The 32 car British Touring Car Championship grid will storm into the Hampshire circuit this weekend for the third race meeting of the 2016 season. With the way the championship has started this year it could see one of many drivers be victorious during the weekend as so far there has been six different race winners during the six races. This includes five different manufacturers that have reached the top step of the podium. The only manufacturer to have won twice during the six rounds is Honda with Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden winning a race each. Meanwhile BMW, Ford, Mercedes and Toyota machinery have also managed to be victorious.
Thruxton is always a bigger and somewhat harder challenge for drivers than the Brands Hatch Indy circuit and Donington Park as they are all on equal tyres due to Dunlop having to create a perfect compound for the high speed circuit so drivers do not have to choose what race to use their soft and hard compound tyres in. This makes Thruxton more of an equal hunting ground for each team but more difficult for drivers as they all have to learn how to maintain their tyres better than the other competitors. However, wheel-to-wheel racing action at speeds up to 160mph is definitely not for the faint hearted. Thruxton always hosts some fantastic close racing from the upcoming stars in the field as well as current and former champions. Crowds that attend Thruxton are usually high in numbers as it is one of the greatest meetings on the calendar, its racing and atmosphere is nothing like any other circuit. Another reason fans love the Hampshire circuit is because of the open paddock allowing fans to get up close to the cars, teams and drivers competing throughout the weekend including the support series as well as the BTCC stars. For fans that are unable to attend the circuit ITV4 show the unmissable action on Sunday from 11am until 6:20pm with a following TV program about the BTCC called ‘British Touring Cars – Crashes and Smashes, which looks back on the past years of the championship.
Picture Credit: Tilley Photography
Less than ten drivers have stood on the podium steps during the opening six races of the season, there is a slight pattern of the top drivers beginning to show but anything can happen between the front runners at this early stage of the season. With the championship having a well know highly competitive nature mixed with the harsh Thruxton tarmac that they race on at high speeds, you could see a mixed up weekend of a different pole position winner, different race winners or even some podium positions taken by the unexpected people in the championship. The unpredictable racing shown in the championship definitely helps to cement the series in the category of the country’s premier motorsport series.
The duo of Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal have both showcased their talent at both Brands Hatch and Donington Park in their Halfords Yuasa Racing Honda Civic Type R’s. Neal is currently leaving the championship after enduring a steady start to the season. Although the Halfords Yuasa backed Shedden and Neal have only secure one race win each it’s their consistency in the championship that has set them apart from their fellow competitors.
Speedwork Motorsport’s Tom Ingram showed everyone what he is capable of after securing pole position and then going on to win the first race of the 2016 season during the opening round at Brands Hatch, located in Kent. He flew the flag for the growing number of young talents partaking in the series, proving that they are not to be ruled out of the front runners. Adam Morgan aboard his Wix Racing Mercedes was another driver to win at the famous circuit in Kent. Mat Jackson and Rob Collard brought Ford and BMW into the mix at Donington Park as the duo took a victory each for Motorbase Performance and West Surrey Racing at the Leicestershire circuit.
Motorbase Performance’s Andrew Jordan, Team BMR’s Jason Plato and Colin Turkington are all former champions having yet to show their hand in the front end of the field. Although Andrew Jordan is looking to impress around the Thruxton circuit. The Motorbase racer has taken pole position during three of his last four visits to the UK’s fastest circuit. Thruxton is also the only venue that Motorbase have ever managed a one-two lockout finish.
Picture Credit: Tilley Photography
Jason Plato and Colin Turkington are still helping to develop the all new Japanese manufactured Subaru’s with Team BMR. However, there is no doubting the strength of the BMR driver line up as they will soon be more successful after they have developed the car.
There are more than a dozen contenders for the race wins but anything can happen in this unpredictable championship. However, what you can be sure of is that the series always provides a high level of entertainment throughout the season.
West Surrey Racing’s Rob Collard will be looking to take the win at Thruxton as it’s his local circuit. He has not yet won at his home circuit and 2016 could be his best chance of claiming the long awaited victory at the Hampshire circuit. After being victorious at Donington in the middle of April he is now in touching distance of leading the championship. The BMW run by WSR seems to be running better than ever with all three of their drivers showing their potential during the opening rounds of the season.
MG Triple Eight Racing’s Josh Cook will be one of the many stars looking to shine as the driver from Bath will be looking to maintain his stunning form after qualifying in a one-two at Donington with teammate Ashley Sutton ahead on pole. Meanwhile both Alex Martin and Dan Welch will be planning to continue their fight up through the BTCC order. Dorset’s Alex Martin will be hoping to stay out of trouble during the weekend and hoping to qualify as best he can to limit his likeliness of being involved in accidents. Meanwhile Welch from Fleet will be hoping to stay out of the way of incidents after a being involved in a devastating crash with Matt Simpson at Donington Park.
One to watch will be newcomer Daniel Lloyd who has entered with Eurotech Racing after Halfords Yuasa lost their TBL allowing Eurotech to bring in a third car after securing the spare license. Lloyd showed his potential during the past few years in the British GTs as well as racing abroad. He made his debut in the BTCC for Vauxhall back in 2010.
RCIB Insurance Racing’s Michael Epps will be on the hunt to score more points after getting his maiden points score during race three at Donington Park. The Hertfordshire based racer will be looking to improve and finish higher up within the points as he is building his confidence in the Team Hard built and run Toyota Avensis.
Picture Credit : Tilley Photography
© Fay Tilley 6th May 2016.