The Debrief – Five talking points from a thrilling opening BTCC weekend at Thruxton

The 2021 British Touring Car Championship season burst into life at the weekend at Thruxton. Josh Cook won the first two races before Ash Sutton stormed to victory in a thrilling final race. A few talking points arose from the weekend’s action, with thrills, spills, and strong performances aplenty.

Never Discount Ash Sutton

Ash Sutton took victory in race three. (Image Credit: BTCC Media)

The reigning champ took pole position in Saturday’s qualifying session to kick off his title defence in the best way possible. However, he was tapped by Colin Turkington into the Complex and spun, falling to the back of the grid. Not one to stay down for long, Sutton surged through the field finishing tenth on the road but was promoted to ninth thanks to Turkington receiving a penalty for their first lap collision.

Another ninth placed finish in race two put him in good position as the reverse grid draw lottery put him third on the grid for race three. The rain-affected race saw Sutton start strong and lead, before Jake Hill on slicks passed him, only for the rain to return and put Sutton back in the ascendancy to take the win. From despair on race one lap one, to victory on race three, final lap.

Jake Hill – Emergence of a new star?

Jake Hill is the championship leader leaving Thruxton. (Image Credit: BTCC Media)

The MB Motorsport team merged with Motorbase for 2021, meaning Hill swapped his Honda Civic FK2 for a new Ford Focus. He was one of the stars of the weekend, taking three podiums and leading the championship as we leave Thruxton.

His skill and talent were underlined when he drove around the fastest circuit in the UK, on slick tyres, in wet and greasy conditions. That’s no mean feat, and Hill was not only quick, but he could have won if the rain had held off. A strong performance from the MB Motorsport driver, and one he will be sure to build on at Snetterton in June.

Andy Neate hit with a £2k fine

Glyn Geddie was caught up in a first lap incident in race two. (Image Credit: BTCC Media)

On the opening lap of race two there was a big incident involving Andy Neate, Glyn Geddie and Jade Edwards. Neate dove down the inside of Geddie into turn one. Geddie had the corner covered and was tipped into a spin by Neate, sending both into the wall and Geddie’s Cupra Leon pirouetted in the air before landing. Edwards was on the outside and played innocent bystander as she was caught up in it.

Initially Neate suggested he had brake failure which caused him to hit Geddie. However, after checks there was deemed nothing wrong with his car and Neate was hit with a £2,000 fine and points on his licence for the incident. Why did Neate suggest brake failure instead of admitting he was at fault for the incident? Thankfully all three drivers walked away uninjured.

Life in Plato Yet!

Jason Plato secured second place in race three. (Image Credit: BTCC Media)

The 53-year-old showed he’s not mellowed with age as he took a sixth, a fifth, and a second in the three races this weekend. He got stuck in and showed his great race craft in his Vauxhall Astra. He was involved in dicey battles with the likes of Dan Rowbottom, Dan Cammish and Jake Hill. The latter fighting Plato in a drag race to the line in race three, with Plato coming out on top. A fine weekend back after a year away from the grid.

Was Turkington’s Penalty Fair?

Colin Turkington had a quiet weekend following the penalty. (Image Credit: BTCC Media)

The aforementioned incident between Sutton and Turkington meant the four-time champion was given a 17 second penalty. This dropped him from fourth to tenth. The reason for this was Sutton finished tenth, and so the stewards gave Turkington a penalty which put him behind Sutton.

However, this is potentially a dangerous precedent to set, as theoretically speaking, if Sutton had finished 30 seconds back, or a lap down, by this logic Turkington would effectively have to be excluded from the results. Would a standard five or ten second penalty have sufficed for what was effectively an innocuous mistake on cold tyres?

The BTCC is back, and now the long wait begins for the next weekend of action at Snetterton on June 12-13.

BTCC Thruxton – Sutton wins rollercoaster rain-affected final race

Ash Sutton took the win in a thrilling final race of the day at Thruxton. The weather was a factor with rain stopping and starting again meaning tyre strategies were needed.

Pre-race Josh Cook and Tom Ingram were handed 30 second penalties for not having their tyres on their cars in time.

While most of the front were on wets, Tom Oliphant gambled on slicks, meaning he fell down the order at the start. Sutton took second from him with Stephen Jelley led.

Sutton overtook Jelley at the Complex on lap two while Cook and Ingram served their penalties in the pitlane.

Jason Plato and Aiden Moffat had a nice battle for fourth until Moffat pulled off the road with a mechanical issue on lap seven.

On lap six the weather stopped and the drivers on slick tyres were starting to come good. Jake Hill and Oliphant started to surge through the field with Oliphant coming from 18th.

Dan Cammish and Dan Rowbottom pitted for slicks to try and capitalize on the changing weather but it was the wrong call.

Hill’s resurgence continued as he passed Plato for third. Tom Oliphant was given a five second penalty for not being in his grid slot correctly.

Jake Hill is the championship leader leaving Thruxton. (Image Credit: BTCC Media)

On lap nine Hill was five seconds faster than leader Sutton, and was in second place closing down the leader. By lap ten he was in the lead.

But just as Hill took the lead it started to rain again, with the pendulum swinging back into Sutton’s favour. The reigning champion regained his lead with ease on lap 14.

On lap 15 Plato moved into third, but further back Carl Boardley and rookie Rick Parfitt collided at the Complex. Parfitt resumed but Boardley drove into the path of Rory Butcher while recovering and both collided and were out of the race.

Sutton won but there was a mad dash to the line between Plato, Hill, and Gordon Shedden. Plato had the better exit and stole second place on the line.

Shedden finished fourth, Plato’s team mate Dan Lloyd made it a good race for Power Maxed Racing with fifth. WSR duo Turkington and Oliphant took sixth and seventh. Jack Goff, Ollie Jackson and Stephen Jelley rounded off the top ten.

Jake Hill leads the championship after this weekend’s racing by a point from Josh Cook with Jason Plato in third a few points behind.

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Ash Sutton Laser Tools Infiniti Q50 22:47:671
2 Jason Plato Power Maxed Vauxhall Astra +4.789
3 Jake Hill MB Motorsport Ford Focus +4.859
4 Gordon Shedden Halfords Racing Honda Civic +5.025
5 Dan Lloyd Power Maxed Vuaxhall Astra +9.927
6 Colin Turkington Team WSR BMW 330i M +10.105
7 Tom Oliphant Team WSR BMW 330i M +13.212
8 Jack Goff Team HARD Cupra Leon +14.014
9 Ollie Jackson MB Motorsport Ford Focus +16.377
10 Stephen Jelley Team WSR BMW 330i M +18.713
11 Aron Taylor-Smith Team HARD Cupra Leon +21.321
12 Sam Osborne Motorbase Ford Focus +24.962
13 Tom Chilton Ciceley BMW 330i M +25.188
14 Sam Smelt Toyota Gazoo Toyota Corolla +25.722
15 Chris Smiley Excelr8 Hyundai i30N +38.847
16 Rick Parfitt Excelr8 Hyundai i30N +40.064
17 Nicholas Hamilton Team HARD Cupra Leon +52.655
18 Adam Morgan Ciceley BMW 330i M +55.339
19 Jack Butel Excelr8 Hyundai i30N +1:04.841
20 Josh Cook BTC Racing Honda Civic +1 Lap
21 Dan Rowbottom Halfords Racing Honda Civic +1 Lap
22 Tom Ingram Excelr8 Hyundai i30N +1 Lap
23 Dan Cammish BTC Racing Honda Civic +1 Lap
24 Carl Boardley Laser Tools Infiniti Q50 +2 Laps
25 Rory Butcher Toyota Gazoo Toyota Corolla +2 Laps
Retirements
DNF Aiden Moffat Laser Tools Infiniti Q50 Mechanical
DNF Jade Edwards BTC Racing Honda Civic Damage
DNS Glyn Geddie Team HARD Cupra Leon Damage
DNS Andy Neate Motorbase Ford Focus Damage

 

BTCC Thruxton – Cook wins race marred by first lap incident

Josh Cook secured his second win from two races with the race marred by a big first lap incident between three drivers.

Andy Neate, Glyn Geddie and Jade Edwards were all in a big shunt on lap one which caused a red flag. On the restart Dan Cammish surged into second to back up his temporary team mate with Jake Hill third.

