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 2016.
From across the Porsche Carrera Cup GB, Ginetta Junior Championship, Renault UK Clio Cup, Ginetta GT4 Supercup and F4 British Championship, we picked out a diverse range of drivers we felt were set to impress this season.
With a memorable 2016 BTCC season now behind us, here’s a look at how each of our selections got on, and who we missed:
25. Callum Pointon (TCR) – 6th, Ginetta GT4 Supercup
What we said: “With some crucial track time in the G55 already, Pointon should emerge towards the front of the Supercup field.”
Final report: Immediately establishing himself as a top six contender, Pointon deserved to secure a podium breakthrough sooner during his maiden Supercup campaign, with his top three bow eventually coming at Silverstone to cap off a strong learning year.
24. Devlin DeFrancesco (Carlin) – 5th, F4 British Championship
What we said: “While it may be DeFrancesco’s first full car-racing campaign, he should develop into a front-runner with the reigning champions.”
Final report: Following a difficult start, DeFrancesco put himself firmly in contention at the front of the field with wins on three consecutive weekends. While his title challenge would run out of stream, the Canadian certainly made his mark this year.
23. Seb Priaulx (JHR Developments) – 7th, Ginetta Juniors
What we said: “After finishing as Scholarship runner-up, Priaulx will be keen to challenge at the head of the Rookie pack.”
Final report: Priaulx not only made his presence felt at the head of the Rookie competition, finishing as class vice-champion, but also at the front overall during an impressive maiden season of car-racing, with six outright podium finishes including a victory at Silverstone.
22. Max Coates (Ciceley Motorsport) – 3rd, Renault UK Clio Cup
What we said: “Coates will hope to adapt quickly to the new car, hit the ground running and work towards the front of the field.”
Final report: What a season it turned out to be for Coates, who immediately settled into his new surroundings and fought at the front of the field throughout, with seven top three results earning him a superb third overall in the standings and the Graduates Cup title.
21. Stephen Jelley (Team Parker Racing – 5th, Porsche Carrera Cup GB
What we said: “With a season in the latest car under his belt, he’ll be ready to use his experience and push into title contention.”
Final report: 2016 produced a very similar result to 2015 for Jelley, with a consistent campaign producing a top five championship finish once again. A pair of second place finishes at Oulton Park was the highlight of a year that brought five rostrum finishes.
20. Daniel Harper (Douglas Motorsport) – 5th, Ginetta Juniors
What we said: “The latest Scholarship winner, Harper will try to replicate the front-running results of his predecessor Stuart Middleton.”
Final report: Harper would go on to become the most successful Scholar so far, bursting onto the scene with a maiden outright win in only his fifth race, which set the tone for a season that yielded seven overall podiums and six class wins on his way to the Rookie title.
19. Paul Streather (Finesse Motorsport) – 7th, Renault UK Clio Cup
What we said: “Off the back of a breakthrough 2015, Streather has all the ingredients to be a real surprise package this season.”
Final report: Streather would kick off the campaign in stunning fashion with victory in the season opener at Brands Hatch, only his third ever Clio Cup race, but that would prove to be his only visit to the podium during what proved to be a difficult first full season.
18. James Pull (Carlin) – 4th, F4 British Championship
What we said: “With the might of Carlin behind him for his second racing season, Pull looks set for a bright season ahead.”
Final report: After a positive first car-racing campaign in 2015, Pull made further strides forwards this season as he became a consistent presence towards the front of the field, with eight rostrum finishes capped off by late wins at Rockingham and Brands Hatch.
17. Kyle Hornby (JHR Developments) – 13th, Ginetta Juniors
What we said: “Front-running results last season earmark Hornby as a potential title contender this year with former champions JHR.”
Final report: Unfortunately for Hornby, a repeat of his podium heroics from 2015 just didn’t come his way during his second season in the series. Whilst he was a regular fixture in the top ten, he would only break into the top six on three occasions during a truncated season.
16. Charlie Eastwood (Redline Racing) – 3rd, Porsche Carrera Cup GB
What we said: “There’ll be high hopes for Scholarship winner Eastwood, who could well ruffle some feathers amongst his experienced adversaries.”
Final report: Eastwood would go on to do exactly that during an notable first Scholarship season, with the Northern Irishman taking just three races to break onto the podium, with a total of ten rostrum finishes capped off by a superb maiden victory in the season finale.
15. Luis Leeds (Arden) – 3rd, F4 British Championship
What we said: “The Australian has the potential to be a household name pretty quickly, with a year of front-running experience from his native series.”
Final report: Leeds certainly made his name known as he put together a title challenge in his first season in the UK, with the Red Bull protégé quickly making his mark with an early maiden win at Thruxton, before adding two more successes across the campaign.
14. Senna Proctor (Team Pyro) – 8th, Renault UK Clio Cup
What we said: “Consistency was key to Proctor’s Junior title challenge last year, and if he replicates that, he could well spring a few surprises.”
Final report: Proctor would establish himself in the top ten of the ultra-competitive Clio Cup field from the off, with his battling displays earning him outright podium breakthroughs at Oulton Park and Snetterton – the highlights of an impressive first Clio campaign.
13. Tom Wrigley (Rob Boston Racing) – 1st, Ginetta GT4 Supercup
What we said: “Wrigley stormed into the spotlight halfway through last season and he could well become a key player in the title picture.”
Final report: Wrigley carried his momentum over into 2016 and pieced together a title-winning campaign in the Supercup. A sensational run of nine wins in the first thirteen races was the key, with seven further podium finishes taking him over the line.
12. Stuart Middleton (Douglas Motorsport) – 2nd, Ginetta Juniors
What we said: “Middleton returns to the Juniors as one of the early championship favourites following an impressive maiden campaign.”
