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Blancpain Sprint Series Thunders Back To Brands Hatch

Image Credit:

Image Credit:

In the depths of darkness, the rapturous gods of thunderous passion have once more decreed their will; the Blancpain GT Series is to return to the once peaceful Kentish countryside. After a succulent success last year, the Sprint Series will once more grace the tarmac at Brands Hatch. The brutally British Bentley will join the returning marques of Audi, BMW, Ferrari and Lamborghini this year. The weekend will be nothing but spectacular, and there is no better place to watch the action than Stopwatch Hospitality.

When the Blancpain Sprint series came to Brands Hatch in 2014, no one was expecting such a spectacular weekend of racing. There is no doubt that the Blancpain GT series was something special, but until the eardrums were ringing and the rib cages rattling, no one was truly prepared for what was in store. The Brands Hatch round last year produced the closest qualifying and race finish that was seen all year round. Who would want to miss that?

The Blancpain behemoths will be piloted by a selection of some of the best sports car drivers you will see put hand to wheel, including Grand Prix competitors Markus Winklehock and Bernd Schneider as well as rising stars Craig Dolby and Sean Walkinshaw.

May the thunderous majesty return once more. Image Credit:

May the thunderous majesty return once more. Image Credit:

One of the biggest stories from that weekend was the return of motorsport legend Alex Zanardi, who had previously won two emotional gold medals at the London 2012 Olympics, which had been held at Brands Hatch. To say that the crowd was completely behind Zanardi would be an understatement. Despite some problems across the weekend, Zanardi would finish the main race 5th only 24.579 seconds behind the winning Grasser Racing Lamborghini.

The people’s hero, the people’s champion, the people’s inspiration.

 Even with the monstrous main course, the Blancpain package offers a succulent array of side dishes, including the ever popular GT Cup that had fans captivated from start to finish. Alongside their increasingly popular BTCC campaign, Power Maxed also run the Mini Challenge which will be out in force for your wonderment. The BRSCC Mazda MX5 Championship will too be making an appearance, pitting a full grid made up of a truly iconic sports car against each other. Did we also mention that there will be an immense super car display taking place on race day too? This is not something you will want to miss.

 Stopwatch Hospitality offers a race day package like no other, such as unrivalled views of the circuit, interviews and autograph sessions with drivers and a behind the scenes experience to see race teams in action. As an added bonus, guests will witness first-hands the delectable commentary delights of Downforce Radio who will be broadcasting some of the races from the weekend right from the suite! Add on top of that a wide range of complimentary drinks and food throughout the day in the suite alongside multimedia access to Twitter streams and live timing, is there really any other way to spend your day!

 Full Race day package available for only £75.

Trackside Lounge Package (excluding complimentary food/drink) £45

The only way is Blancpain. The only way is Stopwatch Hospitality.

See you there!

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All Eyes on Cook after Spectacular Donington Drive


Nothing but truly remarkable racing was the order of the day as the BTCC took on the twists and turns of the Donington Park circuit. Any attempt at predicting the result was an impossible task, which led to nail biting action and legendary battles. The star of the day would emerge as none other than #RacingForHeroes driver Josh Cook, who received the most live television coverage of any other driver across the weekend. Following his sensational sixth in qualifying, Josh’s performance on race day has more than proven his worth as a future champion of the BTCC.   

Ever since the opening race weekend of the year at Brands Hatch, Cook has caught the eye of the entire touring car community with his strong consistent driving ability. As a graduate of the Clio Cup, Cook is no stranger to close quarter racing. He may well be a rookie in the series, but after his performances already this season you would be mistaken for thinking he is a long serving name within the ranks.

In the first two races, Josh delivered two strong drives, finishing 13th and 7th respectively. What was noticeable across all the teams on race day was the effect of the soft tyre on race performance. While many other drivers on the soft tyre would slip down the ranks in race one, Josh Cook was able to deliver a balanced drive that left him one of the highest soft tyre finishers.

