Britain’s biggest car racing series will come to Snetterton this weekend when the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship title fight gets back under way at the high-speed Norfolk track.
The BTCC, renowned for brutal, no-holds-barred racing from highly-modified road cars, returns to action from its summer break with an intense title battle set to resume on the three-mile 300 circuit.
The title race is currently led by reigning champion Gordon Shedden, who won at Snetterton last year after a wheel-to-wheel fight with BMW’s Rob Collard.
The Honda driver’s rival is second in the standings, just 11 points behind, and Collard’s team-mate Colin Turkington — a double champion and winner here in 2016 — is a further point in arrears.
The top three will be aiming to keep ahead of Subaru’s Ashley Sutton, who has climbed up the order to fourth place and is just 20 points — one win — away from leading the championship.
Sutton, who hails from nearby Bishop’s Stortford, and Buntingford-based Subaru will be aiming to continue the momentum gained from wins in the last two events at their home track, and recently set the fastest time at an official group test at the venue.
Speaking after the test, Sutton said: “We really found the sweet spot, and hooked it up to find a chunk of time.
“It sets things up well for the event here at Snetterton and the rest of the season.”
Subaru’s four-car line-up also includes double champion Jason Plato, who is looking for his first win of 2017.
The 31-car field features 17 race-winners, including previous Snetterton victors Matt Neal (Honda) and Andrew Jordan (BMW), both of whom are former champions, plus Tom Chilton (Vauxhall) and Mat Jackson (Ford).
With three BTCC races on the Sunday, new names could be added to the Snetterton roll of honour.
The event also features a packed programme of support races, where several local racers will be keen to make a good impression in front of their home ground.
This includes the Ginetta GT4 Championship, where Bury St Edmunds’ Charlie Ladell and Ipswich’s Carl Boardley are aiming to move up the title top 10, while Cambridge’s Ian Robinson is challenging for the category’s amateur class title.
There’s a strong local contingent in the Renault UK Clio Cup category too, with Dereham’s Dan Zelos poised to progress from his current eighth place position in the championship.
Also set to star are Shawn Taylor (Norwich), Shayne Deegan (Cambridge) and Lucas Orrock (Sawston).
The line-up also includes Nicolas Hamilton, brother of triple F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton.
In addition there are rounds of the Porsche Carrera Cup GB, Ginetta Juniors and British F4, and the event also includes a lively campsite with live music on Friday and Saturday nights, including a Saturday performance from Diss-based band Walkway, plus a trade village and children’s playground.
n For a round-up of the meeting and to find out how our reporter Hannah Dolman fared behind the wheel of Gordon Shedden’s Honda, see next week’s Diss Express.