25 BTCC Support Stars To Watch For 2017: Full-Time Report


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 2017.

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.

You can read our initial countdown by clicking here.

With a memorable 2017 season now behind us, here’s a look at how each of our selections got on, and who we missed:

25. Adam Smalley – 7th, Ginetta Juniors

What we said: “Smalley will hope an extensive pre-season testing programme will stand him in good stead as he looks to fight for both Rookie class and overall silverware.”

Final report: While Smalley was unable to match the first season achievements of his predecessor to the Ginetta Scholarship, it was still a strong campaign for the Lancashire racer with seventeen class podiums taking him to the runners-up spoils in the Rookie Cup, alongside a sole outright top three result.

 

24. Callum Pointon – 1st, Ginetta GT4 Supercup

What we said: “Pointon will enter at the returning HHC Motorsport, who will provide the best platform possible for him to mount a sustained championship challenge.”

Final report: Despite being a single-car outfit, HHC would provide just the platform that Pointon needed to go on and take the Supercup title, with impressive consistency being the key for the 23 year old, who only notched two race victories but would feature on the podium on fourteen occasions.

 

23. Euan McKay – 7th, Porsche Carrera Cup GB

What we said: “McKay will hope a move to multiple series champions Redline can help him knock on the door of the podium positions, and more, as the season develops.”

Final report: The top three would unfortunately prove just out of reach for McKay throughout his first season in the Pro category, however the Scotsman would be consistent front-runner within a hugely competitive entry and could well build on his nine top six finishes if he returns next season.

 

22. James Dorlin – 9th, Renault UK Clio Cup

What we said: “The pace and progression that Dorlin has shown so far in his career means he could well spring a few surprises this year as he makes his Clio Cup debut.”

Final report: A superb maiden campaign for Dorlin has firmly established him as one of the drivers to watch in the series going into 2018 and beyond. A breakthrough win at Thruxton put him on the map and he followed it up with a number of front-running performances, including a masterful victory in the wet at Silverstone.

 

21. Tom Wood – 5th, Ginetta Juniors

What we said: “Wood produced the goods at the front of the grid in 2016, something he’ll be determined to do more this season as he heads into battle with the reigning champions.”

Final report: Wood’s partnership with HHC Motorsport would produce some regular top three finishes for the fifteen year old, with nine visits to the podium including a fantastic, last-gasp maiden victory at Snetterton as he fought his way to a top five points finish despite a slow end to the year.

 

Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

20. Ben Green – 2nd, Ginetta GT4 Supercup

What we said: “Green makes the move to former champions Century Motorsport, and their expertise should help push him right to the front of the Supercup grid.”

Final report: Not only would Green get right to the sharp end of the Supercup grid, but he would end the campaign with three more race wins than anyone else. Realistically his tally of seven should have been enough to secure him the title, but despite missing out on the honours, it was still a hugely impressive campaign.

 

19. Linus Lundqvist – 5th, F4 British Championship

What we said: “The British F4 series has built a reputation for bringing in talented racers from across the globe and Lundqvist has indicated he’s a potential front-runner this year.”

Final report: On raw pace Lundqvist was one of the few drivers who could challenge Jamie Caroline this season, with the Swede impressing with five victories including a glorious double at Croft, however his bold and entertaining style cost him at times and he fell to fifth in the final standings.

 

18. Nathan Harrison – 10th, Renault UK Clio Cup

What we said: “The reigning MINI Challenge vice-champion Harrison could well make a huge impression over the course of the year.”

Final report: Harrison headed into the season with plenty of momentum and after finding his feet in the series, notched a pair of podium finishes at Oulton Park and Croft. He wouldn’t go on to feature at the front as much as hoped from there, but came away with silverware as the Graduates Cup champion.

 

17. Tom Hibbert – 6th, Ginetta GT4 Supercup

What we said: “Despite only being a small single-car privateer entrant, it will be no surprise to see Hibbert being a regular contender for race wins this season.”

