So, you’ve seen how it was won. It has been a fantastic year of racing in the BTCC. Driving standards were called into question on occasion but the excitement and action made it one of the best seasons in recent memory. A variety of drivers and teams showed they were capable of battling with the established front-runners, with several taking maiden wins. So, do the standings tell the whole truth? Kind of…
1. Gordon Shedden: First of all – he is the champion. He won the most races, and accrued the most points. Few, if any, in the paddock will say he was not the best driver in 2012 and Shedden displayed all the hallmarks of a champion throughout the season – winning twice at Thruxton after a dismal qualifying, that stunning save at Rockingham, and extending his championship lead at Silverstone, even when all the odds were stacked against him. He’s the first Scottish champion since 1995 – and there was no driver more deserving of the honour than Shedden this season.
2. Jason Plato: Love him or loathe him, what Plato achieved this season in a brand-new, previously untested MG – while adapting to NGTC regulations – was nothing short of remarkable. He took five pole positions, won six races, and took the title fight down to the wire. You may not always agree with his driving on track, or what he says off it – but there’s no denying how talented the man is. It’s his efforts in the MG this seasonwhich put him above my next pick.
3. Matt Neal: He may well have been champion this season had he not broken his hand prior to Rockingham, and had some rotten luck at Silverstone. But Neal was gracious in defeat and displayed on many occasions why he is a three-time champion. His team-mate has taken his crown and it would be surprising if the outgoing champion does not come out all guns blazing next year to reclaim it.
4. Mat Jackson: Though Jackson was only seventh in the final standings it speaks volumes for his driving talent that he was able to take a win for Redstone’s NGTC Focus in its fourth meeting. He was only denied a double victory at Donington because of a technical infringement and would arguably have won twice at Silverstone, and again in the Brands finale, had it not been for more woeful luck. He led the team brilliantly when the new car was introduced and will be a genuine contender next year.
5. Andrew Jordan: As the 2012 Independents’ champion Jordan is perhaps unfortunate to be behind Jackson in this list – but it takes nothing away from a great season for the youngster. He took to the NGTC Civic well, showed fantastic early-season form, won at Snetterton and took six podiums. Proved himself a match for the works Civics on several occasions and will look for more consistency and more wins in 2013.
The top five were tough to call – so tough in fact, I have made it harder for myself and extended it out slightly.
6. Rob Collard – Fifth overall, three wins, the top S2000 and a host of quality drives to boot – Collard had a fantastic season as the ‘underdog’ – can he do the same with up-to-date machinery?
7. Dave Newsham – What a year for the Scot. Under-funded, and often on the end of bad luck, but that maiden pole position at round one showed he had what it takes and a debut win at Snetterton was followed up with home-soil success in Knockhill – if Newsham finds himself in a reliable NGTC in 2013, he can challenge for the title.
8. Aron Smith – The second half of the season saw him score three times as many points as the first; and saw him take his first podium and first win in an out-dated car – the youngster deserves to be challenging for more wins next season, let alone be on the grid.
9. Tom Onslow-Cole – A slightly harsh position given his sixth place in the standings, but TOC failed to win in 2012 while his teammate won three times. However, impressive consistency and scored points in 28/30 races – including 20 points scores on the trot.
10. Frank Wrathall – The Toyota youngster seems to be a magnet for bad luck but, despite everything, took a maiden pole and a maiden win this season en route to tenth overall – and that’s nothing to be sniffed at.