Silverstone always produces talking points in the BTCC
(Photo from: www.btcc.net)
After a two week gap the British Touring Car Championship returns this weekend for the penultimate round of the seasons at Silverstone, for races 25, 26 and 27. The first BTCC race at Silverstone was held in 1959 and since then, the circuit has seen a multitude of changes.
Silverstone is famous around the world for being “the home of British motorsport” having first held a Grand Prix in 1948 before hosting the first ever Formula 1 race in 1950. From 1955 to 1986, Silverstone shared the British Grand Prix with Aintree and then Brands Hatch before becoming the permanent home of the race in 1987.
In recent years, a new paddock complex has been built as well as a whole new layout, aimed at bringing the circuit up to date and futureproof.
Over the years the BTCC has used several configurations of the Silverstone circuit to host its races, as well as in 2001 when one of the races was held at night.
Currently, the BTCC uses the “National Circuit” which sees the championship use the old pits, which are still used by MotoGP, before turning right at Becketts and onto the Wellington Straight. As in F1, the touring car drivers will turn left into Brooklands around Luffield and back onto the pit straight.
Because there are only four real corners on the circuit and three long straights, Silverstone often favours cars with good aerodynamics and good top speed. In the past, it has been a circuit which has seen the likes of Honda struggle.
Going into this weekend, there have been a few news stories breaking. The major headline is that Power Maxed Racing’s Tom Chilton will not be participating in this weekend’s three races, as he has been advised not to race by his doctor following a gallbladder operation.
The 32-year-old is however hoping to be back for the season finale in October. This meant that there was a spare seat available at Power Maxed Racing, which has been filled by former SEAT driver and 2012 WTCC champion Rob Huff. Huff last raced in the series in 2004, his only season in the BTCC, and since then he has gone onto race for manufactures including Honda, Lada and Chevrolet, for whom he won his title with.
Continuing with drivers, it has been confirmed that Jeff Smith will undergo further surgery on his shoulder following his crash at Croft. The 51-yar-old suffered nine broken ribs and two dislocated shoulders amongst other injuries in the crash however it is the nerve damage in his left shoulder that are causing the most discomfort with Smith still unable to use this arm.
However, doctors remain confident that there are signs that these nerves are starting to heal, with surgery booked for next month, Smith will then be able to get a clearer picture when, and if, a full recovery is possible.
The final major headline is that there is a possibility Toyota will not feature on the BTCC next season after Speedworks Motorsport, who run Tom Ingram, admitted that there are options on the table for 2018. This follows the news that Handy Motorsport will switch to Alfa Romeo for 2018 with a brand new NGTC Giulietta.
If Speedworks do switch manufacture, it will be the first time since 2011, and in the NGTC era that Toyota have not featured in the BTCC. The NGTC Toyota Avensis was the first of its kind to be seen in the series, so to lose them would be saying farewell to a game changing piece of history.
This weekend will be a fascinating battle between those at the front of the standings, with the championship looking more and more likely like a two horse race as Ash Sutton and Colin Turkington pull away from the rest of the chasing pack. Qualifying will be live on the ITV Motorsport website from 15:45 on Saturday afternoon with the race action all live on ITV4. The BTCC race times are as follows:
Race 1: 11:57
Race 2: 14:32
Race 3: 17:22