Change can be a wonderful thing. A chance for the norm to be swept away and an exciting new dawn to be thrust into the atmosphere. Just look at F1 for instance; we’ve had a Vettel downfall, the latest “something-gate” in the form of fuel-gate, a rookie podium for Kevin Magnussen, a full on BOTTAS charge, and almost all of it because of the new 2014 regulations.
Likewise, the British Touring Car Championship has enjoyed the recent winds of change. Cheaper running costs coupled with faster, better looking cars, with additional TV presence over the past couple of seasons has seen the nation’s best loved race series enter 2014 with the excitement and interest not seen since the Super Touring era of the 1990’s. Here at Badger, we take a look at what’s been causing all the fuss going into a mega-hyped season.
Seven Champions on the “Menu”. Snigger.
Without doubt the biggest selling point going into the season is the presence of no fewer than SEVEN former BTCC champions. Series stalwarts Gordon Shedden (2012), Colin Turkington (2009), reigning champion Andrew Jordan and the best of enemies Matt Neal (2005, 2006, 2011) and Jason Plato (2001, 2010) are this season joined by the returning names of Fabrizio Giovanardi (2007, 2008) – who has by far and away the most Italian name in existence – and a certain Alain Menu (1997, 2000) who has the most pun-vulnerable name ever.
Now, who can remember this one? Giovanardi made his name in 1990’s European Touring Car racing, to the extent that in 2001, he tested for a little known F1 team called Ferrari at Viarano…
Car-azy Amounts of Models
Behave – its car models we’re referring to here. But from the established front-running models, such as the MG 6 GT and Honda Civic, down to the new breed of Audi S3’s and Mercedes A-Class’s, the grid features thirteen model of cars from eleven different manufacturers.
Only the crack Honda Racing and MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save (catchy name) teams enjoy factory support this season, but as Andrew Jordan and Pirtek Racing proved in 2013, that really isn’t the be all and end all.
And don’t think team orders come into play either, as proven by the Honda pairing of Matt Neal and Gordan Sheddon proved at Oulton Park in 2011. Facepalm, as the kids would say.
Support Races Galore (Take note Bernie)
As far as watching live motorsport goes, the BTCC package offers, without a shadow of a doubt, ruddy good value for money.
Without wishing to sound like a corny advertisement, each of the 10 race weekends throughout the year feature 10 races each; 3 BTCC races, 2 Porsche Carrera Cup GB races, Ginetta Junior and GT4 Supercup events, and the quite frankly mental Renault UK Clio Cup. All of this leads to an exciting paddock, which is open to all.
So, it’s a world away from the handful of GP2/3 events the FIA provides, which as entertaining as they may be, pale in comparison. Much more Happy Meal than Big Mac. Without the toy.
A brief one here, but with the volume switch having been turned slightly (it’s still pleasant, but not loud) in 2014, fans have been craving loud engine noises. “WE NEED OUR FIX”, we hear you cry. Well, you’ll get it with the infamous Touring Car serenade of spitting and popping. God bless ye, ol’ BTCC soundtrack.
So that’s that. BTCC 2014 is shaping up to be the best in well over a decade, and with the first race at Brands Hatch happening this weekend, and coinciding with the Malaysian Grand Prix, Sundays really do struggle to get any better than that.