Author: BTCC on ESM

BTCC 2018 | What happened last time out at Knockhill?

Race day on the annual trip north of the border provided treacherous driving conditions, controversy and a huge lead at the top of the standings for one lucky driver.

BTCC 2018 Knockhill

Saturday’s dry qualifying session, on the freshly resurfaced track, produced the fastest ever lap around Knockhill and a maiden pole position for Dan Cammish. Stephen Jelley, who’d only managed two points all season, was a surprising second with a more familiar look of Andrew Jordan and Colin Turkington on the second row. Turkington’s main challengers going into the weekend, Tom Ingram and Ash Sutton, weren’t far behind in sixth and eighth.

BTCC 2018 Knockhill

Race one: Despite the horrendous rain, the top six initially started the lap in order, before Turkington jumped Jordan and Sutton made his way to fifth. Turkington spent the race switching places with Jelley for second, until the first controversial part of the day. On lap 19, Turkington rammed the back of Jelley as they both moved over into the same part of the road, leaving Jelley stranded in the gravel trap. The safety car was called for as a result. Meanwhile, Sutton had already powered his way through to the front and had created a sizeable gap as Cammish had slipped back into fourth. Following the safety car, there were a couple of laps of racing left, although there was nothing note-worthy of mentioning, leaving Sutton to win from Turkington and Cammish.  The big discussion post-race was whether Turkington should be given a penalty for his actions. Race rating: 8/10

BTCC 2018 Knockhill

Race two:Turkington was allowed to keep his second place from race one, although he was officially reprimanded and given two penalty points, meaning he started alongside Sutton for the second race of the day in conditions that had worsened. Race two was ruined by safety cars and ultimately a red flag. The first lengthy safety car period came on the opening lap after Ollie Jackson’s Audi found its way into the barriers. After the re-start, Carl Boardley ended up in the tyres, but luckily it was just enough out of the way to prevent a second safety car. (more…)

BTCC 2018 | What happened at Rockingham?

With news that the Rockingham circuit will be turned into car storage, what happened at the last ever BTCC rounds to take place there? ESM’s correspondent was there. 

2018 BTCC Rockingham

The British Touring Car Championship rolled up at Rockingham Motor Speedway for most probably the last time, after the circuit’s change of ownership, for the latest rounds of action. Like at Snetterton last time out, the weather would play a helpful role in the events of the day.

Adam Morgan has become something of a championship stalwart, but unbelievably he had never even had an outright front row start in six years of competing, until now. Morgan secured pole on Saturday as nearly the whole field was covered by less than a second. Consistent qualifier throughout the season, Sam Tordoff, was second with Dan Cammish third, Mike Bushell an impressive fourth and the BTC Norlin duo of Dan Lloyd and Chris Smiley rounded out the top six. The main championship protagonists, Tom Ingram and Colin Turkington, were 13thand 12threspectively.

Race one: Morgan and Tordoff got away well, but drama ensued at Deene Hairpin, the first braking zone of the lap, as Cammish out-braked himself after trying to make up for a poor start. He hit the rear of Tordoff and turned him around and as the rest of the field tried to filter through, there was often nowhere for cars to go and chaos reigned. Unsurprisingly, the safety car was called for and, at the same time, drizzle started to fall. (more…)

BTCC 2018 | What happened last time out at Snetterton?

As the BTCC visits Rockingham for probably the last time ever, take a look at what happened in the previous rounds at Snetterton.
BTCC 2018 Snetterton Diamond Double

Snetterton played host to the latest rounds of the BTCC and the 60thanniversary celebrations, as the series returned after the summer break. A day of mixed weather conditions certainly contributed to a set of quirky races that provided the best action of the season so far. In addition, there was also a new championship leader and the end of the weekend, but who did Colin Turkington hand the baton to?

A dry qualifying session on Saturday saw Jack Goff take pole for Sunday’s opening race from Dan Cammish and Matt Simpson. Turkington struggled in his BMW and could only manage 15th, while his closest rival, Tom Ingram, qualified 5th.

