Tag Archive | "motor racing"

BTCC Racing Stays On Free-To-Air TV


It’s always nice to report good news and for motor sport fans the news is especially great. Hot on the heels of the report that ITV4 will be showing World Rally Championship highlights (MB 12/3) comes the report that their deal to broadcast the British Touring Car Championship has been extended to at least 2017. That’s hours of live coverage from every event. This makes a change from a lot of sport that disappears onto the pay channels and puts further strain on pockets if, indeed, viewers can afford it at all.

What’s more, 2013 should be a bumper (literally) year for this series as the grid is completely full with a total of thirty two cars entered, the maximum allowed. This is top flight motor sport that guarantees high speed, close fought competition from the best drivers in the country. As usual Fifth Gear’s Jason Plato will be bidding to become champion again after last year’s bitter loss to Gordon Shedden.

An incredible thirteen models from eleven different manufacturers will compete over three rounds at every meeting; that’s a total of thirty races in the season. As well as the established stars there are some young guns eager to topple their idols. The factory supported works teams are from Honda and MG and the independent teams will be fielding cars from Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Proton, Volkswagen, Vauxhall, Toyota, SEAT, Ford plus a couple more Honda Civics.

Dunlop continue to sponsor the series and this year, to add a bit of spice, they will provide a softer compound tyre for the teams to use in one of every three races, as well as the more usual harder compound. There’s a reason for this. Although the new rubber will aid performance the teams will have to nominate which races they will use them – the day before. The idea is to cause the teams to have to mix up their strategies for each different circuit which is sure to enliven the races.

A lot of motor racing these days can sometimes be a bit dull. Mostly this is down to safety rules but, on the other hand, the number of fatalities in the sport has dropped dramatically so we can’t complain. The cars are safer too which is just as well in the BTCC because these boys don’t quit and the racing is shoulder to shoulder. Viewers who are new to this will soon be rooting for their favourite drivers and yelling at the villains on the grid. Racing starts at Brands Hatch on the 31st March. Tune in – you’ll enjoy it!

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True Life Driving Experiences


Britain’s motorists are bombarded with signs and restrictions. The chances of a truly memorable drive are slim. Cars these days are becoming lifestyle accessories rather than objects of desire as the pleasure of driving for driving’s sake is swamped by regulation. Yet there could still be hope. Most if not all of our motor racing circuits now offer some form of ‘driving experience’ as part of their activities. For the most part they are good value with a variety of choice that should suit most budgets.

Think about how much it would cost you to own a highly desirable and highly accomplished Porsche Cayman, for example, as your daily driver. Sensational though the Cayman is, the cost of insurance, fuel, tyres and servicing puts this car out of the reach of most of us. Frankly, it’s just much cheaper to run a normal family car especially as there isn’t any opportunity to really exploit the potential of a sports car anyway.

Some of the money saved by running a frugal car could well go towards the cost of a driving experience or two at your local circuit. It’s one thing to believe all the promotional advertising but there’s no substitute for word of mouth. The following is what actually happened with a visit to Thruxton. This circuit is in Hampshire and is reputed to be the fastest in the UK.

The session starts with a sensibly detailed briefing that informs and instils in amateur drivers the paramount need for safety first. The next stage involves a spin around the circuit in a Mazda 3 MPS, driven by an instructor who gives a running commentary. This is rather more alarming than it sounds. The Mazda, despite its modest looks, is indecently fast and in the hands of an expert is quite a thrill in itself. Watching racing is one thing, experiencing it is quite another. This is fast.

The final stage is what everyone has been waiting for. The chance to drive a sports car – in this case a Cayman – one-to-one with an instructor. The laps that follow pass in a blur of speed as confidence grows in the car, in the instructor and in your own ability. It’s an adrenalin rush. The only thing wrong with the whole thing is that it has to stop. If funds permit Thruxton offers the added bonus of a run out in a BMW M3 with a well known racing driver, TV personality and drift specialist. A change of trousering may be necessary and the DVD of your face will be prized by the whole family.

Up and down the country our racing circuits offer these treats in a variety of cars at a variety of prices. It may seem like an extravagance but try it and you’ll agree that the opportunity to really open the taps on a sporting motor is money well spent. It certainly was at Thruxton.

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