The British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) kicks off this weekend on the short Brands Hatch Indy Circuit, home ground to Mat Jackson and Redstone Racing squad. Jackson scored two podiums for the Indy weekend in 2011 and will be hoping for similar results. As The Checkered Flag looks towards another season Jackson describes a lap around the 1.2 mile track exclusively to TCF.
Brands Hatch is one of the best circuits on the calendar, it always provides great entertainment for drivers and spectators. Racing is very close; the only way to get past is to stick those elbows out and push your way through the pack. As it's so tight and twisty, it's very important to put in a good qualifying lap.
At the start of a flying lap you need a good exit from Clearways onto the Brabham Straight. The first corner you hit is Paddock Hill Bend, which is very tricky with lots of camber. It's pretty much blind on the approach and you can't see the apex.
Going into Paddock Hill Bend you need to move down to fourth gear on entry – it's important not to use too much kerb as this can upset the car. Then you head down the sharp descent to the bottom of the bend, where the car goes into high compression.
It's up into fifth gear as you exit Paddock Hill Bend and approach Druids. The shadow from the bridge provides a good braking reference point, although you've got to be careful what time of day it is as obviously it moves around with the sun!
Druids is a 2nd gear corner in qualifying, although I'll be in 3rd gear during the race. It's important to negotiate this clearly and get a good exit into Graham Hill Bend; you need to be careful not to drop a wheel on the grass on the approach. Exiting Graham Hill Bend is pretty clean in qualifying, but during the race you'll see a lot of cars using the whole circuit and sometimes even the run-off area.
Next up is Surtees, a fifth gear corner. I tend to use a lot of kerb – you need to get the set-up just right here for the final part of the lap. Then you hit Clearways, which, like Paddock Hill Bend, has a blind apex. Approaching the corner you're on the rise; you need to hit the kerb at the right point to get a good drive out onto the Brabham Straight.
The Brands Hatch Indy circuit is one of my favourites and it's been very good to me in the past. Lets hope it'll be just as kind to me again this year!