News and views on motorsports

Sunday, May 13, 2007

BTCC Thruxton

I don't get the British Touring Car Championship on the telly and therefore I have to wait a while before I can watch each round. But so far this season, I haven't been disappointed. Especially not in last weekend's round at Thruxton.

Thruxton is an absolutely fantastic racing circuit. Like Silverstone and Snetterton its an ex World War 2 airfield converted into a racing circuit. Unlike Silverstone that has been chopped and changed over the years and slowed down, Thruxton's layout has remained the same since its inception. It currently claims to be the fastest circuit in the United Kingdom and I say amen to that.

To be sure, the racing was perhaps not as bumper to bumper as the previous round at Rockingham or even Brands but the track itself is incredibly fast. Bloody hell, the slowest corner is a chicane and there are no hairpins! But on this circuit with its fast sweepers you can really watch a touring car lean hard on its suspension, skipping and sliding on the bumps and really testing the driver's bravery and commitment. The sheer speed of the cars round the corners is enough to keep one enthralled.

All the races were good especially early on but Race 3 was absolutely spectacular. On lap 2 with Colin Turkington in fourth (and slowing the fast guys behind) as a result of the reverse produced a real heart in the mouth moment. Quite how these guys can go side by side into Church corner is beyond me, but Gordon Shedden managed to take Colin into Church.

But what happened next was even more amazing. They were 6 abreast coming out of it, 7 cars altogether jostling for position (see image above). Giovanardi desperate to find a way through has his wheels on the grass doing 140 mph. Going into the chicane they were still 5 abreast (see image below). Somehow amazingly they all made it and funnelled through the chicane. I swear they weren't going to make it but somehow they all did. Fantastic stuff.

I'm glad to see that the latest Team Dynamics / Halfords Honda Civic Type Rs are exhibiting real speed now. They still need a lot of work though if they are going to regularly challenge the Vauxhalls and SEATs. Bad luck to Mat Jackson this weekend (again). The top 10 though are very mcuh close in terms of pace. Thruxton with all these fast corners is hard on tyres and it seems to me that the Vauxhalls and SEATs have only a slight advantage in speed but a big advantage in tyre management last weeked. Darren Turner in last year's Dynamics Integra Type R was looking bloody good for second if not first but alas his tyres gave up on him.

One of the attractions of touring cars is of course the cars themselves are modified versions of road cars. And therefore I am rather disappointed that BTC Racing simply cannot do a better job with the Lexus IS200s (rebadged Toyota Altezza RS200s). How I wish these cars are being run by Dynamics or WSR. These guys are simply off the pace in a car that theoretically could give the Beemers a good run for their money. I should know, I used to own one.

As I said before it looks like Fabrizio Giovanardi and Jason Plato all the way to the wire this season. The championship battle between these two is close and with Giovanardi taking two wins last weekend the gap between the two stands at 8 points. I'm certain that the others will play a big role in their battle.

The WTCC catchphrase is Real Cars, Real Racing. Real cars, for sure. But in the world of touring cars, the title of real racing belongs to the BTCC.

No comments: