Can anyone catch the Astras?…
Rounds one and two at Brands Hatch lived up to much of the pre-season hype, with a suitably
large crowd taking in the race action on Bank Holiday Monday. The Touring class brought few
surprises, with Vauxhalls filling the podium in both races, and only a problem for Yvan Muller in
the feature race preventing a total clean sweep. With the exception of the Vauxhall camp, all will
be hoping that someone get slightly closer to the Astras at Thruxton.
Most likely competition to the Vauxhalls will be the Peugeot team. However, the short period of time
since Brands Hatch has been very eventful for the VLR team. They have suffered the collapse of a
major sponsorship deal, leading to the announcement that crowd-favourite Matt Neal will not be
racing for the team for the rest of the season. Despite what is undeniably a major blow for the
team, they will be hoping to have made considerable progress since Brands Hatch, and to be slightly
nearer to the times set by the Astras.
JS Motorsports ran their Alfa Romeo on the same track as their competitors for the first time at
Brands Hatch, and it could only be described as 'uncompetitive'. The three weeks between the
meetings should have given the team time to make improvements, but hopes of being up with the
Vauxhalls at the front of the grid would still seem slightly optimistic at this stage.
The ABG Motorsport team were at rounds 1 & 2 but were unable to have the first of their Lexuses
ready in time to run it on the track. If as hoped, they can be ready for Thruxton, it would surely
be very useful in terms of development of the car, and would be welcomed by the crowd, but not
realistically be regarded as anything more than an extended test session.
As much as it would be good to see competitive racing between the teams at the forthcoming rounds,
it is perhaps a little unrealistic. The Peugeots, Alfas and Lexuses have a lot of catching up to do and
we can only hope that the extra success ballast that the Astras will be carrying will slow them
down enough to make a difference. However, if nothing else, the four Vauxhall drivers have
all shown that they are closely matched, and this should provide a highly entertaining 'race within