Final report: Hibbert didn’t feature near the front of the pack as much as he would have hoped, collecting only five podium finishes across the campaign. On his day he can beat the best in the series though, as he showed at Oulton Park in June with a superb clean sweep of the two race victories.

 

16. James Colburn – 6th, Renault UK Clio Cup

What we said: “Experience could be key in this year’s title race and few drivers ever have contested more UK Clio Cup races than Colburn.”

Final report: While Colburn didn’t fight for the title, it was a strong return for the series stalwart who was a regular fixture in the top six throughout the year, whilst also playing a key role in passing on his knowledge to his young team-mates. Three podiums went his way, including a great win at Oulton Park.

 

Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

15. Carl Boardley – 8th, Ginetta GT4 Supercup

What we said: “Boardley’s raw pace has never been in doubt since he joined the Supercup and he could well be pushing for regular race wins this year.”

Final report: Boardley ended 2016 with a superb run of four podiums in five races, but unfortunately wasn’t able to carry the momentum across into this season. One of the most experienced drivers on the grid, Boardley was able to take one win within five podium finishes, but would have wanted more.

 

14. Tom Oliphant – 4th, Porsche Carrera Cup GB

What we said: “Oliphant showed great front-running consistency in his maiden CCGB campaign and the goal now is to establish himself in the top three from the off.”

Final report: Oliphant would once again show hugely impressive top six consistency throughout the campaign with Redline Racing, but wouldn’t feature in the podium positions as much as he’d hoped. There were some standout results though, led by a brilliant drive to the podium at Le Mans.

 

13. Logan Sargeant – 3rd, F4 British Championship

What we said: “Voted as the most exciting karting prospect in the world in 2016, Sargeant is a potential star of the future as he enters with reigning champions Carlin.”

Final report: Sargeant would live up to his billing with a brilliant maiden campaign. Immediately on the front-running pace in pre-event testing, the American would go on to take podiums in eight consecutive meetings, with an impressive late charge seeing him net victories at Rockingham and Silverstone.

 

12. Jack Mitchell – 5th, Ginetta GT4 Supercup

What we said: “Mitchell will have high hopes for his return to the Ginetta ‘family’ and is sure to be a consistent front-runner in the Supercup this season.”

Final report: One of the quickest drivers on the grid throughout the season, Mitchell would arguably have been a title contender were it not for two missed meetings due to British GT commitments, having come away from the campaign with the best qualifying average on the grid and three impressive race wins.

 

11. Harry King – 6th, Ginetta Juniors

What we said: “King proved himself in 2016 with a pair of wins and is more than capable of raising his game and fighting for the title this season.”

Final report: A season of two halves for King meant a championship challenge would not materialize, with only two podiums in the first fifteen races leaving him out of the title mix, however his fortunes turned with a brilliant victory at Knockhill and he went on to the end the year strongly with six consecutive podiums.

 

Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

10. Billy Monger – F4 British Championship

What we said: “Monger showed his potential with three podium finishes in his first campaign and the aim now will be to turn that into a title push.”

Final report: One fateful moment at Donington Park in April would change Monger’s life forever as a horror incident left him as a double amputee. The eighteen year old has been truly inspirational since and is moving forward in his recovery, with a potential return to the track next season being eagerly anticipated.

 

9. Tom Wrigley – 9th, Porsche Carrera Cup GB

What we said: “Wrigley heads into his maiden Porsche campaign with high hopes and has produced competitive pace throughout a strong pre-season testing programme.”

Final report: Joining one of the most competitive grids in recent series history, Wrigley wouldn’t pick up as many front-running results as hoped with the In2 squad, but showed some flashes of his raw pace across the season with a sole podium finish at Donington Park and two other top six finishes.

 

8. Dino Zamparelli – 2nd, Porsche Carrera Cup GB

What we said: “Zamparell will look to use his new partnership with JTR to turn his immense promise into the championship title he so vehemently craves.”

Final report: Zamparelli couldn’t have come any closer to the title as he tied on points with the eventual champion, but was left to settle as runner-up for a second year in a row. The Anglo-Italian showed great pace with JTR, picking up more podium finishes than anyone else, but it just wasn’t quite enough to take the crown.

