The 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship entered with a large degree of uncertainty among punters and media alike as to the real favourite for the season, with many drivers sticking out as potential threats. One of those was Andrew Jordan – he believed that he could do it, and we do not doubt him given the position he now lies in…
The Eurotech Honda man became the most winning driver of the 2013 season with a fine display last time out at a tricky, overcast Rockingham, netting two controlled wins to extend his tally to six and, more importantly, his newly-acquired overall championship lead by 30 points over reigning champion Gordon Shedden.
With much of the hard work now behind him, the real test is about to come as with six races to go, as Jordan heads three former BTCC champions into the two remaining battlefields of Silverstone and Brands Hatch trying to hang on and claim a maiden title for himself.
Andy has always been handy
Since his BTCC berth in 2008 alongside father Mike at the Eurotech squad, Jordan’s speed in a tin-top has been there to see. Podiums fell his way that season and he made a strong name for himself in the tank-like Honda Integra, a season which led to him venturing into the works Vauxhall team for a more character-building season alongside champions Fabrizio Giovanardi and Matt Neal.
Jordan switched back to his more comfy home of Eurotech in 2010, and finally his persistence paid off with his first win at Croft in a controlled reverse-grid effort that year, repeating the triumph during the Brands Hatch curtain-closer.
Over time, Jordan’s aggressive and crowd-pleasing driving style began to make him a rival to the front-runners. With his British Rallycross Championship-winning pedigree, Jordan quickly earned the mantle of ‘Mr Excitement’, showcased by some eye-watering pieces of car-control (see Oulton Park and Thruxton’s 2012 qualifying sessions for the working out methods behind that) and giant-killing efforts against the works cars.
That style has been calmed – only slightly – this season by the realisation that flat-out works only half the time in this game; a sense of calm in between being the extra factor that can bring you the prize at the climax of a long hussle.
But Andrew’s newfound focus for points has not altered his racecraft much in 2013. Take Donington Park, when he pulled off a decisive late-braking move on Gordon Shedden at Redgate to take race two, while his pass on the outside of three cars – including Jason Plato – at Rockingham’s Deene hairpin last time out was arguably the overtake of the season thus far, Jordan uncovering grip that others had not.
That overtaking prowess and raw speed made Jordan a driver that many would place in a fantasy BTCC team, but you also need the other trump card stealer – a cool head to fork out good results when they aren’t there for you.
Mr Excitement becoming Mr Consistency?
Many times in motorsport, drivers realise things not only about themselves, but also the surroundings that they are in, spotting the negatives and adapting a level of maturity and awareness to their driving, taming their own aggression for the sake of consistency.
Lewis Hamilton did it during the 2008 Formula 1 season and reaped the rewards at the end of the season, keeping his nose cleaner than his Ferrari opposition while still achieving the best results he could muster.
Jordan it appears has now spent enough time in BTCC to understand its magnetism for scrapes and rough and tumble, but more crucially of all – the need to avoid getting involved in those stereotypes as much as possible when you’re looking to reap more than just race wins.
Compared to the Andrew Jordan that has at times been the quickest man in the BTCC field over the past two seasons, 2013 has seen a more thoughtful head underneath the #77 crash helmet. Gone this season have been the sloppy incidents when the door has been shut, such as Oulton Park and Silverstone last year.
If anything, it seemed as though the opening round of the season at Brands Hatch may well have taught Jordan two things.
Number one – he has the potential title-winning speed behind the wheel of a race car, as proved by the fact that he was unlucky not to have claimed three pole positions on the bounce; while number two – his unsuccessful last corner lunge on Jason Plato will have been an alarm that (unless the championship is at stake in the final corner of the final race) you don’t have to win them all if it risks a retirement.
Still at the tender age of just 24, Jordan will have more than one opportunity to win the championship he so dearly desires, and told us at thecheckeredflag that he never doubted that 2013 could even be the year he lifts the crown – just a 12 months after scrapping to the Independent championship.
He is also full aware of the luck of the racing Gods changing when you least expect it, saying: “I have believed from the start of the year that I can do it. There are a lot of things that can interfere with it – reliability, or a bit of bad luck. Anything can happen, but it is looking good at the minute.”
Jordan’s Indie title success last season finally rewarded the Eurotech team and their number one driver for their pluckiness and hard work. Now the focus shifted to the one goal remaining on their minds, and Jordan has put his mind solely to that, in a very similar way to another rival who has three BTCC titles to his name.
Matt Neal took 15 years since his debut to become BTCC champion, but the way he did it has been similar to Jordan’s season thus far – consistent, while picking up the spoils when they’re there for the taking.
Neal’s luck between 2002-2004 was at times torrid on track, but after a good start to 2005 he changed his focus to points picking when it wasn’t possible, and the reward was the BTCC title and a perfect finishing record over 30 races, unheard of in the cut-and-thrust touring car world.
Jordan is now potentially six races from achieving both feats himself with zero retirements and a worst finish of 13th, and said after his Rockingham double that Silverstone is a survival battle at a track fairly unfriendly to the ballasted and boost-affected Honda Civic.
Four still in the hunt
Jordan knows that the final round at Brands Hatch’s Grand Prix circuit is the real test of his nerve. The three men behind him – Gordon Shedden, Colin Turkington and Matt Neal – have all won the championship in tense finales at the same strip of tarmac, and this year the Pirtek Racing man has his first big chance to attempt the same feat.
Shedden and Neal remain Jordan’s biggest rivals in his own words, but he remains quietly confident that he and his Eurotech team can be the men to beat at the final round in Kent.
He added: “I’ve had a podium at every race, and I’ll be surprised if that continues at Silverstone. But we are racing the Hondas mainly, so if we can just be competitive compared to them, we should be ok. Then Brands Grand Prix I think we’ll be really good at.
“Matt Neal had a bad day at Rockingham, and that could be us at Silverstone. There are still six races to go, so I don’t want to get too excited. Silverstone will be tough for the Hondas.”
Silverstone dawns this weekend, and with the top four in the title chase separated by just 34 points, Jordan has every right not to get excited…or at least not just yet.
Jordan’s season so far in numbers: