Rockingham crowds


THOUSANDS of motor racing fans flocked to Rockingham to join in the 50th celebrations of the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship over the weekend (April 12/13).

The UK’s premier racing series celebrated its golden anniversary in style at the Northamptonshire circuit in front of 35,000 fans, who enjoyed a spectacular weekend of racing.

Prior to the first BTCC race, the drivers joined the Rockingham crowd for a minute of applause to celebrate the lives of David Leslie and Richard Lloyd.

Former touring car driver Leslie and team manager Lloyd were tragically killed on the opening day of the BTCC season (March 30), following an air crash near Biggin Hill in Kent.

Team Halford’s Gordon Sheddon took the honours in the first BTCC race of the day in his Honda Civic, and immediately dedicated his victory to fellow-Scot, Leslie.

Darren Turner, celebrating his 34th birthday, finished second in the turbo-diesel SEAT Leon TDI, and former double champion Matt Neal took third place for VX Racing.

BMW Dealer Team UK driver Mat Jackson (BMW 320si) won the second race ahead of VX Racing’s Fabrizio Giovanardi and Darren Turner in the SEAT to take maximum points in round five.

A dramatic third race went to Matt Neal who led home Tom Chilton in the Team Halfords Honda Civic and Adam Jones in his Team Air Cool SEAT Leon.

Reigning champion Fabrizio Giovanardi leaves Rockingham still leading the championship on 63 points, seven points ahead of Mat Jackson on 56 and 13 ahead of Gordon Sheddon on 50.

There was non-stop on track action in between the three BTCC races from the Formula Renault UK, Ginetta Juniors, Porsche Carrera Cup GB, Elf Renault Clio Cup and the SEAT Cupra Championship.

The BTCC 50th anniversary celebrations continued off track with entertainment for all the family to enjoy including live music from each of the last five decades, a display of past touring cars and children’s entertainers.

The UK’s hottest formation display team, The Blades, kept all eyes on the sky above the circuit with their breathtaking collection of opposition passes, gyroscopic tumbles and close formation manoeuvres.

If that wasn’t enough there was also a fire eater, a funfair and a free crèche, as well as the traditional Pit Lane Walkabout where fans could meet their BTCC heroes and collect autographs.

Five lucky fans won full VIP treatment after finding a Golden Ticket hidden inside their official Rockingham BTCC programme, while four young racing fans from Make-A-Wish Foundation UK were given exclusive access to the teams.

Director of Sales & Marketing at Rockingham, Charlotte Orton, said: “This is a very special year for the BTCC, and we are delighted so many people turned up to join in the celebrations.

“For two years in row we have hosted the second meeting of the championship, and again Rockingham has proved a major draw to BTCC fans.

“The racing has been fantastic from the BTCC and support races, while the off-the-track entertainment proved popular. It was great to see so many families enjoying a superb day out together.”

The next race meeting at Rockingham will be next weekend (April 12/13) when the circuit hosts The British Automobile Racing Club (BARC), which will include Team Rockingham racing in the Pickup Truck Championship.

In addition to the pickup trucks racing on the Oval, there will be a full programme of races from Formula Renault, BMW Saloons, Sport Saloons, Caterhams Sports 1600s and Legends on the International Super Sports Car Circuit.

There will be plenty of opportunity to get close to the action with an open paddock and free grandstand seats for everyone, while children aged 15 and under get in free.

Sunday race day adult tickets cost £12 and weekend passes are priced at only £18 when booked in advance via the ticket hotline on 0871 231 0846.

Fans that came to the BTCC meeting can get in for just £10 on the day with their BTCC ticket.