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.

Interview with Tom Ingram

I got the chance to speak to Tom, driver for Speedworks Motorsport in the British Touring Car Championship at this years Autosport International Show at the NEC.

Tom Ingram, Speedworks Motorsport driver. Photo credit James Matthews

I asked him to sum up his 2018 season.

Well, kind of a really positive one, we can’t really look back at it with a lot of regrets, we’d have liked to have come away with the championship obviously, but given the situations that kind of happened throughout the year, I don’t think we really stood a chance with the failures that we had, so you know it was an incredible year, the best year we’ve had in the championship. Getting the independents championship back again was brilliant, the team title was superb again but it was a bit of a kick in the teeth to miss out on the overall title, of course it was, but off the back of such a strong year it’s great to now go into 2019 with the new project.

 

Thinking of the new project, can you tell us how that came about?

We’ve kind of working with Toyota for a number of years, and this is the first time that we’ve been really able to get to the point to get a deal together and get it over the line. We  knew we’d be running the new Corolla, back Silverstone time – It was quite early on we kind of knew really, and really the timing was correct, with the new Corolla coming out, it’s got such a good heritage in not only motorsport, rally and various other formula’s as well. But really, it’s right sort of time, with the road version being launched in the UK and the right time to bring it back into the motorsport scene and try and revive the Team Toyota GB name at the same time. It’s a really exciting time and the car is in build at present, we’ve finished the fabrication on her, so she’s up in build at the moment and we should have a finished car kind of by the start of February time and we’ll start testing by the middle to end of February and we’ve got a good testing schedule in the winter, so that we can hit the ground running and aim for some wins at Brands Indy by the time we get there.

 

Now, thinking of that, what is your schedule with testing?

Well, we’ve got three days in testing in Spain and then the majority of the testing will be done in the UK. Really for us, we just need mileage, we just need to keep going and going and find out what big areas we need to work on, because we know we’re going from a long wheelbase to a short wheelbase car and that comes with its own challenges. We’ve got to understand what that is going to do to the balance of the car, but that should only make it better. Now when you start to look at the numbers and the stats on the Corolla it will be a fantastic car, we’ve just got to understand it first, because with the difference in wheelbase, the lower centre of gravity and all the other parameters that we’ve got in it looks like a bit of learning, it will be a stunning car.

Tom won his second consecutive BTCC Independents Championship last season. Photo credit Warren Nel

Thinking of Brands Hatch, you’ve going with the goal in the new car to win there?

Yes, of course. 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, of course we’d like to, but 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.

 

What do you think makes you such a good overtaker, as you won the forever forward award last year? What is it about your style of driving that lends itself to that?

I’ve never been what I’d class as a dirty driver, I’d never cause a collision to make a move, I’m not hard driver, but of course if there is half a chance slipping your nose down, I’ll run you wide. I’m not going to be running into the back of people and running them wide and then two corners later get it given back to you, so you gain a bit of respect when you’re a clean driver. Now the car was superb last year, one of the genuine reasons was that the car was fantastic, when we took weight out of the car the thing would come alive, so that is part of it, when you’ve got a very good car under you, its very easy to get past people, a little bit tactfulness, we’ve always done it very smart, you don’t have to be dirty driver, its always been done cleanly, which lends you respect if people understand that you’re going to getting past at some point rather than sitting behind them all race.

 

Finally, just thinking back to the testing, which UK tracks will you be at?

We’re going to be all over the place, a real mix of circuits from slow to fast, high to low grip, but ultimately, we’re at the mercy of the great British weather. We’re also at the mercy of the Spanish weather, as we’re off to Spain which also wasn’t great last year. Really, we’re mindful of trying to get as much mileage in, because we need time in the seat, we need the wheels turning everyday of the week if we can, but we’ll see if we can.

 

The track in Spain, which one is that you’re going to?

