As the British Touring Car Championship gears up to return this weekend at the ever-popular Knockhill, we at Goodwood Road & Racing decided now would be the perfect time to take stock of what’s gone on in the first five rounds of an already enthralling 2022 season.
2022 BTCC mid‑season review
With four champions on the grid, sharing 12 titles between them, it’s two drivers yet to achieve the top prize in British Motorsport who occupy the first two positions in the points standings at the halfway stage. Tom Ingram in his Hyundai i30 Fastback N Performance leads the way on 195 points, having taken three wins and a further three podium results across the year, including a double victory at Oulton Park in June. Josh Cook’s Honda Civic Type R sits just three points behind, but he has visited the top step of the podium one more time than Ingram, enjoying a brace of victories at both Brands Hatch and Thruxton.
Ingram has been on form since the very first meeting of the year at Donington Park, as he benefited from the battling West Surrey Racing BMW duo of Colin Turkington and Jake Hill to take the opening win of the season, backing it up with a second placed spot in race two. A trio of top five finishes at Brands Hatch cemented Ingram’s spot as a real title contender, and he was looking on form for an equally strong performance at Thruxton before getting caught up in someone else’s accident in the opening race. A recovery drive saw two top ten results for the rest of the day, but it was only ever going to be a damage limitation charge as he tumbled down the standings to fourth, having led the points since the opening round.
Oulton Park really was a case of making up for lost ground for the Excelr8 Motorsport driver, taking the third double victory of his career, and the first since joining the Hyundai team in 2021. While Cook was able to hold on to his lead leaving Oulton Park by virtue of a trio of top ten finishes, the same couldn’t be said for the championship’s annual visit to Yorkshire. A 15th and 11th for Cook while Ingram racked up more top five finishes was enough to see the two-time Independents’ Champion back at the top of the standings, but with a slender three-point lead to his name. The pace was clear in the Hyundai at Croft, with Ingram’s Excelr8 team-mate Daniel Lloyd becoming only the third driver of the year to score a double victory when he romped home in the first two races.
While this may make it sound like it’s currently only a two-horse race for the 2022 BTCC title, it is anything but. Four-time champion Colin Turkington currently sits just 12 points behind Ingram as he continues to hunt that elusive fifth championship, a feat no-one has ever achieved in Britain’s premier motorsport series. Out of the 15 races this season, Turkington has only finished outside the top ten once, and only failed to finish one other, showing that consistency is key in a long 30-race season. His strong finishes have come thanks to some even stronger qualifying performances, which have propelled him to the top of the Goodyear Wingfoot Award standings. With the second half of the season featuring a number of circuits that favour the rear-wheel-drive competitors more than their front-wheel-drive rivals, it’s all very much still to play for.
It’s been a somewhat disappointing first half of the season for the new all-star NAPA Racing UK squad. Heading into 2022, all eyes were on the Motorbase Ford Focuses, which had been given a fresh boost and bold new NASCAR-style colour scheme thanks to new title sponsors. With reigning champion Ash Sutton and returning front-runner Dan Cammish behind the wheel, the expectation was that the team would be up near the front and challenging for the Teams’ crown at the very least. For Cammish, at least, those dreams went up in literal smoke on the very first day of the championship, as his Focus caught fire during qualifying at Donington Park. That luck seems to have followed Cammish throughout the season, and while he enjoyed a double podium at Brands Hatch, he has rarely had the opportunity to show what he’s truly capable of, and is currently languishing down in 11th place in the standings as a result.
Ash Sutton has had a better year than his team-mate, for sure, but it’s far from what we’ve become accustomed to from the young three-time champion. Only in 2019, when his Subaru Levorg was anything but competitive and he had to wait until the very last meeting of the year, has Sutton had to wait longer for a victory. However, with six visits to the podium so far, including three trips to the bottom step at Thruxton, the pace is there to remain competitive. That performance at the Hampshire circuit was enough to see him sit in second place in the standings before steadily dropping to fourth, where he currently sits. Having topped the timesheets at the Snetterton mid-season test, and with a second trip to Thruxton still to come in the second half of the year, Sutton will be keen to return to the form everyone knows he’s capable of. Not only will he be targeting a first BTCC victory for NAPA Racing, but also looking to claw his way back up the points table.