The race was red flagged on lap one as Glyn Geddie, Jade Edwards and Andy Neate were involved in a first corner collision. Neate dove down the inside at turn one of Geddie and collided. They took Edwards with them as she was an innocent bystander on the outside. Geddie hit the wall and his car pirouetted and rolled and all three were out with considerable damage.

On the restart Hill got away badly, Cammish capitalized on it and moved into third. Into the complex Ingram was battling Cook for the lead with the pair making contact. As Ingram regained his composure Cammish snuck down the inside to take second.

The Safety Car was brought out when Rory Butcher started to spin in the high speed section. He went across the track, with drivers doing well to avoid him, before hitting the tyre wall at speed.

On lap six the race continued, with Dan Rowbottom pulling off a nice move on Ingram as he struggled with ballast in his Hyundai.

The top three pulled away from Jason Plato in fourth who was being caught by the charging Rowbottom. Having pitted, Ash Sutton surged back through the field, ending the race in ninth.

Rowbottom finally passed Plato on lap ten as he got the better of the veteran out of the final chicane for fourth place.

Josh Cook has won two races from two so far. (Image Credit: BTCC Media)

The top two were the quickest cars, with Cook taking his second win from two with Cammish playing a good team mate to back him up.

Hill finished third as his encouraging start to the season continues. Rowbottom secured his best ever BTCC finish with fourth and Plato came home fifth. Ingram and Turkington were next, followed by the Laser Tools duo of Moffat and Sutton. Tom Oliphant rounded off the top ten in his BMW.

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Josh Cook BTC Racing Honda Civic 23:06:411
2 Dan Cammish BTC Racing Honda Civic +0.234
3 Jake Hill MB Motorsport Ford Focus +1.625
4 Dan Rowbottom Halfords Racing Honda Civic +4.655
5 Jason Plato Power Maxed Vauxhall Astra +4.976
6 Tom Ingram Excelr8 Hyundai i30N +6.961
7 Colin Turkington Team WSR BMW 330i M +7.303
8 Aiden Moffat Laser Tools Infiniti Q50 +9.291
9 Ash Sutton Laser Tools Infiniti Q50 +10.055
10 Tom Oliphant Team WSR BMW 330i M +11.411
11 Stephen Jelley Team WSR BMW 330i M +13.259
12 Jack Goff Team HARD Cupra Leon +13.759
13 Ollie Jackson MB Motorsport Ford Focus +15.311
14 Dan Lloyd Power Maxed Vauxhall Astra +15.826
15 Aron Taylor-Smith Team HARD Cupra Leon +16.944
16 Sam Osborne Motorbase Ford Focus +17.540
17 Carl Boardley Laser Tools Infiniti Q50 +19.551
18 Gordon Shedden Halfords Racing Honda Civic +19.914
19 Jack Butel Excelr8 Hyundai i30N +26.245
20 Sam Smelt Toyota Gazoo Toyota Corolla +26.623
21 Adam Morgan Ciceley BMW 330i M +32.085
22 Nicholas Hamilton Team HARD Cupra Leon +35.931
23 Chris Smiley Excelr8 Hyundai i30N +1 Lap
Retirements
DNF Rick Parfitt Excelr8 Hyundai i30N Mechanical
DNF Tom Chilton Ciceley BMW 330i M Mechanical
DNF Rory Butcher Toyota Gazoo Toyota Corolla Crash
DNF Jade Edwards BTC Racing Honda Civic Crash
DNF Andy Neate Motorbase Ford Focus Crash
DNF Glyn Geddie Team HARD Cupra Leon Crash

 

BTCC Thruxton – Josh Cook takes Race 1 win

Josh Cook took the first win of the 2021 British Touring Car Championship season at Thruxton in an exciting opening race.

A first lap collision sent polesitter Ash Sutton spinning down the order. Tom Ingram’s first race for Excelr8 ended with second place and Jake Hill moved through the order to take third.

The first race is the only race all season which is ballast free, which means all drivers are on a level playing field and it’s purely a case of who’s fastest.

Sutton got away well, with Ingram and Colin Turkington in tow behind. Into the complex at Cobb, Turkington tapped Sutton in braking and spun Sutton around. This promoted Cook to the lead as he manoeuvred past the pair into a lead he never surrendered.