We’re going out to Calafat, there’s a number of us going there, Motorbase are going there I believe that Ciceley are going there, a fair few going out there so at least we’ll have a bit of a benchmark to look at.

 

Well, a big thank you for Tom’s time. We’ll be watching with interest when the car hits the track.

 

Header photo credit, Warren Nel

Adam Morgan and Ciceley Motorsport – Dad and Lad hobby to fully professional, race-winning team

Adam Morgan started out with Ciceley Motorsport eight years ago with his father at home in their garage.

Since then the man from Blackburn has seen his team grow from a small British Touring Car Championship privateer operation into one of the main protagonists in both the main and independent championship races.

Now a professional team, Ciceley Motorsport are looking to expand from BTCC into other categories.

On the team’s entry into the final British GT round at Donington Park, Morgan wasn’t getting carried away.

“We are using this weekend as a bit of a toe in the water to see what it is all about. This is a test session, we want to get to the end, have a good pit-stop and prove to the paddock that we can do what we set out to do.”

The Ciceley operation has grown immeasurably in the last seven years, with more GT races planned over the winter.

“We started in 2010, it was me and my dad in a garage at home. Over the last seven years we have grown so that we operate three Touring Cars, a GT4 car and this winter we’re doing the Gulf 24H and Dubai 24H as well.

“What has turned from a dad and lad hobby has gone to a fully professional racing team.We are very lucky and we both work our socks off and we love it. It’s a dream come true, it’s my full time job and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Not many people get to turn round and say ‘I’m a racing driver’.”

Alongside Morgan, Ciceley run Tom Oliphant’s Mercedes while Aiden Moffat’s Laser Tools Mercedes is prepared by the team.

Morgan does not want this weekend to be a fleeting British GT series visit, but is unsure whether or not Ciceley will compete on both fronts next season.

“Hopefully this is another project for us next year. Whether we can do a full British GT programme alongside the Touring Car programme, we’ll have to see. We’d like to raise some awareness and get some interest after this event, and we’ll see what happens.”

Morgan is determined that the Ciceley Motorsport tale has another chapter in the BTCC, with 2018 being their strongest season yet as they seek to beat a number of established names.

“Our main objective is to win the British Touring Car Championship, that is our goal and our ambition. We’re getting closer and closer every year, I’m joint fourth in the championship though unfortunately we’re mathematically out of the running to win it but if everything goes well we can come away from Brands with third overall and second independent. For us, that would be a big achievement and next year we’ll come back even stronger again.”

IMAGE CREDIT: Jamie Sheldrick/Spacesuit Media.

 

BTCC Snetterton Preview

Josh Cook at last years Snetterton race. Image courtesy of BTCC

This weekend is the sixth meeting on the 2018 BTCC calendar, and also marks the sixtieth anniversary of the BTCC forming. There are numerous things to be discussed about the weekend, most notably the special ‘Diamond Double’ race, which is a mouth-watering prospect for both the drivers and their fans. First, however, let’s recap.

Recap

Last time out at Croft was a hectic event packed with action as well as a resurgence from the reigning champion Ash Sutton. Sutton scored his first win of the season in round thirteen and his second in round fourteen. Dan Lloyd took to the top step of the podium in round fifteen after benefiting from the reverse grid. Colin Turkington emerged from Croft as the championship leader, despite having only won a single race so far this year. The BMW driver, however, has finished on the podium an impressive five times, showing that consistency has been key to the season thus far. His nearest challengers, Tom Ingram and Matt Neal, aren’t far behind. Neal in particular should be one to watch this weekend, with the Hondas having run fastest in the two day test at Snetterton.

Ash Sutton at Croft 2018. Image courtesy of BTCC
The circuit

The circuit itself is an exciting one, with two of the longest straights in the country as well as the iconic ‘bomhole’. Rob Collard is the man with the lap record, a 1m56.352, which was set in 2016.

