BTCC 2022 season preview

20th April 2022
James Charman

It’s that time of year again - the time where the talking and speculation stops and the racing, and inevitable arguing, can begin.


The BTCC goes into 2022 preparing for one of the biggest changes to its regulations in almost 20 years, with the all-new hybrid power systems seeing a power boost format replacing the old success ballast formula. So, as one of the most popular racing championships in the country gears up to step into the unknown, let us give you a few pointers on everything you need to know so you’re all clued up for race one this coming Sunday.

What happened in the BTCC last year?

The BTCC starts this exciting new chapter of its history hot off the heels of another outstanding season from championship golden-boy Ash Sutton. His third championship success gives him an astonishing 50% success rate since his 2016 debut, and his winning margin of 49 points the largest since Alain Menu’s pure dominance in the Williams Renault Laguna in 1997. With Sutton now on three titles, he’s just one crown away from becoming tied at the top of the all-time standings alongside rival Colin Turkington, and a legend from the era where it was still referred to as the British Saloon Car Championship: Andy Rouse.

Behind Sutton was a tasty fight for the runner-up spot between Colin Turkington’s BMW, Josh Cook’s Honda, Tom Ingram’s Hyundai and Jake Hill’s Ford Focus. While it may have been a one-horse race at the front, the series proved just how open it can be with no fewer than 12 different drivers taking victories across the year, including first wins for both Daniel Rowbottom and Senna Proctor.


What's new for the BTCC in 2022?

While you can often get a taste of what’s to come from looking at how each team had performed at the end of the previous season, the form book can be thrown out of the window ahead of 2022 as the BTCC begins its all-new hybrid era. With new Cosworth hybrid systems fitted as standard across the grid, drivers will have the opportunity to utilise the 60V battery units and give themselves a boost of up to 50PS (37kW).

The hybrid boost - known as Hybrid Engine Modulation, or HEM - replaces the previous success ballast system that was in place to keep racing as close as possible. The top drivers in the championship will have to practise and qualify without the luxury of a 15-second boost, incrementally decreasing from 13.5 seconds to nothing from tenth to first. Meanwhile those same drivers will have to contend the first race of the day with fewer laps of HEM deployment available to them. The championship leader will have to go ten laps without it (in races with fewer than 17 laps, it will 15 boost-less laps in races with more than 17), working down to one lap without boost for tenth in the standings. The penalties will then apply to the top ten finishers in race one for race two, and the top ten in race two for the third and final race of the day.

With the new hybrid system also comes a new TOCA power unit, with the old Swindon-built engines being replaced by M-Sport-built powertrains. Team Dynamics, Team BMW and Ciceley Motorsport will continue to use their bespoke Neil Brown-built engines, likewise the Ford entries will continue to run the Mountune power units, but one of the biggest moves under the bonnet during the off season has come from Excelr8 Motorsport. Having run the Hyundai i30 privately since 2020, the team are now entered as a Constructor, with former TOCA engine supplier Swindon now on board to build the team’s engines.

One final tweak to the weekend structure for 2022 sees the ‘option’ tyre choice disappear from a driver’s pre-weekend preparations. Goodyear will now only bring the medium tyre to the majority of race weekends, with the hard tyre in use for the series two trips to Thruxton, a circuit notoriously difficult on tyres.


Who’s driving where?

NAPA Racing UK

Ford Focus ST - #1 Ash Sutton, #9 Dan Cammish

One of the biggest news stories of the off season was that Ash Sutton would not return with Aiden Moffat’s family-run Laser Tools Racing squad, despite scoring back-to-back titles with them in 2020 and 2021. Instead, Sutton has moved to the all-new NAPA Racing UK, a team backed by American automotive parts giants, but run, in reality, by the hugely experienced Motorbase Performance. Having signed Ash Sutton, the team continued to prove it’s aiming big straight from the off, bringing former series front-runner Dan Cammish back into the BTCC, having had to make way for Gordon Shedden at Team Dynamics in 2021.

Apec Racing with Beavis Morgan

Ford Focus ST - #48 Ollie Jackson, #77 Sam Osborne

Alongside its NAPA Racing UK flagship, Motorbase Performance will also run two cars under the Apec Racing banner. Two-time race winner Ollie Jackson is back for his fourth year in the Ford Focus, and he will be joined by Jack Sears Trophy contender Sam Osborne (the Jack Sears Trophy is for drivers yet to finish on the overall podium who have not already won the Jack Sears Trophy). Osborne lines up for his second year in the Focus, having taken six points finishes for the team under the Racing with Wera banner in 2021.