The Safety Car was brought out at the end of lap one as the returning Gordon Shedden tapped the back of Ollie Jackson. This sent the Honda driver into a spin before he collected Chris Smiley. The pair ended in the wall and Jackson pitted to fix an damage. Tom Oliphant appeared to be struggling to get heat into his tyres as he went off before pitting.

On lap seven the Safety Car pulled in and racing resumed. Ingram was on the back of Cook instantly, and was looking to overtake.

Sutton’s resurgence began on lap eight as he passed Sam Smelt and Oliphant. Meanwhile further up Dan Rowbottom, who replaced Matt Neal this season at Team Dynamics, moved around the outside of ex-team mate Adam Morgan at the final chicane in a very impressive move.

A transmission failure ended Stephen Jelley’s impressive return to Team WSR as he pulled into the pits.

In the closing stages there was a battle between Jason Plato, Rory Butcher, and Dan Cammish. Plato fought with Butcher for fifth, and both were passed by Cammish. He swooped into fifth and pulled away in his BTC Honda.

There was a light splatter of rain at the end of the race but nothing to bother the drivers as Cook cruised to the win, keeping up his impressive winning streak at Thruxton dating back to 2018. Ingram was second with Hill third. Turkington came home fourth, but was handed a penalty post race for his part in taking out Sutton, dropping him to tenth., Cammish, Butcher, Plato, Rowbottom, Morgan, and Ash Sutton rounded off the top ten on the road but were all promoted because of Turkington’s penalty.

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Josh Cook BTC Racing Honda Civic 29:33:844
2 Tom Ingram Excelr8 Hyundai i30N +2.298
3 Jake Hill MB Motorsport Ford Focus +4.227
4 Dan Cammish BTC Racing Honda Civic +9.323
5 Rory Butcher Toyota Gazoo Toyota Corolla +11.758
6 Jason Plato Power Maxed Vauxhall Astra +12.046
7 Dan Rowbottom Halfords Racing Honda Civic +12.607
8 Adam Morgan Ciceley BMW 330i M +19.612
9 Ash Sutton Laser Tools Infiniti Q50 +21.259
10 Colin Turkington Team WSR BMW 330i M +21.825*
11 Aiden Moffat Laser Tools Infiniti Q50 +22.760
12 Carl Boardley Laser Tools Infiniti Q50 +26.391
13 Jack Goff Team HARD Cupra Leon +26.720
14 Tom Chilton Ciceley BMW 330i M +27.138
15 Tom Oliphant Team WSR BMW 330i M +27.448
16 Dan Lloyd Power Maxed Vauxhall Astra +27.791
17 Sam Osborne Motorbase Ford Focus +29.846
18 Aron Taylor-Smith Team HARD Cupra Leon +31.038
19 Ollie Jackson MB Motorsport Ford Focus +33.636
20 Jade Edwards BTC Racing Honda Civic +38.774
21 Jack Butel Excelr8 Hyundai i30N +41.015
22 Glyn Geddie Team HARD Cupra Leon +41.932
23 Sam Smelt Toyota Gazoo Toyota Corolla +42.886
24 Andy Neate Motorbase Ford Focus +45.545
25 Rick Parfitt Excelr8 Hyundai i30N +45.928
26 Nicolas Hamilton Team HARD Cupra Leon +2 Laps
Retirements
DNF Stephen Jelley Team WSR BMW 330i M Transmission
DNF Gordon Shedden Halfords Racing Honda Civic Crash
DNF Chris Smiley Excelr8 Hyundai i30N Crash
  • – Colin Turkington handed 17 second penalty for collision with Ash Sutton on lap 1.

Ash Sutton takes pole in BTCC opener at Thruxton

Reigning champion Ash Sutton took the first pole position of the 2021 British Touring Car Championship season on a drying track at Thruxton.

Qualifying started off with a wet track and dried over the course of the 30 minute session, with the likes of Sutton, Josh Cook and Rory Butcher all exchanging fastest times throughout.

Sutton kicked off his title defence in style. (Image Credit: BTCC Media)

BMW’s Colin Turkington set the first competitive time of the session, and of the season, before Ford’s Jake Hill went faster. Tom Ingram, in his first qualifying session with Excelr8, was fastest five minutes in.

