Vauxhall’s British Touring Car team, VX Racing, has successfully secured all three championship titles (Driver’s Team’s and Manufacturer’s) at this weekends closing round of the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) at Brands Hatch. Having now accumulated 119 race wins, and seven manufacturer titles since 1991, Vauxhall is now the most successful manufacturer of the modern era of BTCC.
Fabrizio Giovanardi claimed his second consecutive BTCC driver’s title with VX Racing finishing with an incredible 36 point lead ahead of his nearest rival despite having an unfortunate weekend and only racing twice. Heading into the Brands Hatch weekend needing a maximum of nine points to secure victory, Giovanardi was in great spirits at the track. Adding the ninth major touring car title to his CV, the Vauxhall works driver has certainly cemented his reputation as one of the greatest touring car driver’s of all-time.
Former two-time BTCC champion and team-mate Matt Neal had a challenging season, finally finishing with 185 points and fifth position in the Driver’s championship standings. VX Racing rookie Tom Onslow-Cole finished hot on his heels in sixth position with a total of 170 points, marking the end of a strong season for the 21 year-old in his first front wheel drive car.
The VX Racing team have once again displayed their championship winning calibre throughout 2008. Leading the team standings for the entire season, VX Racing completed each race weekend as the most successful points scoring team.
Round 28 at Brands Hatch, Kent, saw reigning champion Fabrizio Giovanardi claim his second driver’s championship title, securing the 2008 crown.
The race started cleanly, but an incident on lap two pushed Giovanardi wide and he rejoined in 14th place. Finishing in 14th overall despite carrying 45 kg of success ballast, was enough to secure Giovanardi his championship. Team-mate Matt Neal drove an aggressive race and in the final stages became involved in a battle with both SEAT Sport UK cars. Overtaking Turner on the final lap saw Neal cross the line in sixth position.
Tom Onslow-Cole managed to move up through the field from his 12th position grid start to finish in ninth position. Mat Jackson won the race, finishing with a time of 22:20.106.
Matt Neal claimed VX Racing’s first podium of the day in round 29. Overtaking SEAT Sport UK’s Jason Plato on lap ten, Neal continued to move up through the field from his sixth position start, demonstrating the Vauxhall Vectra VXR’s speed and finishing in an excellent second place. VX Racing rookie Onslow-Cole drove a clean race to finish in eighth position.
Fabrizio Giovanardi missed out on race two, after an engine change following race one caused problems with his car meant that he was unable to start. Mat Jackson won the race, finishing with a time of 20:14.716.
The 2008 BTCC came to a close with round 30 at Brands Hatch this afternoon, and VX Racing finished on a high.
Giovanardi’s Vauxhall Vectra VXR was back up and running after earlier engine problems, and he started from the 21st on the grid. After fighting hard with the back of the field, the newly crowned champion showed his class and set a fastest lap on lap 14 with a 49.871 before getting stuck into a battle with Jason Plato, overtaking him on lap 17.
Matt Neal started from seventh on the grid, and drove an aggressive race to finish eighth. 21 year-old Tom Onslow-Cole started the final race of the day from pole position, and drove well to finish third overall. Tom Chilton won the race, finishing with a time of 24:47.517.
VX Racing won the 2008 Team’s Championship with 537 points.
Fabrizio Giovanardi #1
“My third season with VX Racing has been fantastic. Their professionalism and team spirit has made the year not only enjoyable, but of championship winning quality. The Vauxhall Vectra VXR has once again proven itself on the BTCC circuit and the VX Racing team worked so hard to support me and ensure that reliability and maximum performance were always available to me; and as a driver, you could not hope for any more this.
My team-mates Matt and Tom have done such a wonderful job at aiming for those points scoring finishes, right from race one, that we have been truly untouchable this season. To have such dedicated, ambitious and fun team mates has definitely made the 2008 season my best ever. 2007 champion, and now 2008 champion, I can’t wait to push for 2009 champion too!”
Matt Neal #4
“This weekend has been a wonderful end to a successful season for us all, and it’s been great fun along the way. The team have worked so hard for us, and Vauxhall and Fabrizio really deserve their titles. At times we have been challenged, but the Vectra VXR has come out on top.
Next year should be even better, we can truly build upon what we have achieved here in this championship, and hopefully I can pull a few more podium finishes together to add to my driver’s standings! Bring on 2009!”
Tom Onslow-Cole #10
“I knew this weekend would be difficult, with such a mixed bag of drivers out on track, but I had no idea it would give us such unexpected results! Nobody could have predicted the outcome of this weekend, and although really I would have hoped for more, I am pleased to have finished on the podium.”
Results Brands Hatch - Round 281. Mat Jackson (BMW Dealer Team UK), 22:20.1062. Steven Kane (Motorbase), 22:22.2073. Robert Collard (Motorbase), 22:27.8864. Colin Turkington (Team RAC), 22:28.0205. Jason Plato (SEAT Sport UK), 22:30.2536. Matt Neal (VX Racing), 22:31.1067. Darren Turner (SEAT Sport UK), 22:31.4378. Tom Chilton (Team Halfords), 22:31.8759. Tom Onslow-Cole (VX Racing), 22:32.22614. Fabrizio Giovanardi (VX Racing), 22:40.856
Results Brands Hatch - Round 291. Mat Jackson (BMW Dealer Team UK), 20:14.7162. Matt Neal (VX Racing), 20:16.5553. Colin Turkington (Team RAC), 20:17.1994. Robert Collard (Motorbase), 20:20.6415. Steven Kane (Motorbase), 20:20.8896. Tom Chilton (Team Halfords), 20:21.4647. Andrew Jordan (John Guest Racing), 20:23.6808. Tom Onslow-Cole (VX Racing), 20:24.718
Results Brands Hatch - Round 301. Tom Chilton (Team Halfords), 24:47.5172. Steven Kane (Motorbase), 24:48.2443. Tom Onslow-Cole (VX Racing), 24:48.6834. Mat Jackson (BMW Dealer Team UK), 24:49.2285. Colin Turkington (Team RAC), 24:49.9926. Robert Collard (Motorbase), 24:50.7187. Andrew Jordan A (John Guest Racing), 24:51.4858. Matt Neal (VX Racing), 24:51.9969. Fabrizio Giovanardi (VX Racing), 24:53.759
2008 BTCC Driver’s Championship1) Fabrizio Giovanardi (262)2) Mat Jackson (226)2) Jason Plato (223)3) Colin Turkington (212)4) Matt Neal (185)6) Tom Onslow-Cole (170)7) Gordon Shedden (144)8) Darren Turner (133)
2008 BTCC Manufacturer’s Championship1) Vauxhall (697)2) SEAT (545)
2008 BTCC Team’s Championship1) VX Racing (537)2) SEAT Sport UK (328)3) Team Halfords (231)4) Team RAC (227)5) BMW Dealer Team UK (217)6) Motorbase (173)7) Team Air Cool (103)8) John Guest Racing (89)