A record-equalling 29-car grid is set to contest this weekend’s (1-2 October) Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship round on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit in Kent. The 888 Racing with Collins Contractors team has this morning announced that Oliver Jackson will race its second Vauxhall Vectra for the season’s final two rounds at Brands Hatch and Silverstone (15-16 Oct).Jackson, aged 27 from Reigate in Surrey and who in recent years has competed in a variety of GT and sportscar categories including the BTCC-supporting Porsche Carrera Cup, tested 888’s Vectra at Brands earlier this week.Meanwhile, at just 17 years of age Nottingham’s Chris Swanwick will also make his BTCC debut this weekend in a second Rob Austin Racing Audi A4 – taking the number of cars entered for the event to 29. Only once since the BTCC’s switch in 1991 to an all two-litre formula have numbers been so high – which was the supporting race at the British F1 Grand Prix in 1993 at Silverstone.Notably, Swanwick’s arrival will mean the grid will include five of the latest Next Generation Touring Car type machines – two Audis (Rob Austin Racing), two Toyota Avensis (Dynojet and Speedworks) and one Proton Gen-2 (Welch Automotive) – that will become de rigeur in the next few seasons.
In recent rounds Pershore racer Rob Austin’s Audi and Preston driver Frank Wrathall’s Dynojet Toyota, both developed from new at the start of the season, have become a major force with a variety of top three qualifying positions, fastest laps and outright podium results. Already the factory Honda Racing Team, with its new Civic model, plus the 888 and Pirtek Racing squads have confirmed they will be making the switch to full NGTC-specification cars for 2012’s BTCC.
BTCC Series Director Alan Gow commented: “To be going into our penultimate round with this record-sized grid, in such difficult economic times, demonstrates yet again the BTCC’s appeal and unrivalled ability to provide sponsors with by far the biggest ‘bang for their buck’ of any motor racing championship in the UK.”
Meanwhile heading to Brands Hatch this weekend (1-2 Oct), seven drivers can still win the 2011 BTCC title. Honda Racing team-mates, Worcestershire's Matt Neal and Fife's Gordon Shedden, will arrive there tying for the championship lead followed by Oxford's Jason Plato (Silverline Chevrolet Cruze), Warwickshire's Mat Jackson (Airwaves Racing Ford Focus), Buckinghamshire's James Nash (888/Collins Vectra), Staffordshire's Andrew Jordan (Pirtek Vectra) and Hampshire's Robert Collard (WSR BMW). Some 102 points cover them with a possible maximum of 104 still up for grabs – 52 apiece from Brands Hatch’s three races and then Silverstone’s ‘triple-header’ title showdown a fortnight later (15-16 October).This Saturday’s qualifying session will be shown live between 3.35pm-4.15pm on the championship’s broadcast partner ITV’s dedicated itv.com/touringcars web page. Sunday’s three BTCC races plus much of the action from the supporting categories will also be shown live during a mammoth seven-hour show (11.00am-6.00pm) on the ITV4 and ITV4 HD TV channels as well as itv.com.