Diamond double

The drivers will have the perfect opportunity to set a new lap record in the third race of the weekend. Dubbed the ‘Diamond Double’, round eighteen of the season has a completely different format to the other races. The race will be for double points, with its own qualifying session used to determine the grid. All cars will be on base weight and the length of the race is approximately double that of a regular one. The double points on offer will allow drivers to potentially close gaps (or open them) throughout the championship standings. Expect a highly competitive race with perhaps a hint of caution, as not finishing this race would be very detrimental to driver’s championship hopes.

Overall this weekend looks set to be another thrilling chapter of this season’s BTCC championship. Be sure not to miss the action, especially the Diamond Double race. Going into the business end of the season, it could be hugely significant.

BTCC Round Four – Josh Cook takes lights to flag maiden win at Donington

ccPower Maxed Racing’s Josh Cook became the fourth different winner of the season with a win in round four of the British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park.

The Vauxhall Astra driver led from lights to flag as Dan Cammish of Team Dynamics came second and Laser Tools’ Aden Moffat rounding off the podium.

Cook led from the start with Chris Smiley of BTC Norlin and Grad-x’s Sam Tordoff in tow. Into Redgate Cook held his nerve and kept ahead of the pack. Cammish flew past Smiley and Tordoff into the Craner Curves to take second place and hunt down Cook.

Meanwhile further back there were tussles throughout the field, Colin Turkington was sent sideways after a coming together with Brands race winner Senna Proctor. The BMW man recovered well to finish tenth.

Proctor managed to finish eighth ahead of Ciceley Motorsports’ Tom Oliphant, but couldn’t keep up with the power of the Honda’s ahead of him. Smiley slowly fell down the order and was overtaken by the resurgent Matt Neal in the Team Dynamics Honda to finish sixth with Smiley seventh.

James Cole kept his nose clean to bring his Shredded Wheat Ford Focus RS home in fifth, picking up the only points for his team. Team mate Tom Chilton was in the wars and finished low down the order, with Tordoff unable to maintain his push as an electrical fault saw him retire.

Rookie Brett Smith came home fourth after fighting with team mate Jack Goff Smiley to take fourth place and finish just off the podium.

The Laser Tools Mercedes of Aiden Moffat came third after a great repair effort from the Laser Tools team following his crash in qualifying yesterday.

Dan Cammish kept on Cook’s tail throughout the race, and was on a charge during the middle phases, but couldn’t find his way past Matt Simpson, who tucked in between the top two.

But the first race belonged to Cook, who masterfully led from start to finish, with the Power Maxed Racing team having won two of the four races so far this season.

Josh Cook interview: “I want to beat the best”

Josh Cook makes his return to Power Maxed Racing for 2018, Aaron Irwin spoke to the 2015 Jack Sears Trophy winner to get his thoughts for the coming season.

AI: So you’re back at Power Maxed Racing!

JC: “Yeah, Obviously I raced with them in 2015, and as soon as I got the chance to, I jumped back in with them. The only reason I left them was for commercial reasons, as soon as the opportunity arose for me to jump back here then I took it. They’re a great team, a great bunch, and they’ve put together a really good car.”

Obviously with your deal being announced quite early you must have had a nice winter to prepare and get ready?

“Yeah, a lot of the time everything’s rushed, and a bit panicky at the end because that’s just how it works. Everyone’s trying to decide what they’re doing and getting everything aligned. So having everything done a little bit earlier was good for us. But then I just wanted to get in the car and get going. I had a few test days which have really helped us but yeah, looking forward to hitting the ground running.”

Cook (right), with PMR team mate Senna Proctor (left).

Power Maxed Racing had a great year last year, it must fill you with a bit of confidence coming in to the team?

“I think you can’t go in with any expectations, it’s going to be really really tough. We’ve just got to give it 100% the whole time. We have to work hard to develop the car and move forwards because everyone is going to move forwards. We’ve got Euro Repar Car Service who’ve come on board this year which made all of this possible. It allowed us to get the deal done so early and now we can really try to deliver those results and reward everybody for their efforts.”

