WITH Croft Circuit’s 50th anniversary rapidly approaching, this weekend’s visit of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship promises to provide one of the highlights of the North Yorkshire venue’s half-centenary celebrations.

Always a popular stop on the schedule of the country’s biggest motorsport championship, this year’s round at Croft looks like being even more exciting and well attended than ever.

With the 2014 BTCC calendar reaching its halfway stage, there’s still everything to play for in terms of the overall title with just 36 points separating the top four drivers in the rankings.

Loading article content

And with support acts including the Renault UK Clio Cup, Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup, Ginetta Junior Championship, Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain and Porsche Carrera Cup GB also scheduled to take place this weekend, the region’s motorsport fans are in for a treat as Croft’s birthday celebrations hit top gear.

“The 50th anniversary of Croft Autodrome is obviously a big deal for us,” said circuit manager Mike Cantelo.

“We’re mainly going to be celebrating at our nostalgia weekend in August because that’s got a historic angle and it ties in with the date of the first meeting, but the visit of the BTCC is a huge part of our anniversary year. I “It’s always the highlight of the year and attracts our biggest crowd. It puts motorsport at the very heart of the region’s sporting schedule and will prove once again that the sport is very much alive and kicking here in the North-East.”

It should also provide plenty of thrills and spills with 31 cars involved in the three Touring Car races that will take place on Sunday.

With free practice and qualifying scheduled for Saturday, Sunday is the BTCC’s race day, and the action promises to be fast and frenetic on what is generally one of the fastest and most demanding circuits on the calendar.

Colin Turkington, BTCC champion in 2009, is nine points clear at the top of the rankings after winning two of three races in the last round at Oulton Park, but Gordon Shedden and Andrew Jordan are well placed to mount a challenge for the title, with local driver Jason Plato also in the thick of things in fourth. “It’s going to be fantastic to see 31 cars hurtling around Croft,” said Cantelo. “And the fact that there are seven former BTCC champions contending for this year’s title also adds a fair bit of spice.

“It’s impossible to say who’s going to win. It’s already shaping up to be a vintage season, and the public are really taking the series to their heart. Every round has posted improved attendances, which just underlines the resurgence in interest in Touring Cars this year. Here at Croft, we’re just proud and privileged to be a part of it once more.”