With the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship and its band of support series’ starting their 2016 season this weekend at Brands Hatch (2/3 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 returning single-seater front-runner:
18. James Pull (Carlin) – MSA Formula
Pull kicked off his first car-racing campaign in brilliant style last season, taking four podium finishes in the opening six MSA Formula races to run as high as third in the standings before the front-running results dried up as the year progressed.
The 16 year old showed he can be a contender at the head of the field though and with the might of Carlin behind him for his second season, plus some promising times in the official pre-season tests including top spot on day one at Rockingham, he looks set for a bright season ahead.
17. Kyle Hornby (JHR Developments) – Ginetta Juniors
The statistics tell the story of an impressive maiden Ginetta campaign for Hornby last season, with more Rookie class podiums (11) and places gained from his grid positons (75) than anyone else on the grid.
Those led to a pair of outright podium finishes and a pole position at Silverstone, front-running results that earmarks Hornby as a potential title contender this year on his return to the series – particularly as he makes the switch to former champions JHR Developments.
16. Charlie Eastwood (Redline Racing) – Porsche Carrera Cup GB
There’ll be high hopes for Eastwood this season as he enters the BTCC support paddock as the latest Porsche GB Scholarship winner, with his predecessor to the crown Josh Webster having won the title at the first attempt.
Eastwood has developed his racecraft in single-seaters so far and showcased his potential as a podium finisher in BRDC Formula 4. If he can carry that pace across to Porsche’s and adapt quickly to GT machinery, he could well ruffle some feathers amongst his more experienced adversaries.
15. Luis Leeds (Arden) – MSA Formula
Leeds makes his UK racing debut this season as a relatively unknown quantity amongst the TOCA fanbase, but he has the potential to become a household name pretty quickly as he brings his Red Bull backing into MSA Formula.
The Australian crucially has a year of Formula 4 experience under his belt from his native series, in which he was a front-runner with six podium finishes last season, more than his countrymen Zane Goodard and Harry Hayek who are also moving across to the British series.
14. Senna Proctor (Team Pyro) – Renault UK Clio Cup
After being cruelly denied title success in the drama-filled finale to the 2015 Ginetta Junior season, Proctor will be keen to put that behind him this year and put in some strong early performances on his Clio Cup bow with reigning champions Pyro.
It was consistency that proved key to Proctor’s Junior title challenge with a series high thirteen podium finishes, and if he can replicate that trait this season in the competitive Clio entry, he could well spring a few surprises in his Team BMR-backed Clio.
13. Tom Wrigley (Rob Boston Racing) – Ginetta GT4 Supercup
Wrigley stormed into the spotlight in the Supercup halfway through last season, with breakthrough wins at Snetterton and Knockhill firmly establishing him at the head of the field – a position he’ll be keen to maintain this season.
In a series lacking star names at the head of the field, Wrigley could well become a key player in the title picture as he reunites with Rob Boston Racing, and he has championship-winning experience to draw on from his Kumho BMW Championship days.
12. Stuart Middleton (Douglas Motorsport) – Ginetta Juniors
Middleton returns to the Juniors this season as one of the early championship favourites after a hugely impressive maiden car-racing campaign in 2015, the Scholarship winner having secured three outright podium finishes and vice-champion honours in the Rookie Cup.
The 16 year old followed that up by dominating the Winter Series, taking three wins in the four race series. Already Ginetta’s most successful Scholar for a number of years, Middleton could be set for even greater heights this season.
11. Dino Zamparelli (GT Marques) – Porsche Carrera Cup GB
It took Zamparelli a little longer than hoped last season to get himself to the sharp end of the Carrera Cup grid, but once he did, the former GP3 ace showed exactly what he can do with four consecutive podiums to end the season, including a double Silverstone victory.
That step forward came following a move to the GT Marques team and with that partnership continuing across into the 2016 season, Zamparelli will be hoping to hit the ground running and put himself into the championship picture.
10. Will Burns (Douglas Motorsport) – Ginetta GT4 Supercup
After turning strong first season consistency into regular podium finishes last year, Burns returns for his third crack at the Supercup hoping to pull all his experience together and use it to mount an all-out championship challenge.
Burns showed last season that he is more than capable of mixing it at the head of the field as he notched up eleven visits to the podium, and although he’s had to change teams over the winter, he’ll know 2016 marks his best opportunity yet to take the title.
Keep an eye on the site tomorrow to see who comes in the top nine in our 25 BTCC Support Stars to Watch in 2016 countdown.
Let us know what you think of the rundown so far by tweeting us @thecheckerflag or commenting below. Who do you think should be in the top nine?
*Banner image: Jakob Ebrey Photography (Ginetta, Renault, MSA Formula), Dave Ayres/Picturesports (Porsche)
*Article Images: Jakob Ebrey Photography