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. Thursday 29 June 2017

  2. Lowes hails 'big steps forward' at Assen 14:54

    Lowes hails 'big steps forward' at Assen

    Aprilia rider Sam Lowes reckons he took "big steps forward" at the Dutch TT and is hopeful of ending the first half of his…

    MotoGP
  3. 14:02

    Follow us on Instagram for the best photos!

    F1
  4. Pirelli announces Italian GP compounds 14:00

    Pirelli announces Italian GP compounds

    Formula 1 tyre supplier has announced that it will bring its Super Soft, Soft and Medium compounds to the Italian Grand Prix…

    F1
  5. Video: Chandhok drives Williams FW40 12:32

    Video: Chandhok drives Williams FW40

    Wiliams Heritage driver Karun Chandhok recently got the opportunity to sample the FW40 at Silverstone.

    F1
  6. Button urges F1 to 'move on' from Baku 11:28

    Button urges F1 to 'move on' from Baku

    Jenson Button has urged Formula 1 to "move on" from the Sebastian Vettel/Lewis Hamilton controversy at the Azerbaijan Grand…

    F1
  7. 'Formula 1 considers launch show for fans' 09:56

    'Formula 1 considers launch show for fans'

    Formula 1 is considering a pre-season launch event for fans, involving all drivers and all teams, in the build up to the 2018…

    F1
  8. Force India set to change name for 2018 09:23

    Force India set to change name for 2018

    Force India looks set to change its name to Force One Grand Prix after the new moniker, and several other iterations, were…

    F1
  9. Viñales eager to reclaim championship lead 07:36

    Viñales eager to reclaim championship lead

    Yamaha's Maverick Viñales says he is focused on reclaiming the championship lead at the German Grand Prix, after crashing out…

    MotoGP
  10. Video of the Day: Azerbaijan GP strategy 05:38

    Video of the Day: Azerbaijan GP strategy

    Mercedes looks back on strategy at last weekend's Azerbaijan Grand Prix with its Pure Pit Wall set up.

    F1
  11. Wednesday 28 June 2017

  12. FIA to 'further examine' Vettel/Hamilton clash 17:49

    FIA to 'further examine' Vettel/Hamilton clash

    F1's governing body, the FIA, will revisit the controversial clash between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton at the Azerbaijan…

    F1
  13. Dovizioso 'won't change' after taking lead 16:12

    Dovizioso 'won't change' after taking lead

    Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso insists he will not change his approach to racing at this weekend's German Grand Prix, after moving…

    MotoGP
  14. Video: Go behind-the-scenes at DS Virgin 13:58

    Video: Go behind-the-scenes at DS Virgin

    Go behind-the-scenes at a Formula E event with DS Virgin, featuring Sam Bird and José María López.

    FE
  15. Lynn replaces Lopez at Virgin for New York 12:30

    Lynn replaces Lopez at Virgin for New York

    Alex Lynn has been confirmed as José María López's replacement at DS Virgin Racing for the upcoming Formula E double-header…

    FE
  16. Celis Jr. to get FP1 runs in Austria, Hungary 12:11

    Celis Jr. to get FP1 runs in Austria, Hungary

    Force India reserve driver Alfonso Celis Jr. will make further practice outings with the team at the Austrian and Hungarian…

    F1
  17. Kallio confirmed for Sachsenring round 11:59

    Kallio confirmed for Sachsenring round

    KTM test rider Mika Kallio will join regular racers Pol Espargaró and Bradley Smith at this weekend's German Grand Prix after…

    MotoGP
  18. Marko: Red Bull can win on merit in 2017 11:57

    Marko: Red Bull can win on merit in 2017

    Helmut Marko reckons Red Bull will have opportunities to win races on pure speed in 2017, in the wake of recent chassis and…

    F1
  19. Video: Professor B on IndyCar seat technology 10:47

    Video: Professor B on IndyCar seat technology

    Jon Beekhuis (otherwise known as Professor B) runs through driver seat technology in IndyCar.

    Indy
  20. MotoGP extends Sachsenring practice time 09:57

    MotoGP extends Sachsenring practice time

    MotoGP has added 10 minutes of extra running to both of Friday's practice sessions for the German Grand Prix, due to the…

    MotoGP
  21. Ricciardo sure Verstappen will bounce back 09:02

    Ricciardo sure Verstappen will bounce back

    Daniel Ricciardo is sure Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen will bounce back from misfortune, after the Dutch youngster was…

    F1
  22. In photos: Story of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix 07:48

    In photos: Story of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix

    Daniel Ricciardo profited from drama to take his and Red Bull's first win of the season, after Sebastian Vettel and Lewis…

    F1
  23. Video of the Day: Ricciardo's flight home 05:42

    Video of the Day: Ricciardo's flight home

    Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull chiefs celebrate on the flight home after victory in Azerbaijan.

