BTCC stars reveal their favourite circuits
Over the course of normally ten race meetings a year, the British Touring Car Championship visits eight circuits in England and Scotland. Racing drivers have some special connections with tracks not just in the UK but worldwide as these three stars reveal their favourites.
Former BTCC winner turned Pundit and Commentator, Paul O'Neil, grew up near Oulton Park, one of the circuits on the racing calendar and the scene of his first Touring Car win but admitted that it isn't his favourite track.
He said: "People usual go with the circuits that they are most successful at and people would say that I would say Oulton Park is probably my favourite circuit because it’s my home circuit but I’m not massively successful there to be fair."
"My most successful circuit is probably Rockingham and I absolutely hated the place but my favourite circuit, Tim Harvey and I always say this, we always say Brands Hatch GP is the only place I go into the pit-lane with an ITV microphone and just want to put it down and say 'just give me a car'.
"It’s the only place, I swear everywhere else I’m just like whatever you know and I’m not that fussed because I just reside to the fact that I do what I do now but that’s the only place I’d say, just hold that microphone, I’m just going to take that 330i BMW round for a wee blast. Brands Hatch GP, cannot explain to you how amazing that place is, even with the changes over the years it’s still a fantastic place."
Tom Oliphant, who drives for Team BMW, secured his maiden win in the BTCC this year at Brands Hatch but picked Donnington Park, which hosted the 1993 European GP, as his favourite.
He said: "Out of the British tracks, I would say Donnington Park is always my favourite. It’s been my favourite for years. Every single first win I’ve had in the championship has come at Donnington, apart from Touring Cars. I just love the track; it’s got good elevation changes, all the corners are really challenging and fast and there’s a real trick to Donnington, it’s really good fun."
One of Tom's racing highlights of his career so far was by finishing in 5th place out of 60 in a Porsche Supercup Sprint Race at the world-famous Circuit de la Sarthe near the town of Le Mans in France.
He said: "In the world, I would say, nothing takes your breath away like Le Mans but then you can’t drive Spa without having a big smile on your face either."
Meanwhile, Motorbase Performance's and six time race winner, Rory Butcher, echoed O'Neil's comments about Brands Hatch but is also big fan of his home circuit. Growing up in Kirkcaldy, Fife, Butcher has several connections to Knockhill but also agreed with Tom about the famous Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium which is very popular with racing drivers worldwide.
He said: "In the UK probably, Brands Hatch GP and Knockhill are my two favourite circuits. There are not to dissimilar, a lot of undulation, lots of blind corners and crests, big kerbs you’ve got to strike and I really love the GP loop of Brands hatch. It’s very fast."
"Now out in Europe, or elsewhere out of the UK, I would say Spa is probably my favourite circuit: I just think it’s got an amazing flow and whenever I’ve driven it I seem to kind of click with the place really well."