BTCC Snetterton Preview

Josh Cook at last years Snetterton race. Image courtesy of BTCC

This weekend is the sixth meeting on the 2018 BTCC calendar, and also marks the sixtieth anniversary of the BTCC forming. There are numerous things to be discussed about the weekend, most notably the special ‘Diamond Double’ race, which is a mouth-watering prospect for both the drivers and their fans. First, however, let’s recap.

Recap

Last time out at Croft was a hectic event packed with action as well as a resurgence from the reigning champion Ash Sutton. Sutton scored his first win of the season in round thirteen and his second in round fourteen. Dan Lloyd took to the top step of the podium in round fifteen after benefiting from the reverse grid. Colin Turkington emerged from Croft as the championship leader, despite having only won a single race so far this year. The BMW driver, however, has finished on the podium an impressive five times, showing that consistency has been key to the season thus far. His nearest challengers, Tom Ingram and Matt Neal, aren’t far behind. Neal in particular should be one to watch this weekend, with the Hondas having run fastest in the two day test at Snetterton.

Ash Sutton at Croft 2018. Image courtesy of BTCC
The circuit

The circuit itself is an exciting one, with two of the longest straights in the country as well as the iconic ‘bomhole’. Rob Collard is the man with the lap record, a 1m56.352, which was set in 2016.

Diamond double

The drivers will have the perfect opportunity to set a new lap record in the third race of the weekend. Dubbed the ‘Diamond Double’, round eighteen of the season has a completely different format to the other races. The race will be for double points, with its own qualifying session used to determine the grid. All cars will be on base weight and the length of the race is approximately double that of a regular one. The double points on offer will allow drivers to potentially close gaps (or open them) throughout the championship standings. Expect a highly competitive race with perhaps a hint of caution, as not finishing this race would be very detrimental to driver’s championship hopes.

Overall this weekend looks set to be another thrilling chapter of this season’s BTCC championship. Be sure not to miss the action, especially the Diamond Double race. Going into the business end of the season, it could be hugely significant.

James “The shunt” Hunt 25 years on

? courtesy of Gilfoto

The iconic appearance of James Hunt is recognisable to almost the entire motorsport world. Those who fail to recognise him fall into two categories: Millennials, or those with a visual impairment.

25 years ago to the day, Hunt passed away after a heart attack, leaving a hole in motorsport world which can never truly be filled.

A quarter of a century on The Pit Crew online has decided to task the one writer in their ranks with a tangible link to Hunt (I was named after him), to reflect on a man whose legacy perhaps amounts to more than his achievements on the track, but I’ll get to that.

Hunt has a soft spot in every British racing fan for obvious reasons: He won the Formula one world championship in 1976 and became the face of British motorsport, a face which could perhaps be described as ‘cool’ or ‘suave’. Hunt didn’t play by the rules and that’s one of the attributes that won him supporters. He was a playboy race driver who caused controversy wherever he went, Nothing screams rebel more than dining at a restaurant with your pet dog after all…

We all remember the flashy grin, the blonde hair, and the irresistible cheek of Hunt but this was only brought to our attention by his outstanding racing pedigree. After showing flashes of brilliance in his Formula three days, Hunt joined Hesketh racing: the stepping stone to world fame. He made his formula one debut at Monaco in 1973 and managed and impressive second place at the New York track of  Watkins Glen Grand Prix Race Course. This early indication of Hunt’s talent won him the Campbell trophy classing him as the best British driver of the season.

The first season of promise was followed by two of stagnation and limited success. His first race win came in 1975 at the Dutch Grand Prix. This win paired with a 4th place finish in the overall standings provided the basis of Hunt’s team switch to Maclaren. This was where Hunt hit the heights.

McLaren was the golden chance for Hunt to prove his critics wrong. The myth surrounding his apparent inability to compete in a sustained title challenge was soon swept to the side. Hunt won 6 races over the course of the season and was in a two way title fight for the entirety of the season with Nicky Lauda. The title race itself suited Hunt’s lifestyle, it was unpredictable, exciting and controversial. There were disqualifications, bad blood and serious racing incidents such as Lauda’s horrific crash at the Nürburgring which has scarred him for life. The title switched back and forth all season going down to the final race in Japan. Hunt finished third and with Lauda retiring from the race due to an inability to blink resulting from his facial injuries he won the championship.

Hunt was an inspiration to millions of young aspiring racers across the globe. Kimi Raikonen was a huge fan of Hunt even entering a snowmobile race under the alias of James Hunt. His playboy, cavalier style of racing and love for the sport were perfect ingredients for the inspiration of a new generation of British racers.

As mentioned earlier, whilst Hunt was undoubtedly a talented professional, he only won one championship in a six year career. Some may question why there is so much reference and mention of Hunt as a legend of the sport when he only has one title to his name, but to me it seems obvious. Spectators love a showman. A supporter wants to watch exciting dynamic races as people dice it out in adrenalin fuelled overtakes and championship battles. They also want to root for a racer who has an interesting personality, this is true across all sports: The controversial characters have the largest fanbases, Hunt in F1, Ronaldo in football, Tyson in boxing, the list goes on. Hunt was an exciting racer, whose combination of skill and character marked him out as a legend of the sport.

25 years on the world remembers James Hunt: 1976 Formula one champion, hero to some, well known to all.

BTCC Oulton Park 2018 Preview

This weekend sees the return of the British Touring Car Championship to the Cheshire circuit of Oulton Park.

Map of Oulton Park Circuit.

The 5th event on the calendar this year, Oulton Park marks the midpoint in the hectic season that defines the BTCC and what a season it’s been so far!

With Adam Morgan currently holding a precarious one point lead at the top of the championship, this weekend could be the location for large amounts of reshuffling with the top 5 separated by a mere 18 points! Oulton Park is a circuit renowned for exciting racing with its varying gradients and hills such as Knickerbrook as well as possessing a number of tight corners ideal for overtaking such as Lodge Corner. Be prepared to see big reshuffles of the standings throughout races as there are simply countless areas ideal for overtaking.

With low chances of rain and predicted temperatures of around 20 degrees Celsius, the fans will be turning out in droves with an estimation of around 40,000 coming to the circuit over the weekend. It’s sure to be an enjoyable weekend for them if they are lovers of adrenalin fuelled overtaking and gorgeous weather!

The make-up of the grid was confirmed after qualifying today and there was a shock at the top of the grid.  Matt Simpson set pole with a lap over two tenths faster than second placed Sam Tordoff. In terms of the title race, it was expected to be a tricky qualifying session for championship leader Adam Morgan with the 75 Kilogram success ballast that accompanies the top spot. He ended up 19th. This leaves considerable work to be done on race day for Morgan but it also presents a glorious opportunity to his championship contenders, especially Matt Neal. After struggling in the early rounds of the Championship Neal has gotten to grips with the new Honda Civic sealing a win at Thruxton, he currently sits 6th in the standings but has qualified 5th at Oulton. If there’s a man to watch this weekend I’d point towards Matt Neal.

It’s sure to be a great day of racing at Oulton Park with many thrills and spills along the way so start your countdown to round 12 of the season, it’s going to be an interesting one.

James Clinton Hunt

Featured image courtesy of BrianDeegan.co.uk under creative commons