Tim Harvey's preview to the BTCC shootout

Tim Harvey's preview to the BTCC shootout

13 October 2011 – This weekend sees Silverstone play host to the BTCC championship finale, where the season-long rivalry between Honda and Chevrolet finally meets its end. Who better to quiz over the fantastic possibilities than 1992 Champion and ITV television commentator Tim Harvey, who dramatically clinched his own title at Silverstone.

We are poised for another energetic shootout and Silverstone is the setting. Are you expecting a challenging day in the commentary box?

Tim in discussion with ITV anchorman Steve Rider
At the end of the day, we’ve just got to keep up with who has scored the most points in any one race. There are five drivers in it mathematically, but in reality it’s three drivers who are likely to pull it off – Matt Neal, Jason Plato and Gordon Shedden. But the reality is that each one is going to have to try and out-score the other two in each race; with the unpredictability of touring car racing, that’s going to be on a race-by-race basis and we’ll see where we are at the end.

As with 1990 – when we had a transitional year, with the turbocharged Ford Sierra Cosworths plus the new 2-litre class – 2011 has witnessed a selection of different cars: turbocharged and normally aspirated vehicles, plus some NGTC runners. How do you sum it all up?
I think, on-track, we’ve had some excellent races – some really good racing, a variety of different winners and a variety of different cars being competitive.

Off-track, it’s probably been the most acrimonious season I have ever known. That’s a shame, but as you say it’s a transitional year. The trouble is, it’s people’s livelihoods, it’s their passions, it’s their competitive instincts which are all being changed, if you like, by (Series Director) Alan Gow having to bring an equivalence in parity between the cars. If you look at that, we’ve often had 12, 13 or 14 cars all covered by one second in qualifying.

You have to say, if you take a broad view of it, Gow has done a very, very good job. The trouble is, because he has had to change things to advantage some people and disadvantage others throughout the year, none of them are happy because they are all racers and all want it to go their way all the time. So I think Alan has done a good job overall but, in doing so, he has had to incur the wrath of the competitors a few times!

It certainly seems that, with the leading drivers especially, they are now using anything possible against each other – both on and off the track…
Long-time rivals Matt Neal and Jason Plato locks horns after a qualifying dispute at Rockingham
The drivers themselves – particularly Plato and Neal, obviously – are completely wrapped up and consumed in the whole thing: who’s got the advantage, what’s fair and what isn’t fair. It is all because it revolves around a driver’s whole life, you think about these things 24 hours a day.

They will repeat things which, to the outside world, might seem petty or inconsequential. But, as a driver myself, I completely understand that because they are under the pressure cooker of trying to win the championship and in each of their minds it has gone unfairly this year.

We have seen a number of titles decided at Silverstone over the past two decades – for Will Hoy, Jo Winkelhock, Gabriele Tarquini, Rickard Rydell, Laurent Aïello, Alain Menu and Matt Neal for his second title. But the best remembered is your own victory in 1992; do you think 2011 could match that, in terms of the sheer rivalries and two Champions going up against a non-championship winner?
Absolutely! I think all of the ingredients are exactly as per ’92: the acrimony in the pit lane, three drivers going for the championship, although in this particular case we have two drivers with one team as opposed to three different manufacturers. But there is still a lot riding on it; in this case, Honda and Chevrolet will both have their full-page national press adverts ready to go on the Monday morning, should they win.

In ’92, we eventually had a first-time Champion in yourself. If history repeats itself, Gordon Shedden will do the honours this weekend…
Harvey out-drove John Cleland and Will Hoy in 1992
I think Gordon has kept a quieter profile than most throughout the whole of this, which is in his nature anyway. On the day, I think the animosity between Neal and Plato could actually get the better of them. Certainly at Brands I don’t think either driver was 100 percent focused on their racing; I know they both won races, but they had a lot of other issues going on.

It’s going to come down to two things: who wants it badly enough - and that ought to be Gordon because he hasn’t won it before – plus the element of luck, which of course they can’t have any control over and in touring car racing luck will play a part.

Hopefully the title will not be decided by a collision (as it was in 1992), although all of the ingredients are there…
Definitely. As I said, the animosity is there, so I guess - if that is what it took - it wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility. But, essentially, all three are brilliant drivers and they would want to win it on the track, fair and square.

With the weight penalty and reduced turbo pressure, Matt Neal insists that straight-line speeds are now Honda’s weakness. Which car do you expect to be strongest on the Silverstone National circuit?
We will have to see, because both Neal and Plato are playing down their cars’ strengths and weaknesses. This is how it is now; they have to state their car’s disadvantages in order to sway public opinion and Alan Gow’s opinion into penalising them or the other car. This is why they are all playing the game…every quote single now is about, ‘How slow my car is’ or ‘How fast his car is!’ But I think, on balance, the Honda will be the quicker car.

Do you believe series administrator TOCA has now found a fair balance?
Series Director Alan Gow
I would have said so, although at Brands Jason Plato qualified sixth tenths of a second quicker than both of the Hondas, so the Chevrolet clearly had a huge advantage for outright pace. But is that because the car suited the circuit? Is it because Jason was on top form?