Cook’s 7th place finish in race two left him in the running for the reverse grid pole in race three. Following the scandal with Rob Austin at Brands Hatch which saw him admitting to purposely choosing himself for pole, the reverse grid draw would be changed so that an independent party would undertake the responsibility. So when it was revealed that Josh Cook had secured his first ever BTCC pole position for race three, the satisfaction was even sweeter. Ahead of the final race, Cook was both optimistic and aware of the challenge ahead,

“The car has had pace all weekend. I am just looking forward to what we can do. A podium is realistic, but it won’t be easy”

Power Maxed were on flying form

Power Maxed were on flying form

The final race of the day would go down as one of the greatest BTCC races this year, but in recent memory. Initially Cook lost out to the fast starting Collard, but it was not long before Cook was right up on the BMW bumper. The charging Cook soon took Collard and set about building up a strong lead out front. From the moment the lights went out, the touring car world got behind Cook in a massive show of support that lit up the social media streams.

However, following an incident between Jack Goff and Sam Tordoff the safety car was deployed on track, bunching the field up and losing Cook what was his ever growing lead. Even with a masterful restart from Josh as the safety car peeled in, the hard charging Aron Smith in the BMR Volkswagen was soon on Cook’s tail.

Despite Smith’s best efforts, there is no intimidating a Clio driver and Cook held firm out front. As the laps began to count down it was beginning to look like Cook could hold off Smith, until the two came together at the Craner Curves sending them both shooting off onto the grass. Somehow both drivers managed to recover with astonishing car control and would both continue to the end. Although initially annoyed, stating that the Power Maxed crew had that race in the bag, Cook believed it was nothing more than a racing incident,

He came up to me and we’ve shook hands, its racing. If we didn’t have things like that then it would be boring to watch, I say more of it to be honest

The final few laps were just as thrilling as those that preceded them; with Cook on a recovery drive he soon made his way back up to the leading group who were squabbling from position. As the chequered flag dropped, Cook crossed the line in 7th which is a momentous achievement considering his off.

The battle for the lead between Cook and Smith was intense

The battle for the lead between Cook and Smith was intense

The weekend may have been dominated by the big names at BMR and Honda, but the true spotlight from Donington should fall on none other than Josh Cook. His racing ability was proven last year in the Clio Cup UK and his transition into the BTCC has already shown staggering results. He may be a rookie in this series, but he is a seasoned racer with a refined set of skills,

“When I see a car in front I don’t look at the name in the window. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just an obstacle in my way!”

Moving forward onto the next round of the championship at Thruxton in May, Cook lies 13th in the drivers’ standings on 27 points and 1st in the Jack Sears Trophy with 100 points; his nearest challenger is Kieran Gallagher on 83. Having praised the ever increasing speed and performance of the car over the Donington weekend, Josh Cook is hoping to move even further up the grid.

The first six rounds of the championship have undoubtedly proven that the British Touring Car Championship is one of the greatest race series around the world, and Josh Cook has cemented his position as a rising star and unquestionably a future champion.

Josh Cook, #RacingForHeroes, Dave Newsham and Power Maxed - a combination not to be messed with

Josh Cook, Dave Newsham and Power Maxed – a combination not to be messed with

Josh Cook and #RacingForHeroes – Supporting our injured through motorsport

Driving for change, and that change is happening.

Please follow our journey on Twitter: @RacingForHeroes

And of course my journey is ever ongoing: @lewisglynn69

Keep Driving People!

Peace and Love!

Photo Credit:



BTCC 2015: Priaulx's Perfect Pole

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

In what can only be described as an explosive return to form, the British Touring Car Championship returned to its majestic form as the cars took to the Brands Hatch tarmac to qualify for the first round of the series. Across the two free practice sessions, there was action a plenty that eventually saw returning touring car legend Andy Priaulx take pole position ahead of the BMR boys.

After what seemed like an endless winter the BTCC has returned to the welcoming arms of the British fans. As if almost to continue tradition, my arrival to the timeless Brands Hatch circuit was shrouded in a windy, cold and damp embrace. Throughout the day the teams, fans and commentators were taking their bets on the future of the weather; would the clouds release their race changing moisture unto the tarmac, or would the sun burst through the clouds? As it turned out, the day started miserably and would slowly improve, with the emphasis solely on ‘slowly’. Upon entering the circuit, I found myself walking in on the first free practice session for the touring cars. The combination of the sound of those two litre engines mixed with the familiar smell of petrol and exhaust created an almost homely feel, like seeing an old friend for the first time in a while. But enough of the emotional stuff, you are hear to read about the BTCC.

