Back to Silverstone for the penultimate round

The British Touring Car Championship races at Silverstone this weekend as the 2012 season draws to a close. The circuit held the finale last year where Honda wrapped up the drivers’ title with Matt Neal, but this year it’s the circuit they fear most.

Last year, with then Chevrolet driver Jason Plato close in the standings after a strong weekend at Brands Hatch, Matt Neal took a significant pole position in his Honda Civic, despite carrying 45kg of ballast. Plato was racing in the normally aspirated Chevrolet Cruze and had been infamously vocal about the power disadvantage to the turbocharged NGTC-engined teams in 2011. This year, the shoe’s on the other foot, with the Hondas the slowest in the speed traps due to the championship’s turbo-boost handicapping system.

“This is a meeting we’ve said will be tough all year,” said reigning champion Matt Neal. “We’ve just got to make the most of the weekend.”

Honda team-mate Gordon Shedden leads the standings after an excellent weekend two weeks ago at Rockingham, and will carry the maximum ballast of 45kg in qualifying and race one this weekend.

“We’ve got to get everything out of the chassis because we will struggle in a straight line,” said Shedden. “The aim is to keep the championship lead. I’m desperate to win this thing.”

Jason Plato is just 32 points behind Shedden in the Triple Eight Race Engineering prepared MG6 GT, and Honda’s power disadvantage will be to his benefit, though the Swindon-engined MG doesn’t benefit from the best boost settings itself, which are usually the domain of the West Surrey Racing BMWs and Motorbase Performance’s Ford Focuses, the latter running very well at Silverstone last year, with Mat Jackson threatening Neal for the win in race one before a late race puncture, and one-off driver James Thompson grabbing fastest lap in a heavily ballasted Focus.

This weekend, Motorbase return to full strength, fielding the car which Mat Jackson raced in the first half of the season for Liam Griffin, whose own car was heavily damaged at Croft in June. Jackson will continue in the full-NGTC specification Ford Focus ST, whilst team-mates Aron Smith and Griffin will drive their Super 2000 versions with turbo engines.

Eurotech Racing have also pulled out all the stops to get Jeff Smith back out this weekend. Smith will be using Team Dynamics’ spare shell after Smith’s car was heavily damaged after he hit the wall around the oval section of the Rockingham track at high speed in race three.

Howard Fuller returns for Team HARD for the second consecutive race before he gives way to Aaron Williamson for the season finale at Brands Hatch in two weeks, whilst Chris Stockton also returns to the BTCC after a four-year absence, driving the Vauxhall Insignia of Thorney Motorsport, as the BTC Racing team-owner assesses the team’s options for 2013.

British Touring Car Championship – Silverstone Entry List

No – Driver – Team – Car – Type
1 – Matt Neal – Honda Yuasa Racing Team – Honda Civic – NGTC
4 – Mat Jackson – Motorbase Performance – Ford Focus ST – NGTC
5 – Aron Smith – Motorbase Performance – Ford Focus ST – S2000/NGTC
6 – Liam Griffin – Motorbase Performance – Ford Focus ST – S2000/NGTC
8 – Rob Collard – West Surrey Racing – BMW 320si – S2000/NGTC
11 – Frank Wrathall – Dynojet Racing – Toyota Avensis – NGTC
12 – Daniel Welch – Welch Motorsport – Proton Persona – NGTC
13 – Rob Austin – Rob Austin Racing – Audi A4 – NGTC
14 – Will Bratt – Rob Austin Racing – Audi A4 – NGTC
17 – Dave Newsham – Team ES Racing – Vauxhall Vectra – S2000/NGTC
18 – Nick Foster – West Surrey Racing – BMW 320si – S2000/NGTC
22 – Howard Fuller – Team HARD – Honda Civic – S2000/NGTC
33 – Adam Morgan – Speedworks Motorsport – Toyota Avensis – NGTC
38 – Tom Onslow-Cole – West Surrey Racing – BMW 320si – S2000/NGTC
43 – Lea Wood – Team Wood Racing – Vauxhall Vectra – S2000/NGTC
44 – Andy Neate – Triple Eight Race Engineering – MG6 GT – NGTC
48 – Ollie Jackson – AmD Tuning – Volkswagen Golf – S2000/NGTC
50 – Tony Hughes – Speedworks Motorsport – Toyota Avensis – NGTC
52 – Gordon Shedden – Honda Yuasa Racing Team – Honda Civic – NGTC
55 – Jeff Smith – Eurotech Racing – Honda Civic – NGTC
77 – Andrew Jordan – Eurotech Racing – Honda Civic – NGTC
78 – Chris James – Team ES Racing – Vauxhall Vectra – S2000/NGTC
99 – Jason Plato – Triple Eight Race Engineering – MG6 GT – NGTC
TBC – Chris Stockton – Thorney Motorsport – Vauxhall Insignia – NGTC

BTCC Silverstone Timetable

Saturday 6th October
09:30 – 10:15 – Free Practice 1
12:05 – 12:45 – Free Practice 2
15:10 – 15:40 – Qualifying

Sunday 7th October
11:45 – Race One (22 Laps)
14:27 – Race Two (22 Laps)
17:17 – Race Three (22 Laps)