With another classic BTCC season safely consigned to history and countless rewatches of highlights videos, it’s time for Goodwood Road & Racing to do what we always do – to take a look back over the past six months and guide you through the best ten drivers on the grid throughout the 2022 season.
Top 10 BTCC drivers of 2022
1. Tom Ingram
Bristol Street Motors with Excelr8 TradePriceCars.com - Hyundai i30 Fastback N Performance
Championship position: 1st
Yes, it might seem obvious that the champion sits at the top of the list, but this year finding anyone who disagrees would be an incredibly difficult task. Tom Ingram has been one of the front runners in the BTCC for the past six years, and the pace he managed to wring out of the Excelr8 Hyundai i30 presented him with his best opportunity to take the overall crown since Speedworks retired the ageing Toyota Avensis in 2018.
Although Ingram has been a regular sight at the sharp end of the championship, there was something special about his performances this year that made you think 2022 might just be the season in which everything falls into place. He staked his claim for the title at the very first meeting, securing 51 points out of a possible 67 at Donington Park. Even his more challenging weekends came with a handful of points on the table, with only two non-scores in the 30-race season and one further finish outside the top ten.
Heading into the season finale seven points behind points leader Ash Sutton, Ingram knew that a strong weekend was needed to overthrow both Sutton’s Ford and the BMW of Jake Hill, who sat two points ahead of the Hyundai man in second place. If ever there was a time to be unstoppable, it was on a sunny October weekend around the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit.
Pole position in qualifying and wins in races one and two, with the fastest lap in each, was a perfect start. He took 45 out of a possible 45 points going into the final race of the year and put Ingram in an incredibly strong position knowing that fifth place would secure him the title, no matter what his rivals did. Where did he finish? Fifth. Following Sutton across the line with Jake Hill two further places behind produced a final winning margin of 12 points, and Ingram well and truly stamped his name into the BTCC record books.
2. Jake Hill
ROKiT MB Motorsport - BMW 330e M Sport
Championship position: 3rd
When the news hit that the Mark Blundell-led MB Motorsport stable would be moving to West Surrey Racing for 2022, eyes lit up around the BTCC fraternity at the prospect of Jake Hill in a front-running BMW 330e M Sport. Having shown signs of pace in his previous two years with Blundell, there was a real sense growing that a proper championship fight wouldn’t be too far away, as long as he could find a car that could get him there.
The 2022 season gave Hill that potential missing ingredient, meaning he now had to live up to the hype rising around him. He showed he was more than capable of living up to such expectations with pole position at the very first race of the year, narrowly beating his four-time champion team-mate Colin Turkington, who had spent the majority of his career not only with WSR but also in rear-wheel-drive machinery, and had been driving the 3 Series since its return to the BTCC grid in 2019.
Unfortunately, Hill’s lightning start hit a roadblock early on, with a ride height failure throwing him out of what would have been a second-placed finish in round one. Starting last in race two, he would claw his way back up to victory in the final race of the day to throw his hat well and truly into the ring for a championship challenge.
The strongest part of his year came after the summer break – a dominant performance at Knockhill saw Hill take pole and the fastest lap in race one, followed by a pair of seconds in the other two. The form then rolled on into Norfolk, with another pair of second-placed finishes at Snetterton backed up with a fifth in race three.
Hill had a solid and consistent season while just lacking that little bit of luck here and there, but showed all the hallmarks of a future champion across the course of the year. There are rumours abound as to where the MB Motorsport squad will lay its hat for 2023, but here’s hoping for another year in the BMW for Hill, if only so that we can see more of his exuberantly committed driving style in front-running rear-wheel-drive machinery.
3. Ashley Sutton
NAPA Racing UK - Ford Focus ST
Championship position: 2nd
The outgoing champion is arguably one of the best drivers the BTCC has ever seen in its 64-year history. In fact, when the 2022 season rocked up north of the border at Knockhill, two-time champion (and all-round BTCC legend) John Cleland stated live on ITV4 that he regards Sutton as the very best driver of this generation, everything but labelling him as the greatest of all time.
This season saw Sutton move to a front-wheel-drive car after five years and three championships with power being delivered to the rear wheels, and there were some who questioned his decision-making in joining the ‘fledgling’ NAPA Racing UK. But while the team was new to the championship on paper, in reality, Motorbase Performance (who ran the blue and yellow Fords under the NAPA banner) is one of the most experienced teams in the paddock, so you knew Sutton would be in good hands.
It took some time for the raw pace everyone knows to shine through after a somewhat average first half of the year for the triple champion. When you consider an ‘average’ performance for Sutton included six podium finishes and only two failures to score shows just how high the expectations are surrounding the 28-year-old.
Sutton and Jake Hill shared the limelight at Knockhill when the season resumed after its summer break, and the former secured his first win in a front-wheel-drive car since his debut season in an MG6 with Triple Eight Racing back in 2016. He would only finish outside the top five on three occasions in the second half of the year, taking two further wins at Snetterton and Thruxton and looked odds-on favourite to take a fourth BTCC crown and score the first hat-trick of titles since Andy Rouse in 1985.
