2015 BTCC

BTCC 2015 – Brands Hatch GP | Reviewed and Rated

After months of close racing, the 2015 British Touring Car Championship came down the wire to decide who would be the winner. ESM’s BTCC Correspondent sums it all up.

2015 BTCC Brands Hatch GPGordon Shedden did his best to lose a 23 point advantage going in to Brands Hatch, but he managed to just hold on to take his second British Touring Car Championship. Shedden naturally took all the headlines, but once again Mat Jackson was seriously impressive with two race victories and a second place.

It was Jackson who completed a hat-trick of pole positions, albeit with no weight. Aron Smith lined up second, Adam Morgan third, Shedden fourth, Colin Turkington fifth and Shedden’s nearest challenger Jason Plato, sixth. Race One was a non-event despite a safety car to rescue Stewart Lines’ stricken car, a big smash for Alex Martin and an amazing overtake from Aiden Moffat on Hunter Abbott via the grass. Jackson strolled home over the line with Smith and Morgan remaining second and third. The BMR duo of Turkington and Plato had jumped Shedden, but a point here and there wasn’t going to make any difference.

2015 BTCC Brands Hatch GPRace Two however, provided the set up to the final drama. Tom Ingram got a great start off the line as Smith bogged down, but Jackson once again established a sizeable early race lead. However, the safety car was needed at the end of lap one as a tank slapper from Martin Depper across the front of Rob Austin resulted in a sizeable collision. By lap 8, Shedden had actually slipped a little down the pack from his high teens starting position to 16th, but at the front it was much closer than the opening race with Jackson suffering from soft tyres and full ballast. (more…)

BTCC 2015 – Knockill | Reviewed and Rated

It was north of the border again for the British Touring Car Championship’s annual visit to Scotland.

BTCC 2015 Knockhill 001

Forceful manoeuvres, close racing, safety cars and three different winners were just some of the things witnessed at Knockhill in the latest rounds of the BTCC. The championship top 5 contenders are now closer together thanks to a poor weekend for Team BMR and a good one for Honda Yuasa Racing.

As Tim Harvey pointed out during ITV’s coverage, the circuits are starting to become car specific, hence we are seeing some teams doing well at one circuit and not others. I quite agree with Tim, but I would also add that it isn’t the first time we’ve noticed this. For example, at Croft we always know the BMWs will go well and likewise at Snetterton we know it suits a long wheel based, front wheeled drive car, such as the Volkswagen CC. However, this season, perhaps more than others, due to the great ability of the leading championship contenders it is becoming, or has become, more of a relevant issue. Despite this, I would still suggest the best drivers have risen to the top of the leader board. Jason Plato and Colin Turkington have 2 other team mates, but they’re not in top 10, nor are other Honda Civic drivers.

The remaining circuits of Rockingham, Silverstone and Brands Hatch (GP) will favour the VW CC over the Honda Civic, or at least there will be parity between the two cars as the season reaches its climax. The racing won’t solely focus on them, of course, because we don’t want a situation like the early noughties where one Vauxhall team basically raced another Vauxhall team, as the BMWs, MGs, Fords and so on will make a valuable impact on this season’s championship. (more…)

BTCC 2015 – Croft | Reviewed and Rated

With the British Touring Car Championship at ESM’s home circuit, there was never any doubt as to whether we would be in attendance. But, would it be a Sunday to remember, or another snooze-fest like Oulton Park? Our BTCC Correspondent tells the story below:

BTCC 2015 Croft Race One Podium

After Oulton Park, things could only get better for the BTCC and they certainly did at a BMW dominated Croft. There was a win apiece for each of the WSR members and a historic 1-2-3 for the team in the opening race. The championship lead has changed hands following the weekend’s action and Gordon Shedden heads the way into the summer break. However, it was the return of ‘racing’ that meant it was a good day for BTCC fans.

