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. Adam Smalley
24. Callum Pointon
23. Euan McKay
22. James Dorlin
21. Tom Wood
20. Ben Green
19. Lunis Lundqvist
18. Nathan Harrison
17. Tom Hibbert
16. James Colburn
15. Carl Boardley
14. Tom Oliphant
13. Logan Sargeant
12. Jack Mitchell
11. Harry King
10. Billy Monger
So, on to number nine and a 2016 champion making a transition ….
9. Tom Wrigley (In2 Racing) – Porsche Carrera Cup GB
Like Tom Oliphant before him, Wrigley heads into his maiden Porsche campaign with high hopes as the reigning Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup champion; a tremendous 2016 campaign having produced nine race victories on his way to the title.
Gelling well with his new machinery, Wrigley has produced competitive pace throughout a strong pre-season testing programme, which will fill him with confidence as he looks to try and take on, and beat, the established teams and drivers in the paddock as he leads the charge for In2.
8. Dino Zamparelli (JTR) – Porsche Carrera Cup GB
Following an impressive maiden Porsche season in 2015, Zamparelli established himself as the chief challenger to runaway champion Dan Cammish last year with three victories and eight other podium finishes, and now the Anglo-Italian will be hoping to go one step higher in 2017.
Zamparelli’s third Porsche campaign comes with a third different team, with his new partnership with JTR promising to be a fascinating one as he looks to use the guidance of Le Mans winner Nick Tandy and turn his immense promise into the championship title he so vehemently craves.
7. Daniel Harper (Douglas Motorsport) – Ginetta Junior Championship
Harper made quite an impression during his maiden car-racing campaign last year, recording the most successful season ever for a Ginetta Junior Scholarship winner with two outright victories, a top five points finish and crucially, the coveted Rookie Cup title.
The late nature of Harper’s deal for a second Junior season means he has missed out on some pre-season mileage compared to his likely title rivals, but make no mistake, the Northern Irishman is determined to make his mark from the off and put together a title challenge.
6. Charlie Eastwood (Redline Racing) – Porsche Carrera Cup GB
After a brilliant maiden Porsche campaign in which he secured the Rookie class title and established himself as one of only three different race-winners all year, Eastwood heads into his second season as Porsche Scholar aiming to replicate his predecessor Josh Webster and win the top prize.
The Northern Irishman impressed with the speed at which he made the transition from single-seaters to GT’s last year, and if he can continue that rate of progression this time out, there’s no doubt he can play a major role in where the Porsche title goes come October.
5. Jamie Caroline (Carlin) – F4 British Championship
With team troubles meaning he wasn’t able to show his full potential for most of his maiden F4 campaign last year, Caroline’s highlight reel largely consisted of some viral-video making wet weather heroics …. though that was until he took a sublime maiden win in the season finale.
Buoyed by that success, Caroline has moved to a new home this season in Carlin. The team are targeting a hat-trick of British F4 titles, and the driver will know he won’t have many better opportunities to add a maiden single-seater title to his résumé.
4. Max Coates (Ciceley Motorsport) – Renault UK Clio Cup
If 2016 was the year of Coates’ comeback charge, then 2017 could mark his crowning glory as the popular Yorkshireman heads into his second Clio Cup campaign with his sights firmly on a championship tilt with Ciceley Motorsport.
In his first full racing season since 2011, Coates belied his lack of FWD knowledge to really ruffle the feathers of the experienced Clio hands, with seven outright podium finishes guiding him to a top three points finish and the Graduates Cup title – the perfect platform for his 2017 challenge.
3. Seb Priaulx (JHR Developments) – Ginetta Junior Championship
Expectation was high for Priaulx last year as he followed his hugely successful father Andy into circuit racing, but he certainly delivered with a hugely impressive maiden campaign that featured outright pole positions, race wins, the Rookie class vice-champion honours and much more.
The Guernseyman would follow that up with a dominant title success in the season-ending Winter Series, a performance which has made clear that he enters the 2017 campaign as one of the pre-season favourites to be challenging for outright championship honours.
2. Mike Bushell (Team Pyro) – Renault UK Clio Cup
Only one driver in Clio Cup history, Paul Rivett, has ever won the championship more than once, and Bushell is a man determined to add his name into the record books this season after coming up just short in a thrilling title battle with Ant Whorton-Eales last season.
With his title adversary stepping up to the BTCC this year, 2014 champion Bushell returns for a fifth Clio campaign as the early favourite for the title, particularly as he remains in partnership with Pyro, who are eager to regain a title they lost last season for only the second time in nine years.
1. Dan Cammish (Redline Racing) – Porsche Carrera Cup GB
For many, it’s deemed a foregone conclusion that Cammish will walk away with an historic third Porsche title this season, and considering his record in the past two seasons – he’s dominated with 23 wins and 30 podiums in 32 races – it’s hard to bet against him.
Cammish won’t have it all on his own way though with a hungry pack of drivers determined to end his dominance, whilst a dual campaign in the Porsche Supercup will give him more to focus on, but considering his series history, he still remains the clear title favourite.
What do you make of our countdown of the 25 BTCC support stars to watch in 2017? 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.
*Banner image: Jakob Ebrey Photography (Ginettas, Clios, British F4), Dan Bathie (Porsche)