Just two points split the top three drivers in the 2019 British Touring Car Championship. It’s a season that will live long in the memory for its thrilling Brands Hatch climax alone, but this was a campaign where new stars became credible title contenders and old names looked reinvigorated. But who fared best?
The Top 10 BTCC drivers of 2019
10. Jack Goff
Jack Goff looked set to miss the 2019 season as he struggled to secure adequate backing, but he was offered an 11th hour reprieve with Team Hard.
He’s now completed seven campaigns in the BTCC, and this was technically his worst – a lowly 21st in the drivers’ standings. Make no mistake, however, Goff was one of the star performers.
Back at the outfit where his BTCC career began, he blew his three team-mates away. That was expected, but even with the lottery of the partially reversed race three grids and a tyre gamble in wet conditions, his Silverstone victory certainly wasn’t.
Despite investment, the Volkswagen CC has slipped down the pecking order. But Goff dragged it to two more top 10 results.
Myriad reliability issues, plus some big shunts – his fault or otherwise – meant he failed to finish nine times to limit his points return, but it remained a stellar year.
9. Jake Hill
The latest driver to score their maiden BTCC win, Jake Hill proves that if the likes of Jason Plato and Matt Neal ever retire, then the young guard are ready to fly the tin-top flag.
The Audi S3 is not the best package out there and so it hid some of Hill’s ultimate pace – critical when 20 cars are often separated by under a second. Equally, he was flattered at times as his team-mate, ex-Formula 1 driver and 1992 Le Mans winner Mark Blundell, took his time adapting to the series.
Having kick-started the season with a podium in the first race by risking it on slick tyres, Hill twice came out on top – albeit he lost his win at Oulton Park for having taken Neal out in their battle for the lead and was fortunate to avoid a right hook. There’s a bright future ahead.
8. Jason Plato
He might have left it late in the day (the final race of the final round) but Jason Plato moved another step closer to a BTCC century with win number 97 at Brands Hatch.
Now the oldest race winner in the series’ history, 53-year-old Plato seemed revived this year. He was back on the podium, back in the stewards’ bus and back making headlines.
The Vauxhall Astra didn’t develop as quick as expected, especially given Plato and team-mate Rob Collard’s enormous 1,100 races’ worth of experience. There were mistakes from Plato too: twice missing his grid box and notably a time penalty for colliding with ex-stablemate Ash Sutton but – crucially – they were while he was fighting for the lead.
A return to front-wheel-drive machinery and the greater stability at Power Maxed Racing team has been a shot in the arm, taking Plato up to a worthy seventh in the championship.
7. Josh Cook
A switch to BTC Racing, which had taken delivery of the new FK8 Honda Civic Type R, meant Josh Cook evolved into a genuine title protagonist. So much so, although he was the rank outsider, Cook entered the final round still in mathematical contention.
Three wins plays Dan Cammish’s brace, both in the same car, which was a fair reflection of the frequency that the independent squad could upset the factory-backed Team Dynamics concern.
Had it not been for a warning light flashing up in the first race of the season finale, then Cook would more than likely have sown up the Independent drivers’ crown over Rory Butcher.
This is a driver who seems an inevitable BTCC champion as he continues to evolve his potent combination of consistency, a cool head and often staggering pace.
6. Ash Sutton
Even though Ash Sutton lifted the crown in 2017 and finished ’18 with the most race wins, he began both campaigns in muted fashion at the wheel of the Subaru Levorg GT. This season, it was the reverse and at the close of round two at Donington Park he was leading the championship.
But from there on the estate car began to falter and he slipped to an eventual eighth in the standings. The Levorg is a fast machine, but struggles as a race car. It’s fast through the corners, but if it’s caught in traffic then that point is negated. Combined with its lack of straight-line grunt, progress is hard to come by.
The upshot is it forced Sutton to go on the offensive. Spectators were treated to precise and incisive overtakes all the way through.