It wasn’t to be, however, and Sutton had to settle for second after an absolutely mammoth trio of drives from Tom Ingram at Brands Hatch. There was very much a ‘handing the baton over’ feel to the post-race frivolities after the 30th, and final, race of the season, as Sutton interrupted Ingram’s parc fermé interview to ceremoniously place a #1 sticker on the Hyundai. Alan Gow also relinquished his trophy-presenting duties over to Sutton on the podium on the Brands Hatch start line, providing a photo that will live long in the annals of BTCC history.
4. Colin Turkington
Team BMW - BMW 330e M Sport
Championship position: 4th
If you took a snapshot of the season after the second trip to Thruxton in 2022, you’d have thought Colin Turkington – one of the most consistently strong drivers in the BTCC – was well and truly on his way to becoming the first-ever five-time champion of the series.
As has been the modus operandi for Turkington in recent years, it wasn’t a dominant display that pushed him to the top of the standings, but a season-long habit of simply being in the right place at the right time. Up until Silverstone, Turkington had found himself on the podium in at least one race at every one of the eight previous meetings.
Then a nightmarish weekend in Northampton completely kiboshed any real chance Turkington had of that record-breaking championship victory, and despite two strong performances around the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit, it would have required a Tom Ingram-style performance to overturn the 27-point gap he faced.
Colin Turkington is beginning to reach that point where you wonder whether a peak has been reached. It’s been three years since he took the trophy at the end of the year, and 2022 was the first time since his return to West Surrey Racing in 2017 that he finished outside the top two. When you look at the trio he finished behind this year, they’re all at least a decade his junior and showing no signs of wanting to move out of the BTCC paddock any time soon. It’s only going to become harder for Turkington to keep up.
5. Josh Cook
Rich Energy BTC Racing - Honda Civic Type R
Championship position: 6th
At some point in the future, Josh Cook is going to get some luck come his way that isn’t purely bad. At the start of 2022 it looked like things were finally starting to fall into place. Competing for a fourth season with BTC Racing and very much taking on the mantle of team leader, despite having soon-to-be-retiring series legend Jason Plato as a stablemate this year, Cook started strong.
Four wins in the first eight races put him in a strong position, holding a 17-point lead after the first three rounds, and while his Oulton Park weekend was solid if not spectacular, he was able to hold on to the top spot heading up north to Croft.
From Croft onwards is where things begun to fall apart. All of a sudden, the BTC Racing squad found its Honda Civic Type R lacking in straight-line speed and putting all three of its drivers on the back foot. It was a problem that plagued the squad for the remainder of the year – the slowest cars through the speed trap in qualifying at the Brands Hatch finale were Cook and team-mate Jade Edwards – and any real chance Cook had of the title fell by the wayside.
As the old saying goes, though, every cloud has its silver lining, and while Cook was unable to be in the fight for the overall honours, he didn’t end the year empty-handed. His early season form had put him in a commanding position in the Independent Drivers’ championship, and such was his dominance of those without manufacturer backing, he went to Brands Hatch knowing he’d already done enough to have Alan Gow hand him the trophy on Sunday evening. He ended the season 102 points clear of second-placed Adam Morgan, claiming the trophy for the second time in his career.
6. Rory Butcher
Toyota Gazoo Racing UK - Toyota Corolla GR Sport
Championship position: 5th
Since his full-time BTCC debut in 2018, having had half a year in 2017 to get his eye in, Rory Butcher has always shown signs of being able to squeeze the best out of a car, as was demonstrated by his pair of victories en route to finishing fifth in the championship in an old Honda Civic back in 2019. Driving for the Speedworks-run works Toyota squad for the second year running, Butcher would have been hopeful of improving on his trio of victories in 2021.
While he could only manage a single trip to the top step in 2022, he did equal his best ever finish in the points table with fifth, and was a consistent presence on the second and third steps of the podium, particularly in the latter stages of the season.
Regularly outscoring his team-mate, the third-generation racer of Ricky Collard, Butcher has taken on the role of lead driver with great aplomb, and is achieving similar results in the Corolla as Tom Ingram was in the car’s debut and sophomore years, leading questions to be asked as to whether the Corolla is actually capable of putting a championship-winning season together.
Butcher certainly has the talent to get himself right to the very top of the championship, and has well and truly usurped his brother-in-law Gordon Shedden as the top touring car driver on the Knockhill payroll.
7. Daniel Lloyd
Bristol Street Motors with Excelr8 TradePriceCars.com - Hyundai i30 Fastback N Performance
Championship position: 10th
Dan Lloyd may well be on the way to cementing himself as the BTCC’s Mat Jackson for the new generation. One of the fastest drivers on the grid on his day, a full season for Lloyd always seems to hang in the balance when it comes to having enough funding for all 30 races.
