British Touring Car Championship Finale @ Brands Hatch GP: Who will it be?
27 down, three to go. The Hondas were out in front, but after Silverstone, Plato smells blood. Which means...
Heâ€™s coming to get you An e-magazine in association with
Photo: Kingsley Newman Photography
Photo: Kingsley Newman Photography
6. Paddock news
ThePreview Issue 2
8. Newsham remember “special” season, eyes 2013 title challenge 10. Robb Holland: Embracing the challenge 16. PREVIEW: Sit back and enjoy, we’re in for a real corker at a legendary circuit 20. Andy Neate: Changing perceptions. The MG driver opens up about the criticism and the doubters 28. Thorney Motorsport’s sale of their two Inisgnias mark the beginning of something big, says their team boss 34. What are they saying? Driver quotes from the grapevine 35. Five youngsters who could change the face of the BTCC 36. Tom Ingram: BTCC Star in the making
Photo: Kingsley Newman Photography
Welcome Could we have scripted this better if we tried? With just one race, and three races, remaining, the title can mathematically be won by four drivers, realistically by three, probably by two. Gordon Sheddenâ€™s in pole position and even though his teammate Matt Neal has promised to be his wingman, he will be very, very wary of the chasing Jason Plato. The MG driver was in top form at Silverstone and we should be treated to some fantastic racing. Thereâ€™s also the NGTCs of Andy Jordan, the fourth championship challenger and Indie points leader, and Mat Jackson who can offer realistic threats for the win, as well as the usual suspects like Frank Wrathall, Rob Austin and Dave Newsham threatening to upset the apple cart. Elsewhere in this issue we have interviews with Dave Newsham, Robb Holland and John Thorne, as they cast their eyes over 2012 and look ahead to 2013, as well as features on young gun Tom Ingram - a future champion? - and Andy Neate, who is aiming to end his season on a high and proved the doubters wrong. Enjoy, and thanks for reading, Scott Mitchell.
Contact us: Scott Mitchell (Editor, Designer, Contributor) @scottmitchell89 firstname.lastname@example.org Vince Pettit (Editor, theCheckeredFlag.co.uk) @vincepettit email@example.com With thanks to: Kingsley Newman Photography Julie Amos Photography SMS Images Chris Gurton Photography
Fuller eager to return as Williamson takes his place Howard Fuller says earning a drive full-time in the BTCC next season is his main priority after another impressive outing at Silverstone. The Team-HARD. youngster battled with Gordon Shedden in race one and set the fifth fastest lap in race three, scoring points again, and only missing out on top ten finishes because of bad luck - Chris
James clouted into him hard at Copse after a mechanical fault on his own car - and a driveshaft failure in race two. Focussing on the positives, and looking ahead to 2013, he said: “I’m very inexperienced compared to everyone else and I’ve still got a lot to learn. “I’m only 20 years old - I’ve got a lot of time to get used
to the championship. “Breaking into the BTCC is quite difficult but I’ve got a lot of attention and we’re in the process of talking to as many people as we can. “You need to have an idea of what everyone’s offering so you can get the best deal.” Fuller’s second outing saw him establish himself further as a hard-but-fair racer, and he
said of his time at Silverstone: “It was a bit up and down but that’s why we love it really. “Tony said the car was going to be strong but I didn’t really think I’d be in the position to send one down the inside of Shedden! “Race three was very interesting starting right at the very back, to get up to 11th turned a few heads there. “I’ve never felt so fit or focused in my career so far and it was frustrating for it to be taken away from us with mechanical issues and driver contact.” Aaron Williamson is set to take his place in the car for the season finale. Fuller had previously stated the final round would be tough for any rookie but that is the tasking facing former Clio Cup and Ginetta race Williamson, who will aiming to make a similar impression as Fuller did when he was in the car.
Newsham crowned fans’ driver of the year ES Racing’s Dave Newsham has been named “Driver of the Year” by the official BTCC website’s fan forum (btcc. net). The popular Scot - who features in this edition of ThePreview - has had a stellar 2012, taking his maiden pole, podium and win, in just his second season in the BTCC after graduating as the Renault Clio Cup Champion in 2010. He told the website: “I’m delighted but also stunned – to have one of motor sport’s most passionate and knowledgeable bunch of fans anywhere in the world pick you as their favourite is a real honour. “The trophy will be sitting very proudly alongside any trophy I’ve ever won in a race!”
Gilham confident of success as Team-HARD. confirm 2013 Insignia entry Tony Gilham believes his outfit can push on in 2013 and deliver results with their newly-acquired NGTC Vauxhall Insignias. Team-HARD. will run two VXW-Rs next season and team boss Gilham will race one at Brands Hatch this weekend – with the team also in discussion with several drivers looking to sign in 2013, one of whom is American Robb Holland, who drove for the team at Snetterton and Knockhill. Gilham said: “It is a pleasure to be taking the cars on. We’d have liked to have built our own but these cars have potential to be a real frontrunner and we want to put a HARD. mark on it.