Just a single victory this year, but Sutton remains a class act.
5. Rory Butcher
Three rounds into the season, Rory Butcher was tied on points at the top of the table with Colin Turkington. And not by chance.
The FK2 Honda Civic has, in one guise or another, appeared in the BTCC since 2012. As the cliché goes, there’s plenty of life in this old shell yet. Butcher made it count, too, bagging his first three BTCC wins this season.
A worthy Independent drivers’ champion, he kept more experienced team-mate Sam Tordoff at bay during the first half of the season.
There were some blots, including an erratic qualifying at Croft, which led to a hefty shunt and meant he entered the three races ahead with an uphill battle to recover into a points position.
But he remained in the championship hunt until the penultimate round and his Knockhill pole lap was the standout example of Butcher’s immense pace.
4. Tom Ingram
As Toyota returned to the BTCC as a manufacturer and brought with it the new Corolla, Tom Ingram set about doing his best impression of double champion Chris Hodgetts. Only, the new Corolla is front-wheel-drive, unlike its predecessor, so all of Ingram’s oversteer was a cause for concern.
But the Speedworks team worked to tame a skittish rear end and after the mid-season break strides forward had been made.
Ingram might have dropped four places in the standings compared to finishing runner-up to Colin Turkington last year, but he was a deserving four-time winner. What’s more, whereas the BMW 330i M Sport is close to its full potential, there’s more to come from the Corolla and Ingram is a credible title contender for 2020.
But for his impeccable car control this season, he was a true stand out and managed to beautifully tame the lively Corolla.
3. Dan Cammish
Only the stone-hearted wouldn’t have felt sorry for Dan Cammish as a BTCC title in only his second season in the series slipped through his fingers with little more than a lap remaining.
The FK8 Honda Civic Type R’s narrow operating window meant ultimate results for Cammish and team-mate Matt Neal were hard to come by. But Cammish drove around that and, from Thruxton onwards, he racked up consistent solid points finishes.
A double Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion, switching to the Civic was like driving his rear-engine 911 in reverse. But he’s taken to the discipline with relative ease.
Cammish was king of the front-wheel-drive contingent, bagged two wins and genuinely looked on course for a title upset until his brakes failed at Brands Hatch.
Lightning fast and uber consistent, you can’t help but feel a string of BTCC titles is almost an inevitability sooner or later.
2. Andrew Jordan
After scoring the first win for the all-new BMW 330i M Sport in the season-opening Brands Hatch round, it seemed as though this would be the year when Andrew Jordan became a double BTCC champion. While team-mate Colin Turkington took time to adjust to the new car’s balance, Jordan found an instant affinity.
He was forced into a valiant comeback, however, after a hefty first-lap Donington Park shunt put Jordan in hospital and out of the next two races. Alongside the relentless points scoring of Turkington, Jordan faced long odds to overturn his standings deficit.
But he gave it a damn good go, bouncing back instantly with a brace at both Thruxton and Croft. Ultimately, Jordan clocked six wins – more than anyone else – and was just two points shy of Turkington.
When the pair met on track at Silverstone, Jordan was the more robust but he had less to lose in the championship battle.
1. Colin Turkington
Little surprise as the champion takes the top spot. But it’s only by a slender margin over team-mate Andrew Jordan.
With his fourth title narrowly wrapped up, Colin Turkington draws level with Andy Rouse as the most successful driver in BTCC history. Aged 37 and equipped with the new BMW 330i M Sport, there’s every chance he’ll win another title, and another.
Detractors will argue that he had the best car, and that was true of the start of the season. But performance balancing measures – a turbo boost drop and a centre of gravity change – brought about greater parity. Also, he had to start more than a third of the races with maximum success ballast.
Turkington was the full package in 2019: blinding fast over a lap, willing to maintain position and bag points, or could pass his rivals on track at an exceptional rate when he had to get his elbows out.
Roll on 2020…
Images courtesy of Motorsport Images.
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