BTCC 2018 Snetterton Diamond Double

Race one was played out in windy and rainy conditions as the day started with an incident packed first lap. The top three got away initially got away well, before the conditions caught out Simpson. Defending champion, and dominator of proceedings at Croft last time out, Ash Sutton, made an amazing start from 9th to 4th, and then 2nd. Jason Plato was a casualty on the narrow start line, but managed to continue, while there was no such luck for Rob Collard.

Ingram found himself being mugged on the outside line of the opening lap, but on lap 3 disaster struck for the championship contender; an alternator issue forced his retirement. Turkington, however, was stuck behind Matt Neal for the entire race and couldn’t find a way by for love nor money. Tom Chilton eventually managed to overtake both of them after a great battle as they finished 13th, 14th and 15th as Turkington failed to capitalise on Ingram’s misfortune.

The BTC Norlin pair of Chris Smiley and Dan Lloyd both made superb progress from their starting positions and were involved in some good battles throughout the field. At the front, Goff had looked very comfortable in the lead with a gap worth a couple of seconds, but on lap 7 Sutton started to close and within a couple of laps, Sutton was on the back of Goff which led to a fantastic finish. (more…)

BTCC 2018 | What happened last time out at Croft?

With the BTCC rolling into Snetterton for the special Diamond Jubilee weekend, we’ve cast our mind back to recap the previous rounds at Croft.

BTCC 2018 Croft Highlights

Colin Turkington will be feeling pleased with his latest consistent performance as he heads into the summer break after extending his lead at the top of the championship to 19 points, following the latest rounds at Croft. However, Turkington wasn’t the main talking point; it was the resurgence of Team BMR’s Subarus.

With reigning champion, Ash Sutton, without a podium this season and with Jason Plato without even a single point, it came as a huge shock to everyone that they secured a 1-2 in qualifying. Turkington dealt well with the weight and used the rear wheel drive of the BMW to his advantage to secure 6th, whilst his closest championship challengers, Adam Morgan and Jack Goff could only secure 22ndand 26th.

BTCC 2018 Croft Highlights

Race one:  Sutton got away well from the line as Jordan jumped Plato and Tom Ingram moved ahead of Sam Tordoff into 4th. However, the race wasn’t live for long as a mixture of many cars heading into Clervaux, the first corner, ended in disaster for Rob Austin and Stephen Jelley, resulting in a few laps of the safety car. Sutton re-started the race well and looked comfortable until the final lap or two when Plato, who’d regained 2ndfrom Jordan earlier in the race, closed up.

During the race, Turkington defended well from Rob Collard and Josh Cook, Morgan suffered terminal damage and Jordan, who’d been suffering from oversteer all race, finally overcooked it and spun, before recovering to 10th. It was a fantastic result for Subaru, while Ingram took the final step on the podium. Race rating: 6.5/10

BTCC 2018 Croft Highlights

Race two: Plato was a little over-eager to get the second race of the day started and ended up with a drive through penalty as a result of his jump start. Ingram’s legal start propelled him from 3rdand into the lead on an incident packed opening lap which included a spectacular brake failure for Cook as he flew off into the field at Tower. Ingram’s lead only lasted a few laps though, before Sutton made a late, but clean, move on him at the hairpin.

Despite debris being scattered over the track in several places, the race continued and Turkington closed on Ingram for 2nd, although despite his best efforts, the positions remained as so until the end of the race. There were several close battles throughout the field too. Collard suffered a late puncture, Matt Neal continued to gain places and Plato made several places after his penalty to make it into the points for the second time this season, despite 66kg of ballast.

Interestingly, despite a couple of drivers having won two races this season, Sutton became the first double winner on a single day this season. Who would ever have predicted that at Oulton Park? Race rating: 8/10

BTCC 2018 Croft Highlights

Race three: Dan Lloyd was the lucky man to be chosen on pole by BTCC legend John Clelandand Lloyd made no mistake as he secured his, and BTC Norlin’s, maiden win in the championship. Tom Chilton jumped ahead of Senna Proctor and Neal at the start and remained there for the rest of the race, but his challenge for the lead slowly slipped away and towards the end he was just managing to hold on to 2ndfrom Proctor, as his tyres had given up.

