The iconic Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit hosts round four, five and six of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship this weekend, just one week after the season finally got underway.
Last weekends curtain raiser at Donington Park saw three different race winners across three different manufacturers with a new manufacturer and team to the series also taking their maiden podium.
A second, first and a 10th place finish sees reigning Champion Colin Turkington lead the title fight heading into the Kent circuit with Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Dan Cammish hot on his heels.
As a result, Turkington will have maximum ballast (60kg) on-board for both free practice sessions, qualifying and the first race whilst Cammish will have 54kgs on-board.
“Donington Park proved that it’s going to be a super-competitive season and that the usual big players are all going to be a big threat,” said Turkington. “Brands Hatch won’t be easy with maximum success ballast, but we’re used to adjusting our expectations for qualifying and race one when arriving heavy, and if you can get some clear track space, it’s not so bad. A heatwave is predicted, and we’ll have to arrive prepared for that, but rear-wheel-drive BMWs love the heat. Normally we can manage our tyres better than the front-wheel-drive cars.”
The Honda Civic Type-R FK8 of Cammish will return to the scene of last year’s heartbreak when a brake failure cost him his first ever BTCC title, just a lap from the end of the last race of the season. He will be eager to get behind the wheel again this weekend and continue to chase that illusive title.
Perhaps a surprise contender for the title this year based on his pace and performance last weekend, Ashley Sutton will be eager to add more trophies to his already impressive collection. He was battling for the lead in the opening race last weekend until a concertina effect spun him out of contention, dropping him down the field, however he managed to fight his way back to 14th.
He continued to fight-back with a fifth place in race two before clinching victory in the third and final race of the day. After two difficult years with Team BMR and the Subaru Levorg, the 2017 Champion admits he feels ‘at home’ in the Infiniti Q50.
Speaking about the season opener, Sutton said; “This is just what we needed. The car gives me a hell of a lot of confidence and it’s allowing me to do these things. I’m over the moon with that. As long as we can keep the momentum going, I know I’ve got the best team behind me with Laser Tools Racing and BMR Engineering. I couldn’t ask for a better outfit. The car is absolutely phenomenal. I feel at home in it, it’s the best I’ve ever felt in a car so we’re ticking a lot of boxes here.”
Excer8 Motorsport have embarked on their second season in the Championship with a brand-new car this year, in the shape of the Hyundai i30N. The car performed well on its competitive debut last weekend with Senna Proctor qualifying 11th and his teammate Chris Smiley qualifying in 14th.
Unfortunately, technical issues in race one hampered Proctor’s day, where as Smiley enjoyed three-points finishes with an eighth, 12th and a second securing the team’s and the car’s first podium. With those great results, the team have already surpassed last year’s points tally and are eager to add to that this weekend.
Excelr8 Team Owner Justina Williams said; “We were over the moon after last weekend’s result – a podium was a fantastic conclusion to all the efforts our team have put in over the winter and in recent months. We now want to carry that momentum forward to this weekend and we’re hoping the back-to-back events help that.
“Donington repaid the faith we put into Chris Smiley to help bring this team forward, and between him and Senna Proctor I am confident we’ll be standing on the top step soon enough. Brands will provide a different type of challenge for us, but I am confident in our team to prove it wasn’t a one-off.”
Northern Irishman Smiley will carry 24kgs into this weekend as a result of sitting seventh in the driver’s Championship.
Once again, you will be able to catch all the action live on ITV4 on Sunday.
Header image courtesy of BTCC.
By Jordan Hollands.