BTCC drivers revved up for unique challenge of Croft

Smith and Ingram rate it as their favourite circuit on the calendarLocal heroes Plato and Tordoff hope for fans’ support on home turf

Four of the leading lights from the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship have revealed just what makes Croft such a popular stop on the annual calendar – as the world’s most fiercely-contested tin-top series roars into the North Yorkshire circuit next weekend (28/29 June).The BTCC is enjoying an ultra-competitive campaign in 2014, with no fewer than seven former champions and 13 race-winners in the bumper 31- strong field. Following four pulsating meetings to-date, the all-action championship arrives next at the north-east’s premier motor sport venue, which is celebrating its 50th birthday this year.What’s more, there is clearly a great deal of affection for Croft within the BTCC fold. Indeed, both Árón Smith – the most recent winner following his race three victory at Oulton Park – and leading rookie Tom Ingram describe it as their favourite track in the country.“Croft has a mix of everything from high-speed to low-speed, which makes it a real test of a chassis and a genuine challenge,” revealed Chrome Edition Restart Racing ace Smith. “You need to have good rear stability and traction out of the final few hairpins.“There are plenty of overtaking opportunities, too; you have to keep an eye on your mirrors everywhere, because you can go from first to 15th in a handful of corners.“There’s always a huge turnout of fans at Croft, and it’s somewhere they can get into the paddock and really have a good look around the garages – simply watching it on TV doesn’t do it justice at all.“All-round, Croft is one of the best circuits on the calendar with so many good spectating points, and I think we’ll see a lot of racing, bumping and banging – which is what the BTCC is renowned for!”“Croft is exactly the kind of circuit I really enjoy driving,” echoed Speedworks Motorsport star Ingram. “There’s a mid-speed section at the start of the lap, followed by a high-speed section round the back and it ends up with a really slow-speed section. That makes it a very technical track and a difficult one to get the car set-up right for, which is a challenge I relish.“There’s always a good atmosphere at Croft, and I love seeing how many of the BTCC’s hardy northern fans come out to cheer us all on – even a southerner like me! I can’t wait to get there.”For MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save duo Jason Plato and Sam Tordoff, Croft is a local track and a meeting that both are eagerly anticipating. The former is four times a previous winner at the circuit,although having missed out on the podium there altogether last year, he is determined to keep his title challenge on-course with a return to the top step of the rostrum in 2014.“Croft is kind of like my second home track having grown up in Newcastle,” explained the double BTCC Champion. “The circuit has a fantastic blend of technical slow corners and some blindingly quick ones, which test the drivers to the max. I love the annual trip up north, the crowd there loves the BTCC and the BTCC loves Croft.“I am confident that my MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save MG6 race car will be competitive, and I look forward to fighting for pole position on Saturday and wins on Sunday.”“I’ve never seemed to have much luck at Croft, but I love going there,” added Tordoff, who currently sits eighth in the BTCC standings. “It’s my local track and I always enjoy a lot of support there from sponsors, family and friends.“It’s in a great part of the world, and it’s a crying shame that we don’t go there more often. I’m really looking forward to the weekend, and hopefully I can enjoy a change of fortunes on home turf!”Tickets can be purchased in advance until Monday, 23 June from as little as £11 at http://www.croftcircuit.co.uk/tickets/btcc.html or by calling 01325 721815.