The MSA British Touring Car circus rolled up to the Brands Hatch on the 3rd of April for the inaugural round of the series, with the field looking more healthy than in recent years. New models and drivers joined the field creating the most diverse and competitive line up in years.
Works teams also made an appearance in the form of the Honda Racing Team and Silverline Chevrolet, debuting their new Cruz for the first time. BTCC Stalwarts Jason Plato, Matt Neal and Tom Chilton were set to do battle with rookies Frank Witherall, James Nash and Lea Wood, setting up the prospect for some exciting racing at decidedly crisp Brands.
The series is adopting the now familiar three race format, giving all drivers an equal shot at victory, the racing being enhanced by reversed grids. Matt Neal started the first race on pole but was pushed into a spin at Druids hairpin, Plato duly stole the lead and held first position for the entire race, clocking up his 61st victory, making him the most successful BTCC dricer of all time. James Nash and Tom Chilton followed Plato home in second and third respectively.
Race two started in a very similar way to the first, with Jason Plato streaking away with the win, this time from pole. His Chevrolet Cruz was really on song and looked to be the class of the field. Matt Jackson and Gordon Sheddon battled for second place throughout the race, with Sheddon eventually emerging on top.
For the third race, previous winner Jason Plato was demoted to 7th place on the grid and given a 45Kg success ballast , making him an unlikely contender for the win. Matt Neal started on pole, very much like the first race, this time however he was able to keep his nose clean and hold off Mat Jackson who kept a watching brief in second. Third place went to Scouser Paul O’Neil in his Chevrolet Cruz.
The day’s results left Plato eight points clear at the top of the points table, a strong position going into the second race which will take place on the 17th of April at Donnington Park.
Joe is a motorsports fan working for a company that specialise in contract hire and leasing.