BTCC 2015 Croft

Race One saw the winner from last time out on pole, Sam Tordoff, followed by his teammate Andy Priaulx, Gordon Shedden, Rob Collard, Colin Turkington and Matt Neal. The championship leader going into the weekend, Jason Plato, was down in 12th. Unbelievably, it was the first time since Silverstone 2006 that Plato hadn’t qualified in the top 10. By my rough calculations, that’s about 90 meetings which I find astonishing. However, Plato wasn’t happy with his position and he came up with a cunning plan, within the rules, to set himself up for a better weekend.

2013 Champion Andrew Jordan had a tough weekend

2013 Champion Andrew Jordan had a tough time at Croft

Plato came into the pits at the end of the green flag lap to re-join the race from the pit lane in clear air to set a fast lap for a good grid position in the second race. Another advantage of his plan was that he’d lose his weight as well, leaving him with a good grid positon and no weight. You could say his plan worked as he ended up third for the second race. However, we can, of course, question the morality of it all. Technically, he did nothing wrong, it was within the rules, but do we want drivers doing this every weekend? No, definitely not. As a one off, I think we can just about justify it and hope that Alan Gow can find a way to stop this loophole.

BTCC 2015 Croft

Rob Austin had his best weekend for what seems a very long time.

Race One saw Tordoff get away cleanly as the BMWs roared into the first 3 positions in a race that started under dark clouds. However, on lap 6, Priaulx was able to take the lead from Tordoff with a move up the inside of him at Tower. Priaulx held on for the race win and was followed home by Tordoff and Collard after the latter failed in his bid to get past Tordoff despite good pressure. It was amazing to see an all WSR podium! (more…)

BTCC 2015 – Thruxton | Reviewed and Rated

EngageSportMode’s BTCC Correspondent returns with his take on all the action, or lack of, from Thruxton.

BTCC 2015 - Thruxton 00

A year ago, ESM visited Thruxton for not a particularly enjoyable experience and although ESM weren’t there in person this year, the action hardly set many viewing pulses racing. That’s not to say the racing was bad, it just wasn’t great, as we had three different winners.

Plenty of action happened before the races on Sunday. Infiniti Support Our Paras Racing have ditched Richard Hawken, after just one race meeting at Donington, and replaced him with ex-F1 driver Martin Donnelly. From driver changes to track changes at Thruxton… Following last year’s big smashes at Church involving Simon Belcher and Nick Foster, Thruxton have finally installed more substantial barriers at the corner and luckily they weren’t tested during the BTCC races this season.

However, there were plenty of damaged cars on Saturday. Dan Welch took no part on Sunday due to damage and Hunter Abbott sustained damage too, although he was able to race 24 hours later. Belcher must be wondering what Thruxton has against him, as he was unable to race after a big shunt with Mike Bushell in qualifying. Bushell was left on crutches following a leg injury and although Belcher was fine, his car was not. This meant that the grid started with a mere 25 cars for Race One.

BTCC 2015 - Thruxton 002

None of the races were particularly exciting; yes there were good parts and bad parts, but a fairly average weekend all in all. Aron Smith secured his first ever pole position, but he made an awful start (due to not seeing the lights because of his advertising strip on his windscreen) and the Hondas of Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal powered through and stayed there for the duration. Smith was still having a strong race until the curse of Thruxton punctures struck, meaning he eventually finished 21st. Smith certainly had the pace to win and was showing great race craft with close racing, but it wasn’t to be. (more…)

BTCC 2015 – Donington Park | Rated and Reviewed

Although we’ve already discussed ITV’s coverage of the BTCC, our Touring Car Correspondent gives his opinions on whether the races at Donington Park were worth getting so worked up over.
2015 BTCC Donington Park 001
After 5 rounds of the BTCC, I still didn’t have that excitement about the championship that I’ve had in previous seasons. However, in one race that all came flooding back. Race Three was everything you could have possibly ever wanted from a BTCC race. Finally, I have my BTCC excitement back and I can’t wait for the next meeting!

