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    BTCC 2012 Round 5 @ Croft - Discussion


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    BTCC 2012 Round 5 @ Croft - Discussion Empty BTCC 2012 Round 5 @ Croft - Discussion

    Post  TheChicaneNews on Thu Jun 21, 2012 9:27 pm

    Several news stories are breaking ground recently regarding the British Touring Car Championship. Here they are, straight from the first source.

    Paul O’Neill will return to Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race action at Croft (23/24 June) in a Speedworks Toyota Avensis.

    O’Neill, a fans’ favourite down the years as well as a proven race winner, will take over the car usually raced by Tony Hughes who has other commitments on race day.

    The Widnes racer’s exploits will be shown on ITV4 later in the year – he has presented on the channel as part of its coverage of the BTCC this season since last racing in the championship in 2011.

    The Widnes racer said: “It’s a chance for me to return to the grid, but I don’t want to just jump in the car for a weekend of racing – I want to do a good job. Speedworks is a good team, sponsor Carlube is going to be playing a big part in the event and I’ll be keeping a video diary for ITV, so hopefully we can have a strong weekend.

    “There are more unknowns than knowns for me as I haven’t driven the Toyota, I haven’t driven an NGTC car and there is the turbo engine so it will be difficult to start with but I’ll get quicker as the weekend goes on. I’ll be aiming to start steady and then maybe we could push to get into the top ten in the second race.

    “My target is to run in the midfield but obviously the dream, as ever, is to finish on the podium. Although that is possible, I know it will be massive long shot. I’ve done a lot of things in this life that have been a long shot and sometimes they have come off, so I’ll go there to enjoy myself and see what we come away with.”

    Speedworks team boss Christian Dick believes the experienced O’Neill is the perfect candidate to partner its rookie driver Adam Morgan during the Croft weekend.

    He commented: “Paul is the ideal driver and I have a good feeling about his chances for the weekend at Croft. If he can qualify the car inside the top 15 and then bring it home in the top ten it will be a good result. I’m also looking forward to seeing him work alongside Adam as I’m sure that will help to push him on.”

    Jason Plato says he’s determined to end his victory drought in front of a ‘home’ Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship crowd at Croft Circuit this Sunday (24 June).

    Double BTCC Champion Plato has achieved more race wins, 69, than any other driver in the BTCC’s 54-year history. But not since 2006 has he stood on the top step of the podium at Croft – a statistic he is eager to rectify at the North Yorkshire circuit this weekend.

    And the 44-year-old needs good results in Croft’s three races after a technical problem with his MG KX Momentum Racing team’s MG6 in the most recent round (at Oulton Park, Cheshire) allowed Honda rivals Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal to take over from him at the top of the table.

    Plato, from Oxford but who originally hails from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, told “I’ve not had a good run at Croft for a while but I’m out to change all that this weekend. I’m going for pole position and two wins.

    “I’m really looking forward to Croft and think the MG will be very well suited to the track lay-out there. It’s a chassis circuit and the MG chassis is very good.”

    And he added: “They only get one really big motor sport event each year and we, the BTCC, are it. The way the Croft Circuit management runs the venue means it is a very friendly place. They can’t do enough for you and it’s their British Grand Prix. Not many circuits have that mentality. Knockhill in Scotland is another…

    “Plus it’s a super driver’s circuit. There are some very high speed corners and you need a big pair of ‘you-know-whats’. But you also need to know what to do with them – and occasionally at Croft that means being prepared to hang them out of the window.”

    Plato’s roots mean he is always a favourite among the tens of thousands of public who each year visit Croft to see the BTCC’s annual visit to the region and he is clearly a fan of theirs as well.

    He said: “I’ll also see a lot of old pals and meet them socially while I’m up there plus some old family. I’m a Northerner and love being round Northern people. I love their humour; there’s always a great, great reception. I don’t get much chance to get back to the North East so it’s a rare opportunity to hear and taste the sounds of the good old North.”

    Rob Austin Racing will run both its Audi A4s – for Austin himself and Will Bratt – in this weekend’s (23/24 June) Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship round at North Yorkshire's Croft Circuit.

    Austin confirmed this afternoon that, after a hugely promising debut at Oulton Park, international single-seater convert Bratt will stay on for Croft. Austin is also returning to action after missing Oulton while his car was being rebuilt following a heavy crash earlier in the season.

    It will be the first time this year that RAR has fielded both its cars in a round of the BTCC and Austin hopes it marks a defining moment in his Pershore squad's history.

    He told “It was at Croft last year the Audi started to show what it might be capable of and, 12 months on, it’s a much faster car all together.

    “I’m confident Will and I will be competitive this weekend. We’re both very capable drivers and we know the Audi is a very fast car which, due to some bad luck, just hasn’t been seen yet – but Croft is a rear-wheel-drive friendly circuit so hopefully this could be where it finally happens.”

    He added: “Honestly, I don’t care who comes out on top between Will and I because this is much more about properly establishing the team in the BTCC and ensuring it remains in the championship well into the future.

    “On saying that it probably will be Will who’s ahead! He showed massive potential on his debut at Oulton and, had it not been for the setback in race two, he might well have ended his day with a podium result. He could have a very successful touring car career ahead of him and if that’s the case then I hope it’s with RAR…”

    Aron Smith is hoping for better fortunes in this weekend’s (23/24 June) round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Croft Circuit after some truly abysmal luck last time out at Oulton Park.

