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10 things to watch out for at Super Touring Power

The 1990s Super Touring era is heralded as a golden period for tin-top racing, and a special event at Brands Hatch this weekend is set to celebrate those years in style. Here's what to look out for.

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1. Reid to reunite with old rivals

Anthony Reid’s passion for Super Touring machinery is plain to see. He describes the 1990s as the British Touring Car Championship’s “zenith” and says this period “really made my name in motor racing”.

Reid has been a regular in the Classic Touring Car Racing Club’s Super Tourers series over the past two years, and is grateful to Richard Wheeler for giving him the chance to get back behind the wheel of his 1998 Nissan Primera. But this weekend is set to be extra-significant for Reid. With Alain Menu spectating and fellow former Ford driver Paul Radisich making a rare UK appearance to race his 1994 Mondeo (right), Reid is relishing the chance to reunite with old rivals.

“It’s going to be a special weekend – I really do hope we have a big turnout of Super Tourers as that should encourage a good crowd to turn up,” enthuses 1998 and 2000 BTCC runner-up Reid, who recalls a social media post about him testing the Primera prior to the 2022 campaign resulting in scores of people turning up to a midweek test session that afternoon.

In addition to racing the Primera, Reid is due to get behind the wheel of one of Alvin Powell’s Mondeos during the demo sessions as he celebrates two of the most successful Super Tourers.

2. Super Touring icon Menu in attendance

He won't be racing, but two-time BTCC champion Menu will be in attendance, as will his 1993 Renault 19

He won't be racing, but two-time BTCC champion Menu will be in attendance, as will his 1993 Renault 19

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Two-time BTCC champion Alain Menu is one of the most fondly remembered icons of the series’ Super Touring era.

The Swiss star will be a special guest at Brands Hatch across the weekend, reliving a glory period of his illustrious tin-top career. Menu made his BTCC debut at the beginning of the Super Touring era in 1992, driving for BMW, before piloting Renault and Ford machinery in a nine-season spell. Menu famously won BTCC titles in 1997 for Renault, where he partnered Jason Plato, and in 2000, when he drove for the works Ford squad that included Rickard Rydell and Anthony Reid.  

While Menu won’t be driving, he will be on hand to meet the public, sign autographs and tell tales from his Super Touring days. Two of his former cars will be attending the event too, including the Williams-built 1997 Renault Laguna that Menu drove to 12 race victories on his way to that year’s championship.

The car that started his stint at the French manufacturer, the Renault 19 he piloted during the 1993 season, will also be on display. 

3. A Kiwi invasion

Richards will drive Volvo S40 owned by O’Donnell that his father raced in period

Richards will drive Volvo S40 owned by O’Donnell that his father raced in period

Photo by: JEP

Paul Radisich won’t be the only famous touring car driver from New Zealand competing this weekend. The former Ford and Peugeot BTCC star will be joined by a contingent of Kiwis who have made the trip especially for the event, with V8 Supercars stars Greg Murphy and Steven Richards, who share nine Bathurst 1000 wins between them, making their Brands Hatch race debuts.

Murphy is set to race a Peter Sturgeon-owned Nissan Primera, which is among a group of cars making the trip from New Zealand. While Murphy made his name in Supercars, he raced Audis in the Australian Super Touring Championship in 1995 and 1996, before driving a Holden Vectra in the 1998 Bathurst 1000.

Richards will drive a Volvo S40 owned by New Zealander Lindsay O’Donnell, a machine raced in period by Richards’s father Jim. Steven, who also competed in the Australian Super Touring category from 1995-97, raced against the S40 at the 1998 Bathurst 1000, when he shared a Nissan Primera with Matt Neal.

4. Current BTCC stars also set to join the fun

Current BTCC ace Hill will race ex-Aiello Primera

Current BTCC ace Hill will race ex-Aiello Primera

Photo by: Peter Scherer

It’s not just key players from the Super Touring period who will be at the wheel this weekend, but the current generation of British Touring Car greats will also be represented, with BMW driver Jake Hill racing an ex-Laurent Aiello 1999 Nissan Primera.

Hill has already raced a huge range of historic machinery, but his only previous Super Touring experience came with a Spanish test in a Honda Accord. That was until he had the chance to sample the Primera for the first time at Donington Park last week and was blown away by its performance.

“This was on another level,” says Hill. “I totally fell in love with this Primera, I really did. It’s such a special bit of kit. It’s how light it feels, how nimble compared to a modern-day touring car. They’re 400 kilos lighter – 950 to 1375! But the best thing about it is how it revs to 8500rpm. Pulling gears all the time to keep it singing – that’s such a special feeling.”

Another current BTCC frontrunner due to attend is three-time champion Ash Sutton, who is set to pilot his 2023 Ford Focus during the Sunday demonstration slot.

5. Dynamic demos and a varied display of tin-tops

The incomparable 850 Estate will be among the machines to get a demo run

The incomparable 850 Estate will be among the machines to get a demo run

Photo by: Motorsport Images

In addition to the cars racing this weekend, a whole plethora of machinery will be taking to the track for demonstration runs.

At 1205 on Saturday and 1230 on Sunday an eclectic mix of tin-tops will be in action. Extra Super Tourers will be joined by other classic machines, such as touring car legend Steve Soper driving a Bastos-liveried Ford Sierra RS500, while an ex-Barry Sheene Toyota Supra, a Bill McGovern Hillman Imp and even an old Jason Plato Subaru are all due to take part.

