Ash Sutton takes win for Infiniti in BTCC race three

Ash Sutton rounded off a fantastic day by taking the win in the third and final race at Donington Park. Chris Smiley grabbed second in a great debut weekend for Excelr8’s new Hyundai, with Josh Cook finishing third in his Honda Civic.

Smiley’s Hyundai was drawn to start on pole thanks to the reverse grid draw. Ollie Jackson in the Motorbase Ford Focus was next to him on the grid.

Jackson made the better start and led on the run down to Redgate. Stephen Jelley made a fantastic start to be third out of the first corner. Debutants Jack Butel and Ollie Brown collided at the Craner Curves, with Butel spinning, bringing out a brief safety car period.

Jackson continued to lead on the restart, Sutton moved up to sixth as he passed race one winner Dan Cammish before taking fifth from Jelley. Jack Goff’s miserable weekend continued as he span off. He retired to the pits.

Lap six and there was a four way battle for the lead between Jackson, Smiley, Josh Cook and Adam Morgan. Jelley spun at the chicane to lose his fine progress and he finished 18th.

On lap seven and Smiley took the lead into the Auld Hairpin, meanwhile Sutton joined the battle for the lead. The 2017 champion was surging forward and was second going into lap ten.

He finally passed Smiley for the lead coming into the final chicane and pulled away.

Senna Proctor started last having had a full engine refit and missed race two. He made it all the way to 15th and the points, before going off with only a couple of laps to go.

Sutton took the chequered flag with Smiley picking up a brilliant podium in the debut weekend for the Hyundai i30N. Cook finished third with Morgan and Jackson rounding off the top five.

Tom Ingram had a solid weekend and finished sixth, with Cammish and Neal seventh and eighth in their Team Dynamics Honda Civics. The two BMW’s of Tom Oliphant and race two winner Colin Turkington finishing ninth and tenth respectively.

Sutton was undoubtedly the driver of the day with his electrifying pace and fantastic determination and daring overtakes. The action continues at Brands Hatch next weekend.

Pos Driver Car Interval
1 Ash Sutton Infiniti Q50
2 Chris Smiley Hyundai i30N +2.280
3 Josh Cook Honda Civic Type R FK8 +2.556
4 Adam Morgan Mercedes A Class +3.524
5 Ollie Jackson Ford Focus ST +4.890
6 Tom Ingram Toyota Corolla +5.161
7 Dan Cammish Honda CIvic Type R FK8 +6.247
8 Matt Neal Honda Civic Type R FK8 +7.112
9 Tom Oliphant BMW 330i M Sport +7.629
10 Colin Turkington BMW 330i M Sport +7.993
11 Rory Butcher Ford Focus ST +12.317
12 Tom Chilton Honda Civic Type R FK8 +14.635
13 Michael Crees Honda Civic Type R FK8 +17.127
14 Carl Boardley BMW 125i M Sport +17.239
15 Bobby Thompson Audi S3 Saloon +21.984
16 James Gornall Audi S3 Saloon +22.478
17 Aiden Moffat Infiniti Q50 +26.247
18 Stephen Jelley BMW 125i M Sport +26.512
19 Andy Neate Ford Focus ST +31.712
20 Jack Butel Mercedes A Class +43.719
21 Nicolas Hamilton VW CC +46.015
22 Senna Proctor Hyundai i30N +1 Lap
23 Ollie Brown VW CC +1 Lap
24 Jake Hill Honda Civic Type R FK2 +3 Laps
Retirements
RET Sam Osborne Honda Civic Type R FK2 Mechanical
RET Jack Goff VW CC Mechanical

Image Credit: BTCC Media

Colin Turkington takes a dominant win in BTCC race two

Colin Turkington fought back from second in race one by winning race two in dominant fashion. He pulled out a massive lead before a safety car reeled him back in. The restart didn’t stop him as he took a fine win.

Rory Butcher finished second in another brilliant effort from the Motorbase team, with Tom Oliphant rounding off the podium.

James Gornall and Senna Proctor failed to make the start after their mechanical failures in race one. Jake Hill managed to fix his issues and get out for race two.

Turkington got the better start and took the lead on the run to Redgate. Stephen Jelley had a fantastic start and moved up to sixth by the end of the first lap.

While Turkington pulled away, Cammish came under pressure from third placed Butcher. and finally got past him on the straight towards the final chicane. Cammish struggling with the maximum ballast on his Honda Civic.

Next to pass the Honda were Tom Ingram and Tom Oliphant, who took third and fourth respectively from the Yorkshireman on lap five.

