BTCC Croft Just One Week Away

There is now just over a week to go before the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, arrives at the Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire for its only visit of the year to the North-East (Sunday 19 June).

A bumper crowd is expected to head along the A1 and A66 motorways and descend on the popular circuit just outside Darlington to see the latest three races of what is turning out to be yet another closely fought and often highly controversial BTCC season. Indeed it follows last weekend’s extraordinary scenes at Oulton Park, Cheshire where Honda drivers Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden took each other off at the final bend to hand victory to arch rival Jason Plato in his Chevrolet.

But the title race is not just about these three – in fact just 15 points, equivalent to a single race win, cover the top six alone. While Neal and Shedden will arrive at Croft leading the standings, chasing them hard in third is Mat Jackson, winner of the day’s third race at Oulton in his Airwaves Ford Focus. The consistent James Nash is fourth in his Collins Contractors-backed Vauxhall Vectra that is run by the 888 Racing team which in the past has won BTCC titles with greats such as Plato, France’s Yvan Muller, Italy’s Fabrizio Giovanardi and Yorkshire’s very own James Thompson.

Plato, always popular with the Croft crowds thanks to his Newcastle roots, is fifth in the table and sixth Andrew Jordan in his Pirtek Racing Vectra – the 22-year-old has won in many different categories at Croft and 12 months ago achieved his first ever victory in the BTCC there. The Staffordshire racer commented: “I don’t know whether it’s the Northern air or the Northern girls – or both! – but something seems to work for me up at Croft! I’m a huge fan of the place – there’s always a very friendly atmosphere and a knowledgeable and appreciative crowd. It’s really important for the North East that it can put on major motor sport events like the BTCC.”

Meanwhile Plato’s young Cumbrian team-mate Alex MacDowall will be hoping to carry on the strong form he displayed at Oulton into his home event. But with nine different makes of car – Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, SEAT, Toyota, Vauxhall and VW – and at least 14 drivers on the 24-strong grid capable of challenging for wins and podium results, predicting the outcome across the three races is nigh on impossible.

Furthermore, the incident between Honda team-mates Neal and Shedden has added further excitement to the build-up to Croft’s big BTCC weekend (18-19 June) which will also feature races for the supporting Renault Clio Cup (saloon), Formula Renault UK (single-seater) and Ginetta GT Supercup and Ginetta Junior (sportscar) categories. Croft very much marks a home event for thriving sportscar manufacturer Ginetta which is based in nearby Leeds. Plus there’s a very definite Formula 1 feel to both Renault grids – competing in the Clio Cup is McLaren F1 star Lewis Hamilton’s younger brother Nicolas and in Formula Renault Josh Hill, the son of 1996 F1 World Champion Damon Hill. Both Lewis and Damon regularly attend events to show their support…

Croft BTCC race day (19 June) tickets cost just £27 per adult on the gate while admission for accompanied children aged 15 and under is FREE. All entry includes access to the BTCC paddock plus Sunday morning’s Pit Lane Walkabout session when the public can meet the star drivers for autographs, photos and plenty of team giveaways. More information and other ticketing options – including full weekend passes and camping – are available via the www.croftcircuit.co.uk website or by calling the circuit office on 01325 721815.

For all the latest BTCC news and images in the run-up to the event visit the BTCC’s official website www.btcc.net

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