Donington Park September 26: BTCC Masters.

 

September 15th:

 

John will be competing against past winners of the BTCC in identical Seat Cupras at the final TOCA meeting of the year at Donington Park on September 26th. This event, organised by TOCA boss, Alan Gow, aims to bring together all the BTCC champions since 1990, plus a few "guest favourites" in the identically prepared Seat Cupras.

 

Sadly Will Hoy will be conspicuous by his absence and Yvan Muller and James Thompson will not be racing due to an unusual case of team orders. Shame really, it would have been interesting to see Muller and Plato on the same piece of real estate in cars that are not really needed after the race.....oh well, it will still be as much fun and less bloodthirsty to watch JC and Tim Harvey....wot, no Soper.

Drivers confirmed thus far:

Jeff Allam (GBR): BTCC race-winner 1974-1994 (Vauxhall Viva, Ford Capri, Rover Vitesse, BMW M3, Vauxhall Cavalier)

Julian Bailey (GBR): BTCC race-winner 1991-95 (Nissan Primera & Toyota Corolla)

Frank Biela (GER): BTCC Champion 1996 (Audi quattro A4)

Kelvin Burt (GBR): BTCC race-winner 1990-1997 (BMW M3, Ford Mondeo & Volvo 850/S40)

Johnny Cecotto (VEN): BTCC race-winner 1995 (BMW 318is, 320i)

John Cleland (GBR): BTCC Champion 1989 (Vauxhall Astra) & 1995 (Vauxhall Cavalier)

Robb Gravett (GBR): BTCC Champion 1990 (Ford Sierra Cosworth RS500)

Tim Harvey (GBR): BTCC Champion 1992 (BMW 320i)

Alain Menu (SUI): BTCC Champion 1997 (Renault Laguna) & 2000 (Ford Mondeo)

Matt Neal (GBR): Race winner and Independents Champion 1991-2004 (BMW M3, BMW 318is, Mazda Xedos 6, Ford Mondeo, Nissan Primera, Peugeot 406 Coupe, Astra Coupe, Honda Civic Type-R)

Jason Plato (GBR): BTCC Champion 2001 (Vauxhall Astra)

Paul Radisich (NZL): Touring Car World Cup Winner 1993 & 1994 (Ford Mondeo)

Anthony Reid (GBR): Race winner and championship runner-up 1997-2004 (Nissan Primera, Ford Mondeo, MG ZS)

Frank Sytner (GBR): BTCC Champion 1988 & two-litre class Champion 1990 (BMW M3)

Gabriele Tarquini (ITA): BTCC Champion 1994 (Alfa Romeo 155)

Patrick Watts (GBR): BTCC racer 1992-1997 (Mazda 323/Xedos & Peugeot 406)

 

 

September 26th: Raceday

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anthony Reid missed the parade lap on the back of the Toca podium but saved himself to

be first past the chequer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The feeling of nostalgia generated by the presence of 16 touring car greats, was enhanced by the presence of two replicas of both John's '89 championship winning Astra GTE and victorious '95 Cavalier. Also at Donington was Will Hoy's 1991 championship winning VLR BMW M3. The car was driven for 3 demonstration laps by Will's nephew, Edward Hoy and was clearly the object of much emotion and reflection.

 

 

The BTCC masters which was supposed to be a relaxed affair, generated a fair amount of friendly(?) banter amongst the drivers with Tim Harvey doing his level best to keep up the old tin-top rivalry.  The event allowed 2 free practice sessions to gain familiarity with the cars but qualifying positions were drawn from a hat (well not actually a hat but a ballot box).

John cunningly managed to achieve pole position by bribing the officials drawing the number one position and languished next to Anthony Reid on the one make Seat Sport UK Cupra grid. John was quick to comment: "I demand a recount-Im not starting on the front row with that guy!

 

 

The race itself started reasonably calmly and was a vision of professionalism, however, it soon became apparent that most, if not all of the drivers had something to prove....things began to warm up.

John led for 3 laps before he was passed by the on-form Jason Plato but took the lead back on lap 6 and led for the next 2 laps with Plato clambering all over the back of the Cleland Seat, It wasn't long before Jason slid up the inside of John at the old hairpin and forced him a tad wide, dropping JC to 4th. John had an "incident" at McLeans on the next lap (he nearly had to pay to get back into the circuit) and Plato took the lead once more. John managed to extract himself from the gravel trap and fought back from 11th position to finish a worthy 6th.

 

 

 

 

There was a modicum of carnage as some of the field tried to go 5 wide in Redgate whilst the yellow flag came out for one piece of gravel on the circuit (lethal debris !). Kelvin Burt was surgically removed from the race resulting in a very heavy tyre wall impact and Patrick Watts harpooned Jason Plato off the track at Starkeys, removing both drivers from the fray. In retrospect, a fantastic spectacle which demands a rematch next year.

 

Great respect must go to Frank Biela and Gabrielle Tarquini who managed 4th and 3rd, having started 11th and last respectively.

 

 

 

In depth results are available at mst sports timing.

 

 

 

Copyright : Dave Willetts 2000 - 2005