Will we see another three different winners this weekend?
(Photo from: www.btcc.net)
After a two week break, the British Touring Car Championship returns this weekend for rounds four, five and six at Donington Park in Leicestershire. Going into this weekend Gordon Shedden leads the series after the first three races at Brands Hatch in which there were three different winners for the third year in a row.
Donington Park dates back to as far as 1931, though the track has changed dramatically since first opening. It was however the countries first permanent park race circuit ending the monopoly of Brooklands, the world’s first purpose built motorsport circuit, which it had held since 1907. The circuit closed in 1939 when the Second World War commenced and was converted into a military vehicle depot. It was not reopened until 1971, when businessman and car collector Tom Wheatcroft bought the circuit and funded its rebuilding. He also opened a museum in 1973 at the circuit to showcase his collection, the largest in the world.
Over the years Donington Park has hosted a variety of top events such as MotoGP’s British Grand Prix, from 1987 to 2009 and also I single European Grand Prix in 1993 when Ayrton Senna drove arguably the greatest first lap ever seen in Formula 1.
Leading up to this weekend there have been many statements of intentions from teams up and down the paddock.
The biggest statement comes from the manufacturer entries of BMW and Vauxhall who both believe that there is more to come from their cars as the season progresses. Following the first three races at Brands Hatch it is Colin Turkington who has confirmed he will be hoping to make up for lost ground this weekend, after a disastrous start to his season in the first race, which ended before he even made it to Paddock Hill Bend after contract with Matt Neal off the line.
As mentioned Vauxhall also expect more to come from there car as they develop it throughout the season, despite a strong first showing two weeks ago. Tom Chilton achieved a best result of third and is currently sixth in the standings however team principal Adam Weaver believes there is much more to come as he described the car’s unlocked potential as “next to none”
However one team who will be hoping for more at Donington Park this weekend is Subaru who described there Brands Hatch as a “nightmare” as the team struggled to find outright pace and a heavy crash on the grid in Race 2 for Jason Plato forced him to miss Race 3 of the day. The team has also asked Alan Gow for clarification on rules that have been applied to the Subaru’s, including centre of gravity and ride height changes, which were only enforced a few weeks before the opening round of the season.
Regarding the other two manufacturers MG will be hoping for some more luck, after an unfortunate three races for Aron Taylor-Smith and Daniel Lloyd which saw them tangle with various drivers leaving them battle scared and out of position while Honda will be hoping their two drivers continue their fine form, with both finding Donington to be a happy hunting ground. For Neal this dates back to 1999 when he won his first ever BTCC race, and the first ever by an independent driver, which pocketed him £250,000 from series director Alan Gow.