Top drivers from the UK's most popular motor racing series - the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship - yesterday (Thursday) boosted their courage levels ahead of their big race meeting on 4 June at Hampshire's high-speed Thruxton circuit, the fastest and most daunting track they'll face all year.
Hampshire's very own BTCC hero Robert Collard, plus Tom Chilton (Reigate) and Mike Jordan (Sutton Coldfield) proved they've got plenty of bravery by lying across a glass floor 100 metres up in Portsmouth's spectacular Spinnaker Tower (see picture above plus Photos section).
Racing in the BTCC brings plenty of pressure, but the three drivers also showed they could handle the heat when they were trusted with the controls of a 20-ton steam engine at the popular Watercress Line in Alresford, Hants. Despite speeds being considerably lower than the 150mph they will reach at Thruxton - they wound open the engine to a maximum of 28mph - all thoroughly enjoyed their run up the line.
"Walking onto the glass in Spinnaker Tower certainly got my bravery levels up - it's a bizarre feeling at first but a great buzz," said Hook-based Collard, who is among the favourites for a race win at Thruxton in his Team RAC MG. "The steam engine was also a major adrenaline rush and another fantastic experience - even at 28mph, it really tests your ability to react quickly. There's so much going off in the cabin."
Collard, aged 37, is confident of giving the Thruxton crowds a winning result. "I've had some great races and some monster crashes at Thruxton, but right now I feel on top form and the performance from the MG is better than ever," he added. "It's going to be ultra-competitive as always, but I know I've got a great chance of doing very well in front of my home crowd.
"Thruxton always attracts an enormous crowd on BTCC race day. It's a great circuit for spectators to come and watch the racing with two excellent viewing points. Things will get very exciting when we're coming into the chicane, trying to out-brake one another at 150mph.
"Then there's the first series of bends, Campbell, Cobb and Segrave where there's always plenty of action. The big grass banks there are always packed out - it's a real favourite for the crowds and is also ideal for families and for bringing along the picnic - in fact, the whole event becomes a big social gathering. It's going to be a great atmosphere and I can't wait."
Collard, Vauxhall driver Chilton and Team Eurotech with John Guest Racing's Jordan will be in race action along with the rest of the BTCC grid three times at Thruxton on 4 June and the crowds will be able to meet the star drivers for autographs and give-aways during the FREE and hugely popular Pit Lane Walkabout session. Another seven races are on the bill from high-profile supporting championships run by leading manufacturers BMW, Porsche, Renault and SEAT.