My humble mutterings have gained some recognition. As you may well know this blog was nominated to be part of an online survey by Longlife Exhausts to find the best car blog.Thanks to the guys at Tin Tops UK who made the nomination, Trackside Views made the list of 20 in the vote. Amazingly, by voting close this blog came out top by just two votes. Therefore I would like to thank all of you who voted and enjoy reading my thoughts. I hope I can continue to bring you an enjoyable blog which you will all continue to read and hopefully some more recognition will follow. A special thanks goes to Tin Tops UK for not only their initial nomination but their continued support along with my good friend and fellow motorsport photographer Pete Mainey.
Not a lot else has happened this week for me as I was unable to attend the Season opener of the British GT and F3 championships at Oulton Park. Those who know me well will know I particularly love GT racing and this year’s line up is super impressive. Audi R8’s join the grid along with a Corvette, Mercedes SLS, a Ferrari 458 and a pair of Lotus Evora’s in the GT4 Category adding to the existing cars the field is awesome. It was the reigning champion Trackspeed Porsche that took the race one lead whilst the Scuderia Vittoria Ferrari 458 took the honours in race two after starting from the back. It looks to be a close battle for the title again this year and I can’t wait to be shooting them all again when they head to Snetterton for round two in a few weeks.
Before then, I will be off to Donington again for the third round of the Britcar championships the weekend of May 7th and 8th and on May 1st I’ll be at Snetterton for the MSVR GT Trophy and F3 Cup. It always seems like an age since I was last trackside when I have a weekend when I’m not so I can’t wait to be back out there. I wonder if my opinions of the new layout at Snetterton will change.
In the mean time there is a small matter of a wedding that will be happening. I’m not talking about a balding bloke called William and a posh girl called Kate, I am of course referring to my Brother Tim’s wedding to Sophie. It is the day after the Royal wedding and although I’m not bothered about Friday’s festivities, it is handy to have been given the day off before my brothers big day. I’m going to be an Usher so I will be having to scrub up well. I’m not sure what is expected of me apart from handing out matchday programmes at the church and driving my brother there. To be honest, my Astra Estate isn’t going to look great with a ribbon on it, but I’ll give it a clean. I’m hoping the weather stays nice as the reception is in a marquee and it will be good to be able to be outside too.
It’s going to be a good bank holiday weekend for me and I can’t wait. Not sure how much I will remember afterwards though. Whatever you are doing this weekend, I hope you have a good one, and if anyone will be at Snetterton on Monday, come say hello if you see me about.
So the news is that within BTCC, the NGTC Turbo powered cars that were designed for a cost effective level playing field within the championship will be restricted ahead of the next round at Thruxton. Why? Because Jason Plato is upset that they are quicker than his S2000 spec engine car, that’s why.
The two engines were made available to teams well before the season started with the Chevrolet teams and the BMW’s opting to run the non turbo powered S2000 engines over the New Generation Touring Car option which has a turbo. Many people will remember the farce that occurred last season with the Team AON Gas powered Turbo Ford Focus constantly being restricted because it was a bit quicker than the rest of the field in straight line. Of course, Jason Plato didn’t like this and was more vocal than most with his dislike of this, despite Team AON running within the regulations and not in any way dominating the championship standings.
So now with the new regulations in place to create a level playing field, the whole situation has reared its ugly head yet again. Despite winning the first two races of the season at Brands Hatch, Mr Plato was yet again complaining about the turbo powered cars. Yes they were slightly quicker out of the corners, but the non turbo powered cars were quicker into the corners. Each car has unique driving characteristics and handling, we all know that. You have to work to the strengths of the car you have and try and improve the weaknesses. However this is clearly not good enough for the two time BTCC champion and qualifying in seventh place for the first race at Donington only made him angrier.
