver so far this year with no less than five victories to his name. The Ulsterman was thrust into the title fight mid-way through the season but was denied a near-perfect weekend in Scotland as his car was disqualified from a solid fourth position in the final race for a technical infringement.
Local hero and reigning BTCC champion Gordon Shedden also looked on for a successful weekend in front of his home fans, with a brace of podiums in the first two races he was closing in on the championship leaders. A dramatic engine blow-up for his Honda Yuasa Racing Civic in the final race dropped the #1 car out of another potential podium spot and conceded a big points haul to his main rivals.
As both Turkington and Shedden experienced the highs and lows of tin-top racing, the current two top-guns played the long game by keeping their noses clean in the first two contests and then scoring big when their rivals hit trouble in race three. For the second time in 2013 Andrew Jordan took the final victory of the day, but Matt Neal was just behind in second place to ensure he held on to his championship lead.
The MG KX Momentum Racing duo of Jason Plato and Sam Tordoff struggled to find the right set-up for their MG6 NGTC machines in Scotland and dropped back in the championship standings. Plato now sits fifth, 54 points adrift of championship leader Neal, but all of his rivals are refusing to count out the two-time champion as the season edges towards its climax.
Talking point: A pivotal moment
Last year the BTCC rolled in to ‘The Rock’ with the championship hotting up and, like this year, Matt Neal topped the standings. 2012 saw Neal’s team-mate Gordon Shedden secure a double victory that rocketed the Scotsman into the standings lead which would eventually turn into championship victory. The question on everybody’s lips now is whether history will repeat itself and see the future champion emerge at the top of the pile following three intense Rockingham races?
Andrew Jordan is looking to become the first Independent driver to win the overall BTCC crown since Colin Turkington back in 2009. Like Neal, Jordan has shown an incredible level of consistency, and knows that he needs to keep it up at Rockingham to maintain his championship challenge.
He said, “A lot can happen over the final nine races. I’m the only driver to have finished every race in the points and we’ve had a podium at every race meeting so far this year. We’ll take 36kg of success ballast to Rockingham, but that is almost our base weight these days as we’ve had that pretty much all year. I think a lot of the fast corners will really suit us, so I think we’ll go really well. I like Rockingham, it’s about finding that balance between pushing hard and scoring points all the time.”
Local interest: Supporting cast
In addition to the stars and cars of Britain’s biggest motor racing championship, there are a number of young chargers coming through the ranks in the series that support the BTCC. Andy Richardson and James Abbott are both local to the Corby circuit and race in the Formula Ford Championship. Ronnie Klos, who races in the Renault UK Clio Cup for Scuderia Vittoria, is from Market Harborough just 20 minutes up the road.
Timetable and Tickets
Three BTCC races will take place on Sunday, with the entire race day being broadcast live and in high definition on ITV4 from 10:45.
In addition to the BTCC races there’s a whole host of other fantastic action on the bill. The Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain represents single-seater racing, whilst the Carerra Cup GB, Ginetta GT Supercup and Ginetta Juniors provides top-level GT action. The Renault UK Clio Cup returns to the bill after taking a break for the Knockhill event.
Advance race day tickets are just £27. Children 16 and under go free. All admission includes access to Sunday’s autograph session with the BTCC drivers in the pit lane as well as free parking and grandstand seating. Click here for more information.