“We know it can be good but you can’t do it cheap, so we will strip it down and re-engineer the whole car. We’re looking to improve on the work done previously.” The Insignias have been purchased from Thorney Motorsport, whom Gilham filled in for at Silverstone when Chris Stockton fell ill, and earlier in the season at Snetterton, where their interest in the cars were first peaked. Though the team had originally planned to build their own next-generation cars, they have had to put that on the back burner - though have not been scrapped entierly - with 2013 fast approaching. After Brands, the first car will
be stripped down, rebuilt and strengthened over the winter – with the team citing the car’s basic fragility and cooling issues as key areas for improvement – while the second will be “built from the ground up” after not running at all in 2012. The Insignia and the Civic have been stripped of their respective liveries and are currently all-white, though Gilham said this could change for Brands Hatch.
He added: “NGTC is the immediate future for British Touring Cars and we at Team HARD. want to continue the progress that we have already made in our first year as a stand-alone BTCC team, hence why we have made this move.” Meanwhile, Thorney’s John Thorne believes the deal marks the first stage of his team, which prepares Vauxhalls, becoming a supplier within the series.
“These cars have potential to be a real front-runner but you can’t do it cheap” The Team-HARD. mechanics work on the new-look motors
Thorne said in a statement he is also in talks with two others about supplying Insignias. He said: “Its been a tough season for us in terms of racing but our plan was always to develop the car and make it available to other teams, however securing top level partners for next season will allow us to actually race rather than just build race cars so I’m delighted. “The BTCC is not the place to be with no budget.”
‘It’s been a special year’ Dave Newsham recalls his impressive second season, and sets his sights on the 2013 title. Words: Scott Mitchell Photo: Kingsley Newman Photography
Dave Newsham interview
Alongside everything else, 2012 will be remembered for the emergence of Dave Newsham as a BTCC frontrunner. The popular Scot, who made his debut last season in a SEAT, ruffled feathers in the first official event of 2012, setting the fastest time at the media day in his new team ES Racing’s Vauxhall Vectra. Since then, he’s been difficult to keep quiet. A stunning pole at the season curtain-raiser at the Brands Hatch Indy circuit followed, then came a race three podium after fighting back from a non-finish in race after being punted off at Paddock Hill Bend while leading. He may have been a shock pole then, but seeing the yellow-and-black number 17 at the front now is anything but a surprise. Newsham bagged his first win at Snetterton and backed it up on home soil two weeks later at Knockhill. Alongside the eBay Motors BMWs, he’s been the front-running S2000 runner all season and a consistent thorn in the sides of the championship challengers and NGTC runners, his most recent haul a double podium finish at
Silverstone last time out. In a year where so much has happened, it might be somewhat surprising that he finds picking a favourite moment easy. “There has been so many good memories this year,” he said, “but without doubt the first BTCC win is massive for any driver. To then follow it up with my home win two weeks later was special too. “I think we surprised people with that pole position at Brands, and to think we had two laps that were good enough for pole was fairly dominant too.” With season coming full circle, returning to the scene of that pole position, Newsham is excited to get back on to the Kent track. The aforementioned podium double at Silverstone came after a poor weekend at Rockingham, where the Vectra struggled with low power and high tyre degredation. As Newsham puts it, certain circuits do not suit some cars, and some do, and he says he’s been looking forward to the final two races all season. “I can’t wait,” he said. “I love the Brands GP circuit, and yes
we managed to get pole for round one on the Indy Circuit which is half of it. The NGTC teams have honed their cars during the season, so would think pole position might be a big ask; however we were not far away at Silverstone so who knows. “My car should suit the GP circuit, it rides the kerbs well, and for a quick lap round there you need to commit to the kerbs. Like I’ve said, the NGTC cars will be quick, but maybe we can hang with them. A lot will depend on the boost levels of each car, I’m not too dissatisfied [with ours], and Brands isn’t a killer on tyres either which is good for our S2000 car. In order to continue the progress made in 2012, a move to an NGTC car must happen, he says. The S2000s, which will run next season, will
become more obsolete, in number and performance, but it could be a position Newsham cannot afford to be in. “There is no question, we need to be in an NGTC car for next season. I am talking to a few teams including ES. The reality is, we need to raise an additional 100k to be in an NGTC car, and that is not easy when we have struggled to raise the money for this year. “That said, we have a great core of sponsors that will hopefully stay with us and want to see me in a competitive car for 2013. One thing is for sure, we will be working very hard during the next few months to try and raise the necessary budget to stay in the BTCC.” Should it all “fall in to place”, what are the aims for next
year? “If we are here, in a good team running NGTC cars next season, then my aim is to win the Championship,” he says defiantly. “The rules of NGTC and the current Boost regulations are that we all have basically the same equipment and chances of winning. I have a lot of confidence in my driving, and I have learnt a lot over the past two seasons. We now need to push on and be a consistent thorn in the side of the works teams! “We have done better than I thought we would [this season]. I did quote before the season got under way that we might sneak a win. People thought I was mad saying that, but I knew within two laps of driving the VXR Vectra we could do something special with it, and I think we have.”