Another driver hoping to cash in on the rear-wheel-drive-friendly second half of the year will be Jake Hill. Starting the campaign off with a pole position at Donington Park, it looked like this may have been the start of a year to remember for Hill. An exclusion from that very first race was not in the plan, however, and the Tunbridge Wells driver found himself on the back foot right from the off. A mammoth recovery drive to win race three suggested there could be much more to come from Hill in 2022, but only three more podium finishes across the year means he now sits down in fifth place in the points table, 41 points adrift of Ingram.
Hill may be sitting in fifth place in the table, but he’s the only one of the West Surrey Racing trio yet to visit the top step of the podium, as Stephen Jelley scored his first win since 2019 in the final race at Oulton Park. Meanwhile, Adam Morgan proved, as if it needed proving at all, that the BMW is an incredibly strong package in today’s BTCC, winning the opening race at Oulton Park before a retirement in race two scuppered any chance of repeat success.
While the top two in the drivers’ standings are separated by only three points, the manufacturers’ points are also incredibly close. Leaders BMW sit just 14 points clear of Hyundai in second, while Ford are a further 24 points back. Honda and Toyota will be hoping for a much better second half of the year, 98 and 113 off the top spot respectively. Gordon Shedden has been able to secure a brace of victories for the Honda squad across the year, but has struggled with his consistency, while Toyota remains the only team in the manufacturers’ table yet to take an overall victory. Rory Butcher has been solid in his Corolla, taking three podiums across the year and sitting in sixth currently (five points ahead of brother-in-law Shedden), but Ricky Collard has struggled in his debut year with the Speedworks-run team, scoring only 22 points so far and sits in a lowly 21st in the table.
Thanks to the expansion of the Manufacturers’ table for 2022, with Excelr8/Hyundai and Team Dynamics/Honda now in the mix, Josh Cook has a comfortable lead in the independents’ standings, 70 points ahead of closest rival Adam Morgan and looking like a shoo-in even at this early stage. It’s a little closer in the independent teams’ tables, but Cook’s BTC Racing squad still sits at the head of the table, 29 points ahead of Adam Morgan’s Ciceley Motorsport BMWs.
Despite a strong start to the season at Donington Park, Ciceley’s George Gamble was unable to hold on to his lead at the top of the Jack Sears Trophy for drivers who have not scored an overall podium in the championship. Instead, the lead goes to Team HARD’s Bobby Thompson, holding a 33-point lead over Gamble, despite being just two points ahead of the BMW driver in the overall table.
The second half of the season kicks off this weekend on the season’s annual trip north of the border, and no fewer than four drivers will be hoping to leave the weekend having put on a strong performance for their loyal home fans. While current form suggests that it’s unlikely either Dexter Patterson or Aiden Moffat will be able to take the spoils in the Laser Tools Racing Infiniti Q50s, the best hopes of a home win come from Gordon Shedden and Rory Butcher.
The brothers-in-law both have day jobs at the Fife circuit, and will arguably go into the weekend with the best knowledge of the circuit compared to anyone else on the grid. Neither driver managed to visit the podium at their home circuit in 2021, but with Shedden already enjoying a pair of victories in 2022 – including the final race before the summer break – and Rory Butcher still chasing Toyota’s first win of the year, both will have the bit between their teeth hunting not only a trophy and 20 points, but also family bragging rights for another 12 months.
With eight winners already from the first 15 races of the year and just 12 points separating the top three in the standings, it’s all to play for over the next two and a half months. If anything can be guaranteed in the BTCC, it’s that it won’t be plain sailing from here until Brands Hatch.
Images courtesy of Motorsport Images.
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