At the start of the season, The Checkered Flag picked our way through the entry lists of the British Touring Car Championship’s band of support championships to select our 25 drivers to watch for the 2014 season.
From the five championships (Formula Ford GB, Porsche Carrera Cup GB, Ginetta GT4 Supercup, Ginetta Juniors, Renault UK Clio Cup), we picked out a broad range of drivers including returning champions, experienced contenders and bright young talents we felt were set to impress this season.
With the first half of the BTCC season completed, we’ve decided to take a look back to see how each of our selections are faring:
25. Ricky Collard – 9th, Formula Ford GB
What we said: “Collard will be aiming to make an impression this season, and should hit the ground running from the opening weekend.”
2014 so far: As expected Collard made a quick start to proceedings with an outright podium on the opening weekend, though he hasn’t been able to match that feat in the races since. He’s certainly impressed though and is right in the hunt for the Scholarship class title.
24. James Colburn – 2nd, Renault UK Clio Cup
What we said: “With his Clio experience comes expectation, he’ll be hoping to mount a first title challenge since 2011.”
2014 so far: Colburn has bounced back from car troubles at the start to the season to move right into the title picture. Four podium finishes in the last five races have seen him storm up to second in the points, and he was the in-form driver heading into the summer break.
23. Alex Sedgwick – 12th, Ginetta Juniors
What we said: “With the scholarship comes a certain degree of expectation and pressure, he’ll be out to prove he was the worthy victor.”
2014 so far: Sedgwick has put in some strong qualifying and race performances during the first half of his scholarship year, with a best finish of fifth overall so far. He has shown potential to be an outright podium finisher, and should add to his one Rookie Cup win to date.
22. Jack Barlow – 12th, Formula Ford GB
What we said: “Despite limited seat time, he has the talent to be challenging for wins from the opening race.”
2014 so far: Barlow hinted at his potential during the first meeting at Brands with a maiden win, however a massive crash in testing at Thruxton has derailed his campaign. Injuries from that has forced him to miss meetings and it’s likely we won’t see him return this year.
21. David Pittard – 2nd, Ginetta GT4 Supercup
What we said: “He has the potential to be one of the surprise packages at the front of the Supercup field this year.”
2014 so far: A surprise package in his maiden Supercup campaign he has certainly been. While his potential was known, Pittard has certainly exceeded expectations with podium finishes on every weekend so far. He’s visited the top step three times, and is only 29 points off the series lead.
20. Lando Norris – 5th, Ginetta Juniors
What we said: “Has a big reputation and high expectations, rivals are expecting him to spring a surprise when he joins the action.”
2014 so far: Joining the grid earlier than expected, Norris has gone some way to start meeting the expectations of him with some great performances. Showing fast one lap pace from the off, improvements in racecraft race by race has helped him to four podiums including a maiden win last time out.
19. Josh Cook – 1st, Renault UK Clio Cup
What we said: “Heads into a potentially make-or-break third year with a championship challenge firmly in his sights.”
2014 so far: Cook is leading the way in the championship thanks to some fast, consistent and mature driving so far, keeping his nose out of the usual Clio trouble to post seven podium finishes in the first eight races. On that form, he currently sits as favourite for the title.
18. Sam Brabham – 7th, Formula Ford GB
What we said: “He will be firmly in the spotlight as he mounts a title challenge with JTR and continues the Brabham legacy.”
2014 so far: Brabham started the season well, showing great pace as he took early podiums and a superb double victory at Thruxton. A big accident at Oulton though has led to him missing Croft due to a budget shortfall, and hopefully he’ll be back on the grid from Snetterton.
17. Andrew Watson – 3rd, Ginetta GT4 Supercup
What we said: “Hopes continuity will be the key for a successful 2014, tipped by his rivals to be one of the main contenders.”
2014 so far: Watson was the fast starter of the Supercup field, with six podiums in the opening nine races taking him to the early points lead. He’s lost some ground since though, with Croft being particularly tough, but he’s likely to be one of the key players in the title fight all season.
16. Ant Whorton-Eales – 6th, Renault UK Clio Cup
What we said: “He’s now expected to be one of the drivers in the thick of the Clio title battle as he embarks on his second SV/KX campaign.”
2014 so far: Whorton-Eales has spent most the season in the shadow of his race-winning SV/KX team-mates, but has been quietly going about his business collecting three podium finishes. A title challenge looks unlikely, but he’ll be confident of adding to his one Clio career win to date.
15. Jack Mitchell – 1st, Ginetta Juniors
What we said: “With JHR’s experience behind him and team-mates to push him forward, he has all the ingredients to put together a title challenge.”
2014 so far: Mitchell has put those ingredients together and been the star of the show in the Juniors. Hitting the ground running with four dominant wins in a row, two further successes since has helped him to a huge 93 point lead that it looks unlikely will be breached.
14. Carl Breeze – 4th, Ginetta GT4 Supercup
What we said: “He’s fired up to reclaim his title this time out, it wouldn’t be a smart move to bet against him being in title contention.”
2014 so far: It was a relatively slow start to the season by Breeze’s standards as he adjusted to a new team with minimal pre-season testing. Now he’s on top of things, he’s climbed up the standings with six podiums in eight races and is right in the title hunt.