Embracing the challenge
He was a hit in more ways than one when he made his debut, as his popularity off-track was countered by incidents on it. But Robb Holland is eager for more British Touring Car action. Words: Scott Mitchell Photo: Chris Gurton Photography
FOR an experienced driver like Robb Holland, driving an unknown car is nothing new. For an American like Robb Holland, long hauls to race tracks are nothing new. But throw an experienced American like Robb Holland into an unknown car, with unknown regulations, at uknown tracks, a series like the BTCC and what do you know, that’s new. The Colorado racer was a bit hit with the fans when he became the first Statesman to race in the series for more than 40 years at Snetterton. Despite a rough-and-tumble debut, he enjoyed the
experience, and his smile was still evident two weeks later, even after another actionpacked weekend, this time in rainy Scotland. As baptisms of fire go, Holland’s was hot as they come. So, has it deterred him from pushing for a full-time drive next season? Not at all. Team-HARD., who put the work in to bring Holland to the country for the Snetterton and Knockhill rounds, are the likely destination for the American and he is hopeful of securing his place on the grid. “I have a hand shake agreement with Tony to run with Team-HARD. for next year
as long as all of the pieces come together properly,” he explained. “We are still trying to finalize our 2013 plans and am I am committed to try to run as many races as possible in BTCC car next year. “I also have some opportunities in WTCC that I will be pursuing as well but I fully plan on being back to the UK next year one way or another.” Holland made his WTCC bow shortly after his Knockhill outing, racing for Bamboo at the Sonoma round. It was a different experience, he says, but one which he enjoyed and a challenge he looks
forward to adapting to as he potentially switches between series. “The main difference between BTCC and World Challenge over in the States is the cars themselves. Your cars are far more aggressive with their suspension modifications than World Challenge cars which are far closer to production based cars. That requires a completely different driving style and technique which something that I am going to have to adapt to as time goes on. “Also the absence of ABS on the BTCC cars is something
that I will have to (gladly) readapt to as I’ve lost a bit of feel in the brake zones by only running ABS equipped cars for the past several years.” Earlier in the season, Holland raised the notion of more American drivers coming to the country to race in the British series. While touring car racing does not have the following of NASCAR or IndyCar, he believes it’s a fast-growing sport, as shown by the WTCC race not long ago. “I think if it’s marketed properly Touring Car racing can be very successful over in the US,” he mused. “The
Photo: Kingsley Newman Photography
racing is I think as good as any racing you’ll see anywhere in the States right now. The WTCC race at Sonoma was very well attended and I think the feedback I’ve gotten for most of the spectators was that they really enjoyed the weekend and will be back again next year. “I think US drivers are very interested in competing over in the UK and in Europe but there needs to be a more
direct path for foreign drivers that would like to come over. Hopefully Team-HARD. can possibly provide that.” Looking ahead to 2013, the team’s switch to NGTC Vauxhall Insignias represents a new direction for both the outfit, their team boss Tony Gilham, and Holland himself, who drove their S2000 Honda Civic during his time here. Despite yet another challenge, he retains
his competitive stance even though his previously loftier ambitions of fighting at the front have been reined in slightly. “I have very modest expectations for next year,” he said. “As much as I want to be competitive and look
for overall victories, the reality is that I am still learning the tracks in the cars and need a bit more experience in both before I think I can challenge for race wins and the championship. “I’ve spent this entire year; in fact I’ve spent most of my
career, in new cars that need to be developed so I am very used to that experience. As I said from the beginning, everything that I’m doing here right now is a learning experience - and that’s what this would be.”
Photo: Kingsley Newman Photography
Photo: Kingsley Newman Photography
9 rounds, 27 races... and it
t all comes down to this... Shedden. Plato. Neal. It all boils down to the final weekend... Words: Scott Mitchell Main image: Miles Murphy (MDM Designs) Rewind, delete, let’s try that again. Jason Plato has decided 2012 isn’t guaranteed for Honda. The Japanese firm wrapped up the manufacturers’ title at Silverstone but their drivers’ respective struggles, coupled
with Plato’s double, means the “two for the title” which seemed oh-so-definite post-Rockingham is now a case of “take your pick” between the top three. Sometimes it’s good to be wrong – this should get very interesting. The momentum – no pun intended – is with the MG, not least
because of that stunning fightback in race three to win from 20th. His Silverstone haul takes him to six for the season, two in between Neal and Shedden, and he is confident he’ll add to that at the finale. He boasted after the racing had stopped the MG6 was now the fastest car in the dry – so he’ll be hoping he can back that up if the sun can shine in Kent this weekend.
Miles Murphy (MDM Designs)
Even if it does, it may not quite be the straight fight many are hoping for – although that could spice up the action further, á la the 2009 finale, coincidentally the last time the GP track at Brands hosted the final round. Colin Turkington won the title in the final race of the day after surviving a race-long tussle with Plato and Fabrizio Giovanardi – his rivals for the crown – and also Tom Chilton in an ever-improving Ford Focus. Well, that same sort of combination – three title rivals and a firedup Ford – may well be how this weekend shapes up. Shedden, Neal and Plato are the three title protagonists but Mat Jackson’s pace at Silverstone and the everimproving performances of
the NGTC Redstone Racing Ford Focus ST means to count him out would be to do so at their peril. The parallels to 2009 continue; Neal heads into the finale as the wingman to his teammate, as he did in 2009 (Giovanardi). He’s certainly a qualified support driver, and did a fine job holding Turkington behind – but then the WSR BMW forced its way through. The trouble is, here he has more than an outside shot at the title – if Flash or Plato have anything similar to his Silverstone weekend, he can still capitalise. So Shedden needs to be wary he does not fall on his own team’s sword so to speak – while Neal can help him take points off Plato, he cannot afford to lose too many points himself. If
Neal’s within ten, or even 15, or 20, points come race three, it’s all to play for. Especially with the ferocity of competition heading to Brands. And that’s the next problem for the title rivals. Plato needs to win, Neal needs to win, Shedden needs to hold his lead. Sounds as simple as winning a BTCC title can sound, but as ever, it’s a whole lot more complex.
