The 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship and its band of support championships hit the track later this month for the opening rounds of what’s shaping up to be one of the biggest seasons in the package’s recent history.
While the BTCC is taking the headlines with a near-capacity grid featuring seven series champions, its support cast is also preparing for one of the most intriguing years in recent times.
The Renault UK Clio Cup and Porsche Carrera Cup GB are embarking on first campaigns with new cars, Formula Ford GB is growing after a tough 2013, the Ginetta Junior Championship has put together its largest grid in recent times, whilst the Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup is set for its most competitive season yet with its new GT4 regulations.
From newcomers to the BTCC package, to series champions making a change of discipline and returning stars targeting championship glory, The Checkered Flag have picked out the top twenty five drivers in the support championships we feel you should be keeping an eye on over the course of 2014.
The first part of our countdown takes you from 25 to 19:
25. Ricky Collard
Collard embarks on his first full car-racing campaign in Formula Ford GB this season, joining BTCC racer Rob to become the first father and son duo to compete full-time on the BTCC package since Mike and Andrew Jordan in 2008.
Collard will be aiming to make an impression this season with Falcon Motorsport, and after getting a lot of testing miles under his belt over the winter, the talented karting graduate should be hitting the ground running from the opening weekend.
24. James Colburn
Colburn enters his sixth consecutive Renault UK Clio Cup season as one of the most experienced Clio racers on the grid, experience he hopes to use to his advantage in the new fourth-gen Clio’s as he aims to bounce back from a tricky 2013.
With that longevity in a series comes expectation though, and Colburn will head into the new season with Westbourne Motorsport hoping to add to his five race wins to date and mount a first title challenge since 2011.
23. Alex Sedgwick
Sedgwick enters the Ginetta Junior Championship this season as the latest winner of the Ginetta Junior Scholarship competition, joining category race-winners JHR Developments for his fully-funded prize season.
With winning such a prize comes a certain degree of expectation and pressure, so Sedgwick will be looking to impress during his maiden car-racing campaign, while the fact fellow Scholarship finalists Matt Chapman and Jamie Caroline have also joined the series means he’ll be out to prove he was the worthy victor.
22. Jack Barlow
It’s a bit of a surprise to see Barlow make the move across to Formula Ford GB this year. The 18 year old was a revelation is his maiden car-racing campaign in BRDC Formula 4 last season, taking two wins and a top six championship finish.
A move into European racing was expected, but instead a late Ford deal sees him join Jamun Racing. Despite limited seat time in their EcoBoost Mygale, he has the talent to be challenging for wins from the opening race.
21. David Pittard
Pittard heads into his first Ginetta GT4 Supercup campaign with an impressive sportscar track record, having taken a class title in Britcar in 2012 before challenging for the title in the Ginetta GT5 Challenge last season.
Those performances have secured the 22 year old a spot on the coveted KX Akademy scheme, and with series newcomers SV Racing behind him, he has the potential to be one of the surprise packages at the front of the Supercup field this year.
20. Lando Norris
Karting superstar Norris enters the Ginetta Junior Championship with a big reputation and high expectations, an appearance in front of motorsports finest at last year’s Autosport Awards only raising hopes for the 14 year old’s future in the sport.
World karting commitments means Norris is only expected to join the grid for the second half of the season, but a very extensive testing programme with HHC Motorsport means his rivals are expecting him to spring a surprise when he joins the action.
19. Josh Cook
Following a largely frustrating 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup campaign, Cook heads into a potentially make-or-break third year in the category with confidence high after being named as a late addition to the KX Akademy programme.
After initially looking set to return to 20Ten Racing, the team that guided him to two outright wins and the Clio ‘Graduate Cup’ in 2012, the final race-winner of 2013 joins SV Racing with a championship challenge firmly in his sights.
*Come back tomorrow as we run down from 18 to 10, before the top 9 are announced on Wednesday. Who would your number 1 be? Let us know, comment below, or tweet us @thecheckerflag*
Banner image: Jakob Ebrey Photography (Ginetta, Renault, Ford), Malcolm Griffiths (Porsche). All other images: Jakob Ebrey Photography.