His moaning was even taken to a whole new level after suffering a puncture in the first race. He blamed the turbo powered cars for it. Apparently, due to their speed, he had to push the car to its limits to stay on the pace which then caused the puncture. Do me a favour. If you want to win a race then you have to push the car to its limits anyway. Is it fair to moan just because someone is quicker than you and you aren’t winning? He seems to forget that a few years ago he was running a Seat Leon Turbo, yes TURBO diesel which was quicker than the rest of the field in a straight line. Did he complain then? No he didn’t. The only reason he didn’t win the championship that year was due to the unreliability of the car.
Unfortunately, series director Alan Gow listens to this moaning and acts on it. The Turbo cars are being punished despite doing nothing wrong. They are running within the regulations but are being pegged back because a team who had the option to run a turbo powered car like everyone else, chose not to and are upset because at some circuits they aren’t the quickest. In what other sports does this happen? Does the FIA punish Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari in Formula one because they are quicker than the Sauber’s, Force India’s or the Toro Rosso’s? No. Does the IAAF tie Usain Bolt’s shoe laces together because he is the fastest man in the world? No. You stick to the rules and you get on with it.
If you ask me Jason Plato needs to learn how to be gracious in defeat and respectful to others. We all know he is a good driver, and winning more touring car races than anyone else goes to show that. But his moaning and complaining is making him look like a spoilt brat and quite frankly, I myself am getting embarrassed for him! He can win with the car he has got and we have already seen that twice already this season. So get your head down and put your effort in to racing instead of moaning Jason and more wins will follow. It’s nice to have a closely fought championship battle, the fans don’t want to see the same driver win every race and they certainly don’t want to see someone whinge and moan because they didn’t.
Finally, if you like my blog, you can still vote for it in Longlife Exhausts quest to find the best car blog here. I’d be very grateful if you did.
It was an action packed weekend of motorsport and high drama all round. The Chinese Grand Prix was an exciting affair with Lewis Hamilton halting Sebastian Vettel’s early dominance and Mark Webber overcame a disappointment in qualifying with a great drive to claim third spot on the podium. Also, it was great to see Mike Conway win in the Indycar at Long Beach after recovering from his huge accident last year.
As for me, I was at Rockingham on Saturday for the second round of the MSA Britcar Endurance Championship before heading to Donington for rounds 4, 5 & 6 in the British Touring Car Championship. It was a great race at a Sunny Rockingham with the Eclipse Ferrari 430 taking the win after battling it out late on with the MJC Ferrari for the honours. The race reports can be read at The Checkered Flag and although they have not been posted as I write this, they will be available very soon.
So on to Sundays action at Donington which gives me the topic of conversation in this blog post. I am talking about driving standards. There were so many incidents in both the BTCC and the Ginetta Junior’s both this weekend and the season opener at Brands Hatch that have bought the issue of the standard of driving in to question. There were a number of incidents during the racing and qualifying, including Jason Plato rolling his car three times after going off and hitting a bank which left drivers and teams alike extremely upset with lost points and thoughts of what could have been.
On Monday, fan favourite Paul O’Neill expressed his feelings on Twitter saying he was embarrassed to be a touring car driver, before stating that he and the other drivers were role models and should be giving a good impression. Also, the team boss of Ginetta Junior team Hillspeed has spoken out and condemned some of the driving standards in their series as totally unacceptable.
We all know that there is a certain amount of contact that takes place in touring cars and other race series but how much is too much? No matter who is involved, you all must agree that being punted off by someone charging up from behind you as you brake for a corner because they want to gain a few places is hardly fair. However, some of the incidents arent solely due to drivers being overly aggressive.Some have been caused by lack of awareness by drivers who are turning in on cars beside them or not being quite aware of what is going on around them. This also brings up a subject that I touched on in a previous blog about certain drivers. There are a lot of them who buy their way into a race series because of the money they can bring to a team despite their obvious lack of talent. Surely all drivers in the top race series need to have a proven track record. As for the Ginetta Junior drivers, the culprits seem to be those who have rich parents that are willing to fund their desire to be the next Lewis Hamilton despite showing little or no race craft knowledge. If they want to drive around smashing into people then may I suggest a far cheaper option of visiting the local funfair and having a go on the dodgems and leaving the racing to the talented youngsters with a desire to win fairly?