Bristol Street Motors with Excelr8

Hyundai i30 Fastback N Performance - #3 Tom Chilton, #80 Tom Ingram, #96 Jack Butel, #123 Dan Lloyd

With their shiny new Swindon engines under the bonnet, the four Hyundai i30s on the grid will be hoping to continue their run of form after Tom Ingram scored the team’s first (and second and third) victories in 2021. Looking to get the most out of the new power units, the team have enlisted touring car veteran Tom Chilton, who returns to front-wheel-drive machinery after a season with the Ciceley Motorsport BMWs last year. Dan Lloyd also joins the squad for what will be only his second full-time season in the BTCC, and comes off a very strong end to 2021 where he scored three second-placed finishes in the last seven races. Finally, Jack Butel returns to the team having driven for the majority of 2021 with them, and will be eyeing the Jack Sears Trophy come Brands Hatch in October.


Toyota Gazoo Racing UK

Toyota Corolla GR Sport - #6 Rory Butcher, #21 Ricky Collard

Toyota returns with its works squad, run by the Speedworks camp. Its driver line-up is led by Rory Butcher, who showed signs of promise throughout 2021, but couldn’t muster the consistency to mount a serious title challenge. With three wins to his name, though, it’d be foolish to count out Butcher, especially now he’ll be chased down by his incredibly quick new teammate, Ricky Collard – son of BTCC race winner, Rob. Collard comes to the BTCC having spent the last few years in GT machinery.

Team BMW

BMW 330e M Sport - #12 Stephen Jelley, #50 Colin Turkington

Always one of the toughest teams to beat, West Surrey Racing return with Colin Turkington, who continues to eye up his elusive fifth BTCC crown and become the most successful driver in the history of the Championship. Stephen Jelley also retains his seat after making two visits to the podium during the 2021 campaign, and will be looking to return to the form he showed in 2009, when he took his WSR-run BMW 3 Series to sixth in the overall standings.

ROKiT MB Motorsport

BMW 330e M Sport - #24 Jake Hill

Jake Hill makes the jump from front-wheel-drive to rear-wheel-drive for 2022. His MB Motorsport team moves from working with Motorbase and the Ford Focus to linking up with West Surrey Racing and driving one of the team’s BMW 330e M Sport chargers. Hill, who has proven incredibly handy in rear-wheel-drive machinery at both Goodwood SpeedWeek presented by MasterCard and in the Gerry Marshall Trophy, will be hoping to continue his rise up the ranks and become a real title challenger for 2022.


Halfords Racing with Cataclean

Honda Civic Type R - #32 Daniel Rowbottom, #52 Gordon Shedden

Gordon Shedden’s return to the BTCC after three years competing in the World Touring Car Cup was the big news going into the new season 12 months ago. While there were glimpses of the three-time champion’s former glory, it just never seemed to fit into place for the Scot. On the other hand, his team-mate Daniel Rowbottom silenced all of his doubters after taking one of the most sought-after seats on the BTCC grid last year, scoring a breakthrough win at Oulton Park and backing it up with a further three visits to the podium across the season. Both drivers will be hoping to get more from their cars in 2022, in a team that is used to competing at the sharp end of the grid.

Rich Energy BTC Racing

Honda Civic Type R - #11 Jason Plato, #66 Josh Cook, #99 Jade Edwards

It may be worth sending some jackets down to the depths of hell, because when it was announced that Jason Plato would be driving a Honda for the new season, you’d have been forgiven for assuming hell had frozen over. While Plato isn’t driving alongside, or for, his arch rivals, he will be driving a car built by Team Dynamics. It’s a car that has been proven as a race winner in the hands of new team-mate Josh Cook, who kicked off his 2021 campaign with back-to-back wins. Both Cook and Plato will be ones to watch in 2022, with Jade Edwards lining up in the third car, aiming for Jack Sears Trophy honours and to improve on her solitary point from last year.

