BTCC 2018

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 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 | 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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