BTCC set for a blast in the park

Britain’s best ready to recommence battle at Oulton Park in Cheshire.

BTCC set for a blast in the park
Listen to this article

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship will blast back into action after a five-week break when the UK's premier motor sport series visits Oulton Park in Cheshire on the 7/8 June.

The Oulton weekend is notoriously one of the most popular on the calendar – indeed more than 40,000 fans descended on the picturesque venue in 2013. The intense racing and carnival atmosphere is set to move up a notch or ‘five’ this year, however, as the huge crowd will be treated to a quintet of touring car clashes on the International circuit – a layout which hasn’t been used since 1996.

Not only will there be the headlining BTCC triple-showdown for the current crop of tin top talent, but the bumper bill will also feature Super Touring cars for the first time since their own halcyon days of the 1990s.

So with the modern-day BTCC cars enjoying a blast in the park, the Super Touring cars of yesteryear will provide a blast from the past in what is one of the most highly anticipated events in recent racing history.

Story so far: Jor’ Droppin’

Reigning champion Andrew Jordan currently leads the way after taking three wins from the opening nine races, but the Pirtek Racing driver has a number of drivers nipping at his wheels.

Having won his maiden BTCC title in the season finale at Brands Hatch last year, Jordan immediately picked up from where he left off by claiming pole position and two victories in the 2014 season opener at the same venue.

Gordon Shedden, Honda Yuasa Racing
Gordon Shedden, Honda Yuasa Racing

Photo by: Pat Cranham/PSP Images

He has only won once in the seven races since, however, taking an impressive first ever victory at Thruxton last time out.

2012 champion Gordon Shedden arrives at Oulton in impressive form having stood on the podium in four of the last five races – twice on the top step – the first of which was the maiden success for the new Honda Civic Tourer.

eBay Motors’ Colin Turkington has scored two reverse-grid victories, but will hope his BMW 125i M Sport is flying from the outset at Oulton Park. The 2009 champion took two podiums at the Cheshire track last year, which ignited an impressive winning streak at Croft in the next meeting – something Colin would be keen to repeat this time around.

BTCC veterans Matt Neal and Jason Plato have five championships and nearly 1000 races between them, and both will be looking to get their title challenges back on track after late disappointment at Thruxton.

Plato’s MG struggled for overall speed throughout the event, and although he scored valuable points in the first two races, his weekend ended prematurely after his car was hit by the Mercedes of Adam Morgan in the final encounter. Neal was always on the pace at Thruxton ­– scoring a fourth and a second place in the first two showdowns – but he too was caught up in contact in race three which forced him down the order and out of the points paying positions.

Both will expect to be challenging for wins next weekend, however, with Plato in particular a real contender having taken two victories there last year before his car burst into flames in the race three finale! The incident hasn't dented the double-champion's affections for the circuit, and he said: “I totally love the place. It’s picturesque and the fans love it so there’s always a great buzz there. It’s a demanding circuit for the drivers where you can overtake – it means the braver guys can get more out of it which is great.”

Talking point: Blast from the past

As previously mentioned the Oulton Park event will also see the return of some classic touring cars from the 1990s – a much-loved era of the BTCC.

A time when the world’s leading manufacturers were spending millions a season trying to win what remains today the most coveted tin top series on the planet, this financially unsustainable period eventually came to an end in 2000, but not before it had given the world some of the best loved touring cars of all time.

Two Super Touring Car Championship races will be run next weekend with a phenomenal entry list of 29 cars, including a Vauxhall Vectra by none other than double BTCC champion John Cleland and a Peugeot 406 by Patrick Watts, both original drivers from the period.

Those two legends won a race apiece in the series’ curtain raiser at Thruxton, but with Super Tourers appearing on the BTCC package for the first time since their own heyday, both Cleland and Watts will be looking to repeat the trick in front of a huge expectant crowd in Cheshire.

As build up to the event reigning BTCC champion Andrew Jordan will be testing a 1994 Vauxhall Cavalier at the circuit on Wednesday 4th July, which will be his first time in such a machine – “I’m a Super Touring car virgin and I can’t wait to try it out,” enthused Andrew.

With the BTCC currently experiencing another golden generation of racing it could be argued that the two greatest eras of the championship will be seen together for the first time next weekend.

Local heroes: Morgan leads the local challengers

Adam Morgan scored his first ever BTCC podium when he hauled his Toyota Avensis into third place at Oulton Park last year, but the Lancastrian will be piloting an all-new machine at his home circuit in 2014.

