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BTCC leader Sam Tordoff: "I'm not taking anything for granted"

Thursday, September 29 2016

Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship leader Sam Tordoff is hoping that he'll end this weekend (1/2 October) at Brands Hatch crowned as the new champion.

WSR's Tordoff has topped the standings since leaving Knockhill and whilst his points lead has ebbed and flowed, he carries an 11-point advantage into the final weekend on the Grand Prix circuit.

Even Sam is surprised to have remained in control for so long. "It's interesting because we've had a tough couple of rounds, but we've extended our championship lead," he said. "But it's all very close, so I'm not taking anything for granted."

That 11 point lead also carries a full complement of success ballast, however. "We're going to have to deal with the problem of qualifying with 75 kilos," Sam admitted. "But I think anyone in my position would rather take 11 points ahead and have to fight back with that.

"Due to our weight we're going to lose ground to people in race one, but hopefully we can take that weight off for race two and they'll be putting that on, so it's going to be a strange day of ups and downs. I'm thinking if we can get in the top ten in race one, that'll be a job well done and we can get the weight out."

It's a problem that Sam has had to deal with for most of the season, and one which impacted him badly in the last two meetings. Whilst all of the WSR cars had issues at Rockingham, his fully-functioning BMW could only qualify 17th at Silverstone. "The one thing that Brands has that Silverstone doesn't is a lot more corners," said Sam. "So we've got to maximise those advantages and hopefully the straight line speed won't hurt us too much. The weight will also hurt us in a straight line, so if we can get that off in race one, we should be much better down the straights for race two."

Despite the problems, the conscientious 27-year-old has remained calm and maximised his points-scoring opportunities, even if this approach has only yielded two wins so far. So whilst it may be business as usual for Sam this weekend, he does have an unprecedented seven title rivals, five of whom know how to win titles. "Yes," he admitted. "But I don't think it gives them any advantage, all it means is that they've got one in the bag and if they miss out this time at least they've got one with their name already on. With eight people still in the mix for winning it, anything can happen and just because they've won one before it doesn't mean they're going to have any more luck."

One of Sam's other rivals is his own team-mate, and Rob Collard is also chasing his first BTCC title. "Rob's well within striking distance, so is going to try and win it himself," he said. "We've never had team orders, we can't impose team orders because two of us can still win it, so we have to just deal with that and not crash into each other. But having said that, the two Honda drivers are second and third, so there's no team orders there, and the same with the two Subaru drivers and the two Fords."

The target is to stay ahead of the other title contenders on Sunday, but for Sam, 2016 is already a year to celebrate. "It will be a really cool feeling [to be champion], but whatever happens it will be a success - this will be my best year to date," he said. "If it all goes horribly wrong at the final hurdle, I can hold my head up high, and the other good thing is I've got 20 years on some of the guys I'm racing against, so hopefully this won't be my last opportunity."

Tickets for this weekend's BTCC finale at Brands Hatch on 1/2 October are available on the gate for £15 on Saturday and £33 on Sunday, with free entry for under-13s. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or click  here.