Friday, 21 March 2014

2014 BTCC Preview... The Numbers Game...

Well, this is going to be the hardest preview I've written yet...

The 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship boasts an amazing 31  drivers with 14 models of car from 11 different manufacturers. Amongst those 31 drivers are 7 different former overall champions, 13 different race winners and 4 former Independent Champions.

Ok, those are the numbers...

However, to choose a title winner from this is like predicting the lottery numbers for next Saturday...

Bloody Difficult bordering on The Impossible!!!

But thats not going to stop me, so where possible I will use logic and common sense regarding the various teams and drivers.

Yes... I said Logic and Common Sense...

First of all we have Andrew Jordan joined by former BTCC entrant Martin Depper at Pirtek Racing with both drivers using the Honda Civic Hatchback. For Depper, this is his first go in a topline NGTC car and he has done plenty off testing during the off season. For Jordan its his 3rd year in a car that he is at one with, taking pole positions and wins alike in 2012 and 2013. So for me, logic and common sense suggests that Jordan is best placed for title No.2...

But then there is the lineup at MG/Triple Eight... MG are fielding three MG6's in what is the final year of a three year deal setup between MG, Tesco, Triple Eight and Jason Plato. What has been evident so far is that on a good hot day the car is fast and with the addition of Marc Hynes and the return of Plato and Tordoff to the lineup, they should be ideally placed to finally take a championship title, be it Drivers, Constructors or Teams.

Yuasa Honda shocked everyone in December by announcing they were debuting the Honda Civic Tourer this season, replacing the all conquering Civic Hatchback. Whilst the car maybe fragile to begin with, you can be certain that Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden will bring the car home and it never takes long for the team to make the Honda a reliable and front running challenger. Expect both Neal and Shedden to be in the hunt...

West Surrey Racing/ebay Motors are back with the BMW 125i Sport and an unchanged driver lineup of Colin Turkington, Rob Collard & Nick Foster. With a seasons running and more testing under their belt, the BMW was a genuine threat last year and will be again this year with pre-season testing showing it to be as quick as the Honda Civic Hatchback. Turkington has also said he feels he has the car to win a 2nd title whilst Collard is looking to target some race wins...

Motorbase/Airwaves Racing have caused one of the biggest surprises by signing 2007 & 2008 Champion Fabrizio Giovanardi to drive the new for 2014 NGTC Ford Focus with late signing Mat Jackson joining him in the team. Airwaves are long overdue a title win and have a strong lineup with Giovanardi and Jackson. Gio has done the majority of testing with Jackson getting in the car at Media Day. If both drivers get a handle on the car, they will also be in with a shout...Gio has made it clear only the title will do. Jack Clarke joins the team in a 3rd Focus under the Crabbies Racing banner and has also shown good pace in testing.

Team BMR Chrome Racing has also caused a stir in the BTCC Paddock. Warren Scott's team has encompassed Team HARD. and signed Aron Smith and 1997 & 2000 BTCC Champion Alain Menu to join Scott and Jack Goff in the team. Menu has admitted that he would have  liked more time in the VW Passat but is happy that the team will gel and become a front running outfit. Smith and Goff are very happy with the Passat and the Insignia respectively with Smith targeting Pole Position at Brands Hatch. Scott will start the season in the 2nd Insignia before moving to a 3rd Passat later in the season. I'm expecting these guys to cause a surprise or two during the season.

Next up is a new team to the BTCC this year. United Autosports are entering their first season of BTCC but are an experienced team with years of sportscar racing under their belt. To prepare for this season, both James Cole and Glynn Geddie have been racking up the miles in testing so I'm expecting some regular top ten results from these guys, once they have gotten used to the hustle and bustle of the BTCC.

AmD Tuning have purchased a 2013 NGTC Ford Focus from Motorbase and signed popular driver Dave Newsham for this season. With his hands on a decent quick NGTC car, Newsham has proven quick in testing against the front runners and is looking to be a regular top ten runner. I believe this will be genuinely possible if he can qualify well. Dave is one of my dark horses for this season.

Another dark horse in the running is Rob Austin who returns with his fan favourite two car team (The NGTC Audi A4's known as "Sherman" & "Panzer") being joined by GT ace Hunter Abbott. Austin has reported back quick times in testing and is aiming for podiums after launching the Rob Austin Owners Group allowing fans to buy shares in the team. Abbott is well aware that he needs to find his feet before moving forward.

Adam Morgan and Ciceley Racing swap the NGTC Toyota Avensis for the new NGTC Mercedes A-Class and right out of the box the car has been quick with Morgan being quietly confident about qualifying and race pace. Morgan was a star performer last season, often being the quickest Toyota and being Jordan closest Independent challenger, so expect major surprises from the compact Mercedes.

