Thoughts After Attending Brands Hatch BTCC

Until the other week I hadn’t been to a BTCC round since Silverstone in 2008 (where did the time go?) which ended a 6-year run of visiting at least one round per year, at various circuits including Thruxton, Donington Park and even Knockhill. I hadn’t been to Brands Hatch since 2005’s A1GP meeting. It was time to revisit both.

In this post I’ll focus on my thoughts, for photos from the day please see my previous post or my gallery on Picasa.

Trackside

Isn’t it great to be trackside? Especially so when not long out of winter, having been stuck indoors for most of it, and you’ve got your nose up against the fence on a warm, cloudless spring day as cars race by at 140mph or more. Just perfect.

Perhaps it felt all the more sweeter after a 3-hour drive to the track. I was glad to find the entrance fed me directly to the spectator bank overlooking the pits so I didn’t need to spend time finding somewhere to watch, where I arrived as the BTCC was on the grid for race 1 of 3. However once the race began I quickly found I didn’t like it there as the fences (and the people) obscured the racing going on up at Paddock Hill or back at Clearways. Cars flashing past is great but I came here to see racing. It was great to get so close to the grid and it would be an ideal place to watch a race with pitstops as you can see right into pitlane – but touring car racing doesn’t have any stops so it was time to move!

I watched the rest of the race from Clearways. In 2005 I was lucky enough to be in the big hospitality building here which offered a great view. I was surprised to find it was almost as good at ground level, with the added bonus that this time I was watching a race on the Indy loop. There was some great side-by-side action here as you’d expect. Even doughnuts from Rob Collard… for which he was later penalised. An American sanctioning body would celebrate it.. a UK/European body awards a penalty. Idiots!

After lunch I went around to Paddock Hill Bend. I was surprised at how little room there is to watch – there’s an earth bank which suddenly drops away to a path. People were perched on the edge of it, I went up there and couldn’t see well over the people. Scratch that idea.

I found the absolute ideal spot was just where the tree line begins on the uphill approaching Druids. An unobstructed view of Paddock Hill Bend (as unobstructed as can be with this many people around), very fast cars very close to you just as they get off the gas and on to the brakes, and a nice view across to Graham Bill Bend to boot. Trees nearby to shelter under if the sun gets too hot or if it rains. Perfect.

I watched BTCC Race 2 and a few supports from here, and after a walk in the support paddock I came back for BTCC Race 3. This is one of my new favourite places in racing. I would consider the nearby grandstand if only to get above the heads of other people, but I don’t think I really missed anything. The only thing I lacked was a view to the left of me, or ‘downstream’ on the track, so I couldn’t see Druids corner or the 7-car shunt caused by oil on the track. Of course, you can never see everything unless you’re at an oval, and I did see Jackson run through the gravel right in front of me as he laid that oil.

The one thing I didn’t do all day was get a pass for the BTCC paddock. The support paddock was freely accessible and I saw Nicolas Hamilton signing autographs there. I did slightly miss getting up close to the BTCC cars and drIvers too, however I was too busy enjoying myself trackside!

Food

The lunch break fell after BTCC race 1. It was then I, as expected, found racetrack food prices to be as high as ever. £8 for the burger and chips I wanted. I settled for a sausage roll for £3. I will say the food selection at most UK racetracks is immeasurably better than it was 10 years ago, commendably so because it often used to be dire, but now they all stick the word ‘premium’ or ‘quality’ on the van and jack up the price. They were selling hot Cornish pasties for a fiver. I can get a hot one 500 yards from my house for less than that and they pay all the costs of renting a shop not a trailer! The price for being a captive audience and not wanting a squashed sandwich from a hot rucksack.

Chrome Horn

The BTCC has long had a poor reputation as a championship which not only rewards the use of the ‘chrome horn’ but encourages it. Everyone loves a bit of doorhandle to doorhandle racing, that’s a part of this type of racing and long may it continue, I’m not advocating removing it, that’s why we love touring cars. The trouble is, in this series it goes to another level. It was why I stopped attending races after 2008 and stopped watching the series altogether two years ago.

