The 2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship and its band of support championships hit the track this weekend for the opening rounds of what’s shaping up to be the biggest season in the package’s recent history.
Alongside the BTCC itself enjoying a capacity entry including five series champions and a three-time World Touring Car champion, the support cast is looking the healthiest it has across the board for a number of years.
The Porsche Carrera Cup GB will have over thirty cars on the grid, a stark rise from a low of seven in 2013, while the Ginetta Junior Championship has a sold-out 26 car entry. MSA Formula makes its debut with around twenty cars, while the Renault UK Clio Cup and Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup are continuing to host strong entries.
For the second year running, 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 the season.
To get a flavour of what’s to come, you can see our rundown from 2014 and how our picks got on by clicking here.
The first part of our countdown takes you from 25 to 19:
25. Stuart Middleton – Ginetta Junior Championship, Douglas Motorsport
Within the batch of rookies joining the Ginetta Junior Championship for their first taste of car-racing each year, particular attention is always paid to the newest Scholarship winner, an honour earned by Middleton this season.
Teaming up with the returning Douglas Motorsport for his fully-funded prize season, Middleton will be hoping to get some good results on the board and show he was the worthy victor, especially with the other three finalists, Cameron Roberts, Will Tregurtha and William Stacey, on the grid as well.
24. Tom Sharp – Porsche Carrera Cup GB, IDL Racing
It’s fair to say Sharp made quite an impact during his last two seasons on the BTCC package, taking twenty races wins and a pair of top three championship finishes in the Ginetta GT Supercup, and he’ll be hoping for more success this season in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB.
While his last two years in British GT didn’t entirely to plan, the 23 year old showed strong pace that he will hope to carry across into the Porsche’s as he takes on the established teams and an all-star grid with his own IDL Racing outfit.
23. Ant Whorton-Eales – Renault UK Clio Cup, SV Racing
Whorton-Eales embarks on his fourth successive Renault UK Clio Cup campaign this season knowing that nothing other than a title challenge will do, having not made the step forwards many expected last year following a maiden win late in 2013.
Consistent top six finishes took Whorton-Eales to fourth in the standings though, and a renewed partnership with SV Racing should provide the foundation for a championship push, the 20 year old will just need to convert his pace into more race wins to do so.
22. Jonathan Hadfield – Ginetta Junior Championship, R&J Motorsport
Hadfield made his Ginetta Junior debut last season alongside brother Ryan at family outfit R&J, the 16 old producing some great drives through the field to notch a handful of top six finishes as he narrowly missed out on a top ten championship finish.
Now, Hadfield leads an expanded five car line-up for the R&J outfit as one of the highest placed returning drivers from last season, and will be hoping a podium breakthrough early in the season could lead to a title challenge.
21. Ollie Jackson – Ginetta GT4 Supercup, Century Motorsport
Many will look at Jackson’s move to the support package after four years in the BTCC as a step back, but after a torrid 2014 which was plagued by constant mechanical gremlins, a move to competitive, one-make racing will be a breath of fresh air.
Jackson has pedigree in that format, being a former front-runner in Caterham racing and the Porsche Carrera Cup GB, and has some experience racing Ginetta’s, meaning he’ll be hoping to challenge for race wins from the off with experienced outfit Century Motorsport.
20. Ricky Collard – MSA Formula, Arden
Collard is the only full-time front-runner from Formula Ford GB last season to make the transition to the new single-seater series, having secured five podium finishes in his maiden car-racing campaign with Falcon Motorsport.
The 18 year old will be hoping to use those results as the platform for an assault on the MSA Formula title this year, having shown impressive pace throughout his pre-season running with top outfit Arden Motorsport.
19. Jayde Kruger – Porsche Carrera Cup GB, Brookspeed
Reigning Formula Ford GB champion Kruger has made the transition to sportscar racing after a hugely successful open-wheel career that spanned over ten years, with the Ford GB crown, which he earned with thirteen race wins last year, being his sixth single-seater title in that period.
With hardly any pre-season running under his belt, it will be a baptism of fire for Kruger at the start of the Porsche season with the former British GT champions Brookspeed, but the South African will be hoping to fight at the front of the grid as the season progresses.
Keep an eye on the site tomorrow to see who comes in 18th to 10th in our 25 BTCC Support Stars to Watch in 2015 countdown.
*Banner image: Jakob Ebrey Photography (Ginettas, Clios, MSA Formula), Malcolm Griffiths (Porsche)
*Article Images: Jakob Ebrey Photography (Middleton, Sharp, Hadfield, Whorton-Eales, Jackson), AS Autosport Photography (Collard), Malcolm Griffiths (Jelley), Brookspeed (Kruger)