With the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship and its band of support series starting their 2018 season this weekend at Brands Hatch (7/8 April), The Checkered Flag have picked out twenty-five drivers we feel you should be keeping an eye on in the support championships this year.
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 an exciting talent on the Ginetta GT4 Supercup grid:
18. Charlie Ladell (Rob Boston Racing) – Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup
Making the transition from the Clio Cup to the Supercup for 2017, Ladell has a steep learning curve over the course of his maiden GT campaign last season, but he started pretty impressively with a pair of breakthrough podium finishes in the opening four races.
From there, he pieced together a consistent campaign with top ten finishes in each of the final fifteen races of the year, with another top three result late in the season ensuring he heads into his second season in the series with the clear potential to be a race win contender.
17. Lewis Plato (JTR) – Porsche Carrera Cup GB
A consistent presence in the top six over the course of the last two seasons, Plato hopes 2018 can be the year that he can take the step forward and turn the potential he’s shown so far in the championship into a first title challenge.
After switching from Redline to JTR, Plato started 2017 strongly with three podium finishes in the first five races, but saw his campaign peter out as he struggled to keep pace with the front-runners, something he’ll be eager not to replicate this season.
16. Hampus Ericsson (Fortec Motorsport) – F4 British Championship
Brother of F1 star Marcus, Ericsson overcame a relatively slow start to show huge potential over the course of a successful rookie season in F4 last year, with an impressive nine class victories taking him to the inaugural Challenge Cup title.
Alongside that success, the Swede’s hard work progressing up the grid was rewarded with outright podium breakthroughs in the second half of the season at Knockhill and Brands Hatch, with those results sure to spur him on to becoming a regular front-runner this year.
15. Michael Epps (Matrix Motorsport) – Renault UK Clio Cup
Following a two year tenure in the BTCC, during which he showed great promise as he regularly battled in the top ten and ended 2017 on a high with a top five finish in the final race, Epps moves to the Clio Cup for the first time with the new Matrix Motorsport outfit.
Epps makes the transition with previous experience in one-make tin-top competition, having impressively won five of the final eight races during a VW Racing Cup campaign in 2015. If Matrix can get up to speed quickly, then he could well get amongst the established Clio names at the front of the grid.
14. George Gamble (Team Parker Racing) – Porsche Carrera Cup GB
After a two year sabbatical from racing, Gamble returned to action in the GT4 Supercup last season and while he couldn’t piece together the most consistent of campaigns, he was a regular front-runner and starred with four race wins.
Gamble would go on to compete in the Porsche GB Junior driver shootout in November, and after coming up short in his quest for the prize, he is sure to enter his debut Porsche campaign determined to prove his talent and get himself in the mix at the front of the grid.
13. Luke Browning (Richardson Racing) – Ginetta Junior Championship
Browning’s maiden Junior campaign last year was certainly a steep learning curve as he battled as a single-car entry with the Richardson Racing squad, however he saw solid progress through the year rewarded late on with a breakthrough top six finish and a surprise pole position.
With the majority of the top ten in last year’s championship moving onto pastures new, Browning will return to the series knowing he has a great chance of turning the strong pace he showed at the end of 2017 into a real challenge for the top honours this time around.
12. Harry King (Elite Motorsport) – Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup
King becomes the latest driver to graduate to the GT4 Supercup with a strong pedigree from the Ginetta Junior Championship, having been a front-runner throughout his two year tenure in the series as he collected three race wins and fourteen podium finishes.
The seventeen year old enjoyed that success with Elite Motorsport and their partnership will continue into 2018 as both parties look to make a big impression on their Supercup debuts, with King certainly having the potential to progress into a race-winner.
11. Dennis Hauger (Arden Motorsport) – F4 British Championship
With the ultimate ambition of becoming the first ever Norwegian driver in Formula 1, Hauger takes his first step on the single-seater ladder this season following a glittering karting career which drew the attention of Red Bull.
Described as the ‘standout’ new addition to their Junior driver programme for 2018, Hauger is one of the most exciting new prospects on the F4 grid this season and as he settles into the Arden camp, he has a great chance of achieving his ambition of winning races this year.
10. Tom Hibbert (Privateer) – Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup
With over fifty race starts to his name, Hibbert will likely enter his third Supercup campaign as the most capped driver in the Pro category, and he’ll be determined to use all his experience to mount a first full title challenge in the championship.
After taking a maiden win in the 2016 finale, the privateer entrant produced a relatively subdued campaign last year with only five podium finishes, but he did enjoy a standout double victory at Oulton Park and will be pushing for more of those successes this year.
Keep an eye on the site tomorrow to see who comes in the top nine in our 25 BTCC Support Stars to Watch in 2018 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?