With the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship and its band of support series’ starting their 2015 season this weekend at Brands Hatch (4/5 April), The Checkered Flag have picked out our top twenty five drivers in the support package we feel you should be keeping an eye on over the course of the upcoming campaign.
Part one of our countdown, published yesterday, covered places 25 to 19. If you missed it, you can read it by clicking here.
Today we’re counting you down from 18 to 10. First up, it’s a former BTCC racer returning to an old stomping ground …..
18. Stephen Jelley – Porsche Carrera Cup GB, Team Parker Racing
After three seasons away competing in Blancpain, former BTCC racer Jelley returns to the Carrera Cup with the same team that guided him to seven race wins and a pair of top three championship finishes during his previous spell in 2010 and 2011.
While it’s a new GT3 Cup car in the series now than he the one he previously raced, Jelley will be sure to adapt to it quickly and with the GT experience he has under his belt, regular podium finishes and race wins should be well within reach.
17. Ashley Sutton – Renault UK Clio Cup, Team BMR
It was certainly a surprise when Sutton announced his move to the Renault UK Clio Cup for the new campaign, the 21 year old having been a revelation in Formula Ford GB last season when a switch to MBM produced five race wins and a top three championship finish.
Sutton holds BTCC aspirations though, hence his link-up with current front-running outfit Team BMR for the new campaign. With BMR on board, as well as reigning champions Team Pyro running his car, Sutton will hope to be a contender for podiums and race wins in the early stages.
16. Will Burns – Ginetta GT4 Supercup, HHC Motorsport
While his 2014 season ended in torrid fashion with five successive retirements, it was overall a strong maiden Supercup campaign for Burns, the highlight being a run of eleven consecutive top five finishes unmatched by anyone else on the grid.
That potential has been spotted by HHC Motorsport and with the reigning champions behind him and the most successful Supercup driver in Carl Breeze as a team-mate, Burns has the perfect platform to turn that consistency into race wins and a title challenge.
15. Enaam Ahmed – MSA Formula, Arden
Ahmed enters his maiden season of car-racing with a big reputation after winning the World KF Junior karting title last season, so will be hoping to make an impact this season with front-running single-seater outfit Arden.
With an extensive testing programme in both Formula 4 and Formula 3 machinery under his belt since last Autumn under the watchful eye of Phil Glew, Ahmed should have the experience to turn his karting potential into a front-running campaign in MSA Formula.
14. Jack Mitchell – Renault UK Clio Cup, SV Racing
Reigning Ginetta Junior champion Mitchell has elected to make the step up to the Clio Cup this season SV Racing, having taken seven race wins en-route to the Ginetta title last year in his second Junior campaign.
With plenty of testing miles under his belt over the winter, Mitchell will be confident of making an impression on a competitive grid with the reigning Clio Cup Teams’ Champions behind him, despite being the youngest driver on the grid.
13. Michael Caine – Ginetta GT4 Supercup, JHR Developments
One of the biggest surprises of the pre-season came when 2012 British GT champion and 2014 vice-champion Caine was confirmed to be joining the Ginetta GT4 Supercup this season with former champions JHR Developments.
For the two-time Porsche Carrera Cup GB vice-champion, the move marks a return to one-make sportscar racing in which he’s been hugely successful in the past. With his superb pedigree in GT racing in recent years, don’t bet against him being a title contender this season.
12. Michael Meadows – Porsche Carrera Cup GB, Redline Racing
Whilst Meadows is already one of the most successful drivers in Porsche Carrera Cup GB history, the 27 year old is hungry to become the first three-time champion, a desire fuelled after he missed out on the title last year to his rookie team-mate Josh Webster.
That came despite taking more wins, poles and fastest laps than the champion, so Meadows returns for his sixth season in the category knowing consistency is vital if he’s to come out on top in one of the strongest grids he’s faced in the series.
11. Paul Rivett – Renault UK Clio Cup, WDE Motorsport
For three-time Clio Cup champion Rivett, 2014 marked a new chapter in his career as he combined his driving with a team manager role at championship newcomers WDE Motorsport, a partnership that continues into the upcoming season.
After firmly establishing the team as a front-running Clio outfit last year, Rivett has now firmly set his sights on turning them into championship contenders as he personally targets an unprecedented fourth driver’s title to further increase his legacy in the series.
10. Sennan Fielding – MSA Formula, JHR Developments
Former Ginetta Junior race-winner Fielding returns to the BTCC package in MSA Formula and looks set to be one of the most experienced drivers on the grid with a season and a half in the BRDC Formula 4 Championship under his belt.
Fielding can add proven pace to that experience, with four race wins and a top four points finish having earnt him a McLaren Autosport BRDC Award finalist spot last year, so don’t be surprised if he’s a championship contender this year with JHR Developments.
Keep an eye on the site tomorrow to see who comes in the top nine in our 25 BTCC Support Stars to Watch in 2015 countdown.
*Article Images: Jakob Ebrey Photography (Sutton, Burns, Ahmed, Mitchell, Caine, Rivett), AS Autosport Photography (Fielding), Malcolm Griffiths (Jelley, Meadows)