The track was starting to dry at a quick pace, which meant the times were starting to tumble. Cook went fastest and then Sutton regained the top time soon after. Dan Cammish, who returned to the grid with BTC Racing following Michael Crees’ shock departure this week, went third with ten minutes remaining.

With just eight minutes remaining the action began, as Hill went fastest by just under a tenth of a second. Tom Oliphant in the BMW then set a 1:19:7 before Butcher set a 1:19:4.

Josh Cook lines up on the front row for tomorrow’s first race. (Image Credit: BTCC Media)

Not to be upstaged, Hill’s next lap was a 1:19:0, showing how fast the track was drying out. Butcher then snatched top spot straight back as the first driver to break the 1:18’s.

With just under two minutes to go Jade Edwards spun and collided with the tyre wall. She was on slicks and must have hit a damp spot as she hit the wall but soon got going again, but brought out the yellow flag.

Hill was looking to be on a fast lap to try and retake pole, but was held up by Jason Plato into the final chicane. The Vauxhall driver, who was not on a hot lap, had ample opportunity to move out of Hill’s way, but decided to hold him up into the final corner before peeling into the pitlane.

Ingram went fastest as time ran out with a 1:18:7 before Sutton smashed the fastest time, setting a 1:18:3, and taking pole position in the process.

Cook was second, with Turkington’s quiet session finishing third. Ingram, Butcher Oliphant and Hill followed, with Gordon Shedden, Ollie Jackson, and Chris Smiley rounding off the top ten.

Pos Driver Team Car Time
1 Ash Sutton Laser Tools Infiniti Q50 1:18:305
2 Josh Cook BTC Racing Honda Civic Type R +0.053
3 Colin Turkington Team WSR BMW 330i M Sport +0.362
4 Tom Ingram Excelr8 Hyundai i30N +0.413
5 Rory Butcher Toyota Gazoo Toyota Corolla +0.530
6 Tom Oliphant Team WSR BMW 330i M Sport +0.586
7 Jake Hill MB Motorsport Ford Focus +0.604
8 Gordon Shedden Halfords Racing Honda Civic Type R +0.810
9 Ollie Jackson MB Motorsport Ford Focus +1.641
10 Chris Smiley Excelr8 Hyundai i30N +1.740
11 Jason Plato Power Maxed Vauxhall Astra +1.973
12 Dan Cammish BTC Racing Honda Civic Type R +2.088
13 Carl Boardley Laser Tools Infiniti Q50 +2.408
14 Adam Morgan Ciceley BMW 330i M Sport +2.458
15 Jack Goff Team HARD Cupra Leon +2.630
16 Dan Rowbottom Halfords Racing Honda Civic Type R +2.677
17 Jade Edwards BTC Racing Honda Civic Type R +2.969
18 Stephen Jelley Team WSR BMW 330i M Sport +3.171
19 Aron Taylor-Smith Team HARD Cupra Leon +3.172
20 Tom Chilton Ciceley BMW 330i M Sport +3.310
21 Aiden Moffat Laser Tools Infiniti Q50 +3.547
22 Dan Lloyd Power Maxed Vauxhall Astra +4.065
23 Sam Osborne Motorbase Ford Focus +4.350
24 Andy Neate Motorbase Ford Focus +4.574
25 Rick Parfitt Excelr8 Hyundai i30N +5.460
26 Glyn Geddie Team HARD Cupra Leon +5.547
27 Sam Smelt Toyota Gazoo Toyota Corolla +6.152
28 Jack Butel Excelr8 Hyundai i30N +6.826
29 Nicolas Hamilton Team HARD Cupra Leon +6.882

 

Toyota’s return to the BTCC – Another successful motorsport venture?

Toyota are currently a motorsports powerhouse. They’re an omnipotent force in the World Rally Championship, had all but monopolised the LMP1 class in sportscar racing, and have now given their full factory backing to a British Touring Car Championship team.

The Japanese marque have offered manufacturer support to the Speedworks Motorsport team, who were previously using the Toyota Corolla with Tom Ingram. However now Ingram has moved on, and Speedworks have two works Corolla’s to be driven by talented Scot Rory Butcher, and the returning Sam Smelt.