One man who was on fire was Ash Sutton, he was storming through the grid and set the fastest lap of the race before the safety car came out for the second time today. Nicolas Hamilton went wide at Coppice and once he put a tyre on the grass his VW CC spun and beached into the gravel. Turkington had a three second lead before the safety car.

On the restart Sutton battled Jelley for seventh, Tom Chilton joined the battle and the trio went three abreast going into the chicane. Sutton on the outside with the latest of late braking to pass both without incident.

His resurgence continued on lap 16 as he passed Matt Neal for sixth and then Cammish’s slide down the order continued as Sutton passed him on lap 17 for fifth.

Oliphant passed Ingram for third place making it two BMW’s on the podium as Sutton battled the Toyota of Ingram on the final lap.

Turkington took a dominant win, with Butcher and Oliphant rounding off the podium. Ingram and Sutton had a photo finish on the line but Ingram’s Toyota took it by a tenth.

A special mention to the MB Motorsport cars of Jake HIll and Sam Osborne. Hill fought from the back of the grid to be in the points before pulling into the pits a couple of laps from the end. Osborne was in the top ten and looked for another brilliant result. But he was in the pits four laps from the end with a mechanical issue.

Aiden Moffat finished 15th on the road but received a ten second penalty for a false start. Meaning Carl Boardley in the BMW 125i took the final point.

Pos Driver Car Interval
1 Colin Turkington BMW 330i M Sport
2 Rory Butcher Ford Focus ST +2.199
3 Tom Oliphant BMW 330i M Sport +2.610
4 Tom Ingram Toyota Corolla +2.935
5 Ash Sutton Infiniti Q50 +3.046
6 Dan Cammish Honda Civic Type R FK8 +5.839
7 Matt Neal Honda Civic Type R FK8 +6.271
8 Adam Morgan Mercedes A Class +6.576
9 Stephen Jelley BMW 125i M Sport +7.949
10 Josh Cook Honda CIvic Type R FK8 +8.320
11 Ollie Jackson Ford Focus ST +11.171
12 Chris Smiley Hyundai i30N +11.650
13 Tom Chilton Honda Civic Type R FK8 +12.003
14 Michael Crees Honda CIvic Type R FK8 +14.610
15 Carl Boardley BMW 125i M Sport +17.384
16 Jack Goff VW CC +18.538
17 Bobby Thompson Audi S3 Saloon +19.000
18 Andy Neate Ford Focus ST +20.635
19 Jack Butel Mercedes A Class +21.528
20 Aiden Moffat Infiniti Q50 +26.555
Retirements
RET Jake Hll Honda Civic Type R FK2 Mechanical
RET Sam Osborne Honda Civic Type R FK2 Mechanical
RET Nicolas Hamilton VW CC Spin
RET Ollie Brown VW CC Mechanical
DNS James Gornall Audi S3 Saloon
DNS Senna Proctor Hyundai i30N

Dan Cammish wins first BTCC round at Donington Park

Dan Cammish struck first blood as he won the first round of the British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park.

The Team Dynamics driver won by just seven tenths from reigning champion Colin Turkington in his WSR BMW. Rory Butcher grabbed a fantastic third place finish to round off the podium.

Turkington led off the grid, with Sutton moving up into second passing Dan Cammish at Redgate. The first lap wasn’t without its drama however as Jake Hill and Josh Cook collided, with the BTC Racing Civic of Cook falling to the back.

Sutton was taking the fight to Turkington’s BMW, and crept up the inside at Coppice, but couldn’t quite make the move stick. A lap later on lap four Sutton took the lead, albeit briefly as an initial nudge by Turkington was met with a second tap which spun Sutton’s Infiniti round. Cammish profited most from the impact as he took the lead.

Cammish was controlling the race, holding off Turkington with a lead of just under a second. However on lap 11 a safety car was called as Senna Proctor suffered an unfortunate failure while battling for tenth. This was coupled with Nicolas Hamilton going off at the final chicane.

After a four lap safety car break the green flag waved and the fights up and down the field continued. Sutton had a fantastic recovery from his early spin as he moved back up to finish 14th. Setting the fastest lap in the process.

Cammish took the chequered flag with Turkington close behind. A star drive from Rory Butcher who finished third. Tom Ingram took fourth in his Toyota before Matt Neal in the second Dynamics Honda Civic came fifth. Tom Oliphant was sixth in his WSR BMW, with Sam Osborne grabbing his best ever finish in his new MB Motorsport Honda Civic. Chris Smiley gave the new Excelr8 Hyundai i30N an eighth place finish on its debut, with Stephen Jelley and Tom Chilton rounding off the top ten.

