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. Wednesday 16 August 2017

  2. 17:22

    Follow us on Instagram for the best photos!

    F1
  3. Saavedra gets SPM seat for next two rounds 17:17

    Saavedra gets SPM seat for next two rounds

    Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) has announced that Sebastián Saavedra will pilot the No. 7 Honda for the next two rounds of…

    Indy
  4. Iannone urges patience for Suzuki gains 16:12

    Iannone urges patience for Suzuki gains

    Andrea Iannone says Suzuki "learned so much" across back-to-back events in the Czech Republic and Austria, but has urged the…

    MotoGP
  5. Video: F1 2017 game 'Born to Be Wild' trailer 14:24

    Video: F1 2017 game 'Born to Be Wild' trailer

    Watch the latest trailer for Codemasters' new video game, F1 2017, to be released on August 25.

    F1
  6. Vandoorne making 'big steps' at every race 12:19

    Vandoorne making 'big steps' at every race

    Stoffel Vandoorne feels that he is making "big steps" forward at every Grand Prix following a difficult start to his first…

    F1
  7. Video: Mansell's Williams FW14B on track 11:02

    Video: Mansell's Williams FW14B on track

    25 years ago today, Nigel Mansell claimed the 1992 world title with the revolutionary Williams FW14B. Karun Chandhok recently…

    F1
  8. Rabat's title-winning Moto2 bike stolen 10:28

    Rabat's title-winning Moto2 bike stolen

    Tito Rabat's title-winning Moto2 bike was stolen from Marc VDS' base in Belgium on Wednesday, the team has revealed, as it seeks…

    MotoGP
  9. Montoya gets sports car deal with Penske 10:05

    Montoya gets sports car deal with Penske

    Juan Pablo Montoya will return to full-time competition in 2018, after signing a deal to race for Penske in the IMSA WeatherTech…

    Misc
  10. Bourdais given 'all clear' for IndyCar return 09:41

    Bourdais given 'all clear' for IndyCar return

    Sébastien Bourdais has been given the "all clear" to return to IndyCar action following a final check-up with medical chiefs in…

    Indy
  11. Mid-season review: Renault's steady progress 09:02

    Mid-season review: Renault's steady progress

    GPUpdate.net continues its mid-season review by reflecting on Renault's slow and steady progress since its full-time return…

    F1
  12. Video: Sounds of Williams' 40 years in F1 05:42

    Video: Sounds of Williams' 40 years in F1

    Williams has released a spine-tingling film of the various sounds from its 40 years in Formula 1.

    F1
  13. Tuesday 15 August 2017

  14. Video: McLaren's Woking Grand Prix 'plan' 16:22

    Video: McLaren's Woking Grand Prix 'plan'

    McLaren presents a tongue-in-cheek plan to add a Woking Grand Prix to the Formula 1 calendar.

    F1
  15. In photos: Formula 1 drivers' summer breaks 15:02

    In photos: Formula 1 drivers' summer breaks

    Formula 1 broke up for summer earlier this month, following an intense first half of the season, but what has the grid been up…

    F1
  16. Video: Formula 1 fans go behind-the-scenes 14:12

    Video: Formula 1 fans go behind-the-scenes

    Watch as Mercedes competition winners get a behind-the-scenes experience at this year's British GP.

    F1
  17. Kallio: Top 10 finish 'like a victory' for KTM 12:54

    Kallio: Top 10 finish 'like a victory' for KTM

    KTM test rider Mika Kallio labelled his top 10 finish as "like a victory" for the manufacturer as he displayed encouraging pace…

    MotoGP
  18. Stroll expected 'adversity' in rookie season 11:40

    Stroll expected 'adversity' in rookie season

    Williams rookie Lance Stroll says he braced himself for moments of "adversity" when he stepped up to Formula 1 and is pleased…

    F1
  19. Dovizioso: Marginal gains behind title tilt 10:38

    Dovizioso: Marginal gains behind title tilt

    Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso says "tiny" gains in several areas are behind his emergence as a title contender in MotoGP, following…

    MotoGP
  20. Redding to show 'full potential' with Aprilia 09:31

    Redding to show 'full potential' with Aprilia

    Scott Redding says he expects to show his "full potential" when he makes the switch to Aprilia for the 2018 season, having…

    MotoGP
  21. Mid-season review: Haas avoids 2017 slump 08:52

    Mid-season review: Haas avoids 2017 slump

    GPUpdate.net's mid-season review series continues with Haas, which has made gradual gains in its sophomore season, following the…

    F1
  22. Video: Importance of teamwork in motorsport 05:36

    Video: Importance of teamwork in motorsport

    SAFEisFAST highlights the importance of teamwork in motorsport with the Castrol Honda WTCC team.

