So this is it. The cars are polished. The drivers are ready. It’s what we’ve all been waiting for. After a winter break of five months and ten days, the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship roars back into life tomorrow for the start of the 2013 season – set to be one of the best yet.
Despite the somewhat chilly conditions, fans will be flocking to Brands Hatch to see what their favourite teams and drivers can do around the Indy Circuit on the opening race weekend of the year.
An interesting aspect to keep an eye on over the weekend will be how Dunlop’s new soft tyre will perform during race conditions. The tyre, which will be allocated to each driver at every meeting, bar Thruxton, was introduced by the series in November. Strategy will be key, as drivers will have to choose which race out of the three they wish to use the tyre in before Saturday’s qualifying session – with rivals’ unaware of their opponents choices until that race.
One of the biggest talking points ahead of the start of the 2013 season is the fact there will be four champions taking to the grid; 2012 champ Gordon Shedden, Matt Neal, Jason Plato and BTCC returnee Colin Turkington. Challenges will be tough, and each driver will be aiming to add another title to their tally.
But they’ll have to keep on their toes, as the new field of drivers come through the pack aiming for the big one. 2012 Independent’s Champion Andrew Jordan will be hoping to capitalise on his Media Day testing performance over the ten race meetings to clinch the title, whilst Redstone Racing’s Mat Jackson is also setting his sights on the crown.
Having not unveiled their cars at Media Day, Team HARD. will be revealing their 2013 machines to the world this weekend. With returning drivers to the series Tom Onslow-Cole and Howard Fuller alongside BTCC newbies James Cole and Clio Champion Jack Goff under the watchful eyes of team boss Tony Gilham, all eyes will be on their performances over the weekend.
It’s also the inaugural year for the Jack Sears’ Trophy; awarding the top performing driver in a S2000 car with a trophy named after the first ever tin top champion. Six drivers; David Nye (Welch Motorsport with Sopp & Sopp), James Kaye (AmDTuning.com), Warren Scott (Team BMR Restart), Lea Wood (Wheel Heaven/Houseman Racing), Liam Griffin (Addison Lee Motorbase) and Joe Girling (M247 Racing) will all be aiming to get their S2000 car to be the best above the rest and lift the trophy come the end of the season.
It’s clear to see that this is going to be an exciting and unpredictable year for the championship, fraught with the usual twists, turns and unexpected surprises along the way.
The wait is nearly over. Let’s go racing. By Nikki Thompson