New TCN Logo

Upcoming events:

New TCN Logo

Column: Early advantage MG?

Photo by Nick Dungan/ a three week break, the British Touring Car Championship returns to our attention this weekend as the teams head to Donington for the second round of the season. Jason Plato sits at the head of the standings, but whilst his near-perfect display at Brands Hatch sent a warning to his rivals, it will only have served them an incentive to up their game for the remainder of the season.

Where last year MG were not fully prepared heading to Brands Hatch, 2013 was a completely different story. Although Andrew Jordan took pole in difficult conditions, the feeling among many was that right from the get-go Plato and his MG would be hard to beat. And so it proved, as even a desperate lunge from Jordan in race one could not prevent Plato from sweeping to to a double victory. Sam Tordoff impressed on his full BTCC debut, scoring a podium in the final race of the day ahead of his more established teammate, and few would bet against him continuing such strong form throughout the season.

Incredibly, Plato’s last win at Donington Park came back in 2008, but whilst the Leicestershire circuit might be considered something of a ‘bogey’ track for the 45 year-old, it would take a brave man to discount him from being in contention across the weekend. It might be early doors, but MG appear to have their cars well tuned come race day in a way that their rivals cannot compete with as yet.

- Advertisement -

By contrast, the works Honda team’s championship defence could scarcely have started in less auspicious fashion. A half-spin from reigning driver’s champion Gordon Shedden on the opening lap of the first race set the tone for what was to prove a difficult meeting for both he and Matt Neal. Shedden was excluded from the second race after failing a ride height test, but the pair were able to gain back some ground on Plato in the final race of the day with a one-two finish, which included a stunning drive from the back of the grid from the Scotsman to finish on his teammate’s tail.

The surprise performer at Brands was Rob Austin. Despite flashes of speed last year, Austin’s championship was blighted by poor fortune and inconsistency, but with stronger financial backing this year, the Evesham racer looks to be showing his full potential in 2013.

Having scored a podium in the first race of the season, Austin is certain that it is only a matter of time until he scores his maiden victory in the series. Austin’s teammate Will Bratt is also optimistic going into this weekend, after what he described as a ‘zero out of ten’ outing at Brands.

Adam Morgan also gave us as a taste of things to come, as he finally built on the promise he showed in flashes last year to post three strong fininshes, including a career best of fourth. It could have been even better for Morgan, but he was just pipped to a podium position by Tordoff after a race-long battle.

If Austin and Morgan were the surprise acts across the weekend, then Motorbase’s performance was certainly underwhelming. Coming off the back of a full pre-season schedule with hopes of another strong campaign, the hype flattered to deceive at Brands as the team’s two NGTC machines struggled. Even starting on pole for the final race of the day, Jackson’s ailing Focus was helpless in forfeiting positions to the Hondas and MGs that he was so regularly able to compete with in 2012.

Liam Griffin restored some pride to the team’s outing with two victories in the Jack Sears trophy, after rival Lea Wood was excluded from race three. In truth, Wood had looked the strongest of the S2000 competitors throughout the weekend, his proven Vectra looking the most comfortable of the trophy cars on the Indy circuit. Given his experiences throughout 2012, Wood’s knowledge of his car is surely a quality that means he is a serious contender for the S2000 championship.

Perhaps the most encouraging sign from the opening weekend was just how competitive the field was; in the final race of the day, there was less than two seconds between the fastest and slowest competitive lap times, and battles took place throughout the field between teammates, old rivals and different spec cars. The close racing provided a great spectacle for the fans, and though the venue may be different all will be hoping that another of Britain’s premier circuits provides another great show for spectators.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Stay Connected


Must Read

- Advertisement -

Related News

- Advertisement -


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here