A brilliant beginning to the 2020 British Touring Car Championship season.

Pos Driver Car Interval
1 Dan Cammish Honda Civic Type R FK8
2 Colin Turkington BMW 330i M Sport +0.707
3 Rory Butcher Ford Focus ST +1.144
4 Tom Ingram Toyota Corolla +1.941
5 Matt Neal Honda Civic Type R FK8 +2.817
6 Tom Oliphant BMW 330i M Sport +3.722
7 Sam Osborne Honda Civic Type R FK2 +4.855
8 Chris Smiley Hyundai i30N +5.492
9 Stephen Jelley BMW 125i M Sport +7.322
10 Tom Chilton Honda Civic Type R FK8 +7.623
11 Bobby Thompson Audi S3 Saloon +7.936
12 Adam Morgan Mercedes A Class +8.249
13 Josh Cook Honda Civic Type R FK8 +9.498
14 Ash Sutton Infiniti Q50 +9.595
15 Aiden Moffat Infiniti Q50 +11.457
16 Michael Crees Honda Civic Type R FK8 +13.075
17 Ollie Jackson Ford Focus ST +13.398
18 Jack Goff VW CC +13.837
19 Carl Boardley BMW 125i M Sport +14.266
20 Andy Neate Ford Focus ST +14.599
21 Ollie Brown VW CC +15.050
22 Jack Butel Mercedes A Class +19.350
Retirements
RET James Gornall Audi S3 Saloon Mechanical
RET Senna Proctor Hyundai i30N Mechanical
RET Nicolas Hamilton VW CC Crash
RET Jake Hill Honda Civic Type R FK2 Mechanical

Image Credit: BTCC Media

Colin Turkington takes pole for BTCC Donington opener

Colin Turkington’s British Touring Car Championship title defence began in the best way possible as he took pole position for the season opening round at Donington Park. The top three were separated by just a tenth of a second.

The West Surrey Racing driver broke the lap record with a 1:08:998. Team Dynamics’ Dan Cammish was just 0.087 seconds behind with Ash Sutton in his new Laser Tools Infiniti 0.097 seconds behind Turkington’s BMW.

The track was greasy which played into the hands of some drivers. Rory Butcher had a lucky escape into the Auld Hairpin as the rear of his Ford Focus stepped out. The scot recovered after an off track excursion. Nicholas Hamilton was next to catch the eye as the pins holding down his bonnet failed, resulting in the bonnet flying up and hanging off. The Team HARD driver failed to set a time in the session.

The Toyota of Tom Ingram set the early pace, with Butcher and Turkington close behind. With 12 minutes left in the session Turkington set his fastest time and he claimed pole position.

After a stoppage due to a red flag, the cars came out for ten more minutes of fighting for position for tomorrow’s opening race.

After dominating the two practice sessions, Turkington and his BMW were fastest in qualifying, with Cammish and Sutton close behind.

Ingram finished fourth two tenths behind Turkington, with the second BMW of Tom Oliphant fifth. Butcher recovered from his off to claim sixth on the grid, with Jake Hill in the MB Motorsport Honda Civic sitting seventh for tomorrow.

The top ten was rounded off by BTC’s Josh Cook, the second Team Dynamics car of Matt Neal, and Adam Morgan in his Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes A Class.

Pos Driver Car Time Defecit
1 Colin Turkington BMW 330i M Sport 1:08:998
2 Dan Cammish Honda Civic Type R FK8 1:09:085 +0:087
3 Ash Sutton Infiniti Q50 1:09:095 +0.097
4 Tom Ingram Toyota Corolla 1:09:210 +0.212
5 Tom Oliphant BMW 330i M Sport 1:09:309 +0.311
6 Rory Butcher Ford Focus ST 1:09:329 +0.331
7 Jake Hill Honda Civic Type R FK2 1:09:387 +0.389
8 Josh Cook Honda Civic Type R FK8 1:09:411 +0.413
9 Matt Neal Honda Civic Type R FK8 1:09:563 +0.564
10 Adam Morgan Mercedes Benz A Class 1:09:567 +0.569
11 Senna Proctor Hyundai i30N 1:09:588 +0.590
12 Sam Osborne Honda Civic Type R FK2 1:09:631 +0.633
13 Ollie Jackson Ford Focus RS 1:09:723 +0.725
14 Chris Smiley Hyundai i30N 1:09:724 +0.726
15 Stephen Jelley BMW 125i M Sport 1:09:818 +0.820
16 Tom Chilton Honda Civic Type R FK8 1:09:819 +0.821
17 Bobby Thompson Audi S3 Saloon 1:10:118 +1.120
18 Michael Crees Honda Civic Type R FK8 1:10:200 +1.202
19 James Gornall Audi S3 Saloon 1:10:218 +1.220
20 Aiden Moffat Infiniti Q50 1:10:432 +1.434
21 Andy Neate Ford Focus ST 1:10:692 +1.694
22 Carl Boardley BMW 125i M Sport 1:10:758 +1.760
23 Ollie Brown VW CC 1:11:049 +2.051
24 Jack Butel Mercedes Benz A Class 1:11:508 +2.510
25 Jack Goff VW CC 1:11:538 +2.540
26 Nicolas Hamilton VW CC No Time

