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A golden weekend

PUBLISHED: 15:53 26 March 2008 | UPDATED: 09:35 23 August 2010

HEAD-TO-HEAD: Jack Sears (left), Tommy Sopwith and a 1.5 litre Riley race car.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: Jack Sears (left), Tommy Sopwith and a 1.5 litre Riley race car.

A HISTORIC race track will remember its glorious past when it hosts one of the most exciting championships in motorsport this weekend. Brands Hatch circuit in north Kent will provide the setting for the opening round of the British Touring Car Championsh

AP
Rockingham Motor Racing Circuit
BTCC Media day 2008
L/R, SEAT, VAUXHALL, HONDA, BMW

A HISTORIC race track will remember its glorious past when it hosts one of the most exciting championships in motorsport this weekend.

Brands Hatch circuit in north Kent will provide the setting for the opening round of the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) on Sunday in a race that has petrolheads everywhere licking their lips in anticipation.

Three former title winners will line up on the grid as the BTCC celebrates the start of iTs 50th season. Reigning champion, Vauxhall's Fabrizio Giovanardi, teammate Matt Neal and 2001 champion, SEAT's Jason Plato, will all do battle as the championship kicks off its golden season in style.

Brands Hatch's links with the BTCC date back 50 years, when the outcome of the inaugural championship was decided in a head-to-head race between Jack Sears and Tommy Sopwith, who had finished level on points at the end of the season.

Race circuit owner Jonathan Palmer said: "This weekend is both a celebration of tradition and an exciting look towards the future.

"Brands Hatch has such a rich history and I am thrilled to be part of the British Touring Car Championship's half-century celebrations.

"We're in for an historic contest this year and I look forward to seeing which drivers emerge at the front of the fight for the golden anniversary title." The opening round of the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship will take place this weekend. Tickets cost from £22 for adults, with free entry for children aged 12 and under. For more information call 0870 950 9000 or click on the link below.

A Tour down memory lane

FIFTY years after they battled for the inaugural drivers' crown, Jack Sears and Tommy Sopwith met again at Brands Hatch to celebrate the anniversary of the British Touring Car Championship.

In 1958, Sears and Sopwith ended the season at Brands Hatch in joint first place. To decide who lifted the trophy, the two drivers went head-to-head in 1.5 litre Rileys, with Sears taking the honours.

The two relived that historic moment by going out on track again in two cars almost identical to the Rileys they raced 50 years ago, to recreate their famous title-decider.

Sears even tucked in his tie just as he had done 50 years earlier "so it wouldn't get in the way of the steering wheel."

"It's brought it all flooding back - a truly amazing experience," he added. "Setting off from the line in those two Rileys was just fantastic.

Sopwith said: "They don't call him 'Gentleman Jack' for nothing. It's been a delight driving with Jack again and I don't think either of us can quite believe it's 50 years ago as that day is still very fresh in the memory.

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