The Corolla has shown itself to be a fast car at the hands of Ingram since its introduction in 2019. It has won seven races over the last two years and has kept Ingram in the title fight for large proportions of those seasons. Now with two cars, Speedworks has the chance to really push for honours this season.

Butcher and Smelt are spearheading Toyota’s challenge this season. (Image Credit: BTCC Media)

They’re no strangers to the BTCC, they won two drivers and manufacturers championships in 1986 and 1987, courtesy of Chris Hodgetts. Also two of the most memorable moments in BTCC history include Toyota’s, but perhaps not for the best of reasons. In 1992 at Brands Hatch team mates Andy Rouse and Will Hoy collided and took each other in to the wall and out of the race while running first and second.

The other incident came a year later at Silverstone. Hoy was involved again but this time with Julian Bailey as a team mate. Going into Brooklands, Bailey dove down the inside of Hoy, sending him onto his roof. The moment entered folklore thanks to the late Murray Walker’s famous line, “The car upside down, is a Toyota.” They were again leading one-two.

In terms of the drivers, Rory Butcher has proven himself to be a fast and consistent driver over the last couple of seasons. Six wins in the last two years with AMD CobraSport and Motorbase. His expertise is front wheel drive, having spent his whole BTCC career in front wheel drive machinery. Therefore he’s well suited to lead the new manufacturer team.

Sam Smelt only has one season of BTCC experience under his belt, in the AMD Audi S3 in 2018. While he hasn’t quite hit the heights of his team mate, Smelt has potential, having spent 2020 in British GT with Speedworks in the Toyota Supra GT4.

Toyota’s latest motorsport offering has all the ingredients to be as successful as its stablemates, it’ll have its challengers from other teams on the grid, but the Corolla, and two talented drivers, mean it could well be a start of a beautiful relationship for Speedworks and Toyota.

We will have articles throughout the week to preview the 2021 BTCC season as well as race reports at the weekend from Thruxton.

‘There’s no harm in repeating a good thing’ – Jason Plato returns for 2021 BTCC Season

A famous philosopher once said ‘There is no harm in repeating a good thing.’ This is the mantra of the British Touring Car Championship’s record wins holder going into the new season.

Jason Plato makes his return to the British Touring Car Championship for the 2021 season after sitting 2020 out. He is ‘itching’ to return to the paddock and to the grid, and will take part in his 600th race this weekend. Proving the theory of his ancient Greek namesake to be true, there is indeed no harm in repeating a good thing.

The veteran, returning with Power Maxed Racing, is the sport’s record wins holder, with 97, the same amount of wins Lewis Hamilton has in Formula One. Plato is keen to hit the century of BTCC wins before he retires, and there’s nothing to suggest he can’t achieve that in 2021.

The 53 year old has been described as ‘rejuvenated’ in the press this week and his 12 month lay-off will have him raring to go at Thruxton this weekend. Six of his 97 wins have come at the Andover circuit and he qualified on the front row there in 2019, before being penalised for not parking in his grid slot correctly.

While Plato may not be a frontrunner for the title in terms of the odds, he will be doing all he can to be fighting at the front end, and in a car which still has a lot of potential, he and his team have the ability to surprise without the burden of expectation.

The Vauxhall Astra is a race winning car, with Jason himself picking up his and the team’s most recent win in the 2019 finale at Brands Hatch. The car is still quick, and after a selection of guest driver outings in 2020, the team are coming back to launch a full scale attack on the BTCC in 2021.

Power Maxed Racing’s Astra is a nimble front wheel drive car, which will be handy around circuits such as Brands Hatch and Croft, which require agility, and Plato is a driver who can easily get the best out of this car.

Plato was quick in pre-season testing, there’s life in the old dog yet. (Image Credit: BTCC Media)

In pre-season testing at Donington Park he was fourth fastest in the first session, and while testing times, as Formula One has shown us, should always be taken with a pinch of salt, Plato’s times are impressive when you consider he’s been out of the car for a year. The encouraging sign is he’s showing no sign of ring rustiness. But can he achieve them final three wins?

