It’s been a long wait and a lot of hard work behind the scenes, but finally, it’s time for the British Racing & Sports Car Club to go racing for the first time in 2020. The coronavirus pandemic delayed the start of motorsport in the UK until the beginning of this month and with an amended calendar of race meetings in place, the time has come to head back to the track and kick things off. Oulton Park in Cheshire gets the honour of hosting this weekend’s event, providing a true mixed bag of series and championships for all fans to enjoy.

TCR UK and the Dunlop Touring Car Trophy will be the main event of the race meeting, marking the first touring car racing in the UK this year. This will feature a mix of TCR and NGTC-spec machinery that are sure to make the right kind of noise out on track. The main contenders here are sure to be Lewis Kent in his Hyundai i30N TCR, Henry Neal aboard a Honda Civic Type R NGTC and Darrelle Wilson driving his bright green Vauxhall Astra TCR. Looking to give them a challenge will be the VW Golf GTi TCR of returnee Tim Docker and the pair of CUPRA TCRs of debutants Max Hart (Maximum Motorsport) and Trade Price Cars Racing team boss Dan Kirby, making a return to a BRSCC paddock for the first time since his days in the BMW Compact Cup (more on them shortly).

TCR UK and TCT will be joined on the same grid for the first time by the Volkswagen Racing Cup, a fantastic saloon car championship that has a real tendency to produce future stars of GT and touring car racing. Heading the entry list will be two former BTCC stars as Liam Griffin and Andy Wilmot get ready to go toe-to-toe with many of the regular frontrunners, which will include the JM Racing pairing of Mark Wakefield and Josh Coggan, two experienced race winners that are certain to be in the hunt for victory all day. Watch out for Bradley Kent making his series debut, the younger brother of TCR UK race winner Lewis, plus Jeff Alden, Tony Prendergast and rally driver turned circuit racer, William Butler.

One of the most competitive grids that is sure to set the Cheshire tarmac alight will be the combined grid for the Avon Tyres National Formula Ford and Northern Formula Ford Championships. With both series racing on track together at the same time, it makes for a near-full grid of 34 cars, with an entry list that is stacked full of talented drivers. Defending champion Ross Martin leads the list with close rivals returning from 2019 in the form of Rory Smith, 2019 Formula Ford Festival winner Jonathan Browne, Luke Cooper and Neil MacLennan. Amongst several other familiar faces, the 2020 season sees an exceptional influx of fresh talent onto the grid, including F1000 convert Reece Lycett for Kevin Mills Racing, the newly renamed Low Dempsey Racing squad’s new American pairing of Bryce Aron and Grant Palmer, the Oldfield Motorsport duo of Milan de Laet and Daniel Mackintosh, plus a single-car entry from PWR1 Racing for ex-British F4 racer Alex Walker. Given how exciting Formula Ford usually is, this is sure to be two cracking races!

If you want a bumper saloon car grid, look no further than the awesome Nankang Tyre BMW Compact Cup, which never fails to provide big entry numbers and incredible action. 2020 looks set to be no exception as the opening weekend has attracted a whopping 37 cars to Oulton Park, with every single one of the top 10 finishers in last year’s championship points all returning. That means we get to pick up where left off with the epic three-way title battle between Steven Dailly, Ian Jones and Tom Griffiths. Dailly almost didn’t make it onto the grid this season, but thanks to support from a new sponsor, he’s ready to go for a fourth Compact Cup title. Be sure to also keep an eye out on top names such as Oliver Faller, David May, Wayne Flint, Ben Huntley, Mark Skeats and Mikey Doble. Plus, the long-awaited debut of British GT and Clio Cup racer Jordan Stilp could provide an extra exciting element to the battle at the front.

Hot on their heels for entry numbers is the Hyperdrive ST-XR Challenge, which has seen incredible growth over the winter with a super 25 car line-up for this weekend and more drivers set to emerge as the season progresses to potentially push the number into the 30s! Defending champion William Heslop has traded his Ford Fiesta XR2 for one of the more modern Fiesta ST150s that grace Class D, while Greg Speight remains in Class A to gun for the class title he narrowly missed out on. Speaking of Class D, there’s been a great increase in the number of ST150s competing this year and they’ll all have to work hard to beat defending class champ Matthew Spencer, plus top drivers such as Tony Mumford, Lee and Lewis Bowron, Justin Roberts and Christopher Rowlands. Given that Oulton Park is one of two regular regional venues that the ST-XR Challenge visits, it’s great to see plenty of local support for the first race meeting of the year!

While the majority of drivers entered this weekend feature a fair amount of experience, there’s one section of the paddock that heads into the unknown. Every year, Caterham Motorsport welcomes a group of novice drivers onto their roster to compete in the Caterham Academy. This championship turns ordinary people with no prior experience into bonafide racing drivers, with more than 1000 passing through since the series first launched back in 1995. Given that the number of competitors is so large, Caterham split them into two groups – Green and White, allowing them to race amongst each other in separate competition they move on to Roadsport and beyond. This will be the first race that every single driver in this series has ever competed in, so the excitement and nerves will both be high!

Finally on the list, but by no means least, the Milltek Civic Cup brings the superb driving and sounds Honda Civic Type R racers back to the track. 2020 is guaranteed to bring a new champion, as 2019 winner Lee Deegan does not appear on the entry list. However, the main names remaining for this season are Bruce Winfield, David Buky, Paul Taylor and Alastair Camp, the latter making the switch from the EP3 model to the newer FN2 for this campaign. These machines look and sound like mini touring cars, giving a really exciting spectacle for all those watching!

Scott Woodwiss


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