Yes, the 2014 British Touring Car Championship is nearly upon us. This weekend the season will roar into life at Brands Hatch, with plenty of accompanying action in the support classes. A bumper 31 car grid was unveiled at the recent media day at Donington Park including seven champions.
Reigning world champion Andrew Jordan will be joined once again by Gordon Shedden, Matt Neal, Colin Turkington, and Jason Plato. Returning to the BTCC fray are Fabrizio Giovinardi and Alain Menu, champions in 2007 & 2008, and 1997 & 2000 respectively. As well as the aforementioned champions, there are 17 drivers who raced at least once last year back on the grid. This includes Rob Collard, Aron Smith, Mat Jackson and Lea Wood. Martin Depper returns having last raced in the series in 2010. BTCC rookies in 2014 are 2013 Ginetta GT Supercup champion Tom Ingram; Marussia F1 Head of Driver Development Marc Hynes; Renault Clio Cup champion Simon Belcher; former British GT driver Hunter Abbott; Dutch Supercar Challenge champion Glynn Geddie; and Formula Two driver Jack Clarke. This year all cars will run to full NGTC specification.
Brands Hatch Indy Stats
Circuit Length: 1.22 miles
Number of Corners: 10
Number of Laps: 24
Race Lap Record: Matt Neal 2011 48.498s (88.97mph)
2013 Winners: Jason Plato (x2) and Matt Neal
Last year at Brands Hatch Indy there was plenty of drama (and a sprinkling of snow!) to announce the championship’s return to action. Eventual champion Andrew Jordan stole pole position from then reigning champion Gordon Shedden by under a tenth of a second. The top thirteen were separated by under a second. The first race was won by Jason Plato with Jordan in second and Rob Austin in third. It was a similar podium in race two, but Austin was replaced by Jordan’s team-mate Jeff Smith. Race three saw Matt Neal take his first race victory of the year finishing ahead of team-mate Shedden and Sam Tordoff.
With seven champions on the grid, including two returning, it promises to be an intriguing season opener. As well as the BTCC the Ginetta Juniors, Ginetta GTs, Formula Fords, Renault Clios, and Porsche Carreras will be in action.