Image Credit: BTCC Media

#SchumiWeek – Michael Schumacher’s Ten Biggest Rivals

Michael Schumacher was in Formula One for nearly 20 years, having raced in 19 seasons from 1991-2012. Over this time he accumulated his fair share of rivals, and people who sought to dethrone the most successful man in the sport’s history.

10 – Nico Rosberg

A somewhat strenuous use of the word rival, in Schumacher’s comeback with Mercedes in 2010, young team mate Rosberg outscored Schumacher in each of the three seasons the pair raced together. Nico also won the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix, the first win of Mercedes’ return to the sport. Schumacher had his moments, but was never quite on the pace of his younger team mate, who is often your main rival in motor racing.

9 – Kimi Raikkonen

The spiritual successor to Mika Hakkinen, more on him later, Raikkonen showed what he could do in 2002, earning a handful of podiums in a largely unreliable McLaren. It was 2003 which showed he had the ability to end Schumacher’s run of title wins. Raikkonen only won once, his first win coming in Malaysia, but his consistency and ten podiums from a possible 16, saw Raikkonen in title contention at the final round at Suzuka. Second place wasn’t enough and Schumacher won the title by just two points. However the gauntlet had been laid down to the mercurial German.

8 – Rubens Barrichello

In the years where Ferrari reigned supreme, Barrichello was the only real rival to Schumacher. Spending six years as team mates, Barrichello and Schumacher were largely a good pair, though they had their moments. In Austria in 2002, Schumacher was controversially allowed to win after team orders denied Barrichello, who had led all race. Later in the year at Indianapolis, Rubens was given the win on the line as a token gesture from Schumacher. When no one could touch Schumacher, Barrichello put up a respectable fight. The relationship deteriorated in 2010 at Hungary though, as Schumacher, while defending from Barrichello’s Williams, almost pushed him into the pit wall at 180mph. Barrichello said at the time: “It is the most dangerous thing that I have been through.” Schumacher was handed a ten place grid penalty at the next race and apologised for the incident, despite pleading his innocence following the race.

7 – Ayrton Senna

In a case of ‘What could have been’, Senna and Schumacher only spent two full years on the grid together. But in 1994, Senna famously protested Schumacher’s Benetton B194, which he thought was illegal. Following Senna’s early retirement from the Pacific Grand Prix, Senna stood at the first corner and listened to Schumacher’s car go through, claiming to hear ‘unusual noises’ from the engine. It is largely considered that the B194 was an illegal car, but never was proven. Senna’s tragic death at Imola in 1994 robbed Formula One of what could have been an incredible rivalry between two of the sport’s greats.

6 – Juan Pablo Montoya

This rivalry was short lived but just as fiery. At the 2002 Malaysian Grand Prix, there was a first corner collision between Montoya and Schumacher. Schumacher’s Ferrari understeered into Juan Pablo’s Williams, but it was Montoya who received a penalty. This was ‘overly harsh’ according to Schumacher. The pair collided at the next race at the next race in Brazil, but much less furore this time. Montoya was best of the rest that season, finishing third behind the dominant Ferrari’s. Montoya was part of the next generation who really challenged Michael’s dominance.

5 – David Coulthard

“I’m very lucky to have raced against the most successful driver in the sport,” Coulthard mused in a YouTube series dedicated to Schumacher’s rivalries. “The relationship evolved to friendship in the end, but in the beginning, a respectful rivalry.” There were infamous incidents in Belgium and Argentina in 1998, where Schumacher collided with Coulthard. The incident at Spa, where Schumacher collided with Coulthard while lapping him, prompted the German to run to McLaren’s garage to fight with the Scot. Thankfully team personnel held them apart. At the 2000 French Grand Prix, Schumacher ‘Angered’ Coulthard after Schumacher swerved to hold off the McLaren off the start. “it was like a sporting slap in the face,” the Scot said.  “I reflect on my rivalry with Michael, as thankful to have had the opportunity to share the race track with him. I think racing against Michael made me better.”