Earlier in the race, Proctor had quite a queue behind him, which included Sutton. Mid-race, Sutton made a move on Neal for 4th, but Neal immediately responded at Clervaux, although it forced Sutton off into the gravel and following a small tap of the barriers, he continued. He then was all over Jordan, but could only find a way by after a little tap as he ultimately finished 6th.  A great final lap saw Ingram overtake Tordoff and Turkington challenge Neal whilst defending from Sutton and five cars basically crossed the line together for the squabble over 14th. Race rating: 6/10

After Oulton Park, I was scathing of Subaru’s performance, citing they had ‘no chance’ of a decent result at Croft, but humble pie must be eaten. However, other than those linked to Subaru, and even they must have doubted it, nobody could have seen this coming. Sutton had been outperforming the car since the opening round and how Plato managed to get a car that had finished no higher than 18thin any race to qualify and finish 2ndis utterly stupendous.

There has been an incredible amount of debate since Croft about how Team BMR achieved such success and whether it was in the rules, or even that the rules were eased to help them. However, it has been publicly stated that Subaru were only given a 20 millibar boost increase after engine engineers at Swindon found an anomaly in the way it was presented earlier in the season. Despite the boost increase, the Subarus were still not quick in a straight line, shown by the fact Sutton was 30thin one of the speed traps around the track.

In addition, Croft has always favoured rear wheel drive cars and again this was a factor in their unexpected success. Credit though must be given to BMR, as it would seem the biggest factor in their upturn in form was due to their new cooling package that has helped increase their speed. Their biggest test will come next time out at Snetterton where they will prove this was a one-off or a genuine upturn in form. Croft seemed to be a perfect mix for their cars.

Snetterton will see the 60thseason of BTCC celebrations take place, notably with the ‘Diamond Double’ race and double points available at base weight. Before Croft, only a fool would have given Sutton a chance of retaining his championship crown, but now, who knows? If Subaru continue their upturn in form, anything could happen, especially if he were to win the ‘Diamond Double’ and Turkington were to suffer problems. Realistically, you’d say Sutton’s challenge would be unlikely, but stranger things have happened.

Turkington’s rivals going into the weekend had a disaster with only a 12thbetween Morgan and Goff to show for their weekend’s efforts, as they dropped to 6thand 7thin the standings respectively. Ingram now heads the challengers, 19 points behind, but as mentioned the ‘Diamond Double’ race could really shake things up. It’s set to be a fantastically exciting second half of the season. We shall see.

Championship standings after 15 races out of 30:

1. Colin Turkington 162 points
2. Tom Ingram 143
3. Matt Neal 127
4. Andrew Jordan 120
5. Tom Chilton 118
6. Adam Morgan 116

BTCC 2018 | Croft | Race Day Photo Highlights

The sun was shining for the British Touring Car Championship’s annual trip to the North East. ESM’s BTCC Correspondent was there to capture the action. These are his photo highlights from a scorching hot day.

We’ll dive straight in with the photos, and be sure to click on the image to open the slideshow.

In the paddock

Race one

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BTCC 2018 | Thruxton | What did we learn?

The temperatures may have been sizzling, but the action at Thruxton was rather more lukewarm. Looking back, what did ESM’s BTCC Correspondent make of it all?

2018 BTCC Thruxton

The BTCC rolled up at Thruxton for the latest rounds and while the races left a lot to be desired, the championship itself certainly became more intriguing. Adam Morgan now finds himself in new territory as he leads the championship after the weekend’s races.

2018 BTCC Thruxton

Race one: Matt Neal broke his own Thruxton qualifying lap record to secure a first outright pole since this time last year. Colin Turkington qualified second with Brett Smith an impressive third. However, Smith bogged down at the start as Turkington tried his best to take the lead from Neal, but to no avail. An ill Andrew Jordan raced up to fourth, although eventually slipped back to sixth. Championship leader, Tom Ingram, suffered a battery issue and succumbed to his first retirement of the season at the end of lap 5. Other than a late collision between Michael Caine and Tom Boardman, which resulted in Boardman losing a wheel, the race was practically a non-event as Neal won from Turkington and Dan Cammish. Race rating: 4/10

2018 BTCC Thruxton

Race two:Turkington had better luck at the start of the second race as he was able to power by Neal as the lights went out. The opening laps saw Josh Cook charge through the field from ninth on the grid to second by the end of lap 6 after a move on Neal, leaving him a considerable amount of the race left to chase down Turkington. That was something he duly completed and on lap 11, Cook took the race lead and didn’t look back. Meanwhile, a large train of cars had appeared behind Neal, but he held on to claim a second podium of the day. Ingram showed why he was the championship leader coming into the weekend as he moved from the back of the grid to twelfth, albeit with no weight. Race rating: 7/10 (more…)

BTCC 2018 | Donington Park | What did we learn?

