The British Touring Car Championship’s seems to have thrown up a divide amongst fans recently thanks to the whole Turbo versus normally aspirated engine situation. Some seem to be annoyed with the rules being changed to restrict the turbo cars and some seem to believe they should be restricted even more.
Everyone has a right to their opinion, however after a post a couple of months ago about the situation one or two people decided to voice their opinions in response rather loudly and somewhat personally as they disagreed with my opinion on the matter. Therefore they believed they were right and those who said different were wrong, had no idea what they were talking about and knew nothing so should keep quiet. That said, before I continue, this blog is entirely my own opinion. Rightly or wrongly, agree or disagree, I am happy to accept your responses and thoughts and for you to leave comments. However, please keep them constructive and please don’t resort to personal attacks.
Rather than air my opinion on the whole performance issue within the BTCC, it’s the professionalism of some of the drivers that needs to be bought to people’s attention. After last week’s Monaco Grand Prix, and Lewis Hamilton’s subsequent and ill fated post race interview taking the headlines, it seems a few other ‘professional’ drivers should have taken on board the criticism Hamilton received within the media and fans alike.
Much like Lewis Hamilton in F1, Jason Plato is a big star and a popular driver with fans in BTCC, therefore he is in the spotlight all the time within the series. So is it really acceptable for Jason Plato to show his displeasure of the rules in front of the media and on live TV. Whether the rules are fair or unfair is irrelevant. The attitude and reaction from the ‘Star’ of the series is extremely unprofessional. Tim Harvey stated afterwards, that Plato is becoming fixated on parity within the series and must therefore have an effect on his focus and that he needs to calm down and focus on his own racing. Harvey talks sense and has hit the nail on the head. It is only the Honda’s that Plato is struggling against and is beating the other Turbo powered cars. The reaction seems to show Plato as a spoilt brat and is upset because he isn’t winning all the time. The fact that he has won more races this season than Matt Neal is something he fails to mention.
Lewis Hamilton and Martin Whitmarsh from McLaren had to make a grovelling apology to race stewards after the comments the 2008 world champion made and it is only right that Plato should do the same. To constantly make these comments on live TV and, particularly after the Oulton Park win, use questionable language, is surely bringing the sport into disrepute. If you have views on the rules, then discuss them in private and not berate the series director and ask him to explain himself on live TV. That shows extreme lack of professionalism and if he escapes punishment, then Plato needs to count himself lucky. There is much talk in the motorsport world of Lewis Hamilton needing someone to bring him back down to earth, I think Plato needs someone to do that to him to.
No one is bigger than the BTCC and that includes Jason Plato. He maybe a self confessed celebrity presenting Fifth Gear on TV, but he needs to drop the prima donna attitude and concentrate in getting his attitude into Top Gear and showing some respect. He is a role model to many but is currently leading a bad example of how to behave. He is a talented driver and has shown this by winning the championship twice and has claimed more BTCC race wins than anyone else, however the series can and will continue without him when he decides to retire or leave. But right now with his current behaviour, whether you agree with me or not, it is my opinion that the series would be better off without him until he changes his attitude and shows himself to be the complete professional that he should be.
Another headline from the weekend’s racing at Oulton Park is the Shock news that TOM Onslow-Cole has quit the AMD Miltek team to take up an offer elsewhere. Apparently Tom told the team just 15 minutes before the start of race three and did not take part in the final race of the day. The team have stated it was an amicable split and wished Tom the very best. However, if he did tell the team just before race three then it would seem it is not an amicable split. Surely it would only be fair and respectful to complete the final race of the day.
Rumours will now start as to where Tom might be going to and will he be in place for the next round at Croft? One team’s name flying about is that of Team AON. There has been mutterings of them running three cars for a while now but after the whole team order’s debacle of last season would Onslow-Cole really go back? Another popular rumour is that Special Tuning Racing will be running a third car and the Seat’s are putting in a good show this season and had some good results at Oulton Park. So surely he would only leave to go to one of the big teams as the VW is starting to show its worth with points finishes. A move to somewhere like the vacant seat in the Geoff Steel Racing BMW would surely be a sideways step? I guess we will find out soon.
On the flip side, who will take over at AMD Miltek? Let’s not forget there is a vacant seat. It would be great to see Tim Harvey take the wheel but that is just a pipe dream. It would also be amazing to see Matt Hamilton back in BTCC but I’m not sure his position regarding budget. My initial thoughts is that Phil Glew should get the vacant position. Glew drove for the Your Racing Car team in their first BTCC race at Silverstone last year and put in a good showing. The joint YRC and AMD Miltek partnership could pave the way for him to get back into the championship. One thing is for certain, the rumour mill will be running flat out until the official announcements so we all wait with baited breath to see what happens.
The Monaco Grand Prix has drawn to a close and to be honest I feel very disappointed. The win was handed, gift wrapped to Red Bull with a bow on top. Had the race been able to run the course, no doubt Jenson Button would have taken the win with both Alonso and Vettel running on very worn tyres against Button’s fresher ones.
However, the weekend threw up few talking points but this blog entry will discuss one major issue in formula one and motorsport in general. Most people will have seen Sergio Perez’s accident in qualifying three on Saturday which ultimately bought safety into the forefront of people’s minds. Thankfully safety within motorsport has improved immensely as the years have passed and rightly so. Cars get faster and faster so the risk to drivers would ordinarily get higher and higher. But thanks to the improvements in car and driver safety the risks have been reduced.
Gone are the days when Formula One and the death of drivers went hand in hand and dreadful images such as those of Zolder in 1973 as David Purley tried in vain to free Roger Williamson from his burning car whilst marshall’s stood idly by are a thing of the past. Safety within motorsport is evolving rapidly and coupled with the training given to marshall’s and their ability to deal with all situations are a testament to all involved.
Unfortunately, some improvements can only be made as accidents happen. It takes an accident to make people aware of a certain problem before that issue can be addressed, therefore there will always be freak accidents coupled with the fact divers push cars to the limit it is an inevitability accidents will happen. But thanks to current safety features those accidents rarely see serious injury. It never ceases to amaze me at how a driver can walk away from huge accidents such as the recent Indy 500 practice accident involving Simona de Silvestro and the huge Porsche crash at San Marino.
It is the incredible safety features in place that meant Perez only suffered minor injuries at Monaco and had that happened 20 years ago, the results could have been a lot worse. Although many improvements have come too late for all the great drivers who have given their lives doing something they love, but ultimately motorsport is dangerous and we all know that. But the great work behind the scenes developing improvements mean that the fatalities and serious injuries have become rare. It’s those who develop new safety features and the marshall’s trackside on hand to step in when needed that are the unsung heroes of motorsport and all drivers need to be thankful for it. Long may these improvements continue to help make this sport so great.Finally, due to the start of the motorsport season, my model making has been neglected. However, this week I managed to complete my model Toyota 88C. I’m not sure what will be my next build but I will be keeping an eye out for a new project.