4 – Fernando Alonso

One of best contested rivalries over Schumacher’s career. Alonso was the one to finally dethrone Schumacher, winning the title in 2005. “The battles with Michael were the best moments of my career,” Alonso said in an interview. “Going wheel to wheel with Michael was tough. I was intimidated by Michael.” At the 2005 San Marino Grand Prix Alonso and Schumacher had an incredible battle for the lead, with Alonso prevailing with Schumacher on his tail for the final 12 laps. Another example of the mutual respect between the two was the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix, where Alonso overtook Schumacher round the outside of the high speed 130R corner at 180mph. An incredibly difficult move which required respect between the pair, and was executed perfectly by Alonso.

3 – Jacques Villeneuve

The most controversial rivalry on this list, Schumacher and Villeneuve infamously collided at the 1997 season finale at Jerez while fighting for the championship. Villeneuve dived down the inside of Schumacher at the last possible moment, Schumacher was alleged to have turned into Villeneuve to try and take him out, it failed and Schumacher retired. Villeneuve won the title and Schumacher was excluded from it, losing all his points. The counter argument was that Villeneuve wouldn’t have made the corner as he came in too quick. However, 1997 signalled Schumacher and Ferrari were on the rise, and that Williams’ dominance of the 90’s was coming to an end.

2 – Damon Hill

One of the longer lasting rivalries of Schumacher’s career. Damon and Michael came to blows at the 1994 Australian Grand Prix while fighting for the title. Damon made a move on Michael going into a tight right hander. Schumacher closed the door on Hill, with the pair colliding. Michael’s Benetton was sent into the wall and Hill later retired with damage to his suspension from the impact. “I didn’t expect that Michael would be prepared to take me off if I was going to pass him,” Hill said in an interview with the Formula 1 YouTube channel. There were further collisions between the pair in Britain, Belgium and Italy in 1995. While it was a largely respectful rivalry, as most of Michael’s rivalries were, the pair fought hard in the mid 90’s.

1 – Mika Hakkinen

Undoubtedly Michael’s strongest rivalry, as well as Mika being one of the few drivers Michael truly feared. “Challenging Michael it was natural to me, to beat him. But to beat him and challenge him on the race track it was always a fair fight,” Hakkinen said in an interview with Formula 1’s official YouTube channel. This rivalry was incredibly respectful, with both drivers in awe of their adversary’s racing ability. “It’s easy to show frustration in public, and start saying something about your competitor in public, we didn’t start this kind of game,” Hakkinen stated. Arguably the finest overtake in Formula One history was contested between the pair at the 2000 Belgian Grand Prix. On the run down to Les Combes, Hakkinen attempted a move which Michael blocked. Not to be fooled again, Mika tried the move again a lap later while also lapping Ricardo Zonta’s BAR, cutting down the inside of both Zonta and Schumacher, and making the move stick. The late 90’s saw these two light up Formula One with some incredible racing, and Mika brought out the very best in Michael, and vice versa.

Featured image courtesy of Steve Etherington / Mercedes AMG

2020 British Touring Car Championship taking shape after Autosport announcements

The 2020 British Touring Car Championship puzzle is slowly coming together, after a flurry of announcements at the Autosport International show in Birmingham at the weekend.

No less than seven drivers were announced over the course of the weekend, with some big names catching the attention.

The big news of the weekend was Tom Chilton making the switch from Motorbase to BTC Racing for 2020. The veteran replaces Chris Smiley in the team and joins Josh Cook, forming a formidable partnership in the FK8 Honda Civics. BTC are also taking on a third Civic for this season, and racing in it will be new fans favourite Michael Crees, creating a strong team.

Excelr8 Motorsport announced their first driver for 2020 with Senna Proctor joining the team from BMR Racing. Proctor will be behind the wheel of the brand new Hyundai i30 with three years of BTCC experience behind him. His team mate is yet to be announced.

Elsewhere Ciceley Motorsport have decided to retain their lineup of Adam Morgan and Daniel Rowbottom, with both having had strong 2019 seasons, but knowing there is more to come from the Mercedes A Class.

