Croft returned to the BTCC calendar in 1996
(Photo from: www.btcc.net)
The British Touring Car Championship hits the halfway stage this weekend as the series heads to Croft in the North of England which plays host to round five of the season and races, 13, 14 and 15. Like many circuits in Britain, Croft began life as an airfield during with racing dating back as early as the 1920s however it wasn’t until after the Second World War that Croft became a recognised motorsport venue.
At the end of the Second World War, Croft was abandoned by the RAF and after various clubs used the facility it became a full circuit in 1964 after local enthusiasts bought the land so that racing could take place on the parameter roads and runways. The first meeting was held on the 3rd August 1964, with crowds estimated between 30,000 and 50,000 spectators.
Croft has held a permanent fixture on the calendar since 1996 following a major circuit upgrade which included a new paddock, control tower and spectator viewing areas. The upgrades also increased the length of the circuit to 2.1 miles.
Leading up to this weekend’s round there has been plenty of news to keep us occupied. The main news is the mid season driver changes which have occurred, most notably at MG where Daniel Lloyd has left the manufacture. The 25-year-old had endured a tough start to 2017 with only two points finishes with neither of them coming in the top 10. He has moved onto TCR International to replace Hugo Valente in the Craft-Bamboo Seat Leon, after Frenchman Valente retired from motorsport.
MG quickly announced their replacement, with 2016 MG driver Josh Cook replacing Lloyd and leaving the Maximum Motorsport team. Cook has enjoyed a strong start to the 2017, with reverse grid poles at Brands Hatch and Oulton Park the highlights. He will now partner Aron Taylor-Smith in the Triple Eight run team.
Of course Cook’s departure left a void at Maximum Motorsport, who were left with the daunting task of finding a replacement with only three days before the meeting was due to take place. Today (Friday) they announced that young Swede Dennis Strandberg would replace Cook to make his debut in the series. The 23-year-old has previously tested the car last season at the Snetterton summer tyre test.
Strandberg will be the first Swede to compete in the BTCC since 1998 champion Richard Rydell, who last drove for Ford in 2000.
It ensures that there will be a maximum 32-car grid this weekend.