Laser Tools Racing & Upton Steel with Euro Car Parts Racing

Infiniti Q50 - #16 Aiden Moffat, #17 Dexter Patterson, #62 Rick Parfitt Jnr

Back-to-back champions Laser Tools Racing have lost their key man for 2022, with Ash Sutton jumping ship, but the team will be hopeful that they can continue to put everything they learned during the Sutton-era to good use. At just 25 years of age, Aiden Moffat is gearing up for his tenth season in the championship, coming off his best ever result of eighth overall in 2021. He will be joined by series debutante Dexter Patterson, who will be vying for Jack Sears Trophy honours. Rick Parfitt Jnr will also be looking to take the Jack Sears Trophy at the end of the year in the third Infiniti, a deal that came about after the former British GT champion stated he would only stay in the BTCC if he could find a rear-wheel-drive option.


Autobrite Direct with JourneyHero

Cupra Leon - #19 Bobby Thompson

Yazoo with Racing

Cupra Leon - #28 Nicolas Hamilton, #40 Aron Taylor-Smith

A four-car garage split down the middle, Team HARD has been one of the most represented teams on the BTCC grid for a number of years. It will be hoping that, after a year of getting to grips with the Cupra Leon, it can begin to work its way up the grid and become a regular top ten contender. Following Jack Goff’s impressive first half of 2021, which included a second place finish at Brands Hatch, he looked to be the team’s best chance of success. However, a last-minute announcement saw Goff's participation this season fall by the wayside. Both Thompson and Hamilton will be battling for the Jack Sears Trophy.

Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport

BMW 330e M Sport - #33 Adam Morgan, #42 George Gamble

With Tom Chilton moving across to the Excelr8 camp for 2022, Adam Morgan will be joined in his family-run team by series newbie George Gamble. The team’s first year with the BMW was a relative success, with Morgan scoring two wins across the year and a brace of podiums at Oulton Park. He will be hoping that, after a year of getting used to the rear-wheel-drive WSR-built cars, he will be able to challenge more regularly at the front, and give his rookie teammate the best shot possible in the Jack Sears Trophy.

CarStore Power Maxed Racing

Vauxhall Astra - #97 Ash Hand, #777 Michael Crees

Fan favourite Michael Crees returns to the championship after a year on the sidelines in an all-new Power Maxed Racing line-up. He’s joined by Ash Hand, who makes his debut in the championship in 2022. Hand has an impressive background, having taken Ash Sutton to the absolute limit during their Renault Clio Cup days, and the hope from a Power Maxed perspective will be that he can rekindle that rivalry at the sharp end of the BTCC, too.


Who are the pre-season favourites?

It’s difficult to look at the previous few seasons without wondering whether Ash Sutton will run away with it again, but with a new car and the task of slotting back into a front-wheel-drive setup, plus the inclusion of the new hybrid technologies, there’s no guarantee that Sutton will waltz straight back to the top. He also has his incredibly quick new team-mate to worry about, who will be desperate to prove he can go all the way and take the title, after his heartbreaking end to the 2018 campaign saw him crash out with brake failure while in a title-winning position.

Sutton did top the time sheets at the first pre-season test, held at Thruxton, but he was closely followed by Jake Hill, Dan Rowbottom and Tom Ingram. While it’s always dangerous to read into testing times, the ingredients seem to be in place for a wide open championship fight, not only between drivers but also a broad range of manufacturers.

When does the 2022 BTCC season start?

The first round of the BTCC starts this weekend at Donington Park, with the three 16-lap races taking place at 11:50am, 14:40pm and 17:25pm local time respectively.

From there, the championship moves on to Brands Hatch and Thruxton in May and Oulton Park and Croft in June. A summer break then leads to Knockhill on the final weekend in July, ahead of late summer rounds of Snetterton, Thruxton and Silverstone before the traditional autumnal finale around the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit.

You can find full details on the BTCC 2022 calendar here.

Where can I watch BTCC in 2022?

As always with the British Touring Car Championship, ITV4 will be providing extensive coverage throughout the season with every race of the BTCC shown live. However, in a change to the norm, two events – the first visit to Brands Hatch and Oulton Park – will receive three hours live on ITV. Qualifying will continue to be shown on the ITV website.

Not only will the BTCC receive this level of coverage, but the support package will also have most of their races shown either live or delayed. These support series include future Le Mans champions in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB, as well as the future of British motorsport in general with the Ginetta Junior Championship, and the ever-popular Mini Challenge UK.

Images courtesy of Motorsport Images.

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