Happy "The Man's An Animal" Day

It’s 25 years since the most infamous concluding round of the 1992 BTCC
The BTCC championship finale beckons 1992

It must be the most often spoken about incident in Touring Car history. It must be. John Cleland and Steve Soper “getting together” at Luffield on 4 October 1992, and thereby allowing Tim Harvey to seal the BTCC and bring to an end a dramatic season finale. The recollections of drivers, spectators and media are still so vivid, you could be forgiven for thinking this chapter in the championship’s long history ended the weekend just gone. Instead, Ash Sutton was wrapping up the 2017 championship in his Subaru Levorg for Team BMR. Well done and many congratulations to the newest king of BTCC!

Back to 1992.

As the team’s arrived at Silverstone GP, three drivers were in with a chance of winning the championship. John Cleland in a Vauxhall Cavalier, Will Hoy – the defending champion – in a Toyota Carina and Tim Harvey in a BMW 318is. In the run up to the event, Tim Harvey was on a roll, his Vic Lee Racing prepared BMW tuned throughout the season had become a revelation. He was the hot, hot favourite. Much like the BTCC of today, there was potential race winners up and down the grid. However, nothing was going to overshadow the championship decider in this era, was it?

"It must be the most often spoken about incident in Touring Car history. It must be. John Cleland and Steve Soper “getting together..."

Wet qualifying on Saturday had left the three championship protagonists in mid pack. Andy Rouse had qualified on pole in the Team Secuircor ICS Toyota Carina. Could Andy win the Laurels and Will the Championship glory? Just one race on the BTCC bill on this October day.

In the end, Rouse won a thrilling battle with David Leslie and John Cleland’s team mate, Jeff Allam. This could have featured Steve Soper but for a spin at Club Corner on lap 1. His charge through the pack was glorious and it underlined his superstar status. That is until he came across the Tim Harvey and John Cleland battle. From memory, Tim had to finish in front of Will and John. Will was struggling and then Tim got by John Cleland; Tim was on course to be champ of 1992.

Well, we all know what happened next.
How Autosport covered the BTCC 1992 finale
I was there as a bright eyed 16 year old, watching it all unfurl in front of my eyes at Woodcote, listening to Ian Titchmarsh on comms duty. The colours, the speed, the smell and the glorious noise. I was enthralled.

The ensuing controversy and John’s immortal line (referring to Soper) on TV will forever be imprinted in my memory: “He might get away with that in Germany where’s he’s mister superstar. It’s clean here. The man’s an animal”. It was pure drama, that even Hollywood couldn’t replicate.

25 years ago. Brilliant stuff. Watch it all, here

Congratulations Tim; on a sweet championship victory
Congratulations Andy on your 60th and final BTCC win
Congratulations John and Steve for the epic drama.