Aside from Jackson, Indie title leader Andrew Jordan in the Pirtek Racing Honda Civic is another threat for the win. He needs to consolidate that title and he’s in with a mathematical – if unrealistic – shot at the main championships. What better way to secure his Indie success than with an outright win, or more? Other than those two there is also Frank Wrathall, fast
again at Silverstone in qualifying until the races proved his undoing, and desperate to end his season on a high. In similar positions are the NGTCs of Rob Austin and Dan Welch, who were both comfortably in the top five at Silverstone and had mixed weekends akin to Wrathall – especially the latter. With Austin under pressure to deliver with his new sponsor, and with no championship on the line, he and the others are a threat. But it’s not all NGTC. Dave Newsham took pole on the Brands Indy circuit at the first round and is fresh from a double podium at Silverstone. Though boost levels remain unknown to those outside the teams, it is reasonable to assume his Vectra will be strong at a circuit with low tyre wear. Similarly, Aron Smith should continue his fine form in the latter half of the season.
The Irishman claimed his first podium in the series at Silverstone and says the ability to attack the kerbs on the longer GP version of the Kent circuit stands him in good stead. There will, inevitably, be a tight scrap in the midfield. Adam Morgan will undoubtedly feature around the top ten again in his Speedworks Toyota while it will also interesting to note how Tony Gilham manages running the new Team-HARD. Insignia for the first time in his own team, and how his newest debutant Aaron Williamson, who takes over the Honda Civic from the impressive Howard Fuller, will fare. However, nothing will take the spotlight from the title fight. All year the Civic has been the car to have – good under braking, strong on corner entry and with overall good handling. Their rate of development
was much faster than any other team - they could have been out of sight by the summer. So Alan Gow, in the interest of there being a championship fight, has had to step in. Farcical or stroke of genius, it’s taken the title fight to the wire and now we should see a real spectacle, a genuine head-to-head for the title between the series’ three lead drivers in the lead cars. Gow’s ploy has worked. The MGs were kept in play until their car was at least on par for raw performance as the Hondas. Boost shouldn’t come in to it, certainly not on the scale of Silverstone, so it should be straight fight for the title. We are set for a moment of pure motorsport theatre, which will be played out on closing night of the season. Gentlemen, take the stage.
Brands by numbers: Length 2.30 miles Number of laps 15 Distance 34.5 miles Lap Records Qualifying: Tom Chilton, Ford Focus ST, 1m31.604s, May 2010 Race: Jason Plato, Chevrolet Cruze, 1m32.619s, October 2011 Last year... Jason Plato heads into the round 20 points off the lead but two wins in the first two races - combined with both Hondas nonscoring in the first race - put him top, before dropping back behind Matt Neal as he wins race three. Gordon Shedden, joint-leader going in, is now five points back in third going to the finale.
Super Touring winners 7 Jason Plato (2000, 2005, 3 x 2009, 2 x 2011) 4 Alain Menu (1995, 2 x 1996, 2000) 2 John Cleland (1992, 1995), Gabriele Tarquini (2 x 1994), Matt Neal (2002, 2011) 1 James Thompson (2002), Dan Eaves (2005), Rob Collard (2005), Tom Chilton (2010), Tom Onslow-Cole (2010), Mat Jackson (2010)
Remember when...? We had one of the greatest finales in recent BTCC history? Colin Turkington clinched his first - and so far, only BTCC title at the GP circuit in 2009 in his West Surrey Racing-run Team RAC BMW. Jason Plato came into the last meeting of the season as the outsider (sound familiar?) but astonishingly won all three races to pip defending
champ Fabrizio Giovanardi to the runnersup spot, as Turkington clinched the crown with second after surviving contact with Matt Neal, Platoâ€™s teammate at the time, earlier in the race.
Andy Neate CHANGING PERSPECTIVES “I would be lying if I said it doesn’t annoy or upset me sometimes because it does. But I want to prove the doubters wrong.”