Who knows, but the tradition in touring cars is that the different circuits bring out the strengths and weaknesses in different cars and it’s impossible to have all of the cars equal on all of the circuits.

I still believe that the Silverstone circuit ought to favour the Honda…if it doesn’t, in all honestly there is something wrong with the system because it’s not right if a normally aspirated car can qualify on pole by six tenths.

Theoretically, turbo cars should be on pole because they have a higher tyre wear issue during the races and should be quicker over one lap; that hasn’t happened at the moment but there are so many different ingredients into what you call parity – ultimately, lap time is the decider, but Chevrolet was certainly a lot quicker at Brands.

Whichever way one looks at it, how much must Team Dynamics - the outfit which runs the Hondas - be regretting Oulton Park (when Neal and Shedden collided and threw away a one-two finish at the last corner)?
Well…I didn’t mention it at Brands but at the moment that happened I had a feeling it could be a crucial moment in this year’s championship. They had by far and away the best car in the first half of the year, before the raft of penalties and so on came in, but they didn’t maximise their points.

Oulton Park was obviously one case where they catastrophically lost almost all of their points. They are now only five points in it and, while they won’t be thinking about it at the moment, if they lose the championship by the number of points they lost at Oulton then they’ll obviously think back to that.

I hesitate to ask: Who do you tip to become 2011 Champion on Sunday?
Harvey tips Neal for title glory
I would go for Matt Neal. I think his car will be the best, I think the odds are on Honda because it’s two against one and I think, at the end of the day, he is the team leader; although they’re joint number one, Matt is probably the team leader there – it’s his family’s business, his family’s team and I’m sure they’d like him to win, although I would personally be delighted to see Gordon take his first championship.

This is undoubtedly Honda’s opportunity; not to take anything away from Plato and Chevvy, but Honda have done the best job in producing the best all-round car.


Tim Harvey was talking to GPUpdate.net’s Gregory Haines
Twitter: @GregoryHainesF1, @timharveyracing

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Monday 2 March 2015

  2. Arrivabene urges concentration at Ferrari 15:42

    Arrivabene urges concentration at Ferrari

    Ferrari Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene has emphasised that the Italian outfit must remain disciplined as it prepares for...

    F1
  3. Renault 'quietly confident' ahead of Australia 14:14

    Renault 'quietly confident' ahead of Australia

    Renault Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul says the French power unit supplier is 'quietly confident' ahead of the opening...

    F1
  4. FIA confirms clampdown on helmet changes 13:08

    FIA confirms clampdown on helmet changes

    Formula 1 drivers will be restricted to just one helmet design per season after a proposals put forward by figures inside...

    F1
  5. Final Barcelona pre-season test in numbers 11:01

    Final Barcelona pre-season test in numbers

    The final pre-season test at Barcelona saw Nico Rosberg and Mercedes top the timesheets, and Sauber lead the mileage stakes....

    F1
  6. Vettel expecting close fight behind Mercedes 10:52

    Vettel expecting close fight behind Mercedes

    Sebastian Vettel says he expects a close fight between Williams, Red Bull and his Ferrari team this year - albeit some way...

    F1
  7. Mick Schumacher to race in German Formula 4 10:45

    Mick Schumacher to race in German Formula 4

    Mick Schumacher, son of seven-time Formula 1 World Champion Michael, will make his car racing debut in German ADAC Formula 4...

    Misc
  8. Pons Racing parts company with Tunjo 10:33

    Pons Racing parts company with Tunjo

    Formula Renault 3.5 outfit Pons Racing has confirmed that it has parted company with Colombian youngster Óscar...

    FR 3.5
  9. 09:57

    Photos: Red Bull presents RB11 livery

    F1
  10. Red Bull reveals final RB11 livery 09:32

    Red Bull reveals final RB11 livery

    Red Bull has revealed the RB11 in its final race colours, ahead of the squad's planned filming day at the Circuit de...

    F1
  11. Tost happy with Toro Rosso's preparation 08:38

    Tost happy with Toro Rosso's preparation

    Toro Rosso Team Principal Franz Tost says he is encouraged by the progress the squad has made across its pre-season testing...

    F1
  12. Chilton joins Nissan's LMP1 project 08:15

    Chilton joins Nissan's LMP1 project

    Former Formula 1 driver Max Chilton has confirmed that he will make the switch to the World Endurance Championship this year...

    LM
  13. Video of the Day: Chilton links up with Nissan 08:12

    Video of the Day: Chilton links up with Nissan

    Former Marussia racer Max Chilton and Nissan GT Academy mentor Alex Buncombe discuss their roles with Nissan ahead of the...

    LM
  14. Sunday 1 March 2015

  15. 19:26

    Photos: Barcelona pre-season testing – Day 4

    F1
  16. Pérez upbeat after first experience of VJM08 19:12

    Pérez upbeat after first experience of VJM08

    Sergio Pérez expressed his optimism after he received his first taste of Force India's VJM08 at the Circuit de...

