David vs. Goliath duel races into Thruxton as BTCC battle intensifies
Four-wheeled thrills in store as BTCC stars speed into Hampshire
‘Impossible’ to predict a winner around fastest circuit in Britain
12 races and Pit Walk make for value-for-money family weekend
This time next week, the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) will descend upon Thruxton for a weekend of high-octane thrills ‘n’ spills (6/7 May), with the David vs. Goliath battle that has captivated fans so far this season set to intensify as the series speeds into the fastest circuit in the country.
With six races in the books, there is a new name at the top of the standings in the UK’s most popular four-wheeled championship, with Speedworks Motorsport star Tom Ingram becoming the first multiple winner of 2017 last time out. What makes the 23-year-old’s success more impressive still is that he and Speedworks are independent entries, up against the might of no fewer than five manufacturer-backed squads.
Amongst the chasing pack are defending champion Gordon Shedden and fellow three-time title-winner Matt Neal in Halfords Yuasa Racing’s brace of Honda Civic Type Rs – and previous form at Thruxton would suggest that a Honda is the car to have next weekend.
Not only have Civics won 11 of the last 21 races around the high-speed Hampshire track, but Hondas also locked out the leading four positions during last week’s pre-event test, with Eurotech Racing stealing the limelight as Jeff Smith topped the times and team-mate Jack Goff backed him up in third.
Others with strong previous records at Thruxton include Team BMW duo Colin Turkington and BMW Pirtek Racing stablemate Andrew Jordan – who made pole position his own from 2012 to 2014 – while fellow BMW driver and local favourite Rob Collard will similarly be well in the hunt as he continues to seek his first win on home soil.
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class has proven to be a potent package around Thruxton in recent years, with Ciceley Motorsport’s Adam Morgan triumphing twice in the past two seasons, while Laser Tools Racing ace Aiden Moffat arrives with his tail up, fresh off the back of his breakthrough BTCC victory a fortnight ago. Tellingly, the two Mercedes lapped best-of-the-rest behind the pace-setting Honda quartet at the test last week.
Vauxhall has made a welcome return to the BTCC paddock in 2017 with Power Maxed Racing, and the Astra has already shone in the hands of Tom Chilton and Senna Proctor, but there has been less cheer for three of the series’ biggest-hitters, as Adrian Flux Subaru Racing, Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo and MG RCIB Insurance Racing have encountered early woes. All will be keen to kick-start their challenges next weekend.
Mention should be made, finally, of local lad Josh Cook, who has enjoyed a strong start to the campaign after switching to Team Parker with Maximum Motorsport’s Ford Focus, with a hat-trick of top seven finishes placing the 25-year-old from nearby Bath ninth in the points table heading to Thruxton.
Ensuring an action-packed bill from lights-out to chequered flag, the BTCC will be accompanied by a raft of fast-paced support series, from the Renault UK Clio Cup – for tomorrow’s touring car stars – to the Simpson Race Products Ginetta Junior Championship for precociously talented 14-to-17-year-olds, the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge and the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford, the first stepping-stone on the road to Formula 1.
“The BTCC is one of the undisputed highlights on our annual calendar,” enthused Thruxton Group Managing Director Bill Coombs, “and the way the 2017 season is shaping up, it looks set to be a real firecracker of a weekend. Casting a glance down the entry list, it is impossibly close to call with countless potential winners – and that is great news for all the fans coming along to watch trackside.
“Thruxton’s fast-and-flowing nature invariably produces spectacular action, and with no fewer than 12 races over the course of the weekend and the ever-popular Pit Walk and Autograph Session on Sunday morning, it really does offer fantastic value for money and a fabulous family day out.”
Advance tickets for the race weekend are available priced at just £12 for Saturday, 6 May and £27 for Sunday, 7 May – or £39 for both days. Race day tickets with paddock pass cost £32, with grandstand seating an additional £5 on Saturday; Sunday grandstand seats are sold-out. Accompanied children aged 15 and under will be admitted free of charge. Sunday morning’s Pit Walk and Autograph Session is included with all paddock passes.