Too close to call as BTCC races north to Croft

24 May 17

Croft Circuit is the next stop on the high-speed schedule for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship on 10/11 June, with the UK’s biggest and best four-wheeled motor sport series revving up to rock the popular North Yorkshire circuit two decades on from its return to the calendar.

The BTCC draws massive crowds wherever it goes, and Croft is no exception, with fans flocking through the gates for the series’ only north-eastern visit of the year. Four thrilling outings to-date in 2017 suggest the action is likely to be hotter than ever next month, with Croft’s challenging and technical layout invariably generating spectacular wheel-to-wheel racing – and the track’s open paddock policy allowing spectators to get right up close to the action.

Defending champion Gordon Shedden leads the field after taking his second victory of the campaign last time out, and the Scot will be eager to prove the all-round capabilities of his potent Honda Civic Type R as he strives to become only the second driver in BTCC history to clinch the coveted crown four times.

“Croft is an interesting circuit,” he reflected. “It’s a little bit like a game of two halves with some really slow, technical corners and some really fast, high-adrenaline corners, which always throws up a few surprises.

“It’s fantastic to be heading there leading the championship, but the downside to that is having to carry 75kg of glorious ballast for qualifying and race one! That means we’ll need to play the long game, but hopefully the Civic Type R will do the business and the weekend will come to me as it goes on.”

For that to happen, however, the Scot will need to overcome a whole host of hungry rivals, led by Team BMW’s Rob Collard – the only driver to have scored in every race so far this season and a man with an excellent recent record at Croft, having won twice in the last two years and tallied five podium finishes since 2014.

Collard’s team-mate Colin Turkington is known in touring car circles as the ‘King of Croft’ after triumphing in North Yorkshire on new fewer than 11 occasions – and the Northern Irishman will similarly enjoy the advantage of rear wheel-drive through the complex towards the end of the lap and exiting the tight hairpin onto the start/finish straight. The same can be said for Subaru’s Ashley Sutton, who is going from strength-to-strength as the season progresses.

Early-season championship leader Tom Ingram endured a nightmare weekend at Oulton Park – tallying just a single point courtesy of fastest lap in the final contest – but with a bit less success ballast on-board his Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis, the young gun will be fired-up to fight back at Croft.

The ultra-experienced Matt Neal proved that there is plenty of life left in the old dog with a hat-trick of rostrum results last time out to haul himself up the order, as Andrew Jordan in the remaining BMW also vaulted firmly into contention in Cheshire with a commanding second win of 2017.

Adam Morgan and Jack Goff are other names that can certainly not be discounted, while there are some big-hitters looking to snatch a share of the limelight following a tough start to the campaign – Newcastle-raised Jason Plato and Huddersfield’s Daniel Lloyd amongst them. Indeed, more than half of the drivers on the 32-strong grid have previously reached the top step of the podium in the BTCC – meaning picking a winner is nigh-on impossible.

With support series action in the form of the Renault UK Clio Cup for the touring car stars of tomorrow, the Simpson Race Products Ginetta Junior Championship for precociously talented 14-to-17-year-olds, the Michelin Ginetta GT SuperCup and the F4 British Championship certified by FIA-powered by Ford – the first stepping-stone on the road to Formula 1 – there will be non-stop high-octane entertainment from lights-out to chequered flag.

Advance tickets for the race weekend are available priced at just £11 for Saturday, 10 June and £24 for Sunday, 11 June – or £33 for both days. 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.

For further information or to buy tickets, call 01325 721815 or see: http://www.croftcircuit.co.uk/racing/btcc

For more information on Croft’s race meetings and driving experiences, visit: http://www.croftcircuit.co.uk