After an incredible and dramatic set of races at Silverstone in the previous event, the gauntlet was well and truly laid down for the championship finale at Brands Hatch… and it didn’t disappoint!
Three drivers entered the weekend with a realistic chance of winning the title: Colin Turkington, who held a 16 point lead, Dan Cammish and Andrew Jordan, who was only a point further behind.
In trying conditions, Turkington planted his BMW at the front of the gird during qualifying to gain an extra point, with Jordan 3rdand Cammish down in 12th. The conditions also made the start of the opening race difficult as it was no longer raining, but wet, and the field opted to start on slick tyres.
In race one, Ash Sutton shot into the lead as Turkington settled in behind him and Jordan started to slip backwards while Cammish was making progress and was up to 8thby the end of lap 2. A couple of laps later, Turkington pulled off a great move on Sutton to re-take the lead and Jordan started to find his pace as he set the fastest lap. However, the race was neutralised for several laps as the safety car was needed to recover not only Matt Simpson’s car, but to repair the damaged barriers.
Under the safety car period, it started to rain again which brought a huge group of cars into the pits to change to wet tyres. Notably, they were not the front runners.
Lap 11 saw the race re-start and Rory Butcher jumped both Sutton and Turkington to take the lead as he looked much more assured in the conditions. Similarly, Cammish had more confidence in his car and moved ahead of Turkington for 3rd with Jordan a car behind. Despite Sam Osborne going off in his MG, there was no further safety car.
On lap 13, Butcher led from Jake Hill and Cammish, but Cammish had the bit between his teeth and over the next couple of laps he made his way into the lead with ease as Butcher just couldn’t find the grip in the conditions and Hill retired with an issue. Meanwhile, Matt Neal was the leading car on wet tyres in 16th.
Over the final laps, Neal, coupled with Tom Chilton, glided through the field and on the last lap they both overtook Jordan and then Turkington, before nipping ahead of Butcher on the line.
Cammish took his most important BTCC victory to cut Turkington’s lead to 8 points. At one point during the race, the live standings had Turkington with a 28 point lead. The fact that his teammate Neal took 2ndwas massive, as he could now act as rear gunner for the rest of the day. Turkington did the best he could in conditions that clearly didn’t suit the BMW and finished 5thwith Jordan 8th. Despite a post-race 5 second penalty for Cammish for an incident with Tom Oliphant, he retained his victory. Race rating: 8/10. The championship fight was now well and truly on.
Turkington made a superb start to race two, launching off the line from 5thto be 2ndbehind Cammish, as the cars mostly started on wet tyres. However, as a big crash behind them unfolded involving most notably Jack Goff, Adam Morgan and Oliphant, Turkington was involved in an incident of his own at Graham Hill Bend. An over-eager Neal launched less than half a car up the inside of Turkington and, as a result, Turkington was spun around and could only re-join at the back of the pack. Turkington immediately headed to the pits under the safety car to gamble on slick tyres. It was a gamble that didn’t pay off and Turkington finished 25th.
When the racing re-started on lap 5, Sutton was a man on the move, taking the lead with moves on consecutive laps on Chilton, Neal and Cammish. Knowing Turkington’s predicament, Cammish made it relatively straight forward for Sutton, not wishing to risk a few points for the sake of a potentially dangerous battle.
Jordan, meanwhile, showed he hadn’t given up on the title and made his way through the field and even overtook Cammish for 2nd. It could have been worse for Cammish, but Jason Plato, who had made great progress, had a late slide to relieve the pressure on Cammish who finished 3rdbehind Jordan and race winner, Sutton. Race rating: 7/10.
After an incredible turn of events, the title was now surely heading to Cammish as he held an 8-point lead over Turkington and 13 over Jordan. In addition, Cammish was to start race three in 8thafter the reverse grid draw, Jordan in 9thand Turkington was all the way down in 25th.
At the start, Jordan got ahead of Cammish, while at the front second placed man, Stephen Jelley, zoomed passed pole sitter, Senna Proctor. At the end of the first lap, Turkington had acquired ten places in an outstanding first lap and he continued his progress as by lap 4 he was 10th, but still behind Jordan in 7thand Cammish in 8th. Meanwhile, Plato had taken the lead after starting 5thand by lap 8, he had a commanding 3.7 second lead.
Turkington’s progress had slowed, but on lap 9, he managed to pass Tom Ingram for 8thand he was straight on to the back of Cammish. However, even if Turkington managed to pass Cammish, he would still need a big points swing with only 5 laps remaining. As the laps ticked down, Turkington and Ingram did pass Cammish, but Cammish was still secure. Despite the pressure of the situation, Turkington kept his head with two laps left and allowed Ollie Jackson back through after seemingly tapping him in an attempt to pass.
And then the lap that changed everything… Cammish’s brakes had glowed orange for the majority of the race and with a lap to go, they gave up and he was sent straight into the barriers. Turkington caressed his car home to finish 6thand incredibly he secured a record-equalling fourth British Touring Car Championship drivers’ title.
In the race, Plato secured his 98th BTCC victory – his first in over two years. Butcher and Sutton completed the podium, with Jordan a position behind. Race rating: It could be anything depending on your respective affiliations and emotional state for the final thirty minutes of the season… 8/10. [More like 11/10, here – Ed]
Did the right man win the championship? It’s hard to argue that Turkington didn’t deserve it. He has led the championship after every set of races from the third meeting of the season, he’s had over 30 point leads on occasions, he’s won the second most races with 5, he’s had the most pole positions with 3, and 2 of those were with full ballast, he’s the only driver to have completed 30 races and been classified in each and he’s jointly led the most laps out of anyone this season with 87.
Even by Turkington’s Mr Consistent standards that have helped him in the past, it would have seemed unfair that Cammish, who only led 15 laps all season – and most of those came at Brands Hatch – won ahead of him. The improvement of Cammish and the Honda this season has been excellent to see, but title worthy? It would also have left an extremely bitter taste in the mouth had Cammish won following his teammate’s pole-axing of Turkington.
For much of the season, Turkington’s nearest challenger was his own WSR teammate, Jordan. He has more statistics in his favour compared to Cammish, as he’s won the most races with 6, had a pole position and led 87 laps along with Turkington. However, Jordan has always alluded to the Donington Park accident as being his biggest problem to challenging this season.
To counteract that though, Jordan used his lighter car to full advantage as he claimed double victories at both the first visit to Thruxton and Croft. Like Turkington, Jordan only won one race in the second half of the season as the success ballast and perhaps pressure told. In addition, Turkington didn’t have an easy ride to the title either. Although he finished each race, let’s not forget the potential title costing incidents at Knockhill, Silverstone and Brands Hatch, but he came through all of those to secure the title.
Turkington’s drive in the second race at Silverstone was certainly title worthy, but then to come from his worst result of the season in the penultimate race of the season to finish 6th after starting 25th, literally was title deserving.
If Turkington wasn’t already in the BTCC elite with his three titles, there is no doubt that he is now as he holds the joint most championships with Andy Rouse. Will Turkington take title five next season? You wouldn’t rule it out, but I suspect it will be even harder than this season
Final championship standings after 30 of 30 rounds:
|1. Colin Turkington||320 points|
|2. Andrew Jordan||318|
|3. Dan Cammish||318|
|4. Josh Cook||278|
|5. Rory Butcher||266|
|6. Tom Ingram||245|