Speedworks Motorsport have reduced down to one Toyota Avensis with Tom Ingram now on board whilst giving assistance to Handy Motorsport who are running an NGTC Toyota for Clio Cup racer Simon Belcher. Both drivers have made what is seen as long over due moves into the BTCC with both of them looking fast in testing with Belcher aiming for points whilst Ingram is after top ten finishes.

Robb Holland joins the BTCC for his first full season after several outings for Tony Gilham. He will be racing the Audi S3 saloon, bring the Audi count up to three. The car didnt run at Media Day but it did get some mileage at Silverstone so once the bugs are sorted, expect him to muscle into the action. 

Meanwhile Lea Wood returns to the series for his 5th consecutive season with his family run team now competing under the Houseman Racing banner in an NGTC Toyota Avensis bringing the Toyota count up to five. This be his first time in an NGTC car but Wood is well known for his giant killing performances from previous seasons in less competitive cars so expect him to fly once hes up to speed and hassle the frontrunners.

Ollie Jackson joins Dan Welch at the Welch Motorsport operation as they expand to a two car team with both Protons getting updates. The team has also secured STP Title sponsorship along with Sopp+Sopp however did not run at Media Day due to supply issues. They will have a difficult start due to virtually no testing but once up to speed both drivers are fast and are capable of top ten finishes.

Finally we have two NGTC Chevrolets full time this season. Aiden Moffat has returned to keep hold of the "BTCC's youngest ever driver" title with his family run team having purchased Andy Neates Chevrolet Cruze Saloon for a full season. Although they had a big crash at Thruxton, the team is confident that they have the equipment to help Aiden move forward.

Meanwhile BTC Racing returns to the BTCC  after six years away, armed with an RML designed and built Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback and regular driver Chris Stockton back at the wheel as well. The team is well aware they have the best oppurtunity to compete with the big boys and fully intend to. I expect both teams to offer surprises as the season progresses.

So thats all the runners and riders for the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship. There are other changes for the season as well with Dunlop introducing a new version of tyre, the full International Circuit being used at Oulton Park and the promise of turbo boost parity being reduced further to enhance the racing now there is a full NGTC field of 31 cars.

What I cant tell you is who will be Champion... 

Although I suspect that Plato, Jordan or Turkington are all due another title and are in the best place.

Remember I said this when the Finals Day arrives to see if you can congratulate me or laugh at me...

What I can tell you is that there will be plenty of panel bashing, flying wing mirrors, bumpers being ripped off and close door to door racing in what could be the best ever season of the BTCC that kicks off on Saturday with two free practice sessions and Qualifying. So if you find the Malaysian Grand Prix a bit of a letdown on Sunday Morning, pop over to ITV4 at 10.30am for some cracking racing that is guarunteed to entertain...

Oh, theres just one other thing to say before I go...




Wednesday, 19 March 2014

BTCC: The Guru at BTCC Media Day 2014...

Wow!! What a day...

The 2014 edition of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship was officially launched yesterday and this year promises to be a classic and amazing season.

Despite the weather having an off day with various showers making things interesting on track, it was a packed day where the fans got up close to this years runners and riders to see who is where and what liveries have been announced.

Mat Jackson was confirmed in a last minute deal at Airwaves Racing, joining the confirmed lineup of Fabrizio Giovanardi and Jack Clarke. Various liveries were revealed whilst several cars didnt go out in testing. Lea Wood is waiting on parts as is the Welch Motorsport duo of Dan Welch and Ollie Jackson whilst Robb Holland and Jack Goff didnt go out. Andy Jordan, Gordon Shedden and Alain Menu were the top three quickest drivers with Jordan setting a time of 1:11.087. Morgan, Tordoff and Neal were 4th, 5th and 6th. Aron Smith, Colin Turkington, Rob Collard and Tom Ingram rounded out the top ten.

For ourselves, well we had a great chat with Robb Holland in the Rotek Racing garage with the stunning Oakley sponsored, fan chosen livery of the Audi S3 being worked upon. Robb explained that the car is due to test at Rockingham on Thursday to have its shakedown in preparation for the opening weekend at Brands Hatch and that he is currently looking for somewhere to live in the UK.

Robb is currently commuting between the UK and Germany with racing and testing commitments for the upcoming BTCC and VLN series where he will pilot the Audi TTR-S. It was also interesting to find out the operating budget of running an NGTC car in its first season and a few secrets about the S3... But I would like to say thank you to Robb for taking the time to speak to myself, Nik and Aaron.

Happily, I can say a few family traditions related to the BTCC took place at Media Day. These include Nik's mandatory picture with 2013 BTCC Champion Andrew Jordan who always has time to stop for a picture ever since our first visit to the BTCC back in 2011 at the Media Day held at Silverstone.