Is the target to be on the podium? Challenging for wins?

“Of course, I’m actually here to win races, win the championship, if you’re not here to do that then you need to be somewhere else! There’s 31 other drivers on the grid who are here to win so we just need to make sure we work that little bit harder than them.”

Plus the field is getting ever more competitive, people like Sam Tordoff coming back to race, does that make your job that little bit harder?

“The calibre of driver in the British Touring Car Championship is so high. The level of engineering that goes into setting up these cars is at the top level in the country. I want to beat the best, so I’m not too fussed about who’s there as long as everybody’s at the top of their game and if we come out on top fairly then that’s how I want to win.”

2018 British Touring Car Championship Season Preview! – A diamond of an anniversary season.

The British Touring Car Championship is back with a vengeance this weekend as the teams make the annual pilgrimage to Brands Hatch for the season opener.

With a whopping 32 drivers on the grid, the BTCC promises to be a rip roaring affair as the third oldest racing championship in the world celebrates its 60th anniversary. Behind only NASCAR and Formula One in age, the BTCC has always promised door to door action, and 2018 won’t be any different.

Season Calendar

Circuit Date
Brands Hatch Indy 7-8 April
Donington Park 28-29 April
Thruxton 19-20 May
Oulton Park 9-10 June
Croft 23-24 June
Snetterton 28-29 July
Rockingham 11-12 August
Knockhill 25-26 August
Silverstone 15-16 September
Brands Hatch GP 29-30 September

2017 – Sutton’s Incredible Transformation

2017 saw Adrian Flux Racing’s Ash Sutton take the championship, driving his Subaru Levorg to glory at the expense of series veteran Colin Turkington. Sutton came almost out of nowhere in only his second season in the championship, and his first with the Subaru team. It was an intense battle all the way to the final round at Brands Hatch, with Sutton and Turkington the only ones in with a shout of the prestigious trophy.

It was heartbreak for the BMW driver though, as a collision in the final race of the season broke his rear suspension, leaving Sutton to take his maiden championship in what was a somewhat fairy-tale story.

With it being the 60th anniversary of the championship, there are some special events being lined up to mark the occasion. The main one is a special endurance race at Snetterton on 29 July. The third race of the weekend will be contested over 60 miles, with no success ballast and double points on offer.

Series veteran Jason Plato remains with Subaru for 2018. (Credit: BTCC media)

The Stars and their Cars

The 2018 season sees the return of some old faces, while some big names have departed for pastures new. The main face leaving the grid is triple champion Gordon Shedden, who is now racing in the World Touring Car Cup. Other notable names leaving the series are Mat Jackson, formerly of the Shredded Wheat Ford team. Aron Taylor-Smith, who raced for MG in 2017, and Jeff Smith, who continues to recover from injuries sustained in a horror crash at Croft last season.

Meanwhile 2016 series runner up Sam Tordoff returns to the grid, driving a Gard-X sponsored Ford Focus RS. Replacing Shedden at Team Dynamics is Porsche Supercup double champion Dan Cammish. A range of rookies are also joining the championship, with Sam Smelt (from British F4), Tom Oliphant (from Porsche Middle-East Supercup), and Bobby Thompson (from VW Racing Cup) all making their debuts.

Alfa Romeo are back in the BTCC with Rob Austin at the wheel. (Credit: BTCC Media)

But what will these drivers be racing in? Well some teams have opted to keep the same cars for this season, while a few teams have decided to completely change theirs. Perhaps the most notable addition is the return of a famous name. Alfa Romeo are back on the grid with Rob Austin’s Handy Motorsport team. He’ll be driving a Giulietta. Team Dynamics have brought in the newer Honda Civic model, with the FK8, replacing the old FK2.

2018 Entry List

Teams highlighted green are independent entries. Drivers indicated in bold are eligible for the Jack Sears Trophy.

