BTCC STARS SET FOR SNETTERTON ‘SHOWDOWN’
Snetterton will host the penultimate event of the 2020 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship next weekend (24/25 October) with the race for this year’s title set to go down to the wire.
This next race weekend will be critical as we finalise our list of contenders ahead of the Brands Hatch season finale, whilst a new one-off ‘showdown’ qualifying format in Norfolk is scheduled to spice up proceedings even further.
To anyone that follows the BTCC it will come as little surprise to hear that it is extremely tight at the top – just 12 points separate the standings’ leading trio while 11 drivers remain in mathematical contention to claim the country’s most sought-after motorsport prize.
The first half of the season arguably belonged to reigning champion Colin Turkington, with the Team BMW star picking up from where he left off as he held the advantage over the chasing pack through the first four events on the calendar.
The tide has turned in recent weeks, however, as the title race was blown wide open following a number of fantastic and unforgettable contests at Thruxton, Silverstone and Croft.
Laser Tools Racing’s Ash Sutton now tops the table with the Infiniti Q50 driver showcasing his undoubted speed throughout the campaign. Some regard Sutton as the fastest driver in the 2020 line up, but the 26-year-old knows that winning the UK’s elite motorsport series requires more than just speed alone.
Sutton has four race wins so far and he’s also starred during several astounding comeback drives through the field. These standout moments have seen the 2017 champion ease into a seven-point lead over Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Dan Cammish.
Honda star Cammish was still licking his wounds when the 2020 action finally got underway, with his penultimate lap heartache during last year’s championship battle still fresh in the memory.
A win during the opening weekend on the Brands Hatch GP circuit – the same layout where he had experienced heartbreak just a few months earlier – helped to immediately banish those memories, but a number of barren race weekends followed.
Consistency is key to winning the BTCC, however, and Cammish has been cleverly playing the long game while turning the screw as we now build towards an exciting climax.
Turkington is still in the thick of it of course – just 12 points off the championship summit – and the tin-top legend still has every chance of becoming a record five-time BTCC champion come the end of the season.
The Northern Irishman hasn’t won four titles without knowing how to dig deep, as well as bouncing back from difficult moments, so expect to see a fired-up BMW 3 Series at both Snetterton and Brands Hatch.
Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters star Tom Ingram is fast becoming the dark horse in this year’s title tussle; with the former double Independents’ champion seemingly enduring either sensational highs or unfortunate lows during 2020.
His fightback from adversity at Croft was breathtaking – commencing with his removal from the qualifying classification after his Toyota Corolla failed a ride-height check to eventually winning the final race in North Yorkshire.
It could be the turning point that both Ingram and his Speedworks Motorsport squad needed, and with happier hunting grounds to come, the Bucks ace could be making a late rally for overall glory.
“This is far from over yet, and we will keep on fighting right the way to the end,” said Ingram. “There’s no question that without all the problems we’ve had this season, we could be leading the championship right now, but as Croft demonstrated, the BTCC has a habit of throwing up surprises and I’m sure there are some more twists and turns still to come.”
Team BMW’s Tom Oliphant and Motorbase Performance’s Rory Butcher are others that may still feel they hold an outside chance of success if the cards fall their way, but a big score is required by both at Snetterton.
Series Organiser – TOCA – announced at the start of the season that Snetterton would host a one-off qualifying format to add even further entertainment to what is already one of the most exciting series’ on the planet.
The Snetterton 300 race weekend was the sixth of ten in the original calendar, but the delay to proceedings due to COVID-19 saw Snetterton moved to the penultimate event in the rescheduled nine event season – meaning the ‘Snetterton Top Ten Showdown’ may carry extra significance.
Replacing the usual 30-minute session, drivers will have a marginally reduced window of 25 minutes to record their lap times next Saturday. The fastest ten competitors will then progress to a ten-minute pole position session to determine the top ten places on the grid.
Aside from all of this you can expect the usual thrills and spills, and while the BTCC’s continues to race behind closed doors during this unprecedented year, the ITV Television Network will have fans covered throughout the weekend.
Saturday’s unique qualifying session will be streamed live via www.itv.com/btcc, whilst the full race day is live and exclusive on ITV4 from 1005.