Motorsport

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 | Oulton Park | What did we learn?

The temperatures were high at Oulton Park, but did the racing live up to the heat? In truth, the day got progressively better with each race and it culminated in a new leader of the championship come 6pm on Sunday.

BTCC Thruxton 2018

Saturday’s qualifying session brought a first ever, and very surprising, pole for Matt Simpson. Considering he was eighteenth in the standings going into the weekend and without even a BTCC podium, it was something of a shock to see him comfortably secure pole from Sam Tordoff, Tom Chilton, Andrew Jordan and Matt Neal. The championship top three after Thruxton struggled with the success ballast and Adam Morgan, Josh Cook and Tom Ingram couldn’t manage higher than seventeenth between them.

BTCC Thruxton 2018

Race one: Simpson got away cleanly off the line, while Tordoff bogged down and was soon overtaken by Chilton. However, his position wasn’t secure and there was a good battle for the place with Tordoff and Jordan, which allowed Simpson to make a break for it. Just over the half way point, Jordan took third from Tordoff as Chilton held on, Colin Turkington started to move forward as he made his way to sixth and there was drama for Simpson as smoke started to appear from the front left area of his car. However, the smoke didn’t develop into a problem, despite continuing to appear intermittently, and Simpson secured his first ever BTCC win. Race rating: 5.5/10

BTCC Thruxton 2018

Race two: Simpson’s joy didn’t last for too long as an engine issue ruled him out of the remainder of the day, meaning Chilton started on pole. It was an entertaining first lap as Chilton just held on to the lead, Turkington jumped to third and several cars found themselves off the track. A collision between Aiden Moffat and Dan Cammish found them sliding down the grass and Brett Smith was extremely fortunate not to wipe anyone out at the hairpin after being hit from behind before uncontrollably sliding along the grass before coming to rest on the apex of the corner. (more…)

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 | Brands Hatch Grand Prix – What did we learn?

With the 2017 BTCC title going down to the wire, Brands Hatch was set for a knockout battle. 2017 BTCC Brands Hatch GP

After another thrilling weekend of action, the British Touring Car Championship has a new name on the coveted trophy – Ashley Sutton. Sunday was certainly another day of twists and turns, but even Saturday’s qualifying session made headlines.

Sutton went into the weekend with a 10 point gap over nearest, and only realistic rival, Colin Turkington. A rain and red flag affected qualifying certainly went Sutton’s way as he qualified third behind Jack Goff and Aiden Moffat. Turkington’s BMW suffered electrical problems, not for the first time this season, and it meant he could only qualify in 17th.

Another disappointment for Turkington was that potential ally, in the form of teammate Rob Collard, had to withdraw from the weekend’s action after free practice as he was still suffering the effects of his heavy crash at Silverstone. Turkington’s other WSR teammate qualified a place behind him in 18th. While two of Sutton’s teammates qualified well down the pack, Jason Plato qualified in a handy 10th, although none of the teammates had particularly much impact on Sunday.

Race one certainly went Sutton’s way as Turkington struggled to make progress while Sutton took 3rd. Conditions appeared tricky at the start of the race as the track was damp, but drying. Astonishingly, no safety car was needed throughout the race, although Goff lost it at Paddock Hill bend on the opening lap and Adam Morgan had a few encounters with the barriers too. By lap 6, the cars on the slick tyres were starting to go quicker than those on the wet versions. The race was generally quite good, with the top 3 of Moffat, Tom Ingram and Sutton challenging each other well and by lap 10 they had a 15 second gap to 4th.

Towards the end while Sutton was, stupidly, considering what was at stake, attacking Ingram for 2nd, Turkington who’d make his way up to 12th started to lose places and after a final lap incident with Matt Simpson. He finally finished a lowly 15th to gain a solitary point. The gap to Sutton was now 24 points. (more…)

Friday Video | Even closer to the edge – Ken Block’s Climbkhana

What’s the best way to tackle the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb? With a 1,400hp twin-turbocharged Ford Mustang, obviously.  
KB Climbkhana (C) Hoonigan Racing

ESM doesn’t quite know what to make of Ken Block. Here’s clearly an immensely talented driver, and proficient businessman, yet success in top-level motorsport has eluded him.

Maybe it doesn’t matter. He’s built up an empire from DC Shoes, and created a number of toys to play with, like the latest Hoonicorn V2 Mustang.

In his latest video in the Gymkhana series, Block reenacts the epic Climb Dance short film created in 1988. In it, legendary WRC driver Ari Vatanen set a new record at Pikes Peak, when the course was still predominantly loose dirt and gravel.

Kenny B had the benefit of Pikes Peak being paved all the way to the top, but that doesn’t stop it still being an epic drive. Climbing some 4,720ft along a track measuring over 12 miles, Pikes Peak requires skill and concentration to master. Oh, and bravery, for when you get a little too close to the edge:

Is it more dramatic than the record-setting run by Sébastien Loeb in 2013? Undoubtedly. Is it as achingly cool as Ari Vatanen’s 1988 effort? Hmmm, we’ll let you be the judge of that…

Image: (C) Hoonigan Racing

Opinion | The BTCC needs to decide what it wants to be

The fallout from the recent Silverstone rounds of the 2017 British Touring Car Championship isn’t going to go away. ESM’s Editor gets stuck in to the debate.

Things should be perfect in the BTCC world right now. The grid is packed, fans are flocking to circuits, and ITV is broadcasting the entire race package live and free from subscription. It might not have the same number of manufacturers throwing huge budgets around like the peak of the 1990s, but all that aside, the British Touring Car Championship should be in rude health. But it’s not.

If you’ve read the report from our BTCC Correspondent on the events that took place at Silverstone last weekend, you’ll know that driving standards are a subject nobody can escape from. The fact that Mr. BTCC himself – and Series Director – Alan Gow had to wade in and release a statement specifically addressing the issue, suggests how serious this mess is. However, Silverstone wasn’t the only rounds which saw driving that could be classed as poor and unprofessional.

Both Snetterton and Knockhill saw races ended for drivers thanks to contact from other competitors. Andrew Jordan’s statement at the weekend that some drivers lack ‘spatial awareness’ may be true, but the carnage created by his mistake at Knockhill means that nobody on the grid can take a ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude on this issue.

BTCC 2017 (C) BTCC

Gow asserts that the drivers themselves are the root cause of the problem which, of course, is the obvious assumption to make. Nobody but the 32 individuals out on track can decide whether to ‘bung an optimistic pass up the inside’ or perpetually nudge the back bumper of the car in front to unsettle it. Only they cause those actions, and there is only so much the race organisers and stewards can do. Yet if drivers are doing this, surely it’s because of the situation that has been allowed to fester. For some on the grid, the chance of being penalised seems low, and in many respects the BTCC likes to make hay from contact and controversy. (more…)