Adam Morgan, Wix Racing
Adam Morgan, Wix Racing

Photo by: Pat Cranham/PSP Images

His WIX Racing squad brought Mercedes back to the BTCC for the first time in more than 25 years when it launched the new A-Class on the eve of the season, and Morgan has already proved to be a solid top ten finisher in the three-pointed star hatchback. He’ll be hoping to continue with the car’s development at Oulton with every chance of reaching the rostrum if things go his way.

Northwich-based Speedworks Motorsport will be looking to build on an encouraging start to the campaign with top rookie Tom Ingram targeting a first podium at the 2.69-mile circuit. Other local protagonists include James Cole in the United Autosports Toyota and Chris Stockton in the Power Maxed Racing Chevrolet Cruze.

Geographically Colin Turkington, Aron Smith and Robb Holland could also class Oulton Park as their ‘local’ race. Ulsterman Turkington and Irishman Smith will hop on a ferry to the North-West of England whilst Colorado man Holland will be as close to his USA homeland as he will be all season!

BTCC

shares
comments
Super Shedden tames fearsome Thruxton for second Civic Tourer triumph
Previous article

Super Shedden tames fearsome Thruxton for second Civic Tourer triumph

Next article

Monumental effort gets Belcher back on BTCC grid for Oulton Park

Monumental effort gets Belcher back on BTCC grid for Oulton Park
Load comments
Ranking the top 10 BTCC drivers of 2021 Prime

Ranking the top 10 BTCC drivers of 2021

A refresh in equipment and some returning faces helped contribute to a supremely competitive 2021 British Touring Car Championship campaign. Ash Sutton was crowned a three-time champion, successfully defending his 2020 title, but faced stiff competition in the final year before the switch to hybrid. Motorsport.com picks out the best performers.

BTCC
Nov 17, 2021
Why the BTCC's ballast increase couldn't stop champion Sutton Prime

Why the BTCC's ballast increase couldn't stop champion Sutton

Ballast will be gone from the BTCC next year as hybrid power enters the scene, but for its final season the maximum was increased from 60kg to 75kg. Despite having to carry that nearly all season, Ash Sutton was always the favourite to pocket a third title - the 27-year-old getting his reward for a season of speed tempered by savvy to nail his opportunities

BTCC
Nov 12, 2021
The much-loved tin-top superstar bowing out at 59 Prime

The much-loved tin-top superstar bowing out at 59

OPINION: It's not often that a driver achieves widespread affection for their personality, as well as their on-track performances. One such individual is Gabriele Tarquini, who will soon bring the curtain down on a remarkable career that has yielded touring car titles on the European and global stage - and, famously, in Britain too

BTCC
Nov 11, 2021
The making of the BTCC's newest superstar Prime

The making of the BTCC's newest superstar

Ash Sutton is on the verge of being crowned a three-time British Touring Car Champion; he seems to have it all. But life hasn't always been straightforward for this superstar of touring cars, as Marcus Simmons has been finding out

BTCC
Oct 21, 2021
Five key plotlines to follow in the 2021 BTCC Prime

Five key plotlines to follow in the 2021 BTCC

It’s been a busy silly season in the BTCC since the chequered flag fell to end the 2020 campaign last November. While last year’s top two have stayed put, there’s been a lot of fat to chew elsewhere, which should result in another fascinating year of tin-top action.

BTCC
May 7, 2021
Why a BTCC legend remains defiant at '97 not out' Prime

Why a BTCC legend remains defiant at '97 not out'

After a year of enforced absence from the British Touring Car Championship grid, Jason Plato is back and hungrier than ever. Despite stellar opposition and some familiar challenges, the two-time champion still has his eyes focused on the biggest prizes.

BTCC
May 5, 2021
The Top 10 BTCC drivers of 2020 Prime

The Top 10 BTCC drivers of 2020

The 2020 British Touring Car Championship will go down as a classic in which new winners graced the top step of the podium and an unloved chassis was resurrected into a champion. But who were the year's top performers?

BTCC
Dec 24, 2020
The Villeneuve-esque 'engineer's dream' who lit up BTCC 2020 Prime

The Villeneuve-esque 'engineer's dream' who lit up BTCC 2020

The Infiniti Q50 was completely redesigned, redeveloped and revamped by BMR and Laser Tools Racing for 2020. And the flamboyant brilliance of the driver behind the wheel was enough to snatch the title at the last gasp…

BTCC
Dec 11, 2020