Photo: Chris Gurton Photography
Andy Neate is the first person to tell you 2012 has not gone to plan – and the first to tell you he’s dead set on becoming a race winner sooner rather than later. A best finish of seventh in his first season with the MG ‘works’ team and a best qualifying of fifth are the highlights of what has been, he confesses, a largely disappointing campaign. Criticism over his driving style and ability, and questions about his place on the grid, let alone in the Triple Eight-run team, have only added to the pain. But while Neate accepts it has not lived up to expectations, he refutes claims he is not cut out for the BTCC – saying the results do not tell the whole story, pointing to the lack of testing of the new car in the early stages of the season, and problems with the new NGTC regulations. “2012 hasn’t been the year I had anticipated as a works driver to be honest,” he admits. “But experience will tell you racing seldom does
deliver on all the expectations we have. “Saying that, heading into the final race weekend of the season I would have bet my house at the start of the season that departing the penultimate event at Silverstone I would be have had at least one podium finish to my name already. I would have also assumed I would be comfortably inside the top ten on points. Especially as said I’m a ‘works’ BTCC driver. “Driving for a manufacturer has its positive advantages alongside the additional pressures. However I would always want to be a works driver than not, representing a British marque such as MG is quite an honour really, and I am encouraged by my progress although the results don’t really show how much I have improved technically. I think I am driving well but for one reason or another it hasn’t paid off.” The question marks over his driving ability seem unjust
in the sense Neate was a GT and club car racer, a successful one too, before a horror crash in 2007 left him with serious injuries. It was a potentially life-defining moment – yet only a few years later he’s about to finish his second full season in the BTCC. ““I want to return to winning ways,” he explained. “Just competing isn’t enough, it
never has been. However the BTCC is as tough as it comes in the world of motorsport so it’s not as easy as some believe. “Some will assume I haven’t been the same since I came back racing following my accident in 2007 but I don’t think this is necessarily true. It’s fair to say I used to get in a racing car and just expect to win, I usually did. But the BTCC
isn’t like that, but I will get back there.” After the last round, Neate was attributed blame for a number of incidents by his fellow drivers and fans online – though only one by TOCA, and that, he says, is where the criticism becomes a problem for him. “I’m happy to listen to opinion and criticism but only if it’s constructive and not just
“I’m on a mission to win and/or support Jason to win the crown. I’m good enough to do both”
Photo: Kingsley Newman Photography
damn right rude, inaccurate or unjust,” he says. “I would be lying if I said it doesn’t annoy or upset me sometimes because it does. Everything they post is inaccurate, misinformed or just downright insulting - they are just bitter and jealous of others success. “Yes following Silverstone I came in for some heavy criticism following some incidents. The first incident was with Andrew Jordan and I have to put my hands up and take the blame for that. “However the Bratt incident was put down to a racing incident - it annoyed me that for some reason a small few decided I was to blame for that incident. How?” One of the reasons Neate says the criticism is unjust is the basic facts – Silverstone was the first time he found himself
on TOCA’s naughty step, and it was his first and so far only official punishment. He also points out the hypocrisy within a championship famed for panel-bashing and contact: “I would like to reiterate the Jordan incident was my first time I have received any portion of blame or reprimand this entire season. It makes me laugh that of you look at the points and fines dished out to those who recently claimed ‘some need to calm down a bit in recent interviews’ their reprimands far outweigh my own official punishments this season. “I didn’t go bleating to TOCA when not one but two Hondas run me off the road at Croft and out of a podium position with a lap or two to go.” A fact against him however is the points table – and Neate
knows he needs to deliver more. He is very aware of the position he finds himself in – driving arguably the fastest car on the grid at the moment. The fact his teammate is Jason Plato, who is fighting for the title, gives his doubters ammunition – why, they say, is he in the car when he cannot get the most out of it? Driving alongside Plato, who Neate says is “head and shoulders” above the rest of the grid, is a formidable position for any driver to be in, but Neate says that doesn’t create more problems or pile on any added pressure: “JP doesn’t make my life
“I’m not in awe of Jason but you have to take a step back and appreciate how good the man is.” Photo: BTCC.net
harder within the team, I would go as far and say we have a really good working relationship and get along very well on & off track. However I’ll be lying if I said It’s not frustrating sometimes when you come in after a practice session in P5 thinking you’ve done okay, take a look at the timing screen and see him in P1 by an over half a second and you think oh s***! Where did he find that? But that’s the way it is, I think Jason is driving at the very top of his game; better than he was last season.” “I’m not in awe of Jason but you have to take a step back
and appreciate how good the man is. It’s my true belief that every racing series in the world has its special talents, and it’s no different in the BTCC. “Some people may say ‘what a load of rubbish’ and ‘what do I know?’! I’m not being disrespectful of anyone as Matt Neal and many others have become amazing developed touring car drivers, but seeing firsthand what JP has extracted from our car when it was far from the best racing car on the grid is nothing short of amazing.” Neate insists despite the
“No matter what everyone likes to assume why I’m in the seat, if MG didn’t have faith in my abilities I wouldn’t be. criticism from fans on social network sites and message boards, and comments from other drivers, he is making a significant contribution to the team – if he wasn’t, he says, he would not have a drive. “I think [Jason and I] have mutual respect for each other on differing levels for different reasons - I’m sure he acknowledges I’m not at his level in driving ability – and the contribution to developing and engineering the NGTC MG to where it is today has been equally shared. We a have a bloody good laugh too! “I’ll be staying as a works driver for MG in 2013 and for my aim is simple. Prove the doubters wrong and become a regular front runner. I know I’m capable
of it but more importantly so do MG and the team. After all, no matter what everyone likes to assume why I’m in the seat in the first place, if they didn’t have faith in my abilities I wouldn’t be.” His journey back to the front, he believes, could begin this weekend at Brands, where he feels his progression as a driver could bear fruit if things finally go his way: “As I said I’m driving very well and we now have a very good car. I was the fastest of all the AON Ford cars last year in race trim and took the fastest lap in race 2 not to mention a came within a lap of my first BTCC podium. I’m on a mission to try and win and/or support Jason to win the crown. I’m good enough to do both!”