    F1
  17. McLaren prepared for tricky start to 2015 18:57

    McLaren prepared for tricky start to 2015

    McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier says the squad is prepared for a tricky start to its 2015 campaign after pre-season...

    F1
  18. Lotus: Brake issue caused Maldonado crash 18:33

    Lotus: Brake issue caused Maldonado crash

    Lotus has confirmed that a brake problem caused Pastor Maldonado's crash on the final day of pre-season testing in...

    F1
  19. Rosberg pleased with Mercedes' pre-season 18:13

    Rosberg pleased with Mercedes' pre-season

    Nico Rosberg declared himself happy with Mercedes' pre-season preparations, after topping the combined times at the final...

    F1
  20. 17:08

    Barcelona pre-season testing: Day 4 results

    F1
  21. Bottas tops final day of pre-season testing 17:03

    Bottas tops final day of pre-season testing

    Williams driver Valtteri Bottas set the fastest time as the third and final pre-season test reached its conclusion at the...

    F1
  22. Hamilton explains decision to keep #44 13:06

    Hamilton explains decision to keep #44

    World Champion Lewis Hamilton says he chose to keep #44 as his car number for the upcoming season as it "means more to me"...

    F1
  23. 07:51

    Follow Barcelona pre-season testing live!

    F1
  24. Magnussen wanted Le Mans drive with father 07:46

    Magnussen wanted Le Mans drive with father

    McLaren test and reserve driver Kevin Magnussen says he enquired over the possibility of racing alongside father Jan for...

    F1
  25. Barcelona pre-season testing: Day 4 line-up 06:47

    Barcelona pre-season testing: Day 4 line-up

    The final pre-season test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya concludes on Sunday and, to keep you up to date with who is...

    F1
  26. Video of the Day: Official Formula E anthem 05:24

    Video of the Day: Official Formula E anthem

    Spanish musician and record producer Nacho Cano had released an official anthem for Formula E.

    FE
  27. Saturday 28 February 2015

  28. 21:12

    Photos: Barcelona pre-season testing – Day 3

    F1
  29. First Ferrari race simulation pleases Allison 20:04

    First Ferrari race simulation pleases Allison

    Ferrari Technical Director James Allison expressed his happiness after the squad was able to conduct its first race...

    F1
  30. Hamilton: Predicting main rivals is 'irrelevant' 19:34

    Hamilton: Predicting main rivals is 'irrelevant'

    Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton says it is "irrelevant" to make predictions over who the outfit's main rivals will be in...

    F1
  31. Ricciardo content with Red Bull progress 19:05

    Ricciardo content with Red Bull progress

    Daniel Ricciardo played down his lowly position on the timesheets during the penultimate day of pre-season testing at the...

    F1
  32. Magnussen feels 'very good base' with MP4-30 18:47

    Magnussen feels 'very good base' with MP4-30

    McLaren tester Kevin Magnussen says the team's Honda-powered MP4-30 feels better in many areas compared to its...

    F1
  33. 17:05

    Barcelona pre-season testing: Day 3 results

    F1
  34. Hamilton keeps Mercedes on top in Barcelona 17:04

    Hamilton keeps Mercedes on top in Barcelona

    Lewis Hamilton ensured that Mercedes remained at the top of the times on the penultimate day of the final pre-season test at...

    F1
  35. Symonds supportive of Manor revival 14:28

    Symonds supportive of Manor revival

    Williams' Chief Technical Officer Pat Symonds says it will be a boost for Formula 1 if Manor can make it to the grid for the...

    F1
  36. Booth: Manor 'very close' to making first race 10:25

    Booth: Manor 'very close' to making first race

    John Booth says Manor Marussia is "very close" to making it to the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, after the team was...

    F1
  37. Video: Vergne drives Ferrari Formula 1 car 08:47

    Video: Vergne drives Ferrari Formula 1 car

    Jean-Éric Vergne completed his first laps in a Ferrari F1 car during a demo in Adelaide on Saturday.

    F1
  38. Vergne completes Ferrari demo in Adelaide 08:11

    Vergne completes Ferrari demo in Adelaide

    Jean-Éric Vergne got behind the wheel of a Ferrari Formula 1 car for the first time on Saturday when he completed a...

    F1
  39. 07:52

    Follow Barcelona pre-season testing live!

    F1
  40. Barcelona pre-season testing: Day 3 line-up 06:43

    Barcelona pre-season testing: Day 3 line-up

    The final pre-season test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya continues on Saturday and, to keep you up to date with who...

    F1
  41. FIA wants new cameras for crash investigations 06:28

    FIA wants new cameras for crash investigations

    New high speed cameras could be fitted to Formula 1 cars from 2016 in a bid to improve investigations into...

    F1
  42. Video of the Day: Getting ready for pre-season 05:16

    Video of the Day: Getting ready for pre-season

    Mercedes documents the final push to getting the F1 W06 Hybrid ready for pre-season testing.

    F1
  43. Friday 27 February 2015

  44. 21:02

    Photos: Barcelona pre-season testing – Day 2

    F1
more news