Brands BTCC preview: Fords on the brink

Ford is sitting pretty as the British Touring Car Championship moves into its endgame with just three meetings and six rounds to run

Brands BTCC preview: Fords on the brink

Anthony Reid is the points leader, with his Ford team mates Alain Menu and Rickard Rydell close behind. But the Scot will carry the maximum success ballast (40kg) this weekend at Brands Hatch, while all his closest challengers are ballast-free.

That's not necessarily the end of the world, as the 43-year-old Scot points out: "I think of all the circuits to carry ballast the
Brands Hatch Indy track is probably the best. All the places where you need to accelerate hard after tight corners, where the weight hurts you most, are downhill."

All the same Reid is well aware that the short, tight Indy circuit is a place where qualifying near the front is crucial and lap times are always incredibly close. Even a small disadvantage could ruin his day.

The Bank Holiday Monday Brands races will also be the last before the way dropped points will influence the outcome becomes clearer and almost certainly the last chance for Vauxhall drivers Yvan Muller and Jason Plato to move into the title race in earnest.

Consistent finisher Reid currently looks set to suffer most when each driver has to drop his worst four scores, and though a double DNF for Reid at Brands would solve that problem for him, it is also likely to drop him way down the order.

Vauxhall drivers Plato and Muller feel the Indy circuit should suit the Vectra, but with passing so difficult, they must show that the problems they had earlier in the year in extracting qualifying speed from the Vauxhall have been well and truly banished.

"It is still possible to win the championship," says Muller, "and I will be doing everything I possibly can to win it. It will be difficult, for sure, but we have to try to do our best and not make any mistakes."

Honda's trio are aware that their title chances are virtually non-existent, but that won't stop them all chasing race wins. Gabriele Tarquini is Honda's best placed driver, but he - like Reid and Matt Neal - is on 40kg success ballast, while James Thompson will have to carry 20kg.

Class B gets a boost as Gary Ayles Racing brings the Alfa Romeo name back to the series it won in 1994 with a pair of 156s for teenagers Gavin Pyper and Tom Ferrier.

The class wins though are likely to go to the title contenders Alan Morrison and James Kaye. Kaye could be in line for some assistance from his team mate Mark Lemmer, who switches from his regular Integra R to an Accord very similar to the more competitive machine driven by Kaye in his bid to move ahead of Peugeot 306 ace Morrison.

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