Photo: Kingsley Newman Photography
Photo: SMS Images
Photo: Julie Amos Photography
a two-car team planned for 2013, a major sponsor promised, and the sale of two insignias means for one btcc team...
itâ€™s no longer looking thorney
It’s a tough time to run an independent team in any series, let alone the British Touring Car Championship. So when you try and balance that expense and effort with running a full-time business, plus other racing activities, and add on to that the desire to supply cars to other teams, you begin to understand the dynamics of Thorney Motorsport. Team boss John Thorne admits that, on track at least, 2012 has been a year to forget. After eyeing a two-car assault with himself and Rob Hedley behind the wheels of self-prepared NGTC Vauxhall Insignia VXRRs, it started to go wrong for the off. Hedley was a no-show – budget issues curtailed his chances of competing, but “that’s racing these days,
and certainly wasn’t down to lack of effort on either side” says Thorne – so the team boss became the sole driver at the opening two rounds at Brands Hatch and Donington Park. Problems with the car – the team were struggling badly with a misfire – saw them announce they would not take part in the third round at Thruxton and they would then skip the races at Oulton Park and Croft, following a dispute with Swindon Engines. Sponsorship issues meant the team were under-funded with an overbudget car, without a truck deal, technical gremlins and minimal track time. But then things looked a little rosier. TOCA stepped in and put the issue with Swindon to bed, and a deal with Tony
Gilham saw the TeamHARD. boss drive the car at Snetterton while Robb Holland took over his own Honda Civic. “We got naff all luck in that race weekend of course,” remarks Thorne, but at least the car was on track - showing good pace, too and the Gilham deal saw the beginning of negotiations which eventually led to the purchase of both Insignias by the Dartford team. “The BTCC for us was always three fold - marketing for our road car tuning, building a competitive car for us to race ourselves and building competitive cars for others,” says Thorne. “Certainly the marketing side worked to some extent, awareness for us in the general public is far greater now but of course our performance on trackwas way below our
expectations, depressingly so. “But the recovery plan we engaged was the right choice and it has meant we achieved what we wanted - a competitive car at the end of the season with a view to selling other cars to other teams.” It was absent from the Knockhill and Rockingham rounds but the car resurfaced at Silverstone, the team’s home race, where Chris Stockton and Tony Gilham eventually got the car through the weekend, the former falling ill after qualifying. Again, bad luck robbed the team any chance of a decent finish, or any finish, but what followed is arguably the team’s highlight from 2012. The deal with Gilham is a landmark moment in
Thorney’s master plan for TMS. He sees his team as both a race outfit and a supplier – and is eyeing a deal with another team to put two more Insignias on the grid alongside two for Gilham, and two for himself. “The model is very similar to a manufacturer customer team,” he explained. “We supply all the parts he needs (non-NGTC, he gets those directly from the suppliers) and any set up advice he may or may not need. We own the homologation for the Insignias so there maybe some changes over Winter as well. “I want to be on the grid with two Insignias under our own team and supporting two customer teams with two Insignias each. It’s hard but not impossible.” Despite the announcement
for his own team’s plans not coming until the Autosport show in January, and significant self-doubts over his own driving ability after the troublesome opening races,Thorne is eager to get back in the car himself – but only if the circumstances allow. “I’m desperate to get back into the car,” he said. “At Brands Hatch at the first round my confidence took a beating and I was all for giving up, I really thought I
just didn’t have it anymore, however a long look at the data showed the car really was compromised and as such our decision to withdraw it and start again was the right one. “Initially we thought that we should get another driver as I felt I was ‘damaged goods’ at that point, but the team simply said that I should persevere with it, I thank them for that. “Once I’d got over the emotional crap that comes
from self-doubt I got back under the skin of the car and literally started from scratch, it worked, it took a long time of driving but we took 3 seconds off the Brands Hatch time from the start of the season – that’s progress.” Progress indeed, but the team’s plans do not stop at touring car racing. Supporters will have noticed the new Karcher livery adorned on the Insignia – a sponsorship deal which
“I’d rather we didn’t have to go through what we did but the outcome is positive”
derives from TMS’ off-road programme, something else Thorne has big plans for. “The plan is for a new off road racing series using Arctic Cat Wildcats,” he said, “as well as some international events, such as the Tuareg rally in Tunisia next year. We have our own race track so we are able to develop our own race cars as preparation. “Our main business of road car tuning continues to keep us busy and of course we have a busy race car business building race cars for other teams so BTCC is an extension of that, albeit an expensive extension.” The team is taking a lot on – they do not hide from that. So perhaps it was understandable that when a few things conspired against them, they had no choice but to take emergency action, at least in the short-term, especially with so much at stake. The off-track problems
which blighted the Northamptonshire-based outfit’s development this season were “unfortunate”, says Thorne, but if he retains a lingering disliking for those who crossed him, he does a very good job of hiding it, indicative of the more positive future in store for his team. “As regards our truck issues,” he recalls, “yes that was awkward, but when you agree a deal with a supplier for the season and that supplier rings up and says they have changed their mind there is little you can do. I wish them well of course but would I rather it didn’t happen that way? Yes. “In hindsight, I’d rather we didn’t have to go through what we did but, it’s done, the outcome is positive and as such we are better to move on in that vein.”