 

7. Daniel Harper – 3rd, Ginetta Juniors

What we said: “Harper made quite an impression in 2016 and is determined to make his mark from the off and put together a title challenge.”

Final report: A slower start than hoped would ultimately prevent Harper from getting right into the thick of the title battle, but he was on the fringes throughout as he collected fifteen podium finishes, with that tally including superb double wins at Rockingham and Brands Hatch as he ended the season in style.

 

6. Charlie Eastwood – 1st, Porsche Carrera Cup GB

What we said: “If he can continue the rate of progression he showed in a brilliant maiden campaign, there’s no doubt he can play a major role in where the Porsche title goes.”

Final report: Not only did Eastwood play a major role in the title picture, but he was the man who ultimately walked away with the crown. Controversy at Knockhill aside, the Northern Irishman turned his great potential into a hugely impressive campaign, with four race victories proving enough to earn him the title.

 

Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

5. Jamie Caroline – 1st, F4 British Championship

What we said: “Caroline has moved to Carlin and knows he won’t have many better opportunities to add a maiden single-seater title to his résumé.”

Final report: Caroline would take full advantage of working with the most successful team on the grid and produce a dominant run to his second TOCA title in three years. He stormed clear with an irresistible run of eight wins in the first ten races, before regular podiums ensured he controlled the title picture until the end.

 

4. Max Coates – 4th, Renault UK Clio Cup

What we said: “If 2016 was the year of Coates’ comeback charge, then 2017 could mark his crowning glory, with his sights firmly on a championship tilt.”

Final report: Coates signaled his title intentions with victory on the second weekend at Donington Park, but his fight soon came over second in the points. Podium consistency would be his downfall, but a second win at Rockingham helped him a strong second consecutive top four points finish in the series.

 

3. Seb Priaulx – 2nd, Ginetta Juniors

What we said: “A dominant Winter Series win has made clear that Priaulx enters the 2017 campaign as one of the pre-season favourites for a championship challenge.”

Final report: It’s fair to say Priaulx faced plenty of adversary this season with the Thruxton controversy and a forced late change of team, but the Guernseyman showed great resilience and was a factor in the title fight throughout, coming away with the vice-champion honours courtesy of seven race wins.

 

2. Mike Bushell – 1st, Renault UK Clio Cup

What we said: “Bushell is a man determined to add his name into the record books this season and is the early favourite for the title.”

Final report: Bushell would be the man to beat throughout the campaign and came away with a richly deserved second Clio title. A sensational qualifying record of twelve pole positons in eighteen races put him in the best position for success, and he finished off the podium only three times as he recorded a superb nine race wins.

 

Credit: Dan Bathie

1. Dan Cammish – 3rd, Porsche Carrera Cup GB

What we said: “Considering his record in the past two seasons, it’s hard to bet against Cammish walking away with an historic third title.”

Final report: After two seasons of dominance in his Redline Racing machine, luck would turn against Cammish this season and he missed out on making series history.

With double the race victories of the eventual champion, Cammish was the pace-setter on the Carrera Cup GB for a third consecutive season, however luck would turn against him this year. A controversial incident at Knockhill and a fire at Silverstone cost him the crown, but a stunning victory at Le Mans gave some consolation.

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Who did we miss?

With only 25 slots, naturally we’d 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 on the eventual Ginetta Junior champion for the second season in a row.

That man was Tom Gamble, who emerged victorious with a race to spare courtesy of an unmatched eight victories, while we also missed the runaway Rookie class champion Kiern Jewiss – though in our defense, his entry came after publication.

Another last-minute entry came from George Gamble, who was a three-time race-winner in the Ginetta GT4 Supercup, while Lewis Plato and Tio Ellinas both notched a handful of Carrera Cup GB podiums and a top six championship finish with the impressive JTR.

There were more sets of team-mates making an impression on the TOCA package, with Arden pair Oscar Piastri and Alex Quinn both fighting at the front in British F4, while in the Clio Cup, experienced WDE stablemates Paul Rivett and Lee Pattison both ended in the championship top three.