Team Drivers Car
Adrian Flux Racing Ash Sutton & Jason Plato Subaru Levorg GT
Autoglym Academy Josh Price Subaru Levorg GT
Team BMW Colin Turkington & Rob Collard BMW 125 i M Sport
BMW Pirtek Racing Andrew Jordan BMW 125i M Sport
Power Maxed TAG Racing Senna Proctor & Josh Cook Vauxhall Astra
Honda Yuasa Racing Matt Neal & Dan Cammish Honda Civic Type-R (FK8)
Team Shredded Wheat with Gallagher Tom Chilton & James Cole Ford Focus RS
GardX Racing with Motorbase Sam Tordoff Ford Focus RS
AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing Rory Butcher & Tom Boardman MG6 GT
AmD with Cobra Exhausts Ollie Jackson & Sam Smelt Audi S3 Saloon
Duo Motorsport with HMS Racing Rob Austin Alfa Romeo Giulietta
BTC Norlin Racing Chris Smiley & James Nash Honda Civic Type-R (FK2)
Ciceley Motorsport Tom Oliphant Mercedes Benz A-Class
MAC Tools with Ciceley Adam Morgan Mercedes Benz A-Class
Laser Tools Racing Aiden Moffat Mercedes Benz A-Class
Team HARD with Trade Price Bobby Thompson & Michael Caine Volkswagen CC
Team HARD with Brisky Racing Mike Bushell & Jake Hill Volkswagen CC
Wix Racing with Eurotech Jack Goff & Brett Smith Honda Civic Type-R (FK2)
Simpson Racing Matt Simpson Honda Civic Type-R (FK2)
Team Parker Racing Stephen Jelley BMW 125i M Sport
Speedworks Motorsport Tom Ingram Toyota Avensis

Who’s The Favourite?

So the question is; who’s the favourite for the title this season? The usual suspects, Colin Turkington, Rob Collard, Matt Neal, Jason Plato, and Ash Sutton are all fancied for the championship. However some dark horses are emerging after some impressive testing. Speedworks’ Tom Ingram, who came third in last season’s title race and took home the Independent’s trophy, is being considered by many to have an outside chance of glory.

Some are even considering teams such as Power Maxed Racing as potential race winners. Josh Cook and Senna Proctor showed their pace in the changing conditions at the second pre-season test at Brands, finishing first and sixth respectively. Motorbase look fast too with the new Ford Focus RS, being driven by Tom Chilton, James Cole, with Sam Tordoff.

Whoever comes out on top, it promises to be a diamond of an anniversary season.

Senna Proctor Interview: “If we hit the ground running…then it’s going to be a successful year.”

Power Maxed Racing driver Senna Proctor stormed to the Jack Sears Trophy title in his debut season in 2017, but what is in store for him in 2018? Aaron Irwin had a chat with him to see how his Vauxhall Astra has changed, and what his aspirations are for the coming season. 

AI: So we’re back, have you been itching to get back into the car?

SP: “Yeah I’ve been looking forward to it. Excited to get going again and we’re back with Power Maxed Racing this year so we’ll have to see what happens.”

Has there been many changes to the car? Apart from the new livery obviously?

“Yeah we’ve changed the livery, we’ve changed a lot of stuff. Just a few bits and bobs, a bit of weight saving here and there and moving it about to where we want it.

It’s been a good winter, it’s been productive. We’ve found out a bit about what works and what doesn’t work, we have a bit more of a back-up plan this year shall we say if anything does go wrong. But yeah we’re confident going into this year.”

Proctor at the pre-season test at Brands. (Credit: Matt Pigg – Photopigg.)

When Rob Huff came in for one meeting last season he changed a lot about the setup. Have you taken his advice on board?

“Yeah he gave us the bulk principle of what will and won’t work. Some of it we’ve put to good practice and some of it didn’t work on our car so I’d say he was a big help.

