THE North East is gearing up for the region’s biggest motor sport event of the year.
The British Touring Car Championship roars its way to Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire on Saturday and Sunday for the fifth round of this gripping season.
Surrounded by farmland, the Croft fixture is always a firm favourite with race fans due to its technical challenges and mixture of high-speed and tight corners that always produce exciting door-banging entertainment – including the tightest hairpin bend on the BTCC calendar.
The circuit is also the home venue for double series champion Jason Plato, whose Newcastle-upon-Tyne upbringing makes him a fans favourite among the cheering crowds at Croft, impressing in 2012 with his all-new MG squad run by Durham’s Ian Harrison.
Thirteen points behind and third in the standings, Plato will be aiming for victory at his local track to reclaim the championship lead that he lost to Scotsman Gordon Shedden two weeks ago at Oulton Park in Cheshire.
Reigning BTCC champion Matt Neal heads into the event second in the championship behind his Honda team-mate Shedden, and Neal praised the increasing popularity of these events.
“The championship is so popular with the British fans just because they all love seeing a lot of overtaking and plenty of accidents and controversy. Every single race each year seems to always produce great entertainment.”
“We lap up all the attention we get from the fans, every race weekend the circuits are just filled with people,” the four-time Croft race winner continued. “There’s a really friendly family atmosphere from everyone that comes to watch the racing and it now has a massive image.
“We all want to win, but at the same time it feels great to be part of the best sport in Britain; there’s so many drivers that say that their dream is to drive in the BTCC”
The weekend will host over 10 races with its packed bill of support championships, including Porsche Carrera Cup Great Britain where Stockton-on-Tees team Redline Racing will hope their driver Michael Meadows can maintain his points lead in the series, while Scorton’s Max Coates is fighting for the Ginetta GT Supercup’s G50 title having already taken four class wins in 2012.
Porsche Carrera Cup GB boss Marion Barnaby summed up the value of the weekend: “These events allow the fans to get really close to the teams and drivers and see all the action first hand. The ticket prices are great value, the atmosphere is excellent and it is a full day of motorsport entertainment. It is important that there is appeal for the family.”
Tickets for the big event on Sunday start at £27 per adult, while admission for children accompanied by adults aged 15 and under is free.