Jacques Mizzi – writing a new page in the history of motorsport in Malta

Thursday, March 7, 2013, 16:17

Young Jacques Mizzi is writing a new page in the annals of motor racing of this little island with his debut in the British Touring Car Championship with a Renault Clio at Brands Hatch in the UK.


Jacques is very well known among the motor racing followers in Malta given his successful career in kart racing at a very young age. He has also participated in karting events in Italy and Sicily on a few occasions, when he gave a good account of himself.


In the past few months Jacques has been preparing for a very big move, and the time has now arrived. On Easter weekend – Saturday, 30th March at 12.00 noon, he is taking part in the qualifying session of the Renault UK Clio Cup in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) meeting, which sees more than four different marques battling for the honours in 15 separate races.


On Sunday, 31st March, Jacques is scheduled to participate in races 6 and 12 at 10.20  and 15.35 respectively.  This will be the first time, as far as it is known, that a Maltese racing driver will be taking part in a BTCC event, in which the best Renault Clio drivers from the UK and other countries will be taking part.


It is of course not going to be easy for Jacques to compete on foreign ground against the best drivers who will be participating in their own back yard, but Jacques is determined to learn as much as possible from this first championship qualifying round. He is the first Maltese driver to race in the UK at this level.


The 1.198 miles Brands Hatch Indy circuit, formerly known as the Brands Hatch Club circuit to distinguish it from the longer Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit, is fairly tricky but not impossible to learn.


When I took part in my first and only race there with a Formula Ford single-seater racing car in 19670, I had not only to learn the track but also to keep watch at spinning cars along difficult parts of the circuit, especially around Druids hairpin corner.  Unfortunately, my second scheduled race was cancelled because of the weather.


fearsome corners


The first corner and its apex at the start of Paddock Hill after Brabham Straight – the start/finish line straight – is quite blind and Jacques will have to rely on his intuition and preliminary practice to approach it along the correct racing line. This is more in the nature of a long curve and as it tends to the right and downhill it is not easy to see until one is in the middle of it.


The next hairpin – Druids – is equally challenging both on its entry as well as following the exit. It is here that one may come across an over-active driver going sideways, necessitating unscheduled braking or evasive action.


Graham Hill, Surtees, McLaren and Clearways are very interesting corners, esses and curves named after the famous British and New Zealand racing drivers, each requiring precision handling and driving skill, which then lead to Clark Curve and back to Brabham Straight.  Hailwoods Hill and Cooper Straight are the only other short straights. Jacques needs to learn the several braking and gear changing points in addition to every apex of each corner in every lap.


Brands Hatch boasts that it is a ‘unique combination of dips, cambers, fearsome corners and hills’ and Jacques will certainly have a lot of fun together with a lot of hard work.


But Jacques is not leaving anything to chance. He has already done some practice laps in the rain at Brands, and he has recently been to Snetterton Circuit and Rockingham to get the feel of the Clio in racing trim and at the same time learn the different circuits he will be visiting in the championship calendar. Some of the excellent unofficial racing laps and times are very encouraging.


On 21st March, Jacques is participating at the official Media Day for the Renault Clio Cup at the famous Silverstone Circuit, the home of the British Grand Prix. Kind’s and Malta will get very good value for money publicity, and those Maltese entrepreneurs who market their goods and services in the UK need to take a good look at this unique sponsorship opportunity because millions will be watching the British Touring Car Championship events on TV, in addition to the thousands of spectators who will be watching from the grandstands.


For Jacques, this is the opportunity of a lifetime, and he is very lucky that his father Paul is supporting him in every possible way. When Paul was a young teenager himself, he was messing around with a Mini Moke in front of the Yellow Garage, and a foreign visitor took notice of him and wanted to take him to the UK for a racing test drive. Since Paul was very young his parents did not approve, and he might have missed a golden opportunity. Paul is determined not to let that happen to his son!


Jacques is also receiving technical and racing support from Westbourne MotorSport. All the motor racing fans in Malta will be supporting Jacques at this prestigious British Championship and they are confident that Jacques will return with a satisfactory result. All the fans wish Jacques the best of luck and success.


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