What isn’t acceptable is the continued practice of getting a nose inside and just pushing the guy on the outside, into the gravel. The worst offenders are the biggest name drivers Jason Plato and Matt Neal, who are probably popular because they act a bit ‘bad boy’ on the track, pushing their way around. Most of the rest of the grid doesn’t go in for this type of thing, which is great to see.

I really did miss watching the series so I have actually started watching the races I missed from 2010 and 2011, and I’ve been laughing at some of the post-race quotes. Someone like Onslow-Cole or Shedden would come on, standing next to someone like Matt Neal, and say right in front of him: ‘Well I could’ve easily had him off, but that’s not the way I like to race.’ Even though the guy next to him had already done it to someone else that day. Ha!

I make this point because I’d really hoped the series would’ve clamped down on it by now. They haven’t. Newcomer and polesitter Dave Newsham, underdog hero of the day, was unceremoniously dumped off track into the Paddock Hill gravel by Plato. Penalty? A £750 fine and 3 points on his racing licence. Hardly any penalty at all. I haven’t seen the most recent rounds at Donington Park this past weekend, I understand it stepped up another level with cars off left, right and centre.

Perhaps the more frustrating thing is that both Plato and Neal come across as really nice guys (even when they are complaining about the technical rules!), it isn’t as if they are utter evil bastards, they are merely taking advantage of the series not clamping down on certain actions – they do it because they get away with it. Still, it provokes discussion and ratings and the crowd at any BTCC meeting at every track I visit has always cheered the loudest when Plato wins, so he must be doing something right.

Supports

One of the hallmarks and attractions of the TOCA/BTCC package has long been the plentiful support card. This is again true this year. It was a touch weaker compared to past times, with the closure of FBMW UK a few years ago and the sad failure of FRenault UK this past winter, which is by far the bigger loss for British motorsport being the traditional feeder into British Formula 3. A disgraceful loss and I don’t understand how it was allowed to happen, I really do hope something is done to resurrect it for 2013. FRUK offered the chance for up and coming drivers to make a name for themselves in front of a big crowd on live TV, I doubt the many other FR 2.0 series in Europe offer the same.

Despite being two races down the day was still full of action, there was barely 10 or 15 minutes of dead track all day (excluding the lunch break and red flags). A collection of Renault Clio Cup, Porsche Carrera Cup and both big and Junior variants of Ginettas kept the crowd entertained all day long. Hard to believe they let 14 and 15 year olds loose in the Juniors!

Back For Good

Despite the poor driving standards I still love the BTCC. Everything about the day was perfect and I’m sad I was away for so long. The feeling was just as it was a decade ago. There’s an intangible atmosphere at a BTCC meeting you just don’t get when you visit other series. I don’t know if it is the wheel-to-wheel racing, the near-constant track action from a collection of short, sharp races, or the fact it is our big home-grown success story with passionate fans filling the banks and stands all the way around the track. There’s something about a BTCC meeting you just can’t beat. And I didn’t even buy a paddock pass this time!

I’ll be back. See you at Silverstone? (I’m wondering if I made the right choice in booking Silverstone). I’m tempted to go to Thruxton.. but we’ll see about that. Just maybe, funds depending, I’ll go back to Brands Hatch for the race on the GP circuit later in the year.

Photos: Last Week’s BTCC at Brands Hatch

Here are a selection of photos of my day at Brands Hatch last Sunday for the opening round of the BTCC season. I brought along my new Nikon to try out at a racetrack for the first time, some of the shots are mildly good, most aren’t because I’m not a photographer or because I had fences and people in the way. Still, I had fun, it was a glorious sunny day (unlike today) and a perfect first racing event of the year.

Welcome to Brands Hatch

Rob Collard and Jason Plato

Nicolas Hamilton, brother of Lewis, has a disability but it doesn't stop him racing in the Renault Clio Cup.

I watched BTCC race 2 between Paddock Hill and Druids:

Clios:

Ginettas:

It’s great having 3 BTCC races in a day and a full slate of support races. Here’s BTCC race 3:

The oil from Jackson's car caused 6 other cars to go off

A glorious day for racing
You can see a lot at Brands Hatch if you find the right location. End of the day. Time to pack up and go home. 'Til next time.

You can see more of my photos in my Picasa album.

An Easter Sunday

How did I spend my Easter Sunday?