13. Paul Rivett – 8th, Renault UK Clio Cup
What we said: “It will be an interesting year of news challenges, getting to grips with the new Clio and juggling his driving with new team manager role.”
2014 so far: It’s not been the season Rivett would have been hoping for so far, with the adjustment to new car, new team and new position proving tougher than anticipated. Has shown flashes of his class with two podium finishes, but has fallen out of the title picture.
12. Charlie Robertson – 1st, Ginetta GT4 Supercup
What we said: “It’ll be no surprise to see both the team and driver adapt to the car quickly and challenge at the front from the off.”
2014 so far: Robertson has been sensational so far this season, adapting superbly to a new car and championship, and showing maturity beyond his age en-route to the points lead. His four wins so far is more than anyone else, and he’s on course to become the first rookie champion in Supercup history.
11. Michael Meadows – 2nd, Porsche Carrera Cup GB
What we said: “While another championship win is not a foregone conclusion, he’ll be confident of competing his Porsche GB hat-trick.”
2014 so far: Meadows was supreme early on, scoring maximum points in five of the first six races, though luck has been against him in recent meetings. This means he’s been pinned back in the title battle, but he’ll still be confident of success with his pace and experience.
10. Juan Rosso – 3rd, Formula Ford GB
What we said: “While he has made a change of team for the season, his performances last year indicates he has a real chance of becoming champion.”
2014 so far: A regular podium finisher throughout the season so far with his new team, Rosso has only carded one race win so far at Thruxton. This has left him on the outskirts of the title battle, and if he can win more, he’ll be ready to capitalise on any slip ups by the top two.
9. Jamie Chadwick – 8th, Ginetta Juniors
What we said: “Chadwick will be right in the battle, and has a great chance of being a contender for the title.”
2014 so far: Chadwick has shown she has the pace to be a regular podium-finisher in the Juniors, however luck has been against her and she has regularly found herself as the innocent victim of contact. A title challenge may be out of her grasp now, but she can certainly win races.
8. Sean Huyton – 10th, Ginetta GT4 Supercup
What we said: “Huyton is sure to be one of the leading lights in the championship as he aims to complete his title hat-trick.”
2014 so far: A budget shortfall has left Huyton on the backfoot this season, with a lack of testing and him missing Thruxton. Since his return he’s turned a corner with the car though and took a podium last time out, so confidence will be high for second half of campaign.
7. Jayde Kruger – 2nd, Formula Ford GB
What we said: “If he gels with his new team, with his experience from last year, there’s no doubt he will be in the mix at the top of the standings.”
2014 so far: The South African has well and truly been in the mix, leading the points for a long time after a great start to the year. He’s been unable to match the consistency of his main title rival, but is looking good with six race wins to his name already and plenty of title-winning experience from his homeland.
6. Harry Woodhead – 12th, Ginetta GT4 Supercup
What we said: “Woodhead will certainly ruffle a few feathers, and may well be in podium and race win contention as the season develops.”
2014 so far: Woodhead showcased his potential in the most-competitive field on the support package with two podiums in the first three meetings. An unfortunate knee injury before Oulton has forced him to sit out the last two weekends though, and a return when healed isn’t certain.
5. Josh Webster – 1st, Porsche Carrera Cup GB
What we said: “He is confident he can be challenging at the front, and will be exciting to watch as he aims to convert his single-seater promise.”
2014 so far: Webster certainly has been exciting to watch, with a memorable season so far including three wins, a standout performance at Le Mans and the championship lead at the halfway mark. He sits atop the championship, with a great chance of becoming the first Porsche Scholar champion.
4. Pepe Massot – 9th, Ginetta GT4 Supercup & 12th, Porsche Carrera Cup GB
What we said: “After their successes in 2013, the partnership is one of the most formidable on the grid and has a strong chance of taking the title.”
2014 so far: Massot’s disappointing Supercup campaign saw him battling in the midfield most of the time, with only the trip to Donington seeing him fighting at the front and taking a win. His move into Porsche’s yielded two Pro-Am 1 wins on debut, and a class title push and outright wins are possible.
3. Harrison Scott – 1st, Formula Ford GB
What we said: “Scott returns with unfinished business, expect to see him fighting at the top of the leaderboard throughout the year.”
2014 so far: As expected, Scott has been battling at the sharp end of the field throughout. Consistency has been the key for him so far with twelve podium finishes in fifteen races, and if he can keep that sort of form up, a title success will be on the cards.
2. James Kellett – 3rd, Ginetta Juniors
What we said: “Considering his progression through 2013, it would be no surprise to see him lifting the championship trophy aloft come October.”
2014 so far: While Kellet didn’t have the start of the season he’d hoped for, he’s returned to form in the last two meetings with three podium finishes. He’ll be hoping to take the fight to runaway leader Mitchell, however overhauling the 83 point gap between them is a big ask.
1. Alex Morgan – 5th, Renault UK Clio Cup
What we said: “Morgan heads into the new season as the pre-season championship favourite and our number one driver to watch.”
2014 so far: While he had a perfect start with a dominant double win on opening weekend at Brands Hatch, ongoing car troubles caused a real rough patch for Morgan thereafter. Performances have been brighter in last two outings, and he’s dug deep to keep himself in the hunt for the title.