ITV’s David Addison previews the 2019 BTCC…
I bumped into a Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship fan the other day and inevitably the conversation turned to the new season. “Who are you cheering for?” I asked.
“Well, I think Plato’s going to be good. But so is that new BMW and Ingram and…” His list went on and on, and he’s right because this is one of those seasons where we have a lot of new things to look at. Not just a new sponsor (hello, Kwik Fit), not just new ballast numbers to crunch, but new drivers, new cars and lots of shuffling on the entry list.
So, where do we start for a favourite? Well, the top two drivers of last year both have new cars, the new BMW 330i M Sport for Colin Turkington and the Toyota Corolla for Tom Ingram, his ultimate fast food machine. As a digression, Ginsters’ entry into the championship is a major coup and exactly what the series needs: attract high street brands so that the message of the BTCC hits more homes. Anyway, back to the plot…
On paper, BTC Racing, as it now is named, looks strong with two race winners, but it’s new FK8 Honda Civic Type Rs for the team and a new Honda engine for Bert Taylor’s squad to get their heads around. Josh Cook and Chris Smiley are undoubtedly quick but how long will it take for everything to gel?
What about Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing? Jason Plato is full of enthusiasm after an awful couple of seasons and it really will be fascinating to see how he turns around his BTCC results. The Astra can, has, won races but can it do it often enough for a title campaign? Possibly.
What of Rob Collard back in front-wheel drive machinery? Yes, he’s raced them before and drove a Vauxhall Astra in 2003, but how long will it take Rob to really be comfortable with FWD again? Importantly, though, it is good that he’s back on the grid after the West Surrey Racing seat shuffles and his concussion from 2018.
Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance’s ex-Eurotech Racing FK2 Honda Civic Type Rs are a proven package and with Sam Tordoff and Rory Butcher they have two quick drivers so ought to be in the mix. Tordoff’s new to the team and eager to avenge his 2016 defeat – beaten to the title by the type of Honda he now drives.
It remains to be seen where the BMR-run Adrian Flux Subaru Levorgs will meld into the pack but Ash Sutton will no doubt work his magic. Adam Morgan and Aiden Moffat perhaps start the season in the box seat as there is that continuity of familiar machinery carried over from last year, though Moffat’s operation has now moved in-house.
As it’s Grand National weekend and gambling is in the air, you could certainly do worse than have a flutter in their favour. Halfords Yuasa Racing’s FK8 Civic Type R pairing of Matt Neal and Dan Cammish went through the pain of development last year – and won races along the way – and those lessons learnt stand them in good stead for 2019.
Remember, DanCam finally came good at Brands Hatch GP with that double win in the final meeting and Matt had already won at Thruxton and Snetterton.
Team Dynamics Motorsport has always been a top team and should be even stronger this season while other teams spend a little time learning, developing and tweaking what hey have.
By the same token, you can add Tom Chilton into that group as if his Motorbase-run Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher Ford Focus RS follows on from its 2018 pace and if Motorbase can be consistent, Tom ought to win races this season.
Well, that’s the theory! In reality, we go into the season with no clear favourite. Whether we get 17 different winners again I rather doubt but that said, the list of possibles is a long one. With the battle of the newcomers as well, there is so much to look for. Personally, I can’t wait!