Across the two free practice sessions there were a good number of surprises; this may have been down to the fluidity of the weather conditions mind you. Of all the drivers, I was most impressed by the skills of Tingram himself. Tom Ingram was absolutely storming during the first two sessions, setting the precedent for the other drivers. While some of the big names appeared to wallow in the mid pack, Tingram and other surprises like Josh Cook were fighting for the top places. For Josh Cook, FP1 gave him a staggering 3rd place, alas in the second an issue with the car stopped him for going out on track.

Ingram showed impressive pace throughout practice and qualifying. Photo Credit:

Ingram showed impressive pace throughout practice and qualifying. Photo Credit:

FP2 proved fruitful for the BMR boys, apart from Warren Scott who suffered with what seemed to be a rather loose back end. From my vantage point at Clearways I saw him lose the car several time, almost chucking it away into the gravel. But credit where credit is due, every time he managed to save it masterfully. This was until he lost the car going into Paddock Hill bend and caused substantial damage to the front of the car. Questions were asked whether BMR would be able to put it back together in time for qualifying. The race was on.

As qualifying rolled around, it was like there was an unspoken agreement across the paddock to suddenly turn the volume up to 11. Times that had been set in similar conditions earlier in the day began to tumble left right and centre. The headlines were stolen by none other than returning world champion Andy Priaulx, who grabbed pole by 0.069 seconds in a rather spectacular manner. It was almost like 2002 had never ended; this also means that for the first time in his career, Andy is leading the BTCC (following his single point for pole)

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

”I thought anything inside the top six would have been nice. We were taking nothing for granted – this is a top series but we’re happy to have made the most of it. I just went into the first qualifying session with a really good, positive feeling. I actually think we’re stronger in race trim, because the car in testing has lacked a little bit of maybe that ultimate one-lap pace. This is my first pole position for a long time and I’m absolutely delighted. That’s where I want to be. I think I’ve improved a lot as a driver over the last four years and now I feel that’s showing.” – Andy Priaulx

Behind him, the BMR juggernaut dominated the next three places with Smith, Plato and Turkington respectively. I have been wondering how Colin Turkington will be feeling sitting in 4th place while in the distance he sees what was essentially his old car planted on pole. However, it is important to note that this is the first time Colin is carrying the #1 on his car, so he won’t be complaining too much. Weirdly, even though Plato got a solid 3rd on the grid, he has been frustrated with what he says is an ongoing power steering issue.

The new look Hondas only managed 7th and 11th for Shedden and Neal, but Neal is confident that the car will bring him race wins and even the championship this year. Seems hard to believe considering he only managed 11th. After impressing in FP1, Josh Cook in the #RacingForHeroes car could only manage 20th after what turned out to be a misfire he had been suffering. So to only be a second off the pace with an engine difficulty is nothing to be ashamed of. The potential he showed earlier in the day would suggest that with the car fixed, strong results will follow tomorrow. And in many ways he may have unwittingly made a good decision, by starting further down the grid, he will avoid the inevitable first corner of the year drama and can power through to the top places.

The biggest disappoints for me in qualifying was the Welch Protons and the Infiniti Support Our Paras Racing teams. With Welch out with a broken foot, it was all down to Andy Wilmot to impress in his Proton. Alas, impress he did not. The Proton was very much off the pace for most of the day, managing a days best of 52.665, 4.2 seconds off the pole time. This was almost definitely down to the Welch-built power plant, the same demon that haunted them in the 2014 season. Hopefully they can sort out their issues before the race tomorrow. I was filled with a deep sympathy; Welch Motorsport has always been a favourite of mine and I have long been hoping for them to find their form. Support Our Paras struggled throughout the day and will line up for the first race 24th. The manufacturer-backed team have been riddled with issues since their inception and have only been able to enter one of their two cars. Considering the media madness that has surrounded them I was expecting a little better, but I guess they can develop over time and ease into the championship.

It is a true testament to the championship that the first 20 cars were separated only by 1.1 seconds. For all the cars to be that close shows the genius behind the ever evolving NGTC regulations; one tiny mistake can cost you a whole handful of positions.