Watching racing – hey you know me, what did you expect? I had no plans all day and this was the first fully-stacked motorsport weekend of 2010, there’s no way I was going to miss it.

I woke at 7.45am when my alarm beeped, a cleverly-timed alarm designed to get me downstairs for 8am for the BBC F1 pre-race show. I hit the off button and promptly fell asleep until 9am. 9am.. The race starts at 9am! Cue a mad rash downstairs. I arrived as the cars rounded the last corner on their warm up lap. That was close. I watched the race in a bit of a daze, trying to fire up the live timing which was having troubles of its own, as well as trying to find the 5Live commentary feed and other accoutrements to enjoying F1.

You can read my thoughts on the F1 race elsewhere, the important point is that as soon as it was over it was time to flick over to ITV4 to catch some BTCC action from their first meeting of the year at Thruxton – but wait, what’s this, Superleague Formula’s first race at Silverstone was on at the same time? Which to choose?

The answer of course, is both. I had Superleague’s official free web stream on my PC, with the BTCC coverage on my TV. I found I was more into the Superleague so I muted the TV. To be honest I wasn’t really following either race all too well, if you combine following two races with keeping up with Twitter and other sites which were reporting on the BBC F1 Forum happening at the time which I’d abandoned, there was a lot of information to take in.

Eventually there was time for a break for shower, breakfast and a cup of tea at something like 1pm. Perfect for a Sunday normally, the hunger hurt a little after being up since 9.. The BTCC support races were playing out during this time and I watched a couple of them, the Porsches were as tedious as ever despite their larger grid – and the Clio Cup was as madcap as ever despite their much reduced grid!

At 2pm came another decision. SF race 2, or BTCC race 2? I took the same solution as before since the internet had become awfully quiet, I’m guessing people were off doing family things for Easter. I muted the TV again and again barely followed the touring car race, I’ve found no reason to get interested in it this year.

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Conversely, I’ve never watched Superleague Formula before and I’ve been openly critical of the entire concept. I still don’t like the concept and their timing and scoring system is very confusing with the three letters representing teams not drivers, but I tell you what, they’ve made the right choices on the car and engine package and on the driver choices. There was top notch racing in race 2. Bourdais fought his way up, Montagny passed several cars from the back to finish 8th or so, and this Dolby fellow is quite a find isn’t he? I thought it was a very good race, lots of passing yet it was nice and clean.

Not like BTCC race 3 which was the last race of the day at Thruxton, after a couple more support races. I watched this with the sound off as well because I was listening to ‘Giggles Radio’ on Sidepodcast, but since listening to music is a little less taxing than watching a race I was able to follow this encounter a little more. It seemed okay other than what looked to me to be very slow-looking touring cars, until Matt Neal decided to get up to his tricks and just rammed Rob Collard into the barrier. He claimed he had nowhere to go, which is nonsense. 3 cars, 1 ahead and 2 side by side with Neal one of the two. He just rams the car in front such that it loses momentum and the 3rd car knocks it into a spin because he genuinely can’t avoid it. Had Matt backed off and remained side by side behind the first car, they’d all make it round and he’d have a good drag race on the front straight. Crazy behaviour.

I used to be a Matt Neal fan until a couple of years ago when he seemed to ramp up his antics. He’s just a knobhead, and so are the BTCC stewards for not clamping down on him. I used to dislike Plato for similar things but he seems to have got better recently.

Literally minutes after this race ended, the WRC Rally Jordan review was beginning on the Dave channel (for non-UK people, yes we have a TV channel called “Dave”). I half-watched this but the antics with the penalties to get a favourable road position left a bad taste.

After this I went out for some clear air and a walk and came back to write my Malaysia review. On the whole a rather exceptionally lazy day of watching racing and while there were some negatives it was a thoroughly enjoyable day.

One of the more interesting sub-plots was seeing the work being done at Silverstone. I’d seen pictures but nothing in video, and it was very strange seeing the current front straight with a gravel trap where the grandstands used to be, and some new stands erected outside of it. Being up close was part of that area of Silverstone but I guess what you lose in proximity you gain in being able to see more of the straight. The place looked a bit raggedy in places as there is still work ongoing, but generally much more modern than before, and I expect to see it looking somewhat nicer come the F1 and MotoGP events in the summer.

A good day overall then. What did you do?