I don’t want to ruin the excitement and ban all contact but the line has to be drawn somewhere. It is unacceptable for someone to barge past others to gain a place without a care about putting the others in the gravel. I hope that something can be done to make it fairer with penalties such as grid drops, points deductions, points on licences or even race bans as punishments to eradicate poor driving and help separate the wheat from the chaff. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject so feel free to leave a comment.
All the race reports and news can be read on The Checkered Flag website along with some of my photos from the weekend so feel free to head over there.
Finally, if you like my blog, please vote for it in the poll held by Longlife Exhausts to find the best car based blog. Voting can be done here and I’d be very grateful.
It’s been a little while since my last blog but to be honest, surprisingly I haven’t had much to talk about of late. I will just say at this point how glad I am that I have not been blinded and I still have my eyesight. Those of you who know me or follow me on twitter will know that last weekend was my Brothers Stag Do and we went paintballing. I’ve never been paintballing and have never had any urge to do so thanks to that famous episode of Byker Grove where PJ got blinded. OK, so I was young and TV can be quite impressionable but it scared the hell out of me and have never wanted to go paintballing because of it. However, it was a great day, despite a few bruises, I really enjoyed it and I can still see!
So on to this weekend and It will be a busy one for me. I will be covering round two of the MSA Britcar Endurance Championship at Rockingham on Saturday, and then I will head off to Donington to cover the BTCC on the Sunday. Amazingly, I have never been to either of these circuits thanks to other commitments and events going on etc so I look forward to it. You can be sure I will bring news from the weekend in my next blog.
Most people know about the BTCC but maybe less so the Britcar series. I cannot emphasise enough what a great series it is and is well worth going along to see if you fancy watching something different to the high profile events. Over 50 cars have registered for the series this year and 44 took to the track at Silverstone last time out. There are two categories, the GT class for the big Moslers, Ferrari’s Lamborghini’s and Porsches among others and the Production class for cars like M3 BMW’s Seat Leon Supercopa’s Honda Civic’s and Lotus Elise’s. A great selection of cars are on show and some really close racing throughout the field can be seen. If that wasn’t enough, tickets are cheap and the atmosphere is great, particularly at the 24hr race that takes place at Silverstone in October. For those who didn’t know, it was the Britcar 24 hour race that the Top Gear guys took part in a few years ago in the diesel BMW.
The draw of large series events is huge and it is good to see the crowds at motorsport events, but some great racing can be seen in a lot of other smaller series that don’t get the television or media coverage that some do. Who knows, you could be watching the superstars of tomorrow at these smaller events. So here’s a challenge to those of you who love to watch live motorsport. If you have a free weekend and are not sure what to do, why not head down to your local circuit to watch one of these smaller race series in action. Something that you may not necessarily be aware of. With so many different race events taking place each weekend you are sure to find something that takes your fancy. With adult tickets costing as little as £10 it is a very good value day out.
Finally, Trackside Views has been included in a list of top car blogs by Longlife Exhausts. They want people to vote on their favourites, so if you like my ramblings, then feel free to cast your vote here.
So after the response from my last blog, I’m kind of feeling the pressure to make this one a good ‘un too. However I feel you may be disappointed. There are no amusing stories in this one but hopefully something that will cause interesting conversation and debate.
The British Touring Car Championships made its long awaited return this weekend at Brands Hatch and although I wasn’t there unfortunately, I was watching on the TV. Whilst watching, there was one thing that made me think and concerned me somewhat. It’s not just something that is happening in touring cars, but also in the support races and indeed right throughout motorsport all the way up to the pinnacle, Formula One.