For full qualifying results:

Josh Cook may become a contender across the season. Photo Credit:

Josh Cook may become a contender across the season. Photo Credit:

Lewis and His Race Predictions

For some reason, while writing the title to this final section I decided that writing in the 3rd person transformed me into someone more edgy and memorable. That’s for future generations to decide (or not). Anyway, as the first race gets tantalizingly closer I would like to present some of my predictions:

  • Andy Priaulx will fast return to his season ending form of 2002 and put in some strong results, possibly even a race win
  • Jason Plato will rediscover his notorious “push-to-pass” tactics to get himself a race win (as he has become famous for doing in new teams that he joins)
  • Tingram will be one to watch after showing such monstrously impressive pace in the free practice sessions
  • Power Maxed will bank some promising results in what has been proven to be a highly competitive car
  • Aron Smith will end the weekend as the top BMR driver; with all the attention on Plato and Turkington it keeps him out the spotlight to deliver consistent strong results.
  • The reverse grid will provide a brand new winner in the championship, namely Jack Goff or Tom Ingram
  • With the competition improving every year, this may be the time when Honda’s seemingly lifelong dominance is broken and they will struggle to plant their new Civics at the front.
To Infiniti and.. 24th! Photo Credit: Adam Johnson

To Infiniti and.. 24th! Photo Credit: Adam Johnson

I could sit here presenting you my views for as long as I wanted, but until the day is done who truly knows what will happen? The greatest touring car series in the world has returned, and now it is time for action.

It’s time to cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war. This is BTCC.

Let’s do this!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @lewisglynn69 for all my reactions across race day

Keep Driving People!

Peace and Love!

2015: What's On Offer?

It would be remiss of me to open this without an acknowledgement of the terrible fire situation occurring (as I write) in South Australia and Victoria. There’s been stock loss, properties destroyed, vintage cars burnt and, terribly, an animal hostel razed with horrendous loss. Our thoughts are with the families and owners.

A bit of news that came out of late 2014 that already has affected car buyers was the Free Trade Agreement signed off between Australia and Japan. Subaru immediately took advantage of this, by reducing their prices across their range, with savings up to a few thousand dollars being made available. At the time of writing, there was no word if Toyota were planning on doing the same.variantlocationmy15wrx-stibaseprofile__1__1

Even better news for motorists overall was the sudden and dramatic drop in fuel prices, due, allegedly, to an oversupply of oil. The cynics amongst us would question this but there’s an undeniable benefit for metropolitan based drivers. However, it does appear to be mainly restricted to city dwellers only, with nowhere near the drop expected in regional areas. In some areas of Sydney, petrol (E10) was down to below $1.10 but still over 20c higher in regional areas.

Ford Australia released their final ever Falcon late in 2014; the FG-X has already been given negative reviews in some quarters for its exterior design, balanced out by positive drive reviews, especially for the reborn XR8. The main complaints in regards to the design appear to be centred around the resemblance to Mitsubishi’s Lancer (itself in dire need of a reskin) at the front and a Jaguaresque rear light cluster. All drive reviews have been nothing but glowing so far…we shall see.2015_ford_falcon_xr6_02_1-0814-mc 819x819

2015 also takes us closer to the eventual shutdown of the Australian car making industry, with some pundits tipping an earlier than scheduled closure. In one respect, this would be a good thing, bringing us the promised American and European metal earlier, but, of course, the downside is the situation of unemployed Aussie car workers. Out of this came a discussion as to whether we should consider changing to driving on the right side of the road. Predictably, this was howled down, as the argument became fragile when it was pointed out most European countries, such as the U.K., drive on the left.P1-CEO-Tesla-Motors-Products-Model-S-upper-left-white-Roadster-bottom-right-red

Electric car maker Tesla promised an expansion of their presence in Australia; with the first Australian deliveries taken by customers in December of 2014, the company announced that they would have a dealership in Melbourne and Brisbane, with a network of charging stations being set up along the eastern seaboard. With the stations designed to be independent of mains power by being solar charged, the company is looking to establish its technical cred.

Ford’s Mustang returns to Australia, however, for the first time, in factory right hand drive form. Powered by a range of engines, including a grunty turbocharged four cylinder (trust me, it’s nowhere near as bad as you think), presales here have been phenomenal. Holden has yet to confirm what we’re due to get, aside from sourcing at least three cars from Opel.2015-mustang12013-opel-cascada_100405708_m

On the Australian motorsport scene, a new category called Formula Four launches in the second half of the year whilst February sees the Bathurst 12 Hour get underway, with over 50 entries and including a huge international presence, going head to head with the test weekend for the relogoed V8 Supercars, on the same weekend, at Sydney Motorsport Park.V8-Supercars-2015-logo-344x224

There’s plenty more to come as the year ticks by and, as ever, Private Fleet is here to help you into your next car.