Track Guide – Brands Hatch Indy
Welcome to our brand new feature where we deliver an in-depth track guide before every race weekend from wherever the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship is competing at in the UK.
Ahead of the opening round of the season this coming weekend we assess the Kent-based Brands Hatch Indy circuit. Not only will we look at what it takes to complete a lap round the famous circuit but also look at the history of the track as well as the history of the BTCC competing there.
A Lap of Brands Hatch Indy
The short circuit will provide fans a good chance to see most of the action of which there will be plenty across the 1.2 mile layout. Lap times will be an average of around 50 seconds although this could tumble quite a bit with the introduction of the new Dunlop tyre.
Over the start/finish line on Brabham Straight the cars will be running in sixth gear and touching speeds of up to 125mph as they begin to sweep towards the apex of the infamous Paddock Hill Bend. This corner always brings drama in the race and qualifying as the cars sometimes will wash out the front end and run wide. It is a fifth gear corner although fourth in the race sometimes and provides the best chance for overtaking and action. Carrying too much speed into the corner however can mean running wide onto the kerb and the drivers will be then in danger of going into the gravel trap.Brands Hatch Race Circuit | www.motorsportcircuits.co.uk
Once out of Paddock it is a short burst up the hill to Druids which is a long hairpin. Due to the length of the corner, the cars will be going down to second gear with an average speed of around 45mph as they make their way around the corner. Look out for many drivers setting up for an overtake through Paddock and up to Druids. Once leaving the hairpin it is a short drag back down the hill to Graham Hill Bend. They will be in fourth gear before they slide down into third as they turn in to the fast left hander and then make their way down Cooper Straight.
Surtees will be the next corner the drivers will have to tackle off the straight. They will be in fifth gear and blending the throttle through the fast left hander. An average speed of 115mph and no brakes are recorded through Surtees before they stamp back on the throttle to turn in for Clearways. This corner see’s a lot of overtaking on race day as they gradually bring the car round the bend on the brakes before they begin snatching gears as they build up speed through Clark Curve and finally back onto the start/finish straight to complete another lap.
Last Year (2012)
In 2012 we had three different winners from the opening three races at the Indy circuit. Rob Collard clinched race one then it was Matt Neal’s turn to make history as the first NGTC car to win a race in the championship. Finally the reverse grid saw Jason Plato claim his and Triple Eights first win with their brand new MG6.
The racing on that warm sunny day was electric with plenty of panel bashing and close racing. Who of course will forget the dramatic oil spill that sent many cars spinning off at Druids in race three. Couple that with the big crashes we saw at Paddock Hill and the frightening roll that Nick Foster sustained. If the racing is anything like it is expected to be then it will warm the fans up with ease in what are set to be sub-zero conditions.
- The site of Brands Hatch was originally used as military grounds until a farmer who owned the land allowed cyclists to use the track to compete on before grass track racing took place
- In 1953 the raised spectator banks began to take shape in an effort to develop the arena surrounding the circuit
- Then in 1954, the circuit direction changed to clockwise and the top hat section up to Druids was added to make the current 1.2262 mile Indy circuit, they then opened a racing school which cost 5 shillings for four laps, the first to participate was Graham Hill
- The Grand Prix section of the circuit was completed in 1964
- Formula One held their first Grand Prix at the track in 1964 which was won by Jim Clark with the final F1 race being held in 1985 and won by the great Nigel Mansell
- The Formula Ford Festival is still an integral part of the circuit with previous winners being current F1 stars Jenson Button and Mark Webber
- The circuit held cycling events for the Paralympic Games of 2012 where Alex Zanardi (racing driver) won gold medals and cemented his Olympic status
BTCC Facts & Stats at Brands Hatch Indy
- The inaugural championship was won by Jack Sears at the circuit after two five lap shoot-outs in 1958
- Jason Plato holds the record for the most wins around the track with 12 victories
- Matt Neal currently holds the qualifying and race lap records which were set back in 2011
- Vauxhall have claimed the most wins around the Indy circuit with 14 victories, BMW have won 11 times with Honda claiming the spoils on 9 occasions
- Since 2000, Brands Hatch has hosted the opening round of the season on eleven occasions with the only exceptions being in 2004 and 2010 where the opener was at Thruxton and Donington Park in 2005.
- It was also the 2010 season that the championship was won around the Indy layout by Jason Plato
- Jason Plato became the most successful driver in the sports history by beating Andy Rouse’s win record in 2011
- The 2007 season saw a dramatic 12 car pile-up in wet conditions in the run up to Druids
That concludes our first Track Guide of the new season, keep your eyes on the website over the course of the weekend as we bring you all the latest reports from Brands Hatch. Donington Park will be the venue of our next track guide in three weeks.
Article originally written on Friday, 29 March 2013. Read more articles from the BTCC Crazy Archive.