Weekend Preview : 1-2 August 2009

Feature Events


IRL IndyCar Series

– Meijer Indy 300
– Kentucky Speedway
– Sparta, Kentucky, United States
– (12/17)
www.indycar.com

Changes to the aero rules for this race (see previous post) should mean an improvement in the racing on this 1.5 mile oval, as it has been fairly bad on ovals earlier this season. Since side by side open-wheel racing on ovals is the hallmark and unique selling point of this series, let’s hope they work.

Note this is a Saturday night race under the lights.

TV Guide:
UK – LIVE on Sky Sports 1 at 2am Sunday
(repeated 11.30am and 4.30pm on SS Xtra)
USA – LIVE on VERSUS at 8pm ET Saturday

Other Events


Le Mans Series

– 1000KM do Algarve
– Portimao
– Algarve, Portugal
– (3/5)
www.lemans-series.com

The is the first evening/night race for the Le Mans Series in Europe, and also the first visit of the series to this new circuit. The race will begin at 7.15pm local (and UK) time and run for the usual LMS distance of 1000km or six hours.

TV Guide:
UK – Eurosport at 7pm for 1h30m.


Formula Renault 3.5

Portimao
– Algarve, Portugal

Supporting the LMS, both races are on Saturday afternoon.

TV Guide:

Race 1 on Eurosport at 12pm Saturday.
Race 2 doesn’t appear to be covered.

NASCAR Sprint Cup

– Pennsylvania 500
– Pocono, Pennsylvania, United States
www.nascar.com

TV Guide:
UK – LIVE on Sky Sports 3 at 7pm Sunday
US – LIVE on ESPN at 1pm Sunday


NASCAR Nationwide Series

– Iowa Speedway
– Iowa, United States
www.nascar.com

NASCAR Camping World Trucks

– Nashville Speedway
– Tennessee, United States
www.nascar.com


DTM

– Oschersleben
– Germany
www.dtm.tv / www.dtm.com

dtm.tv should have live coverage from 1pm UK time.

V8 Supercars

– Norton 360 Sandown Challenge
– Sandown, Australia
www.v8supercar.com.au


Indy Lights

– Oschersleben
– Germany


F3 Euroseries

– Kentucky Speedway
– Kentucky, USA

Superleague Formula

– Donington Park
– Leics., England, UK

World Rally Championship

– Rally Finland
www.wrc.com

Kimi Raikkonen has entered his home round of the WRC in a Super 2000 spec Abarth. After the first day’s stages he’s performing among the top runners in his class and in the top 20 overall!


Intercontinental Rally Challenge

– Rally Vinho Madeira
– Madeira, Portugal
www.ircseries.com


British Touring Car Championship

– Snetterton
– Norfolk, England, UK

TV Guide:

UK – The usual six hours (3 x BTCC plus lots of support races) on ITV4 from 11.30am!

* * * *

Sources:
Live Sport on TV
RadioTimes.com
and several of the series sites mentioned above

Weekend Preview: 30-31 May 2009

Feature Events

IndyCar Series

– ABC Supply / AJ Foyt 225
– Milwaukee Mile, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
– (5/17)
– 225 laps
www.indycar.com

Just one week after the Indy 500 the teams and drivers head to the traditional follow-up event at the Milwaukee Mile – this will be the 52nd time Milwaukee directly follows Indy in the schedule and the 3rd time under IRL sanction, it really is one of those long-time Indy-racing traditions. According to IndyCar.com the last driver to win both events back-to-back was Juan Pablo Montoya in 2000.

I like Milwaukee, it can be a lot of fun and it is a different kettle of fish to the 1.5 milers the IRL usually uses.

TV Guide:
UK – LIVE on Sky Sports 1 at 11pm BST
USA – LIVE on ABC at 3:30pm EDT

Support races: Firestone Indy Lights

Other Events

MotoGP

– Gran Premio d’Italia Alice
– Mugello, Italy
– (5/17)
www.motogp.com

To Italy! I still haven’t caught up with MotoGP so I really have no idea what’s going on, but this track ought to sort them out.

TV Guide:
UK – LIVE on BBC Two at 12.30pm
USA – Delayed on SPEED at 4pm ET

Supports: 250s, 125s, etc.

