In the final part of our countdown, we’ve chosen the top nine drivers from the BTCC support championships we feel you should be keeping an eye on over the course of the upcoming season.
For those looking for a quick recap, here is the countdown so far:
25. Stuart Middleton
24. Tom Sharp
23. Ant Whorton-Eales
22. Jonathan Hadfield
21. Ollie Jackson
20. Ricky Collard
19. Jayde Kruger
18. Stephen Jelley
17. Ashley Sutton
16. Will Burns
15. Enaam Ahmed
14. Jack Mitchell
13. Michael Caine
12. Michael Meadows
11. Paul Rivett
10. Sennan Fielding
So, on to number nine and a former TOCA champion returning to the package ….
9. Dino Zamparelli – Porsche Carrera Cup GB, Parr Motorsport
Last year, Josh Webster made the switch from GP3 to the Porsche Carrera Cup GB and won the title in his first season. This year, Dino Zamparelli will be aiming to do the same as he swaps single-seaters for sportscar racing after a podium-filled 2014 GP3 campaign.
Zamparelli is no stranger to the BTCC package having won the Ginetta Junior title back in 2008, and the Anglo-Italian returns to the fold with a second TOCA title firmly in his sights after a positive pre-season testing programme.
8. Tom Oliphant – Ginetta GT4 Supercup, Century Motorsport
While Oliphant couldn’t quite force his way into title contention in his first full Supercup campaign last season, it was a mightily impressive season for the 24 year old as he carded a pair of race wins en-route to a top five championship finish, alongside a class win in British GT4.
While Oliphant is set for another busy year as he combines his Supercup drive with a works Ginetta GT3 campaign in British GT, he’ll be confident of using his positive 2014 as a platform for a championship challenge this year, with his team also targeting their first Supercup title.
7. Dan Zelos – Ginetta Junior Championship, JHR Developments
Zelos was one of the star rookies in the Juniors last season, a breakthrough race win early on at Thruxton kick-starting a campaign that featured a second win at Rockingham, seven other podium finishes and fourth place championship finish.
The 16 year old is the only driver from last year’s top five to be returning to the grid this season and with reigning champions JHR behind him once again, Zelos is one of the early favourites for the Junior title.
6. Dan Cammish – Porsche Carrera Cup GB, Redline Racing
Following a solid if unspectacular campaign in British GT last season, Cammish certainly made waves on a guest outing in the final rounds of the Porsche Carrera Cup GB when he took a sensational double pole podium and maiden win at Brands Hatch.
After a performance like that, a move into the series full-time was inevitable and Cammish, who won 24 Formula Ford races in 24 during his last season on the BTCC package, should be a strong bet for a title challenge with reigning champions Redline Racing.
5. Jordan Stilp – Renault UK Clio Cup, 20Ten Racing
Stilp heads into his third season in the Clio Cup having firmly established himself as a front-runner last year, with three wins including a dominant double at Croft putting him third in the final standings with 20Ten, meaning he comes back as the highest-placed returning driver from 2014.
The last three Clio champions have all won the titles in their third seasons in the category and Stilp has made no effort to hide his determination to add his name to the roll call of champions, the 20 year old knowing that a rare strong start to the season will be key.
4. Carl Breeze – Ginetta GT4 Supercup, HHC Motorsport
Breeze heads into the new season aiming to make amends for a below par 2014, the Ginetta stalwart having been left digging deep to keep himself in the title hunt in a car that regularly didn’t match those at his rivals disposal.
The best car on the grid came from HHC Motorsport, and Breeze has linked up with the reigning champions for his fifth Supercup campaign. The team and driver look like an unstoppable combination, something Breeze will be hoping to maximise to secure a second Supercup title.
3. Jamie Caroline – Ginetta Junior Championship, HHC Motorsport
While it was a hit or miss maiden Ginetta Junior campaign for Caroline last year, with a pair of wins being coupled with two disqualifications, the 16 year old’s sheer domination of the Winter Series showed what a potent threat he can be this season.
With top outfit HHC Motorsport behind him, as well as backing from 2013 BTCC champion Andrew Jordan and Pirtek, Caroline is in a prime position to convert his potential into an outright championship challenge.
2. Lando Norris – MSA Formula, Carlin
Norris came into car-racing with a big reputation twelve months ago, and only went on to enhance it with a stunning 2014 season, in which he established himself as a Ginetta Junior title contender with four race wins and also secured himself a world karting title.
For his second year, the 15 year old is moving to single-seaters in MSA Formula. With an extensive testing programme under his belt over the winter with Carlin, Norris heads into the new campaign as an early favourite for the title.
1. Josh Webster – Porsche Carrera Cup GB, Team Parker Racing
2014 was a make or break season for Josh Webster as he switched from single-seaters to GT racing as the Porsche Carrera Cup GB Scholarship winner, a move that was fully justified as he superbly won the title at the first attempt.
As the only support category champion returning to defend their title, the pressure is on for Webster in his second Scholarship season. The 21 year old knows though that another great season in a competitive entry could open doors to bigger opportunities with the German manufacturer.
What do you make of our countdown of the 25 BTCC support stars to watch in 2015? Do you agree with our #1? Is there someone you think deserves to be in the top 25?
Let us know, comment below or tweet us @TheCheckerFlag.
*Article Images: Jakob Ebrey Photography (Oliphant, Zelos, Stilp, Breeze), AS Autosport Photography (Norris), Malcolm Griffiths (Zamparelli, Cammish, Webster)