The Yorkshireman was the innocent victim of an accident in the 12th race of the year at Oulton Park that took a huge chunk out of his budget for the remainder of the year, and there was a genuine concern that we would not be able to make it to the grid for the final two rounds at Silverstone and Brands Hatch. A crowdfunding push was launched, and if there’s anything you can say about the BTCC fanbase, they’re certainly not shy in helping out a driver in need – see the rebuild of Rob Austin’s ‘Sherman’ Audi back in 2013 as a prime example.
Enough funds were raised, along with extra backing from Excelr8 sponsor Bristol Street Motors, to keep Lloyd on the grid and he repaid all of those who donated with a stellar drive in the final race of the year to take win number three, having already come back from his Oulton Park crash to score a double victory in the next meeting at his home circuit of Croft. His final win was somewhat overshadowed by his team-mate winning the championship, but the smile on Lloyd’s face showed that he didn’t really care and the team enjoyed some well-earned celebrations throughout that evening.
When you compare Lloyd’s performance to that of his team-mate across the year, you do have to question why Ingram was able to consistently battle at the top, while Lloyd was more often than not lingering around the lower end of the points-paying positions. That being said, he did still more than double the tally achieved by veteran BTCC campaigner Tom Chilton in another of the Hyundais, who had a shocker of a season by his standards.
8. Dan Cammish
NAPA Racing UK - Ford Focus ST
Championship position: 8th
Dan Cammish’s return to the BTCC grid having been ousted by Team Dynamics on the eve of the 2021 season would have been headline-grabbing enough without the added bonus of being in what some were tipping as a ‘dream line-up’, alongside reigning champion Ash Sutton, but the statement of intent from the new NAPA Racing UK squad was plain to see. Unfortunately, however, while the headlines the team would have hoped for may have materialised at the season opener, they were for all the wrong reasons.
Cammish, who had shown early signs of pace in the Ford Focus, pulled over before a single flying lap of qualifying was able to be completed as his Focus was engulfed in flames emanating from the engine bay. The car was never the same for the remainder of the weekend and he left the opening round with just three points to his name. Fast forward to Thruxton and, following a more fruitful weekend at Brands Hatch, Cammish was keen to get back to winning ways. Starting from third on the grid, he was pushed off the track on lap one, plummeting down the order and left the Hampshire circuit at the end of the day without a single point being scored.
When things did go right for Cammish, however, there were all of the reminders that this is the driver who came oh-so-close to the overall crown in 2019, the same driver who won every single race he entered in the 2013 Formula Ford championship and dominated the Porsche Carrera Cup championship in back-to-back years. The return trip to Brands Hatch showed the pace that is still within him – he started from pole position and took a lights-to-flag victory in race one, a 1-2 result for the NAPA Fords, before playing the team game and deliberately reversing positions in race two to aid Sutton’s title challenge.
Without those two weekends of awful luck, you have to believe that Cammish would have been at the very least knocking on the door of the overall crown, and at times he even outpaced his champion team-mate, but for reasons outside of his control, it just wasn’t to be. Again.
9. Gordon Shedden
Halfords Racing with Cataclean - Honda Civic Type R
Championship position: 7th
A three-time champion before his foray into World Touring Cars, Gordon Shedden’s return to the BTCC has been a little limp by his own lofty standards. The start of the season seemed to suggest that we were going to get the ‘old’ Shedden back, enjoying one of the strongest starts to a campaign in his 15-year BTCC career.
Yet a podium and a win at Donington Park was followed up by an average-at-best result at Brands Hatch, followed by a disappointing weekend at Thruxton. While Oulton Park yielded some solid results, only a reverse grid win at Croft provided Shedden with any need to visit the podium throughout the central portion of the season.
Late bursts of pace at Thruxton and Silverstone gave the Scot an outside chance of salvaging a top-five finish in the final standings, but scoring only three points across the final three races at Brands Hatch left Shedden stranded in seventh place overall, 48 points behind Cook in sixth and 41 points ahead of Adam Morgan in eighth.
It would appear that three years away from the championship really did leave Shedden behind, as the likes of Ingram, Sutton, Cook and Hill are all now in a position where they can, and regularly do, beat the Scot.
10. George Gamble
Ciceley Motorsport - BMW 330e M Sport
Championship position: 13th
It is a shame that all George Gamble has to show for his debut season in the BTCC is 13th place in the overall standings and fourth in the Independents. One of the real breakout stars of 2022, the rookie wasn’t even able to come away with the Jack Sears Trophy, despite a podium in only his second race in a touring car, and then taking victory in only his 18th.
Despite the Cicely Motorsport BMW recruit finishing ahead of Team HARD’s Bobby Thompson in the overall drivers’ standings, he finished behind the Cupra driver in both Independent and Jack Sears title chases, due to how points are awarded in the secondary categories across the championship.
Whatever the record books say, however, it was a hugely impressive start to a BTCC career with the Ciceley squad, and he even got the better of his team-mate Adam Morgan on a fair number of occasions, with both taking a win across the year.
Non-scores in almost half of the races this year put a slight blot on Gamble’s debut season, but the 2014 Ginetta GT5 Challenge champion has well and truly proven himself as one to watch over the coming seasons.
Images courtesy of Motorsport Images.
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