    Misc
  23. Monday 14 August 2017

  24. Video: F1 2017 wet-weather gameplay at Spa 16:32

    Video: F1 2017 wet-weather gameplay at Spa

    Watch a 50% distance wet race at Spa-Francorchamps in Codemasters' new video game, F1 2017.

    F1
  25. Lorenzo: Austria my best race yet with Ducati 15:42

    Lorenzo: Austria my best race yet with Ducati

    Jorge Lorenzo labelled the Austrian Grand Prix as his best race since he joined Ducati at the start of the season, having spent…

    MotoGP
  26. Aprilia backs Lowes to 'express his talent' 14:59

    Aprilia backs Lowes to 'express his talent'

    Aprilia boss Romano Albesiano has backed Sam Lowes to "express his talent" again in the future, following confirmation that the…

    MotoGP
  27. Räikkönen adamant he still 'has the speed' 14:20

    Räikkönen adamant he still 'has the speed'

    Ferrari's Kimi Räikkönen insists that he still "has the speed" to compete at the front of the Formula 1 field, despite a mixed…

    F1
  28. Aprilia announces Redding for 2018 season 13:26

    Aprilia announces Redding for 2018 season

    Aprilia has officially announced that Scott Redding will join the team for the 2018 season. Aprilia boss Romano Albesiano had…

    MotoGP
  29. Video: World's Fastest Gamer qualifiers - #1 11:02

    Video: World's Fastest Gamer qualifiers - #1

    Watch the first round of World's Fastest Gamer qualifiers at Silverstone. Virtual racers are competing for the ultimate job in…

    Misc
  30. Yamaha pair pin deficit on rear tyre issues 10:24

    Yamaha pair pin deficit on rear tyre issues

    Yamaha riders Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi pointed to rear tyre wear as a crucial limiting factor after the duo slumped…

    MotoGP
  31. Mid-season review: STR inches towards goal 08:44

    Mid-season review: STR inches towards goal

    GPUpdate.net resumes its 2017 mid-season Formula 1 review series by taking a look at Toro Rosso's campaign, as the Faenza-based…

    F1
  32. Video: IndyCar 2018 aero kit safety features 05:42

    Video: IndyCar 2018 aero kit safety features

    IndyCar technical guru Jon Beekhuis explains the enhanced safety features of next year's universal aero kits.

    Indy
  33. 04:06

    MotoGP standings after Austrian Grand Prix

    MotoGP
  34. Sunday 13 August 2017

  35. Márquez was 'on the limit' in Austria fight 17:25

    Márquez was 'on the limit' in Austria fight

    Repsol Honda rider Marc Márquez says he was "on the limit" and "decided to go all-in" during his frenetic battle with Ducati…

    MotoGP
  36. Aprilia 'close' to deal with Redding for 2018 16:04

    Aprilia 'close' to deal with Redding for 2018

    Aprilia Racing Manager Romano Albesiano has indicated that the team is close to completing a deal with Scott Redding for the…

    MotoGP
  37. 15:29

    Latest MotoGP photos: Sunday in Spielberg

    MotoGP
  38. Dovizioso was braced for Márquez lunge 14:51

    Dovizioso was braced for Márquez lunge

    Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso says he knew Repsol Honda rival Marc Márquez would attempt to wrestle away the lead at the final…

    MotoGP
  39. 14:26

    In full: 2017 Austrian Grand Prix results

    MotoGP
  40. Dovizioso beats Márquez in epic Austrian GP 13:45

    Dovizioso beats Márquez in epic Austrian GP

    Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso prevailed over reigning World Champion Marc Márquez in a sensational race-long battle for honours at…

    MotoGP
  41. 12:30

    Starting grid for the Austrian Grand Prix

    MotoGP
  42. Viñales: Yamaha losing out on acceleration 09:12

    Viñales: Yamaha losing out on acceleration

    Maverick Viñales feels that Yamaha is losing out under acceleration at the Austrian Grand Prix, as he prepares to start the…

    MotoGP
  43. Schmidt, Aleshin mutually agree to split 07:52

    Schmidt, Aleshin mutually agree to split

    Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has announced that Mikhail Aleshin will not compete for the team in IndyCar across the remainder of…

    Indy
  44. Video: Jorge Lorenzo's Austrian GP helmet 05:54

    Video: Jorge Lorenzo's Austrian GP helmet

    Take a look at the revised helmet livery which will be sported by Ducati's Jorge Lorenzo at the Austrian Grand Prix.

    MotoGP
more news