BTCC // BATTLE OF BRITAIN @ BRANDS HATCHThis weekend (9th/10th October) sees Britain's most popular race car series come to the boil with the final rounds of the 2010 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.

The short Brands Hatch Indy circuit plays host to the last chapter of yet another extremely competitive season with four drivers still in the hunt for the 2010 title... [read more]

After thrilling the crowds around the UK since round one at Thruxton back in April the BTCC has yet again consistently provided arguably the closest racing in the country and with four drivers and 3 very different types of racecar set to do battle in 3 races around the natural amphitheatre of the Kent circuit the 52nd season of the BTCC looks set to end in fine style.

Current championship leader Jason Plato (RML Chevrolet Cruze) leads the standings but just 24 points separate all four title contenders. With 52 points in total up for grabs at Brands all four drivers will still be in contention starting race two whatever the race one result.

BTCC Drivers’ Points (After 9 of 10 Rounds):

1. Jason Plato, 224
2. Matt Neal, 207
3. Gordon Shedden, 203
4. Tom Onslow-Cole, 200
5. Tom Chilton, 171
6. Steven Kane, 152
7. Mat Jackson, 143
8. Robert Collard, 122
9. Paul O’Neill, 117
10. Andrew Jordan, 79

Jason Plato
RML Silverline Chevrolet Cruze.

Lives: Oxford, UK.
Date Of Birth: 14/10/67
BTCC Starts: 333
Previous Best BTCC Championship Position: CHAMPION (2001)
2010 Results: 5 Wins

Plato started the year as "Title Favourite" although the season began with rather modest results. Along with the ultra experienced RML team gradually developed the Cruze (New this year to the BTCC) to suit the all new Dunlop tyres coming on strong in the second half of the season despite ballast. Showed true champions form at last round (Donington Park) with fighting drives in races two and three after race one shunt. Love him or hate him he is one of the BTCC's biggest crowd pullers. Often criticised for forceful driving style which seems to have been tempered down somewhat this season. Famously collected all three race wins at Brands Hatch series finale 2009.

He Says:

"I’m happy with a 17-point lead because I’d rather have a handy cushion than be going to Brands Hatch playing catch-up. We just need to make sure we have done our homework leaveing no stone unturned and make absolutely sure we take nothing for granted.”

"Mr Experience"
Matt Neal,
Honda Racing Team Dynamics Honda Civic

Lives: Shenstone, UK
Date Of Birth: 20/12/66
BTCC Starts: 432
Previous Best BTCC Championship Position CHAMPION (2005/2006)
2010 Results: 5 Wins
Neal is the most experienced man in this years field having started over 400 BTCC races. Champion with Team Dynamics back in 2005 and 2006 the 43yr old will be out to make it a hatrick of titles. The Honda Civic has suffered aerodynamically this season on the faster tracks with it being a hatchback but it is renowned for its handling around the tighter circuits. Always outspoken with an aggressive style the double champion has been matched for pace this season by team mate Gordon Shedden. With both Neal and Shedden in title contention this arguably could well hinder either of them catching Plato.

He Says:

“Jason holds all the aces but he’ll have two Hondas to worry about – there are no team orders between Gordon and I and we’ll be coming at Jason from all directions. But he’s been there before and so have I so we both know the score. The Honda’s big strength is its handling and Brands Indy is a twisty circuit so it’s game on.”

Gordon Shedden
Honda Racing Team Dynamics Honda Civic

Lives: Fife,UK
Date Of Birth: 15/02/79
BTCC Starts: 132
Previous Best BTCC Championship Position: 3rd (2006)
2010 Results: 5 Wins

Scotsman Gordon Shedden has matched the pace of more experienced team-mate Matt Neal this year and goes into the title finale just 4 points behind his team-mate. Questions will be asked over how the amiable 31yr old will handle the intense pressure should he still be in contention come the final race of the day. Showed signs of feeling the heat at Silverstone with a forceful post race discussion with Rob Collard after an on track incident in race three.

He Says:

“It’s all to play for and Jason will have two Hondas to worry about. Then again, I think all three cars, the Chevrolet, the Honda and the Ford will be very evenly-matched at Brands. I’m relaxed about it, I’ve nothing to lose so it’ll be maximum attack. My mindset is that I have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain.

"Saturday’s qualifying session could really have an affect on what happens in the three races on Sunday – Brands Indy is a short lap and it’ll only take a tenth of a second to make the difference between starting on the front row and row five. Bear in mind Jason in particular will have a lot of success ballast in that Chevrolet. That could be those vital fractions of a second…”

"The Underdog"
Tom Onslow-Cole
Team Aon Ford Focus ST

Lives: New Malden,UK
Date Of Birth: 16/05/87
BTCC Starts: 99
Previous Best BTCC Championship Position: 6th (2008)
2010 Results: 4 Wins

After having spent the winter working with Mountune on the all new LPG powered Ford Duratec engine Team Aon's decision to run the unit triggered controversy during the early races of the season as rival teams raised questions over the top speed of the turbo powerplant. Restrictions were imposed by series organisers TOCA curbing the Ford's advantage but the car remains a force to be reckoned with due to its extra torque. Onslow-Cole, who is by far the youngest of the title contenders has shown awesome pace this season in seeing off more experienced team-mate Tom-Chilton. Questionable and bizarre in-house team tactics cost Tom two victories at Silverstone which may well make the title realistically just too far out of reach.

He Says:

“I’m the absolute outsider so have no other option but to go for it. We had some strong results with the Focus on the Brands GP circuit earlier this year but the Indy circuit is a very different animal. I’m in a situation where I need to take the risks and stick my nose in a bit. I’ve not knocked people about this year whereas maybe the others have got involved in a few tangles, so hopefully I’ve got a few more friends out there on the track.

“I think I can play with these guys and take it to them. But above all, it’s just fantastic to be coming into the final round in with a shout of what is one of motor sport’s most coveted titles.”

For Tickets and Timetable click here

Photos: BTCC and Neil Tozer
Editorial: Neil Tozer

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