 


NASCAR Sprint Cup

– Dover 400
– Dover, Delaware, USA

– Charlotte, South Carolina, USA
– (13/36)
www.nascar.com

TV Guide:
UK – LIVE on Sky Sports 1 at 7pm Sunday
USA – LIVE on FOX at 1.30pm ET Sunday

Support races: Nationwide Series (Saturday), Camping World Trucks (Friday)

DTM

– EuroSpeedway Lausitz
– Lausitz, Germany
– (2/10)
www.dtm.com (news/results)
www.dtm.tv (video interviews, live streaming)

The German tourers head to the road course layout at the EuroSpeedway. Turn one is always fun but to be honest this isn’t my favourite DTM race of the year because the huge stands make the place look empty and the track itself isn’t very interesting. There is always a bit of fun at turn one at the start, otherwise there isn’t much to be said.

The good news is that we in the UK return to live coverage for this event, so if you have Setanta be sure to check it out.

TV Guide:
UK – LIVE on Setanta Sports 1 at 12.30pm.
Worldwide – LIVE on www.dtm.tv from 2pm CET / 1pm BST / 8am EDT. When you follow that link it will ask you to choose one of two sites, pick the right-hand one. The live link is on the top right of the page.

Support races: F3 Euroseries

WTCC

– Valencia
– Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo, Valencia, Spain
– (5/12)
www.fiawtcc.com

I’ve never liked this circuit. It can produce the odd reasonable race but I just don’t like it! In many ways it shares several characteristics with Lausitz. Lots of tight turns, a long straight, lots of seats that aren’t filled..

TV Guide:
LIVE on Eurosport at 11.45am (race 1) and 1.45pm (race 2).

Support races: International Formula Master


Formula 2

– Valencia
– Circuit de Ricardo Tormo, Valencia, Spain
– (1/8)
www.formulatwo.com

The return of the F2 name to the contemporary motorsport scene, except this time rather than being an open formula it is a spec series run to a budget. It is pitched as a Formula 1 feeder but in all honesty it’ll find itself competing with FR3.5 to get people into GP2 with the odd guy getting a test & reserve deal in F1 – not to mention this is yet another fracture of the development ladder! Still, if it give opportunities to talented drivers who can’t afford the alternatives then it will have served its purpose well, and perhaps it is other series that need to be cut back. Time will decide that one.

TV Guide:
Eurosport at 5pm Saturday (delayed race 1) and 12.45pm Sunday (LIVE race 2).
Note race 2 slots directly between the two WTCC races in the Eurosport schedule!
There is also live coverage on the series website at 2.20pm CET Saturday and 1.50pm CET Sunday.


BTCC

– Oulton Park
– Cheshire, England, UK
www.btcc.net

Oulton Park is an excellent and deceptively tricky circuit which is a lot of fun to watch!

Formula Nippon

 

– Fuji, Japan


V8 Supercars

– Symmons Plains, Australia


British F3 & GT

– Rockingham, England

* * *
That’s it, if ever if you think I’ve forgotten something please point it out in the comments. Enjoy your weekend!

Weekend Preview: 16-17 May 2009

Feature Events

MotoGP

– Grand Prix de France
– Le Mans Bugatti Circuit
– Le Mans, France
– (4/17)
www.motogp.com

Much as last year the forecast for this weekend is for rain, it could be fun! I have to say I don’t usually enjoy events at this racetrack – the short Bugatti circuit, that is – but last year’s was very interesting due to the different tyre strategies involved. In fact the DTM race at same venue was under similar conditions. Is there a micro-climate we should be aware of?

TV Guide:

UK – LIVE on BBC Two at 12:30pm

US – DELAYED on SPEED at 1pm ET

Support races: 250s, 125s, etc.

Other Events

NASCAR All-Star Race

– Lowe’s Motor Speedway
– Charlotte, South Carolina, USA
– (non-points)
www.nascar.com

Not a part of the Sprint Cup but featuring all of the drivers and teams, this is basically a race for the sake of entertainment and a shedload of prize money. I don’t really understand how it works and quite honestly I don’t care.

TV Guide:

UK – LIVE on Sky Sports 2 at 12.30am Saturday night / Sunday morning, repeated on three times across Sky Sports during Sunday.

