Autosport Show Highlights: Friday

@MNmotorsport

Our team of national reporters pick their highlights from day two of the Autosport International Show. For more information and to book tickets, click here.

 

BTCC’s 60th anniversary, by Damian Meaden

Taking pride of place in Hall 6, this year the British Touring Car Championship stand celebrates the 60th anniversary of the popular tin-top series.

A number of historic challengers adorn the specially-branded stand, including the Rover SD1, Lotus Cortina, Volvo 850 and a selection of more recent machinery, not least the new unveiled Motorbase Performance Ford Focus RS and HMS Racing’s Alfa Romeo Guilieta as the Italian marque returns to the series for the first time in over a decade.

Defending champion Ashley Sutton leads a number of drivers confirmed to appear over the remainder of the Show, including multiple series winners Colin Turkington, Matt Neal, Gordon Shedden and 2013 champion Andrew Jordan.

Roborace, by Lee Bonham

On display next to the main stage sits one of the most contentious racing machines to launch, perhaps ever. It is tradition to stay away from sweeping statements but a simple Twitter search of Roborace doesn’t necessarily bring up the most complimentary of comments.

Those quick to dismiss the concept of driverless racing may have their heads turned when they view the prototype machine in the flesh. At a completely different end of the motor industry spectrum to the ‘Social Influencers Hangout’ referenced in yesterday’s highlights feature, both aim to appeal to the audience’s inner child by being different and simply cool. Whatever your thoughts on driverless motor sport, visually it represents an opportunity for innovation like never before.

Stuart Smith Jr’s replica BriSCA Formula 1 stock car, by Mark Paulson

BriSCA Formula 1 stock car national points champion Stuart Smith Jr paid tribute to his late father, Stuart Sr, with this replica car. Smith Sr, affectionately known as ‘Super Stu’ and ‘The Maestro’, was a six-time BriSCA F1 world champion before passing the mantle to sons Andy and Stuart Jr, both multi-champions themselves.

Smith Jr built the Chevrolet V8-engined replica in his spare time, with the help of Mark Calzoni, and gave it a public debut in the live action arena yesterday. A lack of grip compared with modern racers means the monstrous machine was sideways all the way. From tomorrow, it will be on display alongside other short oval racers.

Eugene Donnelly’s surprise return, by Adam Hall

This year’s Autosport Show offered Irish rallying a surprise return in the form of Eugene Donnelly. The five-time Irish Tarmac Rally champion rocked up on the MRF tyre stand with a Hyundai i20 R5.

The Irish rallying legend will return to the stages as part of a three-year development programme involving the Indian tyre manufacturer and Hyundai’s customer rally team. The Irish Tarmac Rally Championship has received some criticism already in 2018 so the buzz generated by the return of “The Genie” was greatly welcomed.

It’s quite remarkable that after the plethora of Donnelly return rumours over the years, this one has come true despite never being predicted in the first place.

Billy Monger’s weekend, by Rachel Bichener

Billy Monger was unable to give an interview yesterday afternoon. The teenage Formula 4 driver who lost both legs in an accident in April last year is normally both polite and media-savvy, but this time he had a pressing reason to move on. He was on his way to an MSA medical which would give him the all-clear to resume his racing career.

Monger is part of Terry Grant’s live-action stunt show at the weekend. He will be showing off some drift moves in a hand-controlled Jaguar F-Type. He has been assisted in his training by Mission Motorsport, the Forces charity that uses motor racing as rehabilitation for injured service personnel.

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