Race One can be quickly disposed of to the back of the BTCC drawer. Not a great deal happened after Jason Plato zoomed through into the lead, ahead of Gordon Shedden and pole sitter Colin Turkington, and he subsequently took a dominant race victory. Shedden and Turkington provided the ‘entertainment’ as they battled for second and that was that. A point of note is that Matt Neal, championship leader, really struggled with the ballast and soft tyres. I guess that is exactly what Alan Gow wants, to make the championship interesting. Hardly fair though. Adam Morgan, in 9th, was the best placed finisher on soft tyres in the opening race. It was cold, but have the rules gone too far in making drivers use the soft tyres three times in races one, two and three?

2015 BTCC Donington Park 003

Race Two saw a fifth different winner in 5 races as Turkington took his first victory of the season in car number 1 and his first victory in a front wheel drive car for a decade. (more…)

BTCC 2015 – Brands Hatch Indy | Rated and Reviewed

After a long break, the British Touring Car Championship was back this weekend for the first rounds of the new season. What did our BTCC Correspondent make of proceedings? Read on for his views and driver ratings.

2015 BTCC Brands Hatch Indy 001

As the dust settles on the first BTCC weekend of the season, it has certainly raised a few interesting points. Matt Neal leads the championship, level on points with Jack Goff, from Aron Smith and Andy Priaulx after a Sunday that saw three different winners. Several sections of the media have described the action as ‘sensational’ and ‘brilliant.’ I wouldn’t go as far as that, solid, perhaps being a more apt adjective.

The Brands Hatch Indy Circuit has traditionally produced close racing and this weekend was no different. I will no doubt continue to complain every year until we don’t race on the Indy Circuit, but I just don’t enjoy a lap that is less than 50 seconds long with only 10 sections. There are other circuits out there that would be able to host a BTCC meeting, meaning we wouldn’t have to visit Brands twice, not that I have anything against Brands itself.

015 BTCC Brands Hatch Indy 003

Andy Priaulx might not have raced in the BTCC at Brands for many a year, but he has of course visited since his last BTCC visit. It was evident from his pole qualifying position and his subsequent performances that he’s not here to make up the numbers, but he’s going to be a title contender. Many people, me included, may not have had him in our immediate contender thoughts, but this has obviously changed over the weekend. It’s hardly surprising considering his record of racing BMW touring cars and the fact he’s in last year’s title winning machine. (more…)

2015 British Touring Car Championship Preview

After what seems like a very long winter, the British Touring Car Championship is finally back this weekend. With a huge grid and new faces, our resident BTCC Correspondent gives us his views on the season ahead.

BTCC 2015 – A few thoughts…

2015 BTCC Grid
The Easter weekend sees the return of the BTCC to the track and our television screens. Pre-season has, of course, been filled with many driver and team changes. However, with all the changes and a couple of major departures – drivers, sponsors and teams, I’ve found it hard to be excited about the coming season.

The 32-car grid is a great idea in principle, but the grid isn’t exactly filled with 32 household names, nor I suppose could it be. However, other than our usual main protagonists, the grid isn’t exactly filled with names that I’m going to be losing any sleep over with excitement. We’ve lost Alain Menu and Fabrizio Giovanardi in the close season, meaning we’re back down to 5 champions on the grid. Another notable absentee is Nick Foster, who despite never winning race, I actually quite liked.

eBay have withdrawn their sponsorship from WSR, which seems odd from an outsider’s point of view. The title-winning car from 2014 can’t retain their lead sponsor? Really? I’m not involved in either of the businesses, but I find it simply odd. Another baffling part of the BTCC jigsaw, 2014 champion Colin Turkington and runner-up Jason Plato seemingly taking so long to find a drive for the current season. They have since assured us their drives for the current season were never in doubt.

2015 BTCC Media Day tracking

What does excite me for this season is Turkington and Plato joining forces together at Team BMR. (more…)