The home of British motorsport, Silverstone, is the host of the penultimate British Touring Car Championship meeting of the 2013 season, a place that has seen many classic touring car encounters in the past, none more so than in 1992 – a season finale that erupted to make it one of the most memorable climaxes to a season in history…
John Cleland, Tim Harvey and Will Hoy all came to Silverstone with a shot at winning the championship, and their tasks were made even tougher by a strange qualifying session that left them buried down the field in seventh, 12th and ninth respectively.
Cleland had led the championship fight since its beginning, but an accident at Donington that left him with lower back injuries, coupled with a strong run of form from Harvey and a jumbled up final race grid set up an exciting conclusion to the championship. But none could have predicted how iconic a finale it would be…
In an exciting first lap, Hoy was the biggest mover by charging around Cleland through Becketts, while at the front the race was taken charge by their team-mates, with Andy Rouse leading in the Toyota from Jeff Allam‘s Vauxhall and a battle for third between David Leslie and Steve Soper.
Soper was always going to be a helpful interloper for Vic Lee Racing‘s BMW squad with Harvey fighting for the title, but on lap one he found himself spun out at Club by Leslie’s Vauxhall Cavalier, re-joining at the very back with a rear bumper flapping in the breeze after being clouted by Rob Gravett‘s Peugeot while pirouetting.
Hoy had gapped his two title rivals in fourth place, while Harvey spent most of the race’s early stages all over the back of Cleland’s Vauxhall after a small scrape with Julian Bailey at Becketts which sent the Toyota man spinning.
With the closing stages of the race approaching, Harvey decided it was time to make his move at Brooklands. That move was unsuccessful, but a demon late-braking lunge on Cleland heading into the first corner to grab the place was much more accurate, Cleland still the man in charge of the championship as they both chased after Hoy.
The big mover however had been Soper who carved ferociously through the field from last to dispatch the Prodrive BMWs of Kris Nissen and Tim Sugden to reach the battling pair – who had now been catching Hoy ahead of them – and as the race reached its climax, Soper was right on the tail of the trio.
The scenario tensed up as the three cars all caught up to Hoy, Harvey realising he needed to go for it tried to pass the Toyota Carina by lunging inside at turn one. The pair rubbed bodywork and both ran out wide, Cleland and Soper nipping through.
This was Soper’s chance to help his BMW team-mate now, and he passed Cleland at Club to provoke a one-figured gesture Murray Walker famously dubbed “I’m going for first” in commentary.
In the middle of waving his arms at Soper, Cleland lost out at Abbey and allowed Harvey to squeeze by the pair into the following right-hander, where a frustrated Cleland climbed over the kerbs at Brooklands on two wheels into the door of Soper to fight back.
The pair were still trading paint by the time they braked for Luffield, where Soper retaliated by clattering into Cleland and spinning the bitter rivals into the barriers, handing the BTCC crown to Harvey by three points while the furious Scot angrily stared at Soper’s car exiting his Vauhall, declaring him “an animal” after failing to get into Soper’s BMW which – thanfully for Steve – had seen its door firmly wedged shut after the thump.
While all this was going on meanwhile, Toyota’s Andy Rouse won a brilliant battle with Leslie and Allam that raged until the flag flew, Leslie trying every which way to find a way around the blue wall that was Rouse’s Carina.
The Ecurie Ecosse driver eventually nudged Rouse wide heading towards Luffield, grabbing the lead for the first time until Rouse returned the situation to how it was at Stowe. Rouse fended off a spirited attack from Allam, and went on to take his 60th BTCC victory in this amazing race, remembered for Tim Harvey’s dramatic title triumph.
Matt Neal meanwhile should have won the battle of the Production class drivers, but a thump into the final Luffield complex from Gravett spun his new BMW 318 off the circuit, allowing the Toyota of James Kaye to grab those honours.