    F1
  24. Tuesday 27 June 2017

  25. Pirelli reveals Austrian GP tyre selections 16:49

    Pirelli reveals Austrian GP tyre selections

    F1 tyre supplier Pirelli has revealed drivers' selections for the Austrian Grand Prix. Pirelli will bring its Ultra Soft…

    F1
  26. Stroll says early criticism was 'just noise' 16:42

    Stroll says early criticism was 'just noise'

    Williams rookie Lance Stroll says criticism he received during the opening stages of the campaign was "just noise", after he…

    F1
  27. Leclerc 'caught back' lost Monaco points 15:16

    Leclerc 'caught back' lost Monaco points

    Ferrari protégé Charles Leclerc believes the outcome of Formula 2's weekend in Baku enabled him to recapture the points he…

    F2
  28. CoW public funding guarantees refused 13:39

    CoW public funding guarantees refused

    A major blow has been dealt to the Circuit of Wales project after the Welsh Government turned down a request for more than £200…

    MotoGP
  29. Wolff: Azerbaijan confirmed Mercedes pace 12:36

    Wolff: Azerbaijan confirmed Mercedes pace

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes the team can take solace from the pace of the W08 at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, despite…

    F1
  30. Honda to bring 'Spec 3' PU to Austrian GP 11:24

    Honda to bring 'Spec 3' PU to Austrian GP

    Honda chief Yusuke Hasegawa has confirmed that its 'Spec 3' power unit will be introduced at the Austrian Grand Prix, following…

    F1
  31. Analysis: Should stewards have parked Vettel? 10:12

    Analysis: Should stewards have parked Vettel?

    Sebastian Vettel's dark side came out once more during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, as he reacted angrily to a suspected brake…

    F1
  32. Silverstone gets four-day track schedule 09:29

    Silverstone gets four-day track schedule

    Silverstone has published a new schedule for this year's British Grand Prix, with track action to take place from Thursday…

    Misc
  33. Viñales 'can't explain' Dutch GP accident 09:02

    Viñales 'can't explain' Dutch GP accident

    Maverick Viñales admitted he was at a loss to explain his spectacular exit from the Dutch Grand Prix, as he relinquished the…

    MotoGP
  34. Palmer, Renault rue dismal Baku weekend 07:08

    Palmer, Renault rue dismal Baku weekend

    Renault was left to rue a troubled weekend at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after leaving as the only team not to score a point in…

    F1
  35. Video of the Day: Road America highlights 05:28

    Video of the Day: Road America highlights

    Watch race highlights from the Kohler Grand Prix at Road America as Scott Dixon overhauls the Penske quartet to capture his…

    Indy
  36. Monday 26 June 2017

  37. Azerbaijan Grand Prix: Winners and Losers 16:52

    Azerbaijan Grand Prix: Winners and Losers

    Daniel Ricciardo claimed victory while Lewis Hamilton had headrest issues and Sebastian Vettel simply lost his head.…

    F1
  38. Petrucci was 'very close' to first victory 16:02

    Petrucci was 'very close' to first victory

    Pramac's Danilo Petrucci said a maiden MotoGP victory was "very close" as he narrowly missed out to Valentino Rossi at the Dutch…

    MotoGP
  39. Massa feels double podium within reach 15:16

    Massa feels double podium within reach

    Felipe Massa feels a double podium finish was within reach for Williams at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, as he retired while…

    F1
  40. Vandoorne: Impossible to pass Saubers 14:04

    Vandoorne: Impossible to pass Saubers

    McLaren-Honda's Stoffel Vandoorne says it was "impossible" to pass Sauber pair Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein in Azerbaijan…

    F1
  41. Sainz Jr. calls first-lap spin a 'sacrifice' 12:46

    Sainz Jr. calls first-lap spin a 'sacrifice'

    Carlos Sainz Jr. labelled his first-lap spin at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as a "sacrifice" as he rotated his STR12 in order to…

    F1
  42. Ricciardo: Vettel must 'put a lid' on emotions 12:07

    Ricciardo: Vettel must 'put a lid' on emotions

    Azerbaijan Grand Prix victor Daniel Ricciardo reckons former team-mate Sebastian Vettel needs to "put a lid" on his emotions…

    F1
  43. Ericsson allowed Wehrlein through for point 11:28

    Ericsson allowed Wehrlein through for point

    Marcus Ericsson has revealed that he accepted a team order from Sauber to allow Pascal Wehrlein through during the closing…

    F1
  44. Rossi: MotoGP title race 'unbelievable' 10:46

    Rossi: MotoGP title race 'unbelievable'

    Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi has labelled the MotoGP title battle as "unbelievable", after he ended his year-long drought with…

    MotoGP
more news