I am of course talking about driver funding and sponsorship. I bring this up now as it is probably most noticeable in the BTCC. Whilst it is great to see a lot of drivers in the BTCC, there are a number of drivers there not because of their ability behind the wheel, but because of the amount of money in their bank account. Whilst I understand the need of funds to run a race team, it concerns me that a lot of young talented drives are missing out due to the lack of financial backing and drives are being given to distinctly average drivers who have wads of cash to help support the team.
Many of you will remember the Silverstone round of the BTCC last year and how the two Team AON Ford Focus’ dominated. Both on the front row of the grid and leading the field come race day. However it was Tom Onslow-Cole leading team mate Tom Chilton until the prior mysteriously slowed to let Chilton through to take the lead and ultimately, victory. There is a lot of speculation as to the reasons why, with the most common being Tom Chilton brings the most money into the team so he got preference. Despite Onslow-Cole’s exemplarily behaviour afterwards in post race interviews, the disappointment was clear. It was he who was ahead of Chilton in the Championship standings and the decisions made by the team that day were pivotal to the remaining couple of races that season and may well have cost Onslow-Cole the championship title. I will point out though that both drivers here are very talented and both very nice guys, but should preference not have been given to the diver ahead in the championship standings?
However, on the flip side of drivers in the series being able to buy their way into a series, there are drivers who have to pull out after the money dries up. You will no doubt notice the amount of small independent teams and drivers coming and going within the BTCC as they can only afford to compete in a few races. A case in point here is young Matt Hamilton. Having competed in a few races in 2009, Matt was ready and rearing to go in 2010 in a somewhat aging Honda Civic. Matt has competed in other race series, proved his worth and had made his way up to BTCC. His talent showed through during one particular race. At a rain soaked Brands Hatch, Matt carved through the field and kept his head whilst all those around were losing theirs and he took a very creditable ninth place and with it his first Championship points. This drive was to earn him the Dunlop Champagne Moment award from that race weekend as voted by the fans and rightly so. Unfortunately, the funds ran out, the car was sold and Matt, his family and friends, who had worked so hard to get him on the grid, were left to see out the remainder of the season as frustrated spectators. Those two championship points left him ahead in the final driving standings of some of those drivers who were able to buy a full season and trundle around happily towards the tail end of the pack.
Having mentioned Matt Hamilton, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass without mentioning, Tom Ingram. Last year Tom was crowned the Ginetta Junior champion, whilst this year he was left trying to get a drive right down to the last minute. In fact, Tom had put a plea on social networking sites to try and help him get the funds together. Luckily it paid off and on Thursday a drive in the Ginetta Supercup at Brands Hatch in the G50 Class was put together and two days later he was in the car and claiming class pole position. Not only that but he then went on to win both G50 Class races. The lad’s talent is obvious yet he is struggling to get a drive. Why is this? I know there are a lot of teams and drivers needing sponsorship and most of the relevant companies already sponsor someone so it can be hard to find funding, but should it not be the responsibility of the team to organise the funding and let the drivers concentrate on the driving? It would be better for a team to have two talented drivers who can mount a challenge for titles rather than having to pick divers who can bring the team money. I’m sure Nico Hulkenburg will agree with this as we all know Williams dropped him from their F1 team because a different driver bought in more money from sponsorship despite Hulkenburg’s visible talent.
I know it is a difficult situation and it costs a lot of money to run a team. This isn’t a topic that I confess to know a lot about but I don’t like to see a talented driver miss out and believe me there are a lot who are. So what can be done? To be honest I don’t really know. But incentives like the Playstation Gran Tourismo Academy are surely a good thing. They spend time plucking out the best driver from a group of hopefuls to compete in a full race season and this ensures that talent doesn’t go unrecognised. This should be done more often. With the backing of major sponsors within the motorsport industry, surely some incentives can be formed to identify young driver talent and then help nurture and fund the driver to become the next big thing. This is why I had such an issue about the SEAT sex drive competition discussed in my last blog. Come on SEAT UK, make a competition to sniff out the real racing talent instead of wasting money on your stupid battle of the sexes gimmick!