US – LIVE on SPEED at 7pm ET Saturday

Support races: Nationwide Series (Saturday), Truck Series (Friday)

American Le Mans Series

– Grand Prix of Utah
– Miller Motorsports Park
– Tooele, Utah, USA
– (4/10)
www.americanlemans.com

Last week the European LMS held their last round before Le Mans and this week the Americans do the same. Simon Pagenaud and David Brabham raced last week for Peugeot at Spa (Pagenaud won) and this week both are on ALMS duty for Acura in the de Ferran and Highcroft entries respectively.

Of note here is the high altitude of the course which adds an extra dimension to the challenge of the race. The ALMS isn’t in as great a form as it used to be and they’ve had to bring in some GT3 cars as field-fillers, yet while the quantity is down the quality of entrants at the sharp end of each category is as high as it ever was.

Note – while many ALMS races are on Saturday, this race takes place on SUNDAY.

TV Guide:

UK – DELAYED BY ONE WHOLE WEEK to 5pm on May 24th, that’ll be shortly before the Indy 500 then… :stupid:

US – DELAYED at 10pm ET Sunday on SPEED (the race happens at 2.15pm ET)

Support races: Atlantics, Star Mazda, IMSA GT3 Cup, IMSA Lites

DTM

– Hockenheimring
– Hockenheim, Baden-Wurtemburg, Germany
– (1/10)
www.dtm.tv

At long last the DTM gets started! After what seems like an eternity since the end of their 2008 season in October the German tintops heavily reliant on little aero tabs finally start their season. I’m not sure which genius decided they’d start in May but I suppose it separates them from all the other championships which start in March/April.

Mercedes vs Audi once again then and it looks like the 2-yr-old cars have been ditched, which is great news. It means Kat and Susie can finally demonstrate their known abilities against the rest of the 1-yr-old field, and a well-driven 1yr car can mix it with the current cars and certainly gets noticed. It could be a good year to watch DTM – unfortunately the FTA coverage on MotorsTV has vanished to be replaced with coverage on the pay-monthly Setanta.

TV Guide:
UK – DELAYED at 10pm on Setanta Sports 2

Support: Formula 3 Euroseries


FIA WTCC

– Race of France
– Pau, France
– (4/12)
www.fiawtcc.com

Pau is a crazy place. Imagine Macau if it only had the narrow part, and fast. The racing isn’t always great but it’s worth a look to check out the precision driving, particularly over the chicanes with walls very close by. Of course it could all get horribly embarrassing very quickly indeed.

TV Guide:
UK – LIVE on Eurosport at 11.45am (race 1) and 1.45pm (race 2).

Support: Formula Master (LIVE between the two touring car races)


Grand-Am Rolex Series

Laguna Seca, California, USA
– (4/12)
www.grand-am.com

TV Guide:
UK – highlights at silly o’clock midweek on Five
US – SPEED at 4pm ET


FIA GT

– Adria, Italy
– (2/8)
www.fiagt.com


BTCC

– Donington Park
– Leicestershire, England, UK
– (3/10)
www.btcc.net

It’s on!! Donington Park has finally corrected the problems which blighted the running of events between February and this month by realigning the run-off area at the new tunnel and the circuit now has a licence! The BTCC races at Donny are always a lot of fun so make sure you check it out. Those outside the UK can surely get a stream somewhere…

TV Guide:
UK – LIVE on ITV4 from 11.30am, they will flash up the race schedule during the programme so that you can plan your day according to which support races you want to watch.

Supports: Clios, FRenault, Porsches, Ginettas


FNippon & JF3

– Suzuka, Japan

* * *
That’s it, if ever if you think I’ve forgotten something please point it out in the comments.

Don’t forget, in addition to these races there are also the final two qualifying sessions for the Indy 500. Third Day qualifying is on Saturday to fill positions 23-33 and on Sunday there is Bump Day as the last-chance qualifying. I’m not sure how many bumps there will actually be, it doesn’t seem like many so unlike last week I won’t be following it all that closely.

I tried an experiment on Twitter on Thursday night. I tweeted some race results, just the top few places, as an idea to promote discussion of series people may not usually follow. It turned out to be a bad idea! It doesn’t work at all on Twitter – but I think it may just work on the blog. I will be writing a test post at some point over the next few days using the format as these Previews and we’ll see how it goes.

