The annual Autosport International has come and gone as quick as a flash. 2013 saw a variety of all forms of motorsport on display, ranging from top level motorsport such as Formula One and Rallying, to drag racing and oval racing in the form of stock cars.
The British Touring Car Championship featured heavily throughout the four action-packed days, with an iconic stand – complete with the infamous Dunlop Bridge displaying some of the starring cars from the 2012 season, including the Championship winning Honda Civic of Gordon Shedden and Cancer Research charity liveried MG6 of Jason Plato.
Also located on the BTCC stand were some of the newly uncovered cars that will be seen on the grid in 2013. These included Dan Welch’s Proton Persona, Rob Austin’s www.wixracing.co.uk Audi A4 and Dave Newsham’s Speedworks Toyota Avensis. Away from the Dunlop Stand, Andrew Jordan’s 2012 Independent Championship winning Pirtek Honda Civic was being displayed on the Autoglym stand - from which visitors could purchase some of the company’s well-known vehicle cleaning products.
Two of the big news stories surrounding the weekend came from two Independent outlets – AmD Tuning and Rob Austin Racing. Shaun Hollamby confirmed before the show that his team would be running an NGTC-spec Vauxhall during the second half of 2013, whilst Rob Austin confirmed a title-sponsor in Wix Filters – and the return of 2012-debutant Will Bratt for a full-season. Both of these stories can be found by clicking on the following links; http://www.girlracer.co.uk/motorsport/14191-btcc-amd-reveal-ngtc-astra-for-2013-season.html / http://www.girlracer.co.uk/motorsport/14201-btcc-rob-austin-racing-confirm-2013-plans.html
It wasn’t just the modern day era of the BTCC making headlines during the show; stars and cars from the past also made their presence known. Thursday saw the announcement from the Historic Sports Car Club that 2013 would see a new series featuring four rounds for both historic and super-touring cars. The races will take places during historic events over the year at the following circuits;
• Thruxton – 30th/31st March
• Brands Hatch – 13th/14th July
• Silverstone – 26th/27th/28th July
• Outlon Park – 24th/25th/26th August
Following the announcement, Friday saw the coming together of an assembly of legendary tin top stars including the first ever champion Jack Sears – who recently had the new Independent Trophy named after him, 1989 and 1995 champion John Cleland, the first ever triple-champion Bill McGovern and 1992 champion and current ITV4 commentator Tim Harvey.
Fans were also treated to a stand dedicated to the type of cars that will be featured in the new series, including the 1995 title winning super-touring Vauxhall Cavalier of John Cleland, the BMW 318 of Steve Soper and the 1998 Dynamic’s Nissan Primera of Matt Neal.
Back to 2013, and some tin top rookies joined in the action on the Dunlop stand, including Team HARD’s newest recruits Jack Goff and James Cole, who took part in driver-signings and interviews allowing fans to get to know the new faces on the grid. A gathering of touring car stars also took part in the allocated driver signings and main stage interviews over the weekend, some of which included; Gordon Shedden, Matt Neal, Jason Plato, Andrew Jordan, Dave Newsham, Rob Austin, Dan Welch, Will Bratt and Adam Morgan. American Robb Holland, who made his BTCC debut with Team HARD. last year also made an appearance.
World Touring Car stars Andy Prialux and 2012 Champion Rob Huff were also present at the show, and featured on the main stage giving sharing stories about their previous twelve months of racing.
Jason Plato’s KX Academy was another one of the big highlights from the show. Jason and the successful KX applicants – Tom Ingram, Stefan Hodgets, Daniel Lloyd, Sam Tordoff, Rob Boston, Luke Herbert and Anthony Whorton-Eales all appeared on the KX sponsored Autosport stage on Thursday to talk about the scheme and why it’s important for racing drivers in today’s current climate to get the support from an association like KX.
Sticking with Jason Plato, his success after a late last-minute deal with MG in 2012 brought more fans and enthusiasts to the MG stand on display at the Autosport International. With two MG6s on display, MG also put on The Racing Bug – a remote control race where visitors could take on each other on a short circuit – with all the thrills and spills of a standard touring car race!
Adjacent to MG was the artist Ian Cook, who on Saturday was undertaking another ‘PopBangColour’ challenge by creating Gordon Shedden’s Championship winning Honda Civic with remote control cars and tyres.
ITV4 pit-lane reporter Louise Goodman took to the stage throughout the weekend with Paul Mussell acting as sidekick to present the live show in the Live Action Arena. The show saw a selection of racing, from motorcycle stunts, Robin Reliant Racing and monster trucks.
The Autosport International show kicks off the start of the motorsport calendar for many competitors and fans. Next stop for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship is Media Day on Thursday 21st March at Donington Park – with free access for fans after 12pm. By Nikki Thompson