British GP Silverstone 2010

British GP Silverstone 2010
Hamilton gets pushed to the second row ready to start the British GP

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Christian's autograph book: Part1

You may have already noticed what I am trying to achieve on these pages, or you may not. If you are looking for a comprehensive motorsports results service, you are probably looking in the wrong place. If you're looking for a detailed analysis of the impact Red Bull's pull rod suspension has on lateral graining on Bridgestone's Super-soft tyre, again, I will be found wanting. What the blog is about is a) trying to give a unique slant on motorsport, particularly British motorsport, and trying to promote some of the best series' that the UK has to offer, and b) for as long as I have the editorial freedom to write what I like, I will insist on boring you with some of the mundanity that comes with being a motorsport fan, and wannabe motorsport journo. This is the first such instalment.
As I travel the circuits of the UK and beyond, watching the best that the sport has to offer, I will more often than not be accompanied by my Son, hot shot photographer, Christian, 7. Accompanying him to all events will be his digital camera (I will post his photo's, along with mine, on a soon to be created I.I.G.4 W. Flickr page), and his autograph book. I will be compiling a dynamic list of the autographs that he collects, along with any observations that we have about the person in question. I will first make a list of the few that he has collected prior to this season.

Oulton Park April 13th 2009
1. Daniel Ricciardo, British F3. (Comfortably Christian's favourite non-F1 driver, made a big fuss over him, Christian calls him his 'mate')
2. Max Chilton, British F3. (Looking bleary eyed by the Carlin transporter, after jumping the start from pole before the red lights had even come on, leaving him point-less)
3. Daisuke Nakajima, British F3. (Closest he has come to meeting an F1 driver)
4. Oliver Oakes, British F3.
5. Carlos Huertas, British F3.
6. Walter Grubmuller, British F3. (Christian refers to as Walter Grumbler)

Oulton Park May 30th 2009
7. Tim Harvey, Carrera Cup GB, 1992 BTCC champion. (Brought back some memories for me, I met him at OP at about the same age. Had a good chat with him, genuinely nice chap)

I'll post about my childhood experiences travelling around Europe with my Dad, watching mostly F1 soon. If only I could find my autograph books from then. F1 was a different ball game then with reasonable access to the stars, my autograph book included, to name a few, Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost, Sir Jack Brabham, Eddie Jordan, David Coulthard, Mika Hakkinen, Damon Hill, Martin Brundle, Derek Warwick, Rubens Barrichello, Riccardo Patrese, Andy Rouse I could go on all day, and I probably will one day.

Part 2 of Christian's autograph book will come early next week, after this weekend at British F3/British GT at Oulton Park.

2010 British Touring Car Championship Preview: Crisis averted, now for the drama!

When Vauxhall announced that they would be ending their involvement in the BTCC at the end of 2009, signalling the prospect of a series with no manufacturer backed teams for the first time in twenty years, the doubters were calling the end of the BTCC as we knew it. Through the long British winter, it became apparent that two of the remaining top teams were to lose their title sponsors, Airwaves and RAC, the latter’s withdrawal leading to champion Colin Turkington being unable to find the budget to defend his title. As the weeks and months passed it became clear that Fabrizio Giovanardi and James Thompson, with four titles between them, would be competing on distant shores in 2010, and Jason Plato was making some pretty discouraging noises about finding the necessary budget to compete this term. With Matt Neal, the only other former champion in last year’s field, in limbo after the exit of VX Racing, it was clear that we may also be without a whole crop of the top drivers in the series. Would this be the end? How much longer could ITV4 justify coverage of this length, without the star attractions and with depleted grids to boot, when they had so many episodes of Minder, The Saint and Ultimate Force that had not been on in the previous 72 hours? What a mess!
As the snow fell and Britain fell into its usual chaotic state, the tide slowly began to turn. Some new teams, albeit without the might of the departed Vauxhall squad, signed up for the championship, in the form of former Mini Challenge squad Forster Motorsport, who would run a pair of BMW 320’s, along with AmD Milltek Racing, championship winners in club motorsport, who would run a VW Golf at the start of the championship, with their sights set on expanding as the season progressed. Dunlop announced a new four year deal as title sponsor of the series, taking over the role from sister company HiQ, who would now put its name to the teams’ championship, also until 2013. Series regulars Dave Pinkney and Andrew Jordan announced that they had bought a Vauxhall Vectra each, which they would run with their own teams, Pinkney Motorsport and Pirtek Racing. We knew that the Focus, which had shown such improvement at the tail end of 2009 would return in the hands of the super competitive Tom Chilton plus one, and that Tech-Speed, with the unflinching support of backer would run its Honda Integra’s for the rapid (and very popular) Paul O’Neill and veteran John George. But, with the season nearing there were many unanswered questions, even for a category which usually keeps us guessing until the last minute, meaning we would seemingly have to wait until the official championship launch to learn the fate of the UK’s premier racing category.
Then, in March, the columns began buzzing with BTCC news, Rob Collard had signed for WSR, to partner miracle man Andy Neate, who had sustained terrible injuries in a Britcar race at Silverstone in 08, when it was unclear whether he would walk again, let alone race. Jason Plato tested a Chevrolet Cruze at Oulton. Team Dynamics had agreed deals for Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden to drive their Civic’s. Race-winner Tom Onslow-Cole was in at Arena Motorsport as a partner for Chilton. Another top line up at Motorbase, having clung on to title sponsor Airwaves and added Leyland Paints to their livery, Mat Jackson and Steven Kane were unveiled. Triple 8, who ran the factory Vauxhall programme, bought two of the Vectras they had worked on, and signed 2009 Clio Cup champion Phil Glew to pilot one. However at the launch on March 23rd came the best news on the health of the series, 23 cars were on the entry list, more than at the same period in 2009, and two teams, Team Dynamics and RML, would be running two car works teams for Honda UK and Silverline Chevrolet respectively, Plato joined at Chevy by another Clio star, Alex MacDowell.
The naysayers have been put firmly in their place, eight race winners already confirmed, two works backed outfits, new blood and the usual fix of the top UK venues, teamed with record coverage on the ITV network, still a crisis? Nope.
But who will triumph in one of the most highly anticipated seasons to date? Plato is fast becoming the early season favourite, the confidence-oozing veteran seems reinvigorated by the Chevrolet backing, and the new Cruze, and topped the timesheets in the group test at Brands on the launch day. Don’t believe that he isn’t focussing on surpassing Andy Rouse’s record haul of 60 BTCC wins, which he is now just seven wins shy of. His arch rival Matt Neal will be one of the main threats, as will fellow Honda driver Shedden, while Motorbase and WSR will expect their BMW’s to be right at the sharp end. The Team Aon Ford Focus was much improved at the end of 09, but the late switch to LPG may mean they have some catching up to do in the early season. The Vectras will be quick, especially the Triple 8 pair, their potential could depend on who completes their driver line-up. Tom Boardman returns to the championship from his WTCC adventure, with his Seat Leon, and will expect to be in the frame for regular points, as will Paul O’Neill in the Integra. There should be a great battle in a middle order that will be joined by Matt Hamilton, who will be hoping to build on his part season last term, in his Civic, Lea Wood in another Integra and Martin Johnson once again bringing his 2001 Astra to the party.
It is a huge disappointment not to have Colin Turkington beginning his title defence at Thruxton this Sunday, but don’t rule him out from returning at some stage if the necessary funding can be put in place, WSR has a 320 on hold with his name on it. Trouble is, if they don’t move quickly, the rest of the pack might be out of his sight, although don’t expect the main protagonists to have much between them, the last three championships have gone down to the final day, there is no reason to expect this year to be any different.

You can follow me on Twitter: @ifitsgot4wheels

Monday, 29 March 2010

Is that exciting enough for you?

All of those who urged caution after the processional season opening Grand Prix in Bahrain, stand up, for you have been vindicated.
Sunday's Australian GP at Albert Park proved the perfect tonic after the criticisms levelled at F1 a fortnight earlier. Sure the rain helped but this one had everything, a safety car, knife-edge strategy calls, plenty of overtaking and a British winner. It didn't just provide today's entertainment, it set things up for the races to come, consider some of the sub-plots arising from Oz.
Was Lewis Hamilton's bad weekend simply that or is he missing the calming influence that father Anthony provided, Lewis was blameless for the accident and the tyre call, but comments about Mark Webber's possible retirement from the sport and a brush with the law, leave questions to be answered, it was hard not to note the reaction of Martin Whitmarsh as JB took the victory, is Jenson suddenly McLaren's golden boy?
Has Michael Schumacher made a catastrophic error by risking his reputation on a comeback which has so far seen him humbled by not only his team-mate, but by 20 year old Jaime Alguersuari today, who he spent over half of the race trying to get the better of?
Are Red Bull's reliability issues set to rob Sebastian Vettel of another crack at the title?
All fascinating aspects of a season which is now firmly on course to meet expectations. Crisis, what crisis?
Check out my twitter: @ifitsgot4wheels

2010 Trofeo Abarth 500 Great Britain Season Preview

Easter weekend at Oulton Park will see the inaugural race weekend of the new for 2010 Trofeo Abarth 500 Great Britain. The series has moved to the UK for this year having already established itself on the continent with its European and Italian championships.
When the European branch of the championship came to Brands Hatch last July, supporting the World Touring Car Championship, it was an instant success with the crowds, now they have their own championship to get worked up about. The championship will be fought over seven weekends, supporting some of the most prestigious series in Europe, culminating in a trip to Monza for the season finale.

3/5 April Oulton Park (British F3/ British GT)
17/18 April Silverstone GP (FIA Formula Two)
22/23 May Cadwell Park (British Superbikes)
26/27 June Snetterton (GT Cup Championship & Formula Palmer Audi)
24/25 July Silverstone GP (Silverstone Classic)
4/5 September Brands Hatch Indy (DTM / Trofeo Europe)
23/24 October Monza, Italy (Trofeo Europe / Italy / GB)

The attraction of the series, along with the calendar, is the cars. The model used for the series is the Abarth 500 Assetto Corse, incorporating a 1.4 litre turbocharged engine, producing 190bhp at 6,500 rpm. The series has managed to attract some pretty impressive teams to date, with Pulce Racing, Pyro Motorsport and one make regulars JHR, among the teams already confirmed, along with multi-car entries from the Tech 9 and Advent MTS squads. A touch of glamour is provided with the entry of Fifth Gear presenter Vicky Butler-Henderson as a driver in the series, along with ex-BTCC racer Fiona Leggate. BTCC race winner Gareth Howell has tested a Tech 9 Abarth and is rumoured to be considering an entry to the series.

It promises to be quite a spectacle around the circuits of the UK and Europe this season, and if it lives up to its billing, the championship could quite easily find itself challenging the Clio Cup as the feeder series of choice for aspiring BTCC runners.

For more information on the championship go to

Follow me on twitter: @ifitsgot4wheels

Thursday, 25 March 2010

2010 Volkswagen Racing Cup Preview

2010 Volkswagen Racing Cup

Back for its tenth season on the British motorsport calendar, the VW Cup is expecting record grids and the need for a reserve list, when the season kicks off at Oulton Park on Easter weekend. The series, which benefits from its inclusion on the (SRO) British F3/British GT package, is anticipating reaching the 34 car limit which applies to the Cheshire circuit. The 14 race series will include an international event at Zandvoort in May, and will again allow participants to experience all of the top UK race venues.
2008 and 2009 champion Joe Fulbrook is not one of those registered to compete in this year’s championship, although last year’s second and third place men, Beetle driving Steve Chaplin and Aaron Mason in a Golf, will be hoping to be front running again this term. The Cup sees a great mix of VW models from right across the range including various Golf models, Beetles, Sciroccos, Polos, a Vento and even a Caddy TDi van, as driven in last years series by Peter Wyhinny. The Caddy will this year be in the hands of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Director Simon Elliott, as Wyhinny, Managing Director of Seat UK (there is a pattern developing here, no it isn’t a corporate team building exercise, it’s serious), has a new charge, in the shape of a super quick Seat Leon Cupra, the first time a non VW badged car has entered the Championship, expect it to go well pace wise, although it will not be eligible to score points, as it is entered as a promotional exercise by the VW subsidiary.
The series is a draw for people who wish to test themselves in a competitively priced, well regarded series, and can also be used as a springboard, as reflected by last term category star Liam Griffin graduating to the Porsche Carrera Cup GB with a drive at Dave Bartrum’s crack Motorbase squad. The machine that he is vacating, a fabulous looking 2 litre Scirocco R (which I witnessed him roll at Island Bend, Oulton Park last year, his second big shunt of the day), will be driven by brother Kieran this term.
Other drivers who will feature at the sharp end will be 2009 race winners Paul Taylor, Didge Dziurzynski and Mike Kurten, while James Walker, Anna Walewska, Peter Felix and Darren Blumson will be there or thereabouts at the business end of the season.
Truth is, in the absence of Fulbrook, the series is wide open. Highly respected national racing commentator and Autosport columnist Marcus Pye describes it as: ' …the best-looking and most competitive multi-model marque series on the current national calendar.' I certainly wouldn’t disagree, bring it on.

The strength of British motorsport

I have been checking my inbox, but no reply yet from aforementioned motorsport website editor (give him a chance). I received my tickets for Oulton Park's Easter weekend meeting this morning, and checked the weekend schedule, it's a great offering at one of the best spectator circuits I have ever visited. Alongside British F3, which is now more than holding its own against the Euroseries, and British GT, there is the inaugural round of the Trofeo Abarth 500 GB Championship, the VW Cup, Formula Ford and Ginettas. It got me thinking about the strength of motorsport in this country, and has spurred me to look further into two of the series' in particular. Keep watching the blog today for previews of the Trofeo Abarth and the VW Cup.

It all starts here

I have sent my Porsche Carrera Cup GB 2010 Preview (see last post), to the editor of a website called The Checkered Flag, with a covering letter, offering my services as a regular contributor to the site. There is a section of the site inviting people to do so, so it is not completely unsolicited. They are quick to point out that it's exposure and not sterling that they use as currency with which to pay their contributors, but who cares, having a third party decide that your work is worth publishing is payment enough! (Play along) I've never done anything like this before so I'll let you know what comes of it, if anything. Watch out Jake Humphrey, it all starts here.
Don't forget to check out my twitter: @daimccann

2010 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Preview

2010 Porsche Carrera Cup Great Britain Preview

Dai McCann

Having firmly established itself as the UK’s premier one make racing series, the Porsche Carrera Cup Great Britain roars back into action for its eighth season at Thruxton on the weekend of the 3rd and 4th of April.

At the launch event for the new season on March 17th at Silverstone, Porsche UK were delighted to be able to confirm, for the first time since the series’ inception, a capacity 28 strong entry list, and the existence of a reserve list. This should ensure that the series record grid of 27 cars, set at the 2009 season finale at Brands Hatch in October, is surpassed.

Anticipation levels this pre-season are surpassing anything seen before in the series with Bartrum saying recently that “… a year ago the Carrera Cup was buzzing and it's now off the scale, it proves that the work of Porsche Cars GB and the Carrera Cup team has really paid dividends. It's really good to see a sell-out grid in the current climate.” This sentiment is echoed by Porsche Cars GB Managing Director, Andy Goss, “This is an incredible situation, the entries for the 2010 season are impressive. The drivers and teams have worked very hard to get to this stage and we are set for the best season ever. I'm particularly pleased that the field is a great mix of established competitors and an influx of newcomers.”

The attraction of the series is there for all to see, 420bhp rear wheel drive cars, from a world leading sports car manufacturer, the opportunity for competitors of varying skill levels to compete on the TOCA bill, the country’s highest profile motorsport package, with all the exposure that comes with it. The fact that there are very few permissible modifications allowed also means that driver skill is the real limiting factor of success. The result of this is some very close racing and plenty of paint swapping in front of bumper crowds and a TV audience that runs into millions. An increased prize fund of over £160,000 spread throughout the categories, along with the use of a road going 911 for a year for the outright champion, Pro-Am 1 champion and the principal of the triumphant team, adds to the lure of the Cup.

Last year the championship came down to the final weekend, at Brands Hatch, where all three titles were still to be decided. In the main Pro category, the top three drivers were covered by just 8 points with 44 still to play for over the double header. Red Line Racing team mates Tim Harvey and James Sutton, along with Team Parker Racing’s Tim Bridgman were the main protagonists, with Motorbase Performance driver Michael Caine still in with a mathematical but unrealistic chance of taking the crown. It was Bridgman who prevailed, repeating his remarkable feat from the Brands series opener of two poles, two fastest laps and two wins.

Bridgman, who also achieved an inspired run of taking the first ten pole positions of the season, will not be defending his title this season, having secured a drive with Stuart Parker’s squad to run in the Formula 1 supporting Mobil 1 Porsche Supercup this term. Sutton will be another notable absentee this season, although series veterans 2008 champion Harvey and the popular Caine will be attempting to go the distance in 2010. Joining them in the top class will be ex-GP2 driver Stephen Jelley, who after taking wins in British F3 and more recently last season’s BTCC as team-mate to champion Colin Turkington, will provide a stern test to the established order. Last year’s Pro-Am 1 champion Glynn Geddie makes the step up to the Pro ranks, which has seen its entry swollen from last years 6 to 8 for this year, including the two Carrera Cup GB Scholarship drivers, Michael Meadows and Euan Hankey, who have each received £50,000 towards the cost of participation in this year’s championship.

Pro-Am 1 offers, less experienced, non professional drivers the opportunity to compete at the cutting edge of British motorsport, and with the champion having moved up a class for 2010, the competition for the title is likely to be just as fierce as for the senior honours. 2009 front runners, Oliver Jackson and Tony Gilham will be among the early favourites, as will Irishman Michael Leonard, who impressed in a part season last year. The category will have an international feel this year as the series welcomes Lithuanian duo Jonas Gelzinis and Tautvydas Barstys and their Juta Racing outfit, while Red Line will run ex-British Formula Renault driver Ahmad Al Harthy of Oman, in one of its six entries. The other six car squad is Dave Bartrum’s Motorbase Performance, who will run, along with Jackson, last seasons VW Cup front-runner Liam Griffin in this group.

The Pro-Am 2 category offers non-professional drivers the chance to sample the championship on a restricted budget by allowing the use of 2006 and 2007 specification cars. Champion Glenn McMenamin will be defending his title in against a ten car entry in the class, comprising both series veterans and exciting newcomers.

By the time the series reaches its finale this time round at Brands Hatch, the drivers will have taken in races at the country’s most iconic race venues, Silverstone, Oulton Park, Rockingham and, hopefully, Donington Park. Old rivalries will have re-emerged, new ones will have invariably begun, at this stage it would be a fool who attempted to predict race winners, let alone champions, the only predictable thing is that it will go down to the wire once again. Stephen Jelley commented after testing the Carrera GT3 Cup that “the cars are amazing, they make British touring cars feel like hair dryers.” Bearing that in mind, if the Cup has a year as memorable as 2009, we may need to reassess who tops the bill on the TOCA weekends.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Everyone remembers their first time

Blogging that is. I have decided to create a blog dedicated to all forms of motorsport, the serious part will have some news and feature articles about all aspects of British motorsport, alongside F1, WRC, NASCAR, Indy, DTM, GT, BTCC, WTCC, GP2, F3, V8 Supercars and anything else that is considered appropriate. The other, arguably more exciting, although almost certainly less enlightening, part will be about my own personal take and experience on motorsport and life generally, seen through the eyes of someone desperate to break into motorsports writing, although not quite daft enough to believe it could happen. I will offer my slant on the big motorsport stories, introduce you to my F1 mad son, update you regularly on my almost certainly fruitless attempts to fulfil a childhood (or maybe just plain child-ish) dream of being involved in the sport by probably the only door left slightly ajar.
You will soon realise that my passion for the sport is probably only matched by my grumpiness and cynicism. I will attempt to illustrate my rants with, where possible some very unprofessional photography. Do try to encourage people to keep an eye on my blog if you think they will enjoy it, as I do tend to lose interest in things if they are not going my way.
Let's hope this is the start of an incredible journey, although it probably isn't!
By the way, I also have a twitter account:@daimccann.