Final report: Middleton lived up to his pre-season billing as he fought for the title throughout the campaign, leading the standings at the halfway stage and taking more race wins than anyone else, but it wasn’t quite enough to see him add to his Winter Series crown.
11. Dino Zamparelli (GT Marques) – 2nd, Porsche Carrera Cup GB
What we said: “Continuing with GT Marques into 2016, Zamparelli will be hoping to put himself in the championship picture.”
Final report: Victory in the season opener firmly established Zamparelli as a title contender from the off, before a double win at Croft kept his hopes alive. While he ultimately slipped out of contention, it remains another standout season for the rising GT talent.
10. Will Burns (Douglas Motorsport) – 2nd, Ginetta GT4 Supercup
What we said: “Burns returns for his third crack at the Supercup hoping to put his experience together and mount a championship challenge.”
Final report: 109 points adrift in the standings with nine races to go, Burns seemed out of title contention, but sheer determination coupled with a brilliant podium run meant he took the title fight to the very last lap of the season, incredibly missing out by just three points.
9. Lewis Brown (HHC Motorsport) – 3rd, Ginetta Juniors
What we said: “The highest placed returning driver from 2015, ‘Mr Consistency’ will be aiming to convert his pace into a championship challenge.”
Final report: Unfortunately for Brown he was unable to piece together a full-blown title challenge in his final season in the Juniors, but the 17 year old remained a regular podium visitor as he impressively finished in the series top three for a second consecutive season.
8. Jamie Caroline (Fortec Motorsport) – 10th, F4 British Championship
What we said: “Caroline heads into 2016 with plenty of momentum as he embarks on his first single-seater campaign.”
Final report: Caroline’s open-wheel induction was far from straight forwards with natural teething problems and a mid-season team change, but he showed flashes of his potential, with his viral wet weather skills backed up by a maiden victory during the Brands finale.
7. Tom Sharp (IDL Racing) – 6th, Porsche Carrera Cup GB
What we said: “Sharp made huge strides forward during his maiden Porsche campaign and he could well emerge as a title contender.”
Final report: While Sharp wouldn’t be able to force his way into contention at the front of the field, it was another strong season as he and his small single-car family team fought toe-to-toe with the big names and came away with five podium finishes.
6. Ant Whorton-Eales (JamSport Racing) – 1st, Renault UK Clio Cup
What we said: “Whorton-Eales will hope he can use all his speed and experience to finally take a long-awaited Clio title.”
Final report: At the fifth time of trying, Whorton-Eales did finally get his hands on the Clio championship trophy. It certainly didn’t come easy, but the Lichfield racer emerged victorious thanks mainly due to a superb nine race victories across the sixteen race season.
5. Jamie Orton (Triple M Motorsport) – 4th, Ginetta GT4 Supercup
What we said: “Orton mounts his challenge with a new team to the series, but there is no doubt they’ll have the tools required to be a title contender.”
Final report: It will always be a case of what if for Orton and 2016. Consistently on the podium all season, a brilliant run of six wins in seven races showed him at his dominant best, but his title chances ended when he missed Knockhill for family reasons.
4. Sennan Fielding (JHR Developments) – 2nd, F4 British Championship
What we said: “Fielding returns with unfinished business and if luck turns in his favour, he should be a presence in the championship fight.”
Final report: Luck wasn’t totally on Fielding’s side this season, with a couple of tough meetings mid-season ultimately meaning he lost out on the title in the season finale, but his stock rose higher this year as he took five race wins with one of the series’ smaller teams.
3. Tom Oliphant (Redline Racing) – 4th, Porsche Carrera Cup GB
What we said: “Oliphant made himself an established name on the package last season and is ready to make an immediate impact in Porsches.”
Final report: Oliphant adapted quickly to Porsche’s and firmly established himself as one to watch in the category, breaking the stereotype of ‘processional’ Porsche racing with some stunning overtaking moves en-route to regular top six finishes and a late podium bow.
2. Mike Bushell (Team Pyro) – 2nd, Renault UK Clio Cup
What we said: “With three years of Clio experience, it’s widely expected that Bushell will be straight back at the sharp end this season.”
Final report: Bushell certainly was, with the 2014 victor narrowly missing out on becoming a two-time champion after taking the title fight down to the final race of the season courtesy of a sensational twelve pole positions and sixteen top five finishes in eighteen races.
1. Dan Cammish (Redline Racing) – 1st, Porsche Carrera Cup GB
What we said: “Can anyone stop Cammish? Having proved untouchable last season, all signs point to another dominant campaign for the champion.”
Final report: Cammish, Redline and the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car proved to be an unstoppable combination for the second season in a row, with a dominant defence of the title seeing the Yorkshireman blow away the opposition with twelve wins in sixteen races.
Who did we miss?
With only 25 slots, naturally we were going to miss some drivers from the countdown who would go on and do great things over the season – though we admittedly hang our heads in shame at missing out two drivers who would eventually go on to become champions.
In the Ginetta Juniors, it was Will Tregurtha who emerged victorious with a meeting to spare after superbly finishing outside the top five only once all season, while consistency was also the key for Max Fewtrell as he took the British F4 honours with sixteen podiums.
Alongside Tregurtha, some other standout names in the Juniors were Dave Wooder and Harry King, who emerged fourth overall and third in the Rookies respectively, while the first-year class champion in F4 was the impressive Alex Quinn.
In the Clio Cup, Josh Price established himself as one to watch in the future as he notched four rostrum finishes in his maiden campaign, while in the Supercup a brilliant late podium run for Carl Boardley secured him a top three championship finish.