BTCC returned for the second race weekend of the 2018 season. Could Donington Park match the excitement of the season opener?

BTCC 2018 Donington Park

After a somewhat unusually entertaining start to the season at Brands Hatch, would Donington Park live up to the hype? It perhaps didn’t quite hit the heights of three weeks ago, but it certainly provided more entertainment and drama, as Tom Ingram increased his lead at the top of the championship.

BTCC 2018 Donington Park

Race one: Josh Cook converted pole position into his first BTCC victory in cold, but dry conditions. Chris Smiley had taken the lead in the opening stages of the first lap, before Cook quickly regained the position and never looked back. Smiley defended stoutly throughout the race, but running the hard tyre always meant he was up against it, before finishing seventh. Tom Chilton spent most of the race going off the track, sometimes with help, and there was a worrying moment for Colin Turkington on lap 5 as a tap from Senna Proctor sent him spinning down the Craner Curves, where he was fortunate not to be collected by anyone else. Sam Tordoff produced a strong showing in the Ford Focus, before retiring from third towards the end, leaving Dan Cammish and Aiden Moffat to secure podium positions. Generally, it was good race with plenty of overtaking and many an excursion on the grass. Race rating: 7/10

BTCC 2018 Donington Park
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BTCC 2018 | Brands Hatch Indy | What did we learn?

The first round of the British Touring Car Championship surprised ESM’s BTCC Correspondent this year, with a mixture of drama and variety.
BTCC 2018 | Brands Hatch Indy

Whinge, whinge, whinge. Brands Hatch Indy – why do we even bother? It’s a waste of time having a lap that’s just 50 seconds long and hardly allows for overtaking. It’s been like a broken record for years, but suddenly along came the class of 2018. Wow, what a start! Three different winners, nine different drivers on the podium and the top ten is completed by ten different makes of car.

Race one: A lights-to-flag victory in wet conditions for Jack Goff, who’d inherited pole after Dan Cammish had has his time removed. Goff was pushed hard by Colin Turkington for the win, but Turkington seemed happy enough to take the points rather than risk anything in the final laps. A good drive from reigning champion, Ash Sutton, saw him move from 18thto 7th. There were also strong results for Andrew Jordan, Tom Ingram and Tom Chilton. Race rating: 6/10BTCC 2018 | Brands Hatch Indy

Race two: The reason we watch the British Touring Car Championship. Conditions were still wet, but drying, which meant some took the gamble to start on slick tyres. It looked a pretty silly choice for just over half of the 27 lap race. Jordan took the lead off the start line and after a short safety car period, Ingram moved to front and held the lead for a considerable time.

Things started to get interesting around lap 14 where the final top three drivers, who all secured their first ever podiums, were 26th, 24thand 21st. The slick tyres of Senna Proctor, Jake Hill and Ollie Jackson started to come alive and through the field they came, along with Tom Boardman and Aiden Moffat. A quite stupendous charge.

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BTCC 2017 | Silverstone – What did we learn?

You certainly cannot accuse the 2017 British Touring Car Championship of being anything but controversial. Silverstone ratcheted the tension up even further, but is the BTCC reaching breaking point?

BTCC 2017 SilverstoneThe latest rounds of the British Touring Car Championship certainly did not disappoint in the drama stakes. Everything is still very much to play for as we now head to Brands Hatch GP for the final rounds on the opening Sunday of October. At times, Silverstone seemed to descend into chaos, but at the end of it, the gap between the two title protagonists, Ash Sutton and Colin Turkington, hardly changed. Sutton started the day with a twelve point gap, but only conceded two points to Turkington. However, what else did we learn?

One of the main talking points from the weekend’s action proved to further focus on driving standards, or the lack of. So much so, it would appear to have hit a nerve with Series Director, Alan Gow, who felt the urge to speak out on Monday.