With the often madcap nature of the BTCC, reverse grids and success ballast affecting cars at the front, Plato has every chance of being in a position to pick up the final three wins he needs. He won’t be solely relying on the lotteries of the BTCC to get his wins though, he will be getting his elbows out in his famous yet effective racing style in order to fight for those wins.

While most of the faces remain the same for Plato’s return, one which won’t be on the grid with him is his old sparring partner Matt Neal. The pair have famously butted heads on many occasions over the last 20 years, including an almost fist-fight in the pit-lane at Rockingham in 2011.

Neal is taking a step back from racing in 2021, with Gordon Shedden returning to the BTCC in his place. Matt remains in the paddock as he takes on a role in the Team Dynamics garage. Meaning one of Plato’s biggest rivals is out of his way. But that doesn’t mean his task will be any easier.

Plato is a vastly experienced driver, and it will be intriguing to see how he gets on this season. But statistics don’t mean everything, as ‘A good decision is based on knowledge and not numbers,’ which Plato has in abundance.

We will have articles throughout the week to preview the 2021 BTCC season as well as race reports at the weekend from Thruxton.

Dan Rowbottom signs for Team Dynamics – Yuasa leave team and BTCC after ten years

It’s all change for Team Dynamics as they sign a new driver, gain a title sponsor, and lose another as title sponsor Yuasa have left the team after ten glorious years in the British Touring Car Championship.

After news broke of Dan Rowbottom taking the second Honda seat alongside the returning Gordon Shedden, it was confirmed that Cataclean, a partner of Rowbottom would become a sponsor of the team alongside the long-standing Halfords.

Rowbottom made his BTCC debut in 2019 with Ciceley Motorsport, and after sitting out 2020, he returns after a ‘lifeline’ from one of the sport’s most famous names.

Rowbottom had a season in BTCC in 2019 with Ciceley Motorsport. (Image Credit: BTCC Media)

“I was thrown a bit of a lifeline with a call from Matt Neal suggesting we should get together and have a chat about the future!  To be honest it was a real ‘pinch yourself moment’ one moment no racing, then next I had the main man of BTCC suggesting that it might be possible to join Team Dynamics,” Rowbottom stated in a press release on his website.

Neal was happy to have Rowbottom in the team and will play a more mentoring role in his development. “It’s great to have Dan join the team, he’s got previous experience in the BTCC, so he knows what to expect and how competitive it is.  I know he has set himself some pretty realistic, yet tough goals and I’ll be there to help and mentor him and make sure we achieve the best results we can for him and for the team”

Dynamics and Yuasa is one of the most successful partnerships in the history of the BTCC. (Image Credit: BTCC Media)

This therefore means Yuasa leave the team, after 11 trophy laden seasons with Team Dynamics. In a  press release from the battery brand, they stated: ‘During their 10 years (11 seasons) in the sport, Yuasa has enjoyed phenomenal success with the team and their drivers Matt Neal, Gordon Shedden and Dan Cammish.

‘With Yuasa’s backing Matt and Gordon both became three-time BTCC champions, and Dan narrowly missed out on his first BTCC title at nail biting season finale in 2019. In fact, since the relationship began in 2010 Yuasa and Team Dynamics have shared a phenomenal 78 race wins, 232 podiums, 4 drivers’ championships, 5 teams and 5 manufacturers titles.’

This of course means Matt Neal won’t be on the grid next year, but he is expected to remain heavily involved in the team and the garage.

Gordon Shedden returns to the BTCC with Team Dynamics

Three-time BTCC champion Gordon Shedden is making a return to the series with Team Dynamics, replacing outgoing Dan Cammish.

The Scotsman, who won his three titles with the Honda backed team, returns to the sport after a three year absence, having last raced in 2017. In a somewhat poetic twist, it was Cammish who replaced Shedden three years ago, and now the roles are reversed.

Shedden, or ‘Flash’ as he is known, needs no introduction to BTCC fans. He made his debut at Knockhill in 2001 as an independent and secured a full time BTCC drive with Team Dynamics in 2006. He won his first race at round seven at Oulton Park.

Shedden last raced in the BTCC in 2017. (Image Credit: BTCC Media)

He stayed with the team until a small stint with Seat in the second half of 2009. Shedden returned in 2010 with the squad now a manufacturer backed Honda team. Incredibly between 2010 and 2016 he wasn’t out of the top three in the championship standings. He won his first title in 2012 before adding two more in 2015 and 2016.

