Next weekend sees the return of the British Tourning Car Championship (BTCC), with the traditional season opener being held on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit. Reigning champion, Gordon Shedden is looking to claim back-to-back titles with the impressive Halfords Yuasa Racing Honda Civic Type R, but will face stiff competition from the likes of BTCC veteran Matt Neal, Honda new boy Andy Neate and Mat Jackson and Andrew Jordan of the Motorbase Performance Ford Focus ST team.
The BTCC provides arguably the closest wheel-to-wheel racing around, mainly thanks to a set of strict rules which means parts are very similar from car to car including a 350bhp+ 2.0 litre turbo charged engine. The engine can built by the team, or bought or leased from the BTCC as a way of cutting costs and allowing each season to feature a grid of over 30 cars. The excellent marketing and TV coverage revenue makes racing affordable; if only this could be applied through all motorsport.
The BTCC was first launched in 1958, and was an instant success. Some of the greatest names in UK motoring have taken part; Jaguar, Austin, Ford, Mini, Lotus, Sunbeam and Triumph have all powered round the race tracks with some of the countries finest racing drivers. The past success of the British motoring industry has been credited to the championship as it allowed manufacturers to showcase there latest models and advertise them to the thousands of spectators in the grand stands and track side
By the 1990s, the series was it’s prime, with over 40,000 fans going to each race now, helped partially by the introduction of international manufacturers, including Mazda, Toyota and BMW and partially by the inclusion of races in Scotland and Wales. The same 2.0 litre rule that introduced in this decade, stand today, with a few changes elsewhere. The future of the racing series looks very bright, as ITV have recently signed a long-term contract, showcasing the championship until at least 2022.
Ford Focus ST
4 Ford Focus race cars will be on the grid for the 2016 season, split into 3 teams. Alex Martin and Stewart Lines will be running for individual teams, Martin for the Dextra Racing with Team Parker team and Lines for the Maximum Motorsport outfit. Mat Jackson and Andrew Jordan will be pushing for a strong season behind the wheel of their respective Motorbase Performance Focus’s. Jackson is hoping to beat last season’s 12th place finish while Jordan is hoping to top his 5th place finish since switching from the MG Tripe Eight Racing outfit.
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Honda Civic Type R
6 Civics will be on the grid for the season, 3 of which belong to the current manufacturers champions Halford Yuasa Racing team. Behind the wheel are driver’s champion Gordon Shedden, Matt Neal and Andy Neate. The team runs as a manufacturer team and is developed by Honda themselves and have Halfords back as a main sponsor for the first time since the late 2000s. Matt Simpson, Jeff Smith and Martin Depper will also be competing in their own individual Civics.
With just over a week to go until the season opener, Honda have got the momentum from a successful 2015 campaign and seem to have the upper hand through winter testing. All that can be said for sure, is that the season will as exciting as ever and full of action.
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Source and images – http://www.btcc.net/news/ – 23/3/16