    The young Irish rookie had qualified right behind more experienced team-mate Mat Jackson but failed to score in any of the races. He retired from the first with a punctured tyre on his Redstone Racing Ford Focus after contact from Nick Foster’s eBay Motors BMW and finished outside the top 15 in the second after his car’s turbo pipe came loose. In the third he retired again after getting caught up in a multiple collision.

    It was a bitter pill to swallow for the Dubliner after he’d achieved hauls of 20 and 19 points respectively in the previous two rounds at Donington Park and Thruxton. He’ll go into the Croft weekend lying 14th in the table, 24 points off the top ten.

    “We were very unlucky last time out at Oulton Park because the results didn’t warrant the steps that we made with the pace of the car,” said 23-year-old Smith.

    “I’m really looking forward to racing at Croft this weekend. If I can stay out of trouble then I know that the impressive results will soon follow as I’m very pleased with the way that the Redstone Racing team have managed to set up the car.”

    Robert Collard says Croft this weekend marks his BMW’s best chance of another win this season.

    Robert Collard says Croft this weekend marks his BMW’s best chance of another win in the Dunlop MSA British Touring car Championship this season.

    eBay Motors’ Collard became the BTCC’s first winner of 2012 when he took victory in the season’s opening race at Brands Hatch. He’s gone on to lead six of the 11 race since but another win has eluded him.

    He finished on the podium in all three races at Croft 12 months ago and he’s confident that he and team-mates Tom Onslow-Cole and Nick Foster will be in the hunt for more top three results there this weekend. Notably, it was also at Croft last year that Foster achieved a career-best race result of second.

    Collard, who led twice at Oulton Park 11 days ago, told “We definitely made a step forward with the BMW in terms of tyre longevity at Oulton in that we got them to stay competitive for longer into the races.

    “I still feel we can find a bit more in that respect but it was a very good piece of work by the team and we’ve already shown we’ve got improved performance this year over a single qualifying lap.

    “Put those together on a circuit like Croft which I believe is our best circuit and we could be in very good shape this weekend. I think the crowds and TV viewers could see the three eBay BMWs hunting in a pack on Sunday…”

    Collard will go into the event lying fourth in the outright drivers’ standings but knows three strong results, as in 2011, would help close the gap to Honda duo Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal plus MG’s Jason Plato who have started to edge away at the head of the table.

    His starts so far this season – he went from fifth to first away from the grid at Donington Park and from third into the lead by the first bend at Oulton – also suggest the crowds watching from Croft’s opening two bends on Sunday could be in for something special.

    Collard added: “The pits straight is narrow at Croft but no narrower than it was at Oulton – there’s still just about enough room to squeeze between cars and nose ahead into the first bend. People probably line up on the grid thinking I’m going to be the ‘king of starts’ but it’s difficult to emulate it every time. At the moment I just seem to have a knack of getting everything right…”

    Gordon Shedden reckons he’s lucky to be leading the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship going into this weekend's (23/24 June) three races at Croft Circuit.

    The Scotsman and Honda Yuasa Racing Team team-mate Matt Neal have won eight of the season’s 12 races so far. At Oulton Park 11 days ago they were rampant, taking victory in all three races.

    As a result Shedden will arrive at Croft in North Yorkshire holding a slender lead over Neal. Their arch rival, Jason Plato, is close behind in third in his MG KX Momentum Racing MG6.

    And Shedden told “You’ve got to bear in mind that the results at Oulton were down to Jason not starting the first race after he'd qualified on pole position. That skewed the weekend a bit because, if you look, we are way down in the speed traps…

    “I’d say we are surviving at the moment. Later in the year when we get to the likes of Silverstone and Brands Hatch Grand Prix I think we’ll struggle to be in the top ten. But everyone in our team is working flat out on squeezing every ounce of performance from the Civic so you never know… it might come together and work out.”

    Shedden took two wins at Croft in 2010 and Neal did the same last year, but the championship leader is unsure if those sorts of results can be repeated this time around.

    He added: “There’s just as much emphasis on straightline speed at Croft as there is at Oulton with four long straights – the start-finish straight, the run from the Chicane down to Tower, then all the way to Barcroft and the section between Sunny Out and the complex at the end of the lap. We are going to be on the backfoot there.

    “On saying that we all know how good the Civic’s chassis is and Croft places an emphasis on the chassis because set-up is a compromise in order get the car working on the mixture of high, medium and slow speed corners. If we can wring the maximum from the car at Croft then we could still be in with a chance.

    “I’m comfortable with leading the championship. There’s no big pressure because we’re only four rounds into the season and there is so much more going to happen. If anything leading is almost a negative because I’ll have full success ballast on board and Croft is a circuit where ballast hurts. It’ll be a case of making the most of the situation in qualifying and the first race and hope to come back strongly in the later races on Sunday. At this stage it’s all about keeping on scoring.”

    Shedden is that conservative already? It's still Round 5, for Pete's sake. So definitely don't wager for Gordon Shedden in anything at Croft, and you won't get much out of Matt Neil, either. See my natural friendliness towards to MG? Laughing

      Current date/time is Thu Jun 20, 2019 6:55 am