Trade Price Racing announced former British GT champion James Gornall will be joining the team racing the Audi S3 Saloon, joining Bobby Thompson. While Sam Osborne was announced as the team mate for Jake Hill in the AMD team Honda Civic FK2’s.

Catch Jack Prentice’s interview with new Trade Price driver James Gornall here!

With only a few seats left to announce, including three from Motorbase, the 2020 Championship is shaping up to be one of the best yet.

2020 British Touring Car Championship Entries

Team Car Drivers
Team BMW BMW 330i M Sport Colin Turkington, Tom Oliphant, Andrew Jordan
Team Dynamics Honda Civic FK8 Matt Neal, Dan Cammish
Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Corolla Tom Ingram
Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall Astra Jason Plato, (tba)
BTC Racing Honda Civic FK8 Tom Chilton, Josh Cook, Michael Crees
Team Motorbase (tba) (tba, tba, tba)
Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes A Class Adam Morgan, Dan Rowbottom
Laser Tools Racing Infiniti Q50 Aiden Moffat, Ash Sutton
Excelr8 Motorsport Hyundai i30 Senna Proctor, (tba)
Trade Price Racing Audi S3 James Gornall, Bobby Thompson
AMD Tuning Honda Civic FK2 Jake Hill, Sam Osborne
Team HARD Volkswagen CC Mike Bushell, Jack Goff, (tba)
Team HARD BMW 125i Carl Boardley
Simpson Racing (tba) (tba)
Team Parker Racing (tba) (tba)

Hyundai enter BTCC with Excelr8 Motorsport – Is this the end for MG 6 GT?

There will be a new car in the British Touring Car Championship for 2020 as Hyundai enter the sport for next season.

The brand have a rich Motorsport heritage in recent years, especially in the World Rally Championship, having won this season’s constructors championship. They also have touring car experience having ran in TCR and WTCR.

They link up with Excelr8 Motorsport for the new season, replacing the old MG6’s that were used in their debut season. Excelr8 picked up four points with Rob Smith and Sam Osborne behind the wheel grabbing two points apiece.

The drivers are yet to be announced but Excelr8 will be aiming for consistent points finishes in the i30 Fastback N Performance. Thankfully for the team, the Hyundai is a similar shape to the MG and so this should help Excelr8 who are now well aware of the inner intricacies of an NGTC car.

The end of the MG 6GT? Image Credit: BTCC Media.

Though this also means the likely end of the MG6 GT, which has been in the series since 2012. Driven by some of the finest drivers of this generation, including Jason Plato, Andrew Jordan, Sam Tordoff, Ash Sutton and Josh Cook.

It won 24 races over its time in the BTCC with Plato finishing runner up in the championship to Colin Turkington in 2014. The 6 GT also won the manufacturer’s crown in 2014, remaining a manufacturer entry until 2018. AMD Tuning and Excelr8 have used the car in recent years with no luck.

While it is still early, and many teams are yet to announce their cars for next season, the MG has most likely driven its final race.

The 2019 BTCC Season Preview – Going Through Changes, But The Song Remains The Same

The British Touring Car Championship gets underway next weekend at Brands Hatch, and with so many changes during the off-season, 2019 looks like being one of the best seasons yet.

There are new title sponsors in the form of Kwik Fit, who replace long standing sponsor Dunlop. While a change in title sponsor is usually big news, it has been overshadowed by a wide range of developments and changes.

Perhaps one of the biggest announcements over the winter is the return of Toyota in a manufacturer capacity. Having won two titles in the 1980’s with Chris Hodgetts at the wheel, the Japanese marque are no stranger to success, and with the new Corolla, the team will be looking to start on the right foot.

To do this, they have taken on 2018 runner up Tom Ingram and his formerly independent team, Speedworks Motorsport. Touted as a future champion of the BTCC, Ingram has high hopes for 2019. Speaking to Pit Crew reporter Warren Nel in January, Ingram said: “The plan is very much to hit the ground running at Brands Hatch Indy, kind of start where we left the 2018 season and be in a position to look to win the championship.”

Though he understands success may not be instant: “Realistically we’ve got to look more at the following season as our go to year, but of course whenever you enter a season, you enter to win, not finish second. Our goal is very much to win it, but we’ve got a bit of a mountain to climb to get there.”

Another big story is that reigning champions BMW have retired their 1 series in favour of the all-new 3 series. The model which had title success with Tim Harvey in 1992 and Jo WInkelhock in 1993 has been brought back in its current guise. With current champion Colin Turkington behind the wheel, the 3 series is bound to be successful from the start.