BTCC 2017 Silverstone

The opening race of the day saw Turkington start in eighth and Sutton tenth as the whole of the field was separated by an astonishing 0.886s during qualifying. The short lap obviously helped lower the gaps, but it also helped increase the action. Turkington battled his way through the field as Matt Neal, Mat Jackson, Dave Newsham and Ant Whorton-Eales did their best to halt his progress. Unfortunately, from Turkington’s point of view, Sutton did likewise and come the end of the much curtailed race, they were a place apart in fourth and fifth.

BTCC 2017 Silverstone

Who knows what would have happened had the race gone to full distance plus three extra safety car laps, but sense prevailed with a red flag eventually coming after the damage caused by a huge shunt involving Rob Collard. Having already seen Neal punt Jackson around in the race, the incident involving Collard appeared to be less clear cut. Aron Taylor-Smith appeared to lean on a rival amongst a group of cars, which in turn, resulted in Collard being touched and spat out on to the wet grass with an apparent lack of steering. Collard skittled across the grass and back on to the track, where he was hammered into by Will Burns and Andrew Jordan.

The damage to Collard’s BMW was massive. Luckily, the damage to Collard himself seemed to be less, but he wouldn’t compete for the rest of the day. Burns, took longer to be extricated from the car and it was because of this, the red flag came out. Jordan, although his car was damaged, managed to limp back to the pits before complaining about others’ “spatial awareness” on track. This did appear to be a racing incident with unfortunate consequences. A small lean would generally be classed as acceptable, but the trouble was this time a series of events followed that never could have been predicted. The stewards also issued no penalties for the incident, again backing up the racing incident line.

The shortened race itself saw Tom Ingram take victory from pole sitter Jack Goff, after a better start, with Adam Morgan finishing third.

In the second race, Jordan’s own “spatial awareness” caught him out as he appeared to be at fault for a collision with Stephen Jelley, but again the stewards took no further action. However, action was to be taken at the end of the race against Sutton following an incident with Turkington. (more…)

BTCC 2017 | Knockhill – What did we learn?

The annual trip to Scotland produced three entertaining races, helped by more incidents of dubious driving standards. The series left Knockhill with a new leader at the top of the standings, but what else did we learn?

2017 BTCC Knockhill

Colin Turkington now leads the way following a hat-trick of thirds from Ash Sutton, while the former leader, Gordon Shedden, sits third and twelve points off top. Saturday’s qualifying saw a Subaru 1-2 with Jason Plato finally producing what we’ve come to expect of him, just ahead of the championship charging Sutton.

Plato duly converted his 50th pole position into a 96th BTCC victory and incredibly his first since the opening race at Knockhill twelve months ago. Although Sutton raced hard, and after a failed switch to try to gain an extra point for leading a lap, this race deservedly belonged to Plato. Their challengers, Turkington and Rob Collard, were a small gap behind the top two, but miles ahead of the rest of the field, which were headed by James Cole, who achieved a career best hat-trick of fifths over the weekend.

2017 BTCC Knockhill

The Subaru dominance continued in the second race, although the drivers switched finishing positions, further enhancing Sutton’s title credentials, while the three behind remained the same as before. The main talking point of the second race came within the first twenty seconds as a large crash, triggered by Andrew Jordan, wiped out several drivers. Jordan out-braked himself which meant he rammed Matt Neal, who in turn went into Senna Proctor who then collected Jordan. A few others had to take evasive action and ended up in the gravel trap, ruining their races too.

It was good to see Jordan admit his mistake afterwards, although it didn’t save him from a hefty fine and penalty points on his licence. Jordan has never shown championship form since winning the title in 2013 and this was a poor mistake. A championship challenge isn’t helped by moving teams each year, but he just doesn’t look as formidable as he was once.

However, the Subarus at Knockhill certainly looked formidable. In the second race, all four were inside the top seven – quite incredible. Just why did they go so well? Sutton’s looked great all season, but the other three have been nowhere to be seen. In Scotland, real wheel drive power was a huge advantage as the top five in the first two races were all powered from the rear. But then, why weren’t the BMWs seriously challenging? This could be down to the Subarus’ boxer engine which allows for a better centre of gravity and on a circuit such as Knockhill, this extra edge could well have been the difference. (more…)