Photo: Kingsley Newman Photography
TheReview & ThePreview Thanks for reading ThePreview, the new British Touring Car Championship e-magazine in association with theCheckeredFlag.co.uk. We want to make sure this is a long-term project and continues to improve, so if you have any feedback to give - good or bad - we would be happy to hear from you. So, whether youâ€™ve got a query, compliment, criticism, or maybe want to get involved with the project, we want to hear from you! You can get in touch with us by contacting the editor of the website, Vince Pettit, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Scott Mitchell, the magazine editor, at email@example.com. And donâ€™t forget, in the meantime you can keep up with all the latest news, BTCC and otherwise, at theCheckeredFlag.co.uk. On Twitter? Follow the TCF team: Vince Pettit @vincepettit Scott Mitchell @scottmitchell89 Simon Paice @paicey3991 The Checkered Flag BTCC @tcfbtcc
Brands Hatch Timetable Saturday 20 October
09.00 – 09.15 Qualifying Protyre Formula Renault BARC Winter Series with Michelin
Sunday 21 October
09.10 – 09.40 Pit Lane Walkabout / Autograph Session 10.00 Porsche Carrera Cup Great Britain
09.25 – 10.05 Free Practice Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship 10.40 Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup 10.20 – 10.35 Free Practice Ginetta Junior Championship 11.20 BTCC Pit Lane Opens 10.45 – 11.15 Qualifying AirAsia Renault UK Clio Cup 11.32 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship 11.25 – 11.45 Qualifying Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup 12.12 Ginetta Junior Championship 11.55 – 12.35 Free Practice Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship 12.40 – 13.10 Lunch Break 12.45 – 13.00 Qualifying Protyre Formula Renault BARC Winter Series with Michelin 13.10 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Winter Series with Michelin
13.00 – 13.50 Lunch Break 13.50 – 14.05 Qualifying Ginetta Junior Championship 14.15 – 14.45 Qualifying Porsche Carrera Cup Great Britain 14.55 – 15.25 Qualifying Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship 15.35 Race Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup 16.10 Race Protyre Formula Renault BARC Winter Series with Michelin 16.45 Race Ginetta Junior Championship 17.15 Race AirAsia Renault UK Clio Cup
13.45 BTCC Pit Lane Opens 13.57 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship 14.37 AirAsia Renault UK Clio Cup 15.17 Porsche Carrera Cup Great Britain 15.55 Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup 16.33 BTCC Pit Lane Opens 16.45 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship
It’s the season finale! So what have your favourite drivers been up to online? Your best bet is to check out Twitter! Don’t have time for that? Well, here’s a snippet...
“Back up to Manchester to see hand specialist in the morning #StillNotGood @MattNealRacing
Jason Plato enjoyed a bit of age-related stick on Twitter on his birthday mid-week, leading hte MG man to tweet “ORDER!” more than once.
Gordon Shedden has been suspiciously quiet since Silverstone. But in the Dunfermline Press, the Scot says the title “would be a dream come true”.
When the picture of Rob Austin’s newly-liveried Audi (below) came out on Twitter, it erupted with wolf whistles and comments even the manliest of construction workers would be proud of. Then came the US comparisons.... @TobyMoody: “It’s a NASCAR!” @RobAustinRacing (in reply to Moody): “ We copied the NASCAR colour scheme, because #nascar is cool ;-)”
@TomOnslowCole: “Leaving for what looks like a very wet day sat beside @AidenMoffat43 @ Brands_Hatch preparing him for his @GinettaCars Jnr debut #Coaching”
BTCC Twitter Directory: @gordonshedden @mattnealracing @jasonplato @andyneate @mat_jackson @aronsmith_ @frankwrathall @adammorgan33 @tonyhughesBTCC @collardrob @tomonslowcole @NickFos44109596 @andrewjordan77 @RobertoAustini @WBrattRacing @BTCCDanWelch @newshamracing @tonygilham34 @HKFRacing @RobbHolland3 @PaulONeill29 Mised someone? @scottmitchell89 @tcfbtcc
Rob Austin’s Audi will carry this stunning new livery at Brands Photo: wixracing.co.uk
Five young guns...
On the next page starts out feature on Tom Ingram, arguably the brightest talent on the TOCA package. But here, we look at 5 other young men taking/hoping to take the BTCC by storm
Aaron Williamson Though he’s yet to show what he can do in the BTCC, he’s demonstrated in various support race series he’s talented - and Brands may be his breakthrough. In any case, he’s impressed Tony Gilham.
because of his talent his place was earned through the Ginetta scholarship following his championship success last season. Yet to string a weekend together and a bit of a magnet at times, but has shown genuine front-running pace.
Adam Morgan Morgan’s on the grid
Howard Fuller Very impressive debut at Rockingham despite
minimal tin-top experience and a deluge on Sunday afternoon. Looked racey at Silverstone and showed good racecraft - also set fifth fastest time in race three. Frank Wrathall Wrathall, in his second year in the BTCC, may not have had quite the groundbreaking results as he did in his maiden season but he took his first pole position at Snetterton
and always looks quick - could win at Brands if cards fall in his favour Aron Smith Perhaps not everyone’s choice but has had an excellent second half of the season - enough for Autosport to recognise “seeing him at the front is no longer a surprise”. Took his maiden podium at Silverstone and has been nearly faultless since the summer break.
Star in the making...
