Posts Tagged ‘touring cars’

Apologies for this being nearly a week after the event, due to university and newspaper commitments this post had to put on theĀ back burnerĀ for a while. But here it is at last.

Last Sunday I finally attended my first ever British Touring Car Championship race at Donington Park. The BTCC is a sport I always watched during the 1990s when the drivers were international stars, there were numerous manufacturers involved and the grid was sometimes 30 cars strong. In fact Donington Park hosted what many people regard as the finest BTCC race ever in 1998 when Nigel Mansell joined in the fun with his Ford Mondeo.

Since then the sport’s declined slightly with the departure of many manufacturers and most of the top drivers heading to the World Touring Car Championship it’s popularity has dampened slightly. Being shunted onto ITV4 maybe doesn’t help either.

Throughout this time my interest also disappeared and for a few years I lost touch with the sport. However after receiving last year’s season review (all 7 hours of it!) for my birthday and realising the great racing was still there, my interest returned. After watching a couple of earlier rounds on telly, I decided to head down to Donington Park with a friend for round 9 of this year’s championship.

Upon arrival we were greeted with loads of Ginettas and Porsches in the paddock awaiting their turns to race. By the time we’d arrived at the Old Hairpin the Porsches were lining up on the grid and as they charged through the Craner Curves off spun one of them, which I thankfully managed to capture.

Glen McMenamin spins into the gravel
Liam Griffin spins wildly off

That was about as exciting as it got in the Porsche races; with the cars so evenly matched overtaking is limited and both races saw Michael Caine (yes he races Porsches, not a lot of people know that) lead former BTCC star Tim Harvey home.

Michael Caine took both race wins

After the Porsches came the Ginetta Junior Championship, with ages varying from 14 to 17 (I wasn’t half jealous!). The great think about the Ginetta juniors is that with their inexperience and enthusiasm there is plenty of great racing and they didn’t disappoint with plenty of overtaking and off track excursions taking place down at the Old Hairpin.

After the Ginettas had been out attention turned to the first BTCC race of the day, which saw the Ford Focus’ lock out the front row yet again. I’m not going to bother with a report of the race or indeed the other BTCC races but just share some of the pictures from where I was.

Matt Neal heads into the Old Hairpin on lap 1 ahead of Jason Plato

Rob Collard, Matt Neal and Jason Plato shortly before the collision at the chicane

From where I was not much happened in race one, with most of the overtaking on the back straight and on the main straight which meant a fair few laps behind the safety car.

The narrator at Donington didn’t seem to get too excited about this and just casually told us that the championship leader was out without giving us any real idea of what actually went on on the far side of the track so it was a bit of a surprise when Tom Onslow-Cole’s Ford Focus came down the Carner Curves in fifth with hay bale in the front of it when last time he was battling Honda’s Gordon Sheddon for the lead!

The damage on Onslow-Cole and Neal is evident

That was it mainly for the first set of races. After this it was lunch time and time to walk a bit further up the track to find the next spot…which will follow in my next blog.