Finally, an apology for the lack of updates recently. I am in the final stages of an accountancy course and I have been concentrating on that!

Enjoy your weekend!

Weekend Preview: 4-5 April 2009

Here it is people, it all kicks off this weekend! Tons and tons of racing!

* * * *
Feature Event

FIA Formula 1 World Championship
– Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix (2/17)
– Sepang International Circuit
– Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
www.formula1.com
Track Map

Please see my F1 Preview here.

Support events:
GP2 Asia Series (x2); Formula BMW Pacific (x2);

A much quieter support card to Australia. GP2 Asia is holding rounds 9 and 10 of the winter series with just one double-header remaining in Bahrain (again supporting F1).
FBMW Pacific kicks off their year here this weekend.

* * *
Other Events:

IRL IndyCar Series
– Honda Grand Prix of St.Petersburg (1/17)
– St Petersburg, Florida, United States
www.indycar.com

Please see my IndyCar preview which follows imminently!

UK TV: Race LIVE on Sky Sports Xtra from 7.30pm BST Sunday.
US TV: Qualifying recap at 5pm ET Saturday.
Race LIVE on VERSUS from 2pm ET Sunday, race starts at 3.

Support races: Firestone Indy Lights (x2)

American Le Mans Series
– Acura Sports Car Challenge of St.Petersburg (2/10)
– St Petersburg, Florida, United States
www.americanlemans.com

A very low entry of just 17 cars is a cause for concern with just 6 prototypes and no GT1 cars. GT2 is the battle to watch here.

UK TV: Race DELAYED by one day, from 3.00pm BST Sunday.
US TV: Race LIVE on ABC from 1.30pm ET Sunday.

Le Mans Series
– 1000km of Barcelona (1/5)
– Circuit de Catalunya
– Barcelona, Spain
www.lemans-series.com/

The European endurance racing season gets going with an entry list of 43 cars this weekend! Aston Martin are currently topping the times in the absence of Peugeot and Audi, which means the LMP1 entry is fairly thin in number compared to last year – but it does boast Aston, Pescarolo and the two Kolles Audi R10s.

UK TV: The start can be seen LIVE on Eurosport at 10.15am BST for 45 minutes, with further coverage at 11.45am for 30 minutes. There will be highlights at 11pm. Eurosport are busy with GP2 Asia, World Rally, Superbikes, cycling and European basketball so they really had to fit in what was a late deal wherever they could.

NASCAR Sprint Cup
– Samsung 500 (7/36)
– Texas Motor Speedway
– Fort Worth, Texas, United States
www.nascar.com

Yet another 500, they seem to have a lot of them in NASCAR. Didn’t 500 mile races used to mean something?

UK TV: TAPE DELAYED on Sky Sports Xtra from 10pm BST Sunday.
US TV: LIVE on FOX from 1:30pm ET Sunday.

The reason for the UK tape delay? SSX is showing IndyCars at St Pete live instead! Three cheers for the ICS bumping Cup! Hooray!

Support races: Nationwide Series (Saturday)

FIA World Rally Championship
– Rally de Portugal (4/12)
– Vilamoura, Portugal
www.wrc.com

Intercontinental Rally Challenge
– Safari Rally (3/12)
– Nairobi, Kenya
www.ircseries.com

Formula Nippon
– Fuji (1/8)
– Fuji, Japan
Support races: Japanese Formula 3;

HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship
– Brands Hatch Indy (1/10)
– Brands Hatch (Indy)
– Kent, England, UK
www.btcc.net

Time for some proper tin-top wheel banging! The BTCC season opens on the one mile Indy configuration of Brands Hatch, with the three fast and frenetic 20 minute BTCC races and a packed support card.

UK TV: LIVE on ITV4 from 11.45am Sunday with uninterrupted coverage until 6pm including a whole bunch of support races.

The reason for the UK tape delay? SSX is showing IndyCars at St Pete live instead! Three cheers for the ICS bumping Cup! Hooray!

Support races: Porsche Carrera Cup GB, Formula Renault UK, Renault Clio Cup UK, Ginetta G50, Ginetta Juniors

* * * *
Hectic!!

I think that covers everything, please add your comments if you find anything more!