His last BTCC season in 2017 secured three wins and fourth in the championship before he left for World Touring Cars, with Cammish replacing him.

This won’t be the first time he’s driven the Honda Civic FK8, as he had a demo run last year when Matt Neal was injured in a bike crash, but Shedden says he ‘can’t wait to get back in the car.’

Shedden has 48 wins to his name and will make his 350th appearance this season. (Image Credit: BTCC Media)

Shedden told the official BTCC website: “I’ve been keeping an eye on the Championship, and it looks mega competitive, but my fight and determination is as high as it’s ever been, so I’ll be giving it my all.” 

This news comes after Cammish announced he was stepping away from the BTCC, with Shedden’s teammate to be announced in the coming weeks. The strong speculation is we will see Dan Rowbottom in the second seat but time will tell.

Five of our favourite BTCC liveries from the last five years

One of the most exciting things about pre-season is seeing the cars, seeing what colours we need to look out for on the grid. While most cars look great, there are some that just stand out for all the right reasons.

Whether that be an iconic livery, a moment you associate with your favourite team or driver, or simply you think it looks good and therefore becomes a favourite of yours.

We’ve delved into the archives and found five of our favourite liveries from the last five years of the British Touring Car Championship, with so many to choose from creating a list wasn’t easy.

5. 2016 Team Dynamics Honda Civic

Shedden attacks Knockhill in his Honda Civic FK2. (image credit: BTCC Media)

Honda and Halfords, it’s a combination we’ve become used to over the years watching the British Touring Car Championship. Gordon Shedden took the title for Team Dynamics in his orange Honda with some beautiful black accents to compliment the design. The FK2 Civic is one of the most successful BTCC cars of all time, and suited the colour scheme perfectly.

4. 2020 Excelr8 Hyundai i30N

The beautiful Hyundai i30N from 2020. (Image Credit: BTCC Media)

With the COVID-19 pandemic restricting fans to watching on TV, the Hyundai ran by Excelr8 often caught the eye. Driven by Senna Proctor and Chris Smiley, the vivid blue and black colour scheme really helped accentuate the i30N’s features. The red around the grille stood out and made the car easy to spot during races.

3. 2018 Motorbase Ford Focus Pink Edition

This one off livery definitely caught the eye. (Image Credit: BTCC Media)

As part of the BTCC’s 60th anniversary celebrations at Snetterton, Sam Tordoff revealed a pink liveried Ford Focus which definitely caught the eye. When asked about why he chose it, Tordoff stated: “We wanted to choose a colour that really made an impact on the track and also on TV. Bright pink has become my signature colour over recent years and we wanted something special for the car, so it was a no-brainer to run with it!”

2. 2019 WSR BMW 330i M Sport

Tom Oliphant at Thruxton in the stunning BMW 330i M Sport. (Image Credit: BTCC Media)

BMW’s M Sport brand is one of the most recognisable in motorsport, and while the iconic colours were used on the 1 Series in the few seasons prior, the colours really shone on the new-for-2019 330i. Colin Turkington drove to the title in the white BMW, with splashes of red, light blue and dark blue. Side note, the Pirtek livery used by Andrew Jordan also really suited the 330i, but the white machine used by Turkington and Tom Oliphant, was just a cut above.

1.  2017 WSR Pirtek BMW 1 Series

Andrew Jordan’s beautiful Pirtek livery. (Image Credit: BTCC Media)

Our favourite livery of the past five years is this stunning metallic Pirtek livery used by Andrew Jordan. It was used in 2016 on his Ford Focus but following his move to WSR, the livery followed. A shining blue with Pirtek’s signature yellow and red logos, this livery caught the eye and really shone. A move to a matte finish akin to Red Bull’s recent liveries followed in 2018, and while pleasant it wasn’t as striking as the metallic versions.

These were just five of our favourites, honourable mentions include Tom Oliphant’s metallic green Ciceley Mercedes Benz A Class from 2018, and BTC Racing’s matte grey Honda Civic FK8 with pink accents.

As we wait for the cars to hit the track, we will sit back and marvel at these beautiful machines a little longer.

(All image credits: BTCC Media)