Obviously with myself not being too experienced in how a touring car should feel it was always hard for me to do that. We’re ready to get going this year and do our best for the team and for Vauxhall and to thank all our sponsors.”

At the back end of last season you were pushing for top ten’s, is that the target again this season?

“At the last meeting at Brands Hatch we had our best result of sixth, and we were getting there towards the end of the year to be honest with you.

We made some big steps forward and some quite chunky set up changes and we found out what did and what didn’t work again.

That’s half the battle, going into a qualifying session and putting on something and you don’t have a clue what’s going on, it’s not ideal. But this year going forward we have a little more experience with the car and also the team have more experience with the car, it’s all gone well so yeah we’re looking forward to it.”

As the reigning Jack Sears Trophy winner your stock continues to rise, some are saying you’re the ‘rising star’, does that cross your mind going into a race?

“I just go out there and do the best job I can. Like I say it’s been a good winter so there’s been a lot of confidence carried over from where we finished off last year. If we hit the ground running this year getting the same sort of finishes then it’s going to be a successful year.”

Our thanks to Senna for the interview and we wish him and Power Maxed Racing the best of luck for 2018.

Photos courtesy of Matt Pigg (Photopigg).

“It’s a new challenge but I think it’ll suit me” – Tom Oliphant BTCC interview

Tom Oliphant is making his debut in the BTCC this season with Ciceley Motorsport and Aaron Irwin managed to catch up with him and ask him a few questions.

AI: So you’re into the British Touring Car Championship! how do you feel?

TO: Really excited, I’ve been a support series driver for five years now and it’s always nice to be in the show. I’ve been following it for a while, it’s a premier UK race series and one of the most well known ones across Europe. To be a part of it with a great team like Ciceley Motorsport I’m over the moon.

You went through the usual route, Ginettas etc? You’re in good company with Tom Ingram being an ex Ginetta champion, it must be a good route into it?

Yeah definitely! I started in GT’s and my ambition was to become a GT factory driver and I quickly reaslised that that was probably a little harder to get to than touring cars.

I won the Ginetta Supercup just like ‘Tingram’ and Adam (Morgan, Olliphant’s Ciceley team mate) and that set me up nicely for the Porsche’s. I had two and a half years in Porsche’s, it was competitive, we weren’t quite at the front but was always there or thereabouts. It’s a new challenge but I think it’ll suit me.

The racing’s closer here and not a bit of a parade. With the weight changes and the tyre changes too, you could be racing badly in one race, and could be great in the next. You’ve got to take the good with the bad, and it’s all about being consistent.

Tom Oliphant.

Have you had some running in the car?

I’ve had quite a bit of running in the car, three or four days. Mainly just getting used to how it feels, adapting from rear wheel drive to front wheel drive. But the team know what they’re doing and we’ve been trying quite a few interesting things to develop the car.

I definitely think we’ve found some pace over last year. Me and Adam seem to be relatively close, so does Aiden. (Moffat, Olliphant’s other team mate) I’m there or thereabouts already so when I get a little bit more comfortable I think we can crack on. The setup of the car feels good and I think the car will be able to win races this year definitely.

Is that the target then for this year? Aiden won races in 2017 and Adam finished on the podium a few times?

I think the overall target is to win the Jack Sears trophy, it’s more competitive this year obviously, it’s not just a rookie class anymore.

Obviously Dan Cammish followed me here from Porsche’s, so he’s probably going to be the favourite for that now especially with the works Honda team. But this is a very different beast, my main focus is to get as high up in that as possible, to get as high up in the Independents as possible, and yeah hopefully a podium or two over the course of the season when everything is right and everything aligns. It’d be good if I could get a win but podiums are a terrific start.

Have you done most of the circuits on the calendar before?

I’ve raced all of them, being in the support series, the tracks are nothing new to me, the only thing is from rear wheel to front wheel drive, that’s the only new thing for me.

Thanks to Tom for the interview and best of luck to him and Ciceley Motorsport for the 2018 season.