As the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship served up another brilliant season in 2016, its band of support championships once again provided plenty of thrills and spills as well, with some emerging stars of the future producing lots of close-fought racing and memorable moments.
From the talented-filled grids, The Checkered Flag has picked out the top twenty drivers who impressed us most over the course of the season from the Renault UK Clio Cup, Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup, Porsche Carrera Cup GB, Ginetta Junior Championship and F4 British Championship.
Part one of our end of season list begins with a Porsche class champion …..
20. Euan McKay – 9th, Porsche Carrera Cup GB
While Dan Cammish may have been dominating proceedings at the front of the Porsche field over the past two seasons, the title battles for the two Pro-Am classes have been much closer fought – with the hugely impressive McKay emerging as this year’s Pro-Am 1 champion.
In his first season in the championship, Euan finished off the podium only twice and notched nine class victories to emerge as champion from a competitive field, whilst he also ruffled the feathers of a few Pro drivers which should bode well for a graduation into the headline class next season.
19. Josh Price – 6th, Renault UK Clio Cup
As the likes of Dan Zelos, Ollie Pidgley and Chris Smiley showed, it was no easy task for talented new drivers to make their presence felt at the top of an ultra-competitive Clio field this season, but Price achieved it with a trophy-filled campaign and the runners up spot in the Graduates Cup.
It was at Thruxton in May that Price really announced himself as one-to-watch by converting his first top three qualifying results into a pair of brilliant podium finishes, and he would carry that pace on to four more top three results, which included a superb maiden victory in the season finale.
18. Alex Quinn – 7th, F4 British Championship
Having launched the careers of the likes of Jake Dennis, Oliver Rowland and James Calado in the past, the Racing Steps Foundation has a strong track record of picking talented young drivers to support, and their latest protégé Quinn enjoyed an eye-catching first car-racing campaign this year.
The Cornwall racer made an immediate impact with victory in only his fourth race at Donington Park, and went on to add five more outright podium finishes, whilst also dominating proceedings in the Rookie Cup with 26 podium finishes in 30 races earning him the class title.
17. Jamie Orton – 4th, Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup
It was a season of what could have been for Orton, who was once again a front-runner from the off in the Supercup and had positioned himself as a potential championship challenger before he had to miss the mid-season trip to Knockhill for the birth of his first child.
The subsequent non-score ended his title ambitions, but it was still a hugely impressive first campaign together for Orton and Triple M Motorsport, who were at their best during a sensational run of six wins in seven races around their Knockhill absence.
16. Dino Zamparelli – 2nd, Porsche Carrera Cup GB
After breaking onto the podium at the end of the 2015 campaign, Zamparelli headed into this season as one of the most exciting propositions on the Carrera Cup grid, and victory on the opening weekend at Brands Hatch confirmed him as a championship contender.
While a superb double victory at Croft in June kept his title hopes alive, the Anglo-Italian ultimately couldn’t keep pace with the all-conquering Cammish, but a final tally of eleven podium finishes and the vice-champion honours ensured it remained a superb breakthrough GT campaign.
13= Daniel Harper, Seb Priaulx, Harry King – Ginetta Junior Championship
Every year a number of talented car-racing newcomers make their mark in the Ginetta Juniors, and this season was no exception as Harper, Priaulx and King enjoyed a starring role as they battled it out for not only the Rookie class honours, but also for overall race victories.
Whilst Harper emerged as the class champion, with only sixteen points splitting the trio at the end of the season and all three having graced the top step of the podium, we felt it was only fair to give them an equal position in this countdown.
Remarkably the trio were not only the Rookie top three this season, but also the top three in the Ginetta Scholarship some eleven months before – with Harper going on to enjoy the most successful season ever for a Scholar as he took an outright top five championship finish.
Harper and King picked up a pair of race victories apiece, the former’s first coming during a standout podium hat-trick on only the second weekend at Donington Park, while Priaulx secured a single success – all three really earmarking themselves as ones to watch in 2017 and beyond.
12. Luis Leeds – 3rd, F4 British Championship
While Leeds wasn’t a well-known name on these shores when he started the season, there was an air of excitement around him as he arrived with a strong track record in his homeland and Red Bull backing, and the Australian would certainly deliver on his promise in his first UK campaign.
Leading the charge for Arden, Leeds adapted quickly to his new surroundings and became a regular fixture on the podium, with eleven rostrums including visits to the top step at Thruxton, Croft and Knockhill, results that meant he impressively remained in title contention until the finale.
11. Stuart Middleton – 2nd, Ginetta Junior Championship
As the outgoing Scholarship winner and Winter Series champion, Middleton was tipped by many as the pre-season championship favourite in the Juniors, and while the title ultimately didn’t go his way, the Douglas Motorsport ace was one of the key protagonists through the season.
After trading the points lead with Tregurtha over the first half of the season, it would be a couple of tough races that would eventually drop Middleton out of contention, but he did secure deserved vice-champion honours with thirteen podiums including seven race victories.
You can find out who is in the top ten of our countdown by heading back to The Checkered Flag tomorrow (4th December).