Another tradition is holding up the honour of being staunch Tony Gilham supporters and I can happily report that during a busy day of testing we were able to catchup with Tony, working hard on timing at TeamBMR, his lovely wife Sammi (Yes, I got my Sammi Hug!!), his mum Deb who was running back and forth on catering duties and stopped to chat with us and we caught up with Sammi's father Gary who this season is working as Team Manager at Laser Tools Racing who are running Aiden Moffat.

I also want to say thank to Team BMR Grid Girls Samantha Gilham and Gemma Newman for posing for me yesterday for a photo thats becoming quite popular!!

Now as for my son Aaron, his never ending talent of popping in and out of garages snapping away on his camera has not dulled one bit. Aaron was on form as he took lots of pics of drivers, teams at work and cars in action. He managed to grab a chat with new Team BMR signing Aron Smith who was very happy with his time in the VW Passat CC yesterday and is looking forward to challenging near the front this season.

I also have to say it was great to meet up with some fellow BTCC fans from Facebook and Twitter. I caught up with one of my many BTCC Brothers in Arms Baz "Broadsword" Taylor, who introduced me to the lovely Sam Clark whilst we stood in the Goddards Chicane Grandstand trying to compare the cars with the loudest "pop" as they accelerated up the Start/Finish straight.

The eBay BMW's won with Dave Newsham coming second by the way...

I also met the amazing Steffan Bowen yesterday in his epic St Patricks Day headgear for the first time and I was lucky enough to meet Matt Auger who writes for the brilliant website, where we shared a passionate conversation about the situation in the World Touring Car Championship with current entrants and possible TBA entrants.

I'd like to say thank you also to the guys at Laser Tools Racing who were very welcoming during the various downpours and offering us a nice warm Cuppa as well! You've got yourself some new supporters guys!!

Now there is one thing I must mention...

One other tradition for us is to run a fantasy BTCC League over on the website Once again, my lovely partner Nik has setup a league on the site in preparation for the upcoming 2014 season. So with her kind permission, I can happily say that anyone is invited to have a go to setup a team and take on the Guru at running a BTCC Fantasy team. I still revel in winning the old TOCA Talk League in 2012 and Niks League last year... 

If you wish to take part feel free to message me on Facebook with your name & email address where you will then be sent an invite to the league via email with the joining details. I also know that there is a league being setup in the facebook group BTCC Fans Group which I'll be participating in too.

But I can say we had a great day enjoying the launch of the 2014 BTCC and that in the coming days I will be presenting a preview of the upcoming season and my thoughts on the runners and riders.

Finally, I've added a few pics from Media Day as well.



Thursday, 13 March 2014

Tintop Guru's 1st Anniversary!!!

Wow!! The Guru Blog is One year old today!!

When I started back on 14 March 2013, I honestly wasnt sure if I'd still be writing a blog a year later, let alone the following it has gained in those twelve months.

I also have to say that writing this blog has helped me to share my passion of motorsport with fellow friends, fans and followers and help me to realise that there is a firm fanbase for both single-seaters and tintop racing.

Also I would like to say...


Yup, I shall be there with my adorable partner Nik and my son Aaron who is the creator and Chief Photographer of Blue Lake Photography. He will be taking plenty of photos whilst we are at Donington Park as well as also taking taking the excellent landscape photos in his spare time.

I recommend taking a look, look up Blue Lake Photography on Facebook.

I would also like to say thanks to a few people who have supported me as I have written this blog. First of all I would like to thank Andrew Abbott and all at for allowing me to retweet and post my blog through their twitter feed. I would like to thank them for the support and advice he and the team have given me and being included as part of the team for my small part. I recommend this website for its excellent news and content.

I would also like to thank Nick Hunt who runs the BTCC Fans Group on Facebook for allowing me to post my bloglinks in his group to share with everyone in the group as well as those generally on Facebook and Twitter.

I want to thank Neil Hudson of TouringCarTimes, whose own blog regarding motorsport inspired me to start writing my own views, opinions and memories in a blog that became Tintop Guru. I also want to thank Neil, Ian Gallagher, Johan Meissner and George East for their great feedback on the article I had published last year online and their fantastic work at TouringCarTimes. I recommend this website as well.

I also want to say some thank you's to my family and friends for supporting me through a very difficult time last year and for the support of my decision to begin writing this blog and for the feedback they have given me when looking to improve it and keep it fun.

I want to say thank you to my two best friends Clive and Andy. Clive has always been a shoulder to me ever since we met in 1995 and Andy has shared my obssesive love of motorsport ever since we met in 1995 in Woolworths in Bedford looking for BTCC Review Videos.