Even more classic BTCC cars will be on static display throughout the event, including several cars from Super Touring’s earlier days in 1994. The unforgettable Volvo 850R estate, as well as an example of the title-winning Alfa Romeo 155 and Jo Winkelhock’s BMW 318i from that year, will also be in attendance. It may not have graced the BTCC, but a 1996 Dodge Stratus is set to add further variety.

6. Relive the 1990s virtually

Fans will get a chance to drive the classic TOCA games like never before on sim rigs

Fans will get a chance to drive the classic TOCA games like never before on sim rigs

Photo by: JEP

To provide the full nostalgia trip back to the 1990s, spectators will have the opportunity to relive the highly acclaimed TOCA Touring Car computer games that were a huge hit during the decade.

Developed by Codemasters for PC and PlayStation, TOCA Touring Car Championship, released in 1997 and swiftly followed by TOCA 2 Touring Cars the following year, depicted the 1997 and 1998 BTCC seasons. 

The games were an instant success, providing fans a chance to play as their favourite driver from the period and jump behind the wheel of a BTCC Super Touring car on the UK’s best circuits, albeit virtually. The titles generated a cult following, with more than 600,000 copies of the original TOCA

Touring Car Championship game sold in Europe in the first six months of its release.
Super Touring Power event organisers will set up simulators running the vintage TOCA titles throughout the weekend for spectators to rekindle memories of the era. These are due to be located near the Autosport stage on Colin Chapman Way.  

7. Stars take to the Autosport stage

Tin top stars past and present are anticipated on the Autosport stage for interviews and live podcast recordings

Tin top stars past and present are anticipated on the Autosport stage for interviews and live podcast recordings

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

As soon as plans for the Super Touring Power event were first revealed, Autosport’s interest was piqued. Like so many motorsport fans, many of our staff are fascinated by the golden era.

Autosport is therefore pleased to be linking up with Brands Hatch operator MotorSport Vision to have an Autosport-branded stage at this weekend’s event. Various interviews and live podcasts are due to be recorded at the stage, which will be located on Colin Chapman Way between the Paddock Hill Bend grandstand and the Brabham Stewart suites.

The exact line-up of stars and guests talking all things Super Touring is yet to be finalised, but expect regular reminiscing over the two days.

8. Not just Super Tourers on show

Bartrum will race Sierra RS500 with classic livery from 1988 Silverstone Tourist Trophy

Bartrum will race Sierra RS500 with classic livery from 1988 Silverstone Tourist Trophy

Photo by: Gary Hawkins

While Super Touring cars will provide the headline act, there will be tin-tops of all shapes and sizes doing battle this weekend.

Classic and modern touring cars will feature as part of displays located around the circuit, including vehicles ranging from the 1972 BMW CSL Batmobile to a BTC Touring-specification 2002 BTCC MG ZS. 

The Classic Touring Car Racing Club will also assemble impressive grids of touring cars from the 1960s to the early 2000s, spread across several classes including Pre-’66, Pre-’83, Pre-’93, Pre-’03, Thunder Saloons and Jaguars.

The Pre-’83 category is due to feature David Bartrum, former boss of the Motorbase Performance BTCC team, racing a Ford Sierra RS500 carrying the livery used by Australian touring car legends Dick Johnson and John Bowe at the 1988 Silverstone Tourist Trophy.

9. Bathurst 1000 legend back behind the wheel of Holden V8 Supercar

Murphy will be reunited with Holden he raced at Bathurst

Murphy will be reunited with Holden he raced at Bathurst

Photo by: Gary Hawkins

In addition to the plethora of Super Tourers, the weekend will include a first for Brands Hatch as a period driver will pilot an Australian V8 Supercar around the circuit.

The driver in question is four-time Bathurst 1000 winner Greg Murphy, who will be reunited with an ex-Tasman Motorsport Holden VE Commodore that he raced in the V8 Supercars Championship in 2008 and 2009. The car is now owned by UK-based Holden collector Alex Sidwell.

Murphy achieved a best result of fourth at the 2009 Bathurst 1000 behind the wheel of the car, which he shared for that race with fellow his Supercars legend, six-time Bathurst winner and five-time Supercars champion Mark Skaife. 

Murphy is expected to complete demonstration laps in the Holden on both days. The New Zealander, who retired from full-time racing in 2014, made a Bathurst 1000 return last year in a wildcard entry.

10. Grand Prix circuit action

Chances to watch the ever-spectacular Super Tourers on the full GP layout are rare

Chances to watch the ever-spectacular Super Tourers on the full GP layout are rare

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Race meetings on Brands Hatch’s Grand Prix circuit are few and far between. If you put aside the higher-level GT World Challenge Europe, British Touring Car and British GT events, just six others are due to use the longer 2.4-mile version of the Kent track during 2023. And Super Touring Power is one of those.

In fact, there are set to be contests on both the GP and Indy layouts this weekend. Saturday’s 11 races will take place on the GP configuration before proceedings move over to the Indy track on Sunday.

The event therefore provides a rare opportunity to see machines blasting down Pilgrims Drop towards Hawthorns before progressing through the Westfield and Sheene right-handers and then the left at Stirling’s. In contrast, the compact Indy circuit allows numerous chances to see the star cars and drivers in action from any vantage point. Two Super Tourers races are scheduled on each day, giving the headline act a plentiful spell in the spotlight.

By Tom Howard, Stephen Lickorish and Marcus Simmons

A full grid of Super Tourers with some original drivers on the grid promises to be an unmissable spectacle

A full grid of Super Tourers with some original drivers on the grid promises to be an unmissable spectacle

Photo by: Motorsport Images

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