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 24 August 2016

  2. 17:22

    Book F1 tickets and join the action live!

    F1
  3. Hamilton engine penalty 'likely' in Belgium 16:52

    Hamilton engine penalty 'likely' in Belgium

    Mercedes has stated that Lewis Hamilton is "likely" to suffer a grid drop at this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix, for taking on…

    F1
  4. Mercedes set to run halo in Spa practice 16:31

    Mercedes set to run halo in Spa practice

    Mercedes is planning to run the 'halo' on Nico Rosberg's car during Friday practice at this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix, a…

    F1
  5. Wolff: Mercedes taking nothing for granted 15:02

    Wolff: Mercedes taking nothing for granted

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has insisted that the team is taking nothing for granted as the second half of the 2016 season gets…

    F1
  6. Enstone 'refreshed' after Renault return 13:48

    Enstone 'refreshed' after Renault return

    Renault technical chief Bob Bell says the manufacturer's long-term plan is in progress, commenting that facilities at its…

    F1
  7. Video: Conor Daly quizzed on career so far 11:31

    Video: Conor Daly quizzed on career so far

    IndyCar quizzes Dale Coyne Racing's Conor Daly in the latest instalment of its 'test drive' series.

    Indy
  8. Boullier: 2016 gains will aid 2017 package 10:40

    Boullier: 2016 gains will aid 2017 package

    McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier says there will be "no let-up" from the team in terms of its development as anything it…

    F1
  9. Symonds expects Belgian GP to suit Williams 09:24

    Symonds expects Belgian GP to suit Williams

    Williams Chief Technical Officer Pat Symonds says he expects the upcoming Belgian Grand Prix to suit the team, as it bids to…

    F1
  10. Vettel set to defend RoC crown in Miami 08:42

    Vettel set to defend RoC crown in Miami

    The Race of Champions will head to the United States for the first time in its history in early 2017, with Sebastian Vettel set…

    Misc
  11. Laverty to leave MotoGP for World Superbikes 08:16

    Laverty to leave MotoGP for World Superbikes

    Eugene Laverty has confirmed that he will leave MotoGP at the end of the season after signing a deal to race for Aprilia in the…

    MotoGP
  12. Preview: Belgian Grand Prix - Round 13 07:32

    Preview: Belgian Grand Prix - Round 13

    Formula 1 returns to action with the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend, following its now traditional summer break. GPUpdate.net…

    F1
  13. Video of the Day: ABC Supply 500 highlights 05:26

    Video of the Day: ABC Supply 500 highlights

    Watch highlights of IndyCar's ABC Supply 500, won by Will Power after a scary crash for Hélio Castroneves.

    Indy
  14. Tuesday 23 August 2016

  15. Rosberg: Belgian GP marks 'clean slate' 17:02

    Rosberg: Belgian GP marks 'clean slate'

    Nico Rosberg has described the second half of the campaign as a "clean slate", as he looks to overhaul Mercedes team-mate Lewis…

    F1
  16. Sauber signs Verstappen's former engineer 15:17

    Sauber signs Verstappen's former engineer

    Sauber has confirmed the appointment of Xevi Pujolar as its new Head of Track Engineering. Pujolar has worked for several…

    F1
  17. Hamilton expecting more 'ups and downs' 14:51

    Hamilton expecting more 'ups and downs'

    Lewis Hamilton says he expects more "ups and downs" over the second half of the season, though is entering this weekend's…

    F1
  18. Pirelli reveals Italian GP tyre selections 12:15

    Pirelli reveals Italian GP tyre selections

    Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has revealed the driver-by-driver compound selections for the Italian Grand Prix, with the…

    F1
  19. Vasseur: Renault must focus on 'small details' 10:08

    Vasseur: Renault must focus on 'small details'

    Renault can deliver more performance over the second half of the 2016 season by focusing on the "smaller details", according to…

    F1
  20. NextEV retains Piquet Jr., Turvey for 2016/17 09:10

    NextEV retains Piquet Jr., Turvey for 2016/17

    NextEV has retained Nelson Piquet Jr. and Oliver Turvey for the 2016/17 Formula E season. Piquet Jr. and Turvey first teamed…

    FE
  21. In photos: Spa-Francorchamps' iconic moments 08:22

    In photos: Spa-Francorchamps' iconic moments

    As Formula 1 gears up for the second half of the 2016 season, GPUpdate.net looks back at some of the most memorable moments at…

    F1
  22. Video of the Day: Racing a Formula E car 05:22

    Video of the Day: Racing a Formula E car

    Nelson Piquet, Lucas di Grassi, Bruno Senna and more discuss the skills required to race a Formula E car.

    FE
  23. Monday 22 August 2016

  24. Power wins, Pagenaud crashes at Pocono 20:22

    Power wins, Pagenaud crashes at Pocono

    Will Power and Team Penske denied Mikhail Aleshin his first IndyCar win at Pocono on Monday, craftily taking the lead through…

    Indy
  25. Video: Hülkenberg's Belgian GP preview 15:02

    Video: Hülkenberg's Belgian GP preview

    Force India's Nico Hülkenberg looks ahead to this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.

    F1
  26. Alonso: McLaren can surprise in Belgium 14:18

    Alonso: McLaren can surprise in Belgium

    Fernando Alonso hopes that McLaren will be able to score some more points at the Belgian Grand Prix, despite admitting the…

    F1
  27. Lorenzo left to rue tyre 'mishap' at Brno 12:44

    Lorenzo left to rue tyre 'mishap' at Brno

    MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo was left to rue further "bad luck" as his chances of defending his crown took a hit at the Czech…

    MotoGP
  28. Mallya: Force India 'in the fight' for fourth 10:38

    Mallya: Force India 'in the fight' for fourth

    Force India team boss Vijay Mallya feels that the outfit is "in the fight" with Williams for fourth in the standings, as Formula…

    F1
  29. Márquez pleased with points after wrong call 10:32

    Márquez pleased with points after wrong call

    Marc Márquez labelled third position a "good result" at the Czech Republic Grand Prix, though accepted responsibility for the…

    MotoGP
  30. Rosenqvist joins Heidfeld at Mahindra in FE 09:19

    Rosenqvist joins Heidfeld at Mahindra in FE

    Mahinda has announced that 2015 European Formula 3 champion Felix Rosenqvist will partner Nick Heidfeld for the third season of…

    FE
  31. Interview: Honda chief on playing catch-up 08:32

    Interview: Honda chief on playing catch-up

    Yusuke Hasegawa arrived as Honda's new F1 chief at the start of the year, replacing Yasuhisa Arai, after a demanding reunion…

    F1
  32. Video of the Day: Jordan's simulator attempt 05:10

    Video of the Day: Jordan's simulator attempt

    Former Formula 1 team owner and TV personality Eddie Jordan takes part in Red Bull's simulator challenge.

    F1
  33. Sunday 21 August 2016

  34. ABC Supply 500 delayed until Monday 20:09

    ABC Supply 500 delayed until Monday

    Heavy rain in Long Pond, Pennsylvania, forced the ABC Supply 500 to be delayed until Monday, IndyCar officials announced…

    Indy
  35. 16:40

    Latest MotoGP photos: Sunday at Brno

    MotoGP
  36. Rossi felt 'desperate' during initial laps 16:22

    Rossi felt 'desperate' during initial laps

    Valentino Rossi revealed he was "desperate" during the early stages of the Czech Republic Grand Prix before his tyre choice…

    MotoGP
  37. Crutchlow revels in first MotoGP triumph 15:10

    Crutchlow revels in first MotoGP triumph

    Cal Crutchlow revelled in his maiden MotoGP victory after he triumphed for LCR Honda during tricky conditions at Brno, courtesy…

    MotoGP
  38. Crutchlow takes maiden win at wet Brno 13:51

    Crutchlow takes maiden win at wet Brno

    LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow claimed his maiden MotoGP victory during a thrilling Czech Republic Grand Prix at a wet but drying…

    MotoGP
  39. Video: IndyCar's different circuit challenges 10:04

    Video: IndyCar's different circuit challenges

    How do IndyCar drivers adapt to racing on a variety of circuit types, such as short ovals, permanent road courses, super…

    Indy
  40. MotoGP tweaks bike swap rules for safety 08:51

    MotoGP tweaks bike swap rules for safety

    MotoGP mechanics will have to wear helmets in the pit lane during bike changes in flag-to-flag races, as part of safety…

    MotoGP
  41. Video of the Day: Art of a Formula 1 pit-stop 05:22

    Video of the Day: Art of a Formula 1 pit-stop

    McLaren-Honda presents the 'Art of a Formula 1 pit-stop' in this mechanic-by-mechanic demonstration.

    F1
  42. Saturday 20 August 2016

  43. Aleshin earns first career pole at Pocono 20:20

    Aleshin earns first career pole at Pocono

    Mikhail Aleshin secured his first career IndyCar pole position on Saturday with a two-lap average of 220.445mph at Pocono.…

    Indy
  44. Video: Hunter-Reay suffers practice crash 16:31

    Video: Hunter-Reay suffers practice crash

    Watch as Ryan Hunter-Reay walks away uninjured following a hefty crash during IndyCar practice at Pocono.

    Indy
  45. 14:00

    Latest MotoGP photos: Saturday at Brno

    MotoGP
more news