BTCC

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
(more…)

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.

(more…)

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…)

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…)

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 | Rockingham – What did we learn?

The 2017 BTCC title race is heating up, and the action on track at Rockingham was closer than ever. ESM’s BTCC correspondent gives his views on what we uncovered.

BTCC 2017 Rockingham

© BTCC

Rockingham is like no other track on the BTCC calendar and the sight of 32 cars heading towards the Dean Hairpin on the opening laps of the races was quite some spectacle. We, the viewers, were treated to yet another feast of close and highly competitive action over the weekend, but what else did we learn?

BTCC 2017 Rockingham

© BTCC

Most significantly, perhaps, there has been another important change in the championship standings.  After Knockhill, Colin Turkington was at the summit for the first time this season, but we learnt at Rockingham that this lead was to be short-lived. The man in form, Ash Sutton, produced yet another set of stunning drives to secure top spot ahead of Turkington. The question now is: Will he be caught? As previously mentioned in race reviews, Sutton has produced a series of brilliant drives recently, scoring high quantities of points, regardless of ballast penalties or even tyre selection. At present, it would take a silly person to bet against him winning his first championship.

Similarly, it would take a serious show of faith to now put your money on Gordon Shedden or Rob Collard after what for them, was a disastrous weekend, leaving the championship as now seemingly a two-horse race. The pair scored just four and eight points respectively. With their championship hopes in the balance as it was, this was a weekend neither could afford to go wrong. A poor qualifying session for both on Saturday set the tone for an unhappy Sunday. (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…)

BTCC 2017 | Croft – what did we learn? | Plus, exclusive photos |

Last weekend saw the British Touring Car Championship make the actual trip to the North East. EngageSportMode dispatched our BTCC Correspondent, ably assisted by Uncle Steve, to cover things on the ground as they happened. 

2017 BTCC Croft (C) BTCC

Shedden arrived at Croft leading the championship table (C) BTCC

On Sunday, BTCC fans woke to the worrying news of the injuries suffered by Luke Davenport, Jeff Smith and Aron Taylor-Smith after the horrifying crash in Saturday’s qualifying. With oil on a wet track, they were simply passengers as events unfolded. It has been a worrying time for the series and support races, as a whole, with some serious crashes in recent weeks. It’s strange to write about because this is something that we have not become accustomed to. It also shows the strength of the cars and the general safety of the series that when an event like this happens, we are so shocked, worried and surprised.

Ever since the eleven, or twelve depending on who you believe, car pile-up occurred on Saturday, I’ve been racking my brains to think of the last BTCC driver to suffer broken bones as a result of a crash. Yes, plenty have been hospitalised over the years, but to break a bone? The best I could come up with was Charlie Cox from 1995, but research suggests he suffered severe concussion rather than broken bones. I know Matt Neal drove towards the end of one of the recent seasons with a broken bone in his hand, but that wasn’t a result of a BTCC crash. Either way, the injuries suffered by Taylor-Smith (broken leg), Smith (multiple chest and shoulder injuries in addition to a broken arm) and Davenport (multiple chest injuries, lung damage, broken arm, leg and pelvis) are horrific, but thankfully rare. ESM would obviously like to send all three our best wishes for a speedy recovery.

With the traditional summer break now upon us, there is an outside chance that Taylor-Smith may be fit to race at Snetterton in seven weeks. However, you feel that it could well be the end of the season for Smith and Davenport.

Following the weekend’s action at Croft, the championship is starting to form a clearer picture. Astonishingly, championship leader, Gordon Shedden, suffered his worst result of the season in Race 15, a not so lowly ninth. However, of course he suffered a disqualification at Donington, a race that he had won. Eleven points behind him is Rob Collard who, given his past reputation, has surprisingly scored points in every single race this season and achieved a podium at each track. This new, steady approach from Collard is proving greatly effective and he will be hoping it continues for the rest of the season as he looks to win his first title. Behind Collard, are the two stars of Croft.

Colin Turkington, ‘The King of Croft’, is a point behind Collard and a further eight points behind is Ash Sutton, who is fast becoming ‘The Prince of Croft’. Sutton continued his excellent Oulton Park form by securing pole position in the truncated qualifying session and made an outstanding start to the opening race as the top six got away in order. (more…)