While some faces remain on the grid, there is fresh blood, and not all of it is fresh faced youngsters. Former Formula One and IndyCar driver Mark Blundell will be making his BTCC debut at the age of 52, showing that age doesn’t matter in the world of tin-tops. Racing for the brand new Trade Price Racing team in an Audi S3, all eyes will be on Blundell as he looks to back up his illustrious CV.

Another of the old guard making headlines was Jason Plato, who returns to Vauxhall, where he won his first title in 2001. Currently backing the Power Maxed Racing team, Plato is joined by former BMW man Rob Collard in the Astra.

There will still be 30 rounds of the championship, with three races at ten meetings throughout the year. Though there won’t be a return to Rockingham this season. The Corby based circuit has been sold, and as a result won’t see the BTCC return to the unique oval circuit. Instead there will be an extra round at the high speed Thruxton circuit in August.

Circuit Date
Brands Hatch Indy 6-7 April
Donington Park 27-28 April
Thruxton 18-19 May
Croft 15-16 June
Oulton Park 29-30 June
Snetterton 3-4 August
Thruxton 17-18 August
Knockhill 14-15 September
Silverstone 28-29 September
Brands Hatch GP 12-13 October
Team Drivers Car
Team BMW Colin Turkington &Tom Oliphant BMW 330i M Sport
BMW Pirtek Racing Andrew Jordan BMW 330i M Sport
Sterling Insurance With Power Maxed Racing Jason Plato & Rob Collard Vauxhall Astra
Adrian Flux Subaru Racing Ash Sutton & Senna Proctor Subaru Levorg GT
Halfords Yuasa Racing Matt Neal & Dan Cammish Honda Civic Type-R FK8
Team Toyota GB With Ginsters Tom Ingram Toyota Corolla GT
Team Shredded Wheat With Gallagher Tom Chilton & Ollie Jackson Ford Focus RS
RoKit Racing With Motorbase Nicolas Hamilton Ford Focus RS
Excelr8 Motorsport Rob Smith & Sam Osborne MG6
Cobra Sport AmD Tuning With RCIB Insurance Rory Butcher & Sam Tordoff Honda Civic Type-R (FK2)
BTC Racing Chris Smiley & Josh Cook Honda Civic Type-R (FK8)
Trade Price Cars Racing Mark Blundell & Jake Hill Audi S3
Team Parker Racing Stephen Jelley BMW 125i M Sport
Laser Tools Racing Aiden Moffat Mercedes A Class
(Team HARD) GKR Scaffolding With Autobrite Direct Bobby Thompson & Michael Crees Volkswagen CC
(Team HARD) RCIB Insurance With Fox Transport Jack Goff & Carl Broadley Volkswagen CC
Ciceley Motorsport With MAC Tools Adam Morgan Mercedes A Class
Ciceley Motorsport With Cataclean Racing Dan Rowbottom Mercedes A Class
Simpson Racing Matt Simpson Honda Civic Type-R (FK2)

While there are plenty of changes afoot in the BTCC, one thing we can all rely on never changing, is the level of excitement and door-to-door action that the championship always promises.

All images credit: Matthew Pigg.

BTCC 2019 – New Names And Old Faces For New Touring Car Season

New teams, new cars, new rules, it’s all change in the British Touring Car Championship, and it is shaping up to be one of the best seasons ever.

The 2018 campaign went right down to the wire, with BMW’s Colin Turkington prevailing over independent driver Tom Ingram to win his third title. In a season which saw 17 different race winners, 2019 has a tough act to follow.

With only one more driver to be announced, the grid is taking shape, and with a host of changes, including an ex-Formula One driver making their BTCC debut, the racing will be just as competitive.

Champions BMW are replacing the title winning 1 series with the all new 3 series, bringing back a very successful model from BTCC history. They have brought in Tom Oliphant from Ciceley Motorsport to replace Rob Collard, who moves to Power Maxed Racing. He will partner reigning champion Turkington. Andrew Jordan remains at BMW in his Pirtek sponsored car.

Team Dynamics retain their driver lineup of Matt Neal and Dan Cammish in their Honda Civic Type R’s. Both will be looking to build on an impressive debut year for the all new FK8 Civic.

The big news over the winter is that Toyota are returning to the sport in a full manufacturer capacity. Enjoying title success in the 80’s with Chris Hodgetts winning two titles, Toyota will be running the Speedworks Motorsport team with Tom Ingram behind the wheel of the all new Corolla, replacing his Avensis used in recent years.