Better get used to this image: Ginetta teen Tom Ingram talks 2012, success, and touring car ambitions
Star in the making
He packs a racing CV which would rival, even beat, a lot of drivers on the British Touring Car grid at the moment, and is mentored by the championship’s most successful driver – now Tom Ingram has his sights set on joining him next season .
A BRDC Rising Star, Ingram has enjoyed back-to-back Ginetta titles in the Junior and G50 classes, and despite a torrid run of luck, he’s still in with a shout of a remarkable Ginetta hat-trick when the G55 Supercup finishes at Brands Hatch this weekend. Oh, and he is still only 19. He’s also already tested a touring car, having sampled Andrew Jordan’s Vauxhall Vectra two years ago as reward for his Ginetta Junior
success. He drew rave reviews from Mike Jordan for his attitude and speed - and this was just at age 17. Then earlier this season he nailed a place on the new Jason Plato-led KX Akademy, securing funding for the remainder of the season along with a whole host of benefits. Little wonder then he has been ear-marked by several as one to watch, as a driver who can bring more raw young talent to the series, and as a future champion. It’s a lot to ask of someone not even out of their teens. But this is a young man who has delivered every time he has needed to – and he’s reaping the rewards, as attentions begin to shift to 2013. “I have had talks with several leading BTCC teams,” he revealed, “and we are evaluating what will be the best move for me at this point in time and working hard to
raise sufficient budget. The most important thing is to have a competitive car, so that I can lay the foundations for a successful touring car career. “The BTCC has always been my dream; I have loved it ever since I was five-yearsold and starting out in karts. I am a self-confessed BTCC nerd when it comes to facts, figures and dates! To be given a chance to race a touring car would just be incredible.” He’s excited about his opportunity, but that comes as a by-product of his levelheadedness – he knows how far his talent can take him, but equally important is how well in-tune with what a racing career requires outside of the driver’s seat he is – something Plato pointed out when he was announced as a KX Akademy member. A confident young man, he never doubted his ability – though it does not border on arrogance, and he has an
added maturity for a driver so young, “It’s been crazy!” he admits. “Getting the KX Akademy place was obviously the highlight of my year and career so far. “We have had brilliant success in the short time spent with Ginetta, winning two championships in two years and now going for the hat-trick. “Each time I have stepped up into a new car, I have set my sights for the top and have always been confident I would be quick enough. To do as well as we have so far has just been awesome.” It’s his raw ability behind the wheel which makes him such an exciting prospect – you don’t win back-toback titles in a series as competitive as the Ginetta championship without serious talent, and even being in the championship running is testimony to his talent, after four non-finishes and a horror
Despite a multitude of problems, Ingram is still in the mix for an incredible Ginetta hat-trick Photo: KX Akademy
Photo: Kingsley Newman Photography
Star in the making
shunt one the startline at Knockhill when his car failed to start and he was ploughed into from behind. “The problem with the car at Knockhill was very frustrating,” he said, “but to then come back from that with a double win at Rockingham was amazing and just underlined the work rate that everyone is putting in. To be going into the final round still in contention for the title after four DNFs is incredible.” Rockingham was a perfect example of his attitude and capability as a driver. Three weeks after that horrible startline shunt in Scotland, which left him unable to walk properly on his injured leg immediately afterwards, he took that remarkable double – fighting back from two poor
starts and pulling two stunning moves to take the lead in both races. Equally as impressive was his feat in race one, where while chasing down the leader, he set a series of new lap records one after the other. Ingram has benefitted from the financial support from the Akademy but also the tutelage of Plato, a two-time champion and the most successful driver in the series’ history if you go by race wins. The support, advice and external workshops provided by KX is something the youngster does not take for granted. “Having the support of Jason Plato and KX has been phenomenal, and I cannot even begin to describe what it’s done for me - not only in
terms of having the funding to compete, but also being able to push the car a lot more and not having to worry so much about diving up the inside of someone. “Jason has been awesome, such a fantastic guy to work with. He is hugely passionate about the programme and getting the very best for us. He is really helpful and whenever I need any advice at or away from the track, he is there. I honestly couldn’t think of anyone better to work with.” Next season is a realistic aim for Ingram. He may miss out on a third Ginetta title but he’s arguably done more along the way to help his chances of a BTCC drive this season than anyone on the TOCA support package. He has the credentials and
the talent, now he is itching for the opportunity – one he believes he would grasp with both hands. “Like anything I get into, I would want to be fast and have the possibility to win,” he says. “There is no point in doing anything unless you can win. “I am annoyingly competitive
and I have to win - whether it’s running up some stairs or training on my bike, I have to be first. Moving into the BTCC would be a massive challenge, I am well aware of that, but equally, in the right situation, it is an opportunity I would jump at.” You can read Tom’s blog every month on the TCF site
“To be given a chance to race a touring car would just be incredible” The teenager says having the BTCC’s most successful driver as a mentor is “unbelieveable”
Welcome to a new, slightly fun feature for ThePreview. It’s caption time, ladies and gentlemen! We want the best of what your brain can come up with, starting with this Kingsley Newman snap from Silverstone - so, let your minds wander, and either e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘ThePreview Caption’ in the title or message @tcfbtcc on Twitter!
This is the second issue of ThePreview, an e-magazine looking at providing the best news, reports, reaction and features for the Dunlop MSA...