I want to say thank you to the many friends I have on Facebook and Twitter who share my love of motorsport and who are also very supportive when times have been tough and difficult. You are a great bunch of people to talk to and share tintop banter and theories with.

Finally I want to say thank you to three very important people. Firstly my mum, who supported me through my childhood as my love of motorsport grew as I grew up and for reminding me when the buzz buzz is on. I have never forgotten the many years that I watched F1 and Touring Cars whilst I had my Sunday Dinner on my lap or she sat doing her knitting. Priceless.

I want to say thank you to my son Aaron, who shares his heated passion of motorsport with me. Often we will argue when drivers clash on track as to who is to blame and who isnt, we will argue during the off season as to who will drive where as I speculate and he waits for facts to be published, but he is the biggest Vettel/Red Bull fan I know and he loves his motor racing.

Finally I want to say thank you to my partner Nik. I dont think she realised when we met in 2009 what she was taking on but she has stood by me and supported me as we havent ventured through these past 4 years together and knows how much I love my motorsport and Sci-Fi. She supported my idea to write this blog and I can honestly say I dont know what I would do without her.

So here is to another year of blogging from the Guru. I will be concentrating on the BTCC, WTCC  and World Rallycross this year with the odd post on other motorsports to come later on. Meanwhile my photo this time is my favourite shot from many memories of Formula One, from the 1992 Monaco Grand Prix where over the last 7 laps, Nigel Mansell chased down Ayrton Senna but couldnt pass the Mclaren driver.

Thank you to all my followers and readers and heres to another year of blogging from the Guru.



Monday, 3 March 2014

BTCC Update... 3rd March 2014...

Well last week showed that testing is well underway for the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship however there have also been a few announcements to give a clearer picture of the runners and riders this season.

So, whats been happening...

1. Yuasa Honda took the newly built No.2 Honda Civic Tourer for Gordon Shedden for Testing at Snetterton. Shedden has spent time in the No.1 car previously testing it back to back with the 2013 Civic Hatchback, however this allowed him time in his own car.

2. United Autosports drivers Glynn Geddie and James Cole also at Snetterton testing the teams two Toyota Avensis NGTC cars. 

3. Adam Morgan revealed the livery of his WIX Racing Mercedes A-Class, taking the oppurtunity to show how the car livery took shape via an online Social Media presentation.

4. Snetterton became a popular place as Pirtek Honda drivers Andrew Jordan and Martin Depper arrived to test their NGTC Honda Civics, giving Depper more time in an NGTC car.

5. Airwaves Racing also tested their 2014 Ford Focus at Snetterton with Fabrizio Giovanardi at the wheel and Jack Clarke spotted in attendence, building speculation that Clarke will be racing for the team.

6. United Autosports stayed on for a 2nd day of testing with both Geddie and Cole getting further NGTC mileage under their belts.

7. Returning BTCC Team BTC Racing unveiled the livery of their NGTC Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback. The car will be black with main sponsor Power Maxed dominating the livery. Chris Stockton will pilot the car during the season.

7. Brands Hatch was a hive of activity on Thursday as several BTCC teams took the oppurtunity to test in drying conditions. Rob Austin was out in his RAR/Exocet Racing Audi A4 Sherman whilst Dave Newsham got his first run in the AmD NGTC Ford Focus this year. Team Dynamics were also out in force testing their Civic Tourers with Flash and Neal getting more seat time. Meanwhile Ebay/WSR BMW were testing at Snetterton, getting more data with their more aero designed 1 Series for the season ahead.

8. Friday saw wet testing taking place at Silverstone for several teams. United Autosports were testing both NGTC cars with regular drivers Glynn Geddie and James Cole getting more wet testing mileage. WIX Racing are also out at Silverstone, testing their new NGTC Mercedes A Class for the first time with Adam Morgan at the wheel.

9. Finally 2013 Jack Sears Champion Lea Wood announced that he will compete in the 2014 season driving for newly formed team Houseman Racing using an NGTC Toyota Avensis. The team is the same family run outfit JWT Performance that ran Wood in 2013 with title sponsorship from 2013 sponsor Houseman Dry Lining. Wood has explained that as the Toyota is a developed car already, he and the team are hoping to score good points during the first half of the season.

So with Lea Wood announcing his return, another seat and team are confirmed. From my point of view, assuming that Speedworks may only run one car, this leaves three seats left to be filled and with 15 days left to the BTCC Media Day on 18th March, its highly likely these other seats will be confirmed then.

What is clear that the 2nd seat at Airwaves Racing is a straight fight between 2013 Airwaves drivers Mat Jackson and Tom Onslow-Cole with Jack Clarke an almost cert for the third seat.

However as the buildup to Media Day continues with the season start on 30th March 2 weeks later, its looking to be an amazing season this year.

All the best,