2019 sees the Toyota Avensis retired in place of the all new Corolla.

Team BMR retain Subaru’s manufacturer backing, title sponsor Adrian Flux, and 2017 champion Ash Sutton. Though they welcome Senna Proctor to the team, who moves from Power Maxed Racing. In an effective straight swap, Jason Plato moves to PMR, who are backed by Vauxhall, reigniting a famous partnership which saw Plato win his first title in 2001. Plato is joined by former BMW man Rob Collard in the Vauxhall Astra’s.

Motorbase continue with their Shredded Wheat backed Ford Focus’, with Tom Chilton remaining with the team after finishing third in last season’s championship. Ollie Jackson replaces James Cole in the second Focus, moving from AMD Tuning. The third Motorbase car will be ran by Nic Hamilton, younger brother of F1 superstar Lewis.

New team Trade Price Racing raised eyebrows in the off-season by announcing former F1 and IndyCar driver Mark Blundell will be joining the grid in one of their new Audi S3’s. Jake Hill will be partnering him.

BTC Racing had a fine season last season, and welcome former Power Maxed driver Josh Cook to partner Chris Smiley. Cook showed his prowess last season picking up a handful of wins and going head to head with Ash Sutton in the final race of 2018 at Brands Hatch. They’ll be looking to build on another strong season in their Honda Civic FK7’s.

Ciceley Motorsport retain Adam Morgan and welcome former Clio Cup driver Dan Rowbottom to drive their Mercedes A Classes. Aidan Moffat remains in a Mercedes but has gone solo, having formerly ran under the Ciceley banner with his Laser Tools team.

AMD Tuning have ditched their Audi’s for the ex-Eurotech Honda Civics. They have recruited Rory Butcher and Sam Tordoff to drive their RCiB Insurance backed cars.

Another new team to the BTCC grid is Excelr8 Motorsport. They will be racing in the former AMD MG6’s that will be driven by Rob Smith. He has worked with Excelr8 for the last four seasons in the Mini Challenge and will be looking to hit the ground running in the BTCC. Their second driver is yet to be announced.

Team HARD continue with their four-car squad, running Volkswagen CC’s. Mike Bushell and Bobby Thompson remain with the team, with Carl Broadley and Michael Crees joining them.

Independent driver Matt Simpson continues with his Simpson Motorsport team while Stephen Jelley is expected to remain with Team Parker Racing despite no official word from the team or driver.

With the BTCC going through a period of transition, one constant remains, the racing promises to be as scintillating as ever.

BTCC Round Five – Ingram storms to win from 12th on grid

Speedworks Motorsports’ Tom Ingram became the first double winner of the season, winning after starting 12th on the grid in race two at Donington Park

He was joined on the podium by Chris Smiley, a first time podium finisher, and Jack Goff of Eurotech.

Josh Cook started on pole following his first race win in race one. There was drama before the race even started as Colin Turkington and James Nash both ran into mechanical issues on the way to the grid.

Nash retired and Turkington started from the pits but never recovered, retiring with just a few laps remaining.

At the start Dan Cammish made the best start from the front row and took the lead from Cook, who was suffering from the maximum success ballast of 75kg in his car. Cammish stormed into the lead with Smiley and Aiden Moffat following.

Cammish was hunting his first win in only his fifth BTCC start in his Team Dynamics Honda Civic, but he was caught by Smiley who managed to get through and into the lead. Ingram charged through the field and found himself in the top five.

Ingram’s charge through the field was impressive, but Shredded Wheat’s Tom Chilton made 17 places as he finished tenth in his Ford Focus RS. The veteran made up for lost time after finishing 29th in race one.

Rory Butcher came home in ninth in his MG following a steady drive, just behind resigning champion Ash Sutton in his Subaru. The champ hasn’t had the greatest start to his title defence but made good ground to finish eighth.

Cook struggled to the finish with a heavier Vauxhall Astra than usual, he managed seventh place with 75kg of ballast on his car. James Cole in the other Shredded Wheat Focus finished sixth after starting fifth, which is no mean feat in this ever-competitive BTCC field.

Adam Morgan in the Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes finished in fifth while stalemates Tom Oliphant and Aden Moffat finished 12th and 15th respectively.

Cammish finished fourth with team mate Matt Neal falling down the grid to finish 16th. Goff made the podium following some excellent racing with Smiley ahead of him taking his maiden podium finish.

But Ingram managed to pass everyone and storm to the win, his second of the season. The Speedworks racer drove phenomenally to take the win and extend his lead at the top of the early championship standings.