After a long six month winter break, the Dunlop MSA British Touring Championship and its band of support series finally return to action this weekend (7/8 April), with the 2018 season bursting into life around the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit.
With some exciting grids shaping up for the new campaign, filled with plenty of familiar faces in the paddock and some intriguing new talents to the package, the upcoming season promises to be another thrilling campaign filled with great racing, memorable performances and close title fights.
For the fifth year running, The Checkered Flag have picked out twenty five drivers from across the Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup, Porsche Carrera Cup GB, F4 British Championship, Renault UK Clio Cup and Ginetta Junior Championship entries that we feel you should be keeping an eye on over the course of the season.
The first part of our countdown takes you from 25 to 19:
25. James Taylor (Richardson Racing) – Ginetta Junior Championship
With over sixty talented young driver battling it out for success, the Ginetta Junior Scholarship continues to be one of the most competitive competitions in UK motorsport, which means that the eventual victor heads into their prize campaign with plenty of momentum.
That honour this season goes to Taylor, with the Rotherham teenager hoping to follow in the footsteps of his scholarship predecessors and fight for both Rookie class and overall silverware in his debut car-racing season, which he will embark upon with the Richardson Racing outfit.
24. Michael Crees (Century Motorsport) – Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup
To say that Crees has a huge challenge ahead of him this season is certainly an understatement, as in only his second season of car racing he has traded in a 135bhp Ginetta G40 to a 355bhp G55, but despite that big change, he could certainly be a wildcard on the grid this year.
Crees won seven races and finished off the podium just four times as he stormed to Ginetta’s GRDC+ title on his car-racing bow, and with 2015 Supercup champions Century Motorsport behind him as he joins the series, he’s sure to climb towards the front of the grid as the season progresses.
23. Bradley Burns (Team Pyro) – Renault UK Clio Cup
While Burns only contested the final three rounds of the 2017 Clio Cup, he certainly made a huge impression on the championship as he notched a fastest lap in only his fourth race at Silverstone, before qualifying on the front row for both races at the Brands Hatch season finale.
His impressive foray in the series has attracted the attention of Team BMR, who will support him this season as their latest Academy driver in the Clios, which combined with reigning champions Team Pyro running his car, should give Burns a perfect platform to enjoy more standout results this year.
22. Jac Constable (Hart GT) – Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup
Constable had a standout first season in the Supercup last season as he stormed to the AM class title with eighteen podiums including thirteen wins, in the process impressively denying the previously unstoppable Colin White the honours for a third successive season.
The Ginetta GT5 Challenge graduate also got himself in the mix with the Pro class runners at points as well, and now he steps up to the headline class with new outfit Hart GT looking to make an impact, with podium finishes certainly possible as the season progresses.
21. Johnathan Hoggard (Fortec Motorsport) – F4 British Championship
While Hoggard only contested a partial campaign on his car-racing debut in F4 last season, the teenager got himself straight up to the leading pace as he topped the testing times at Snetterton and Silverstone, with the latter also the scene of a maiden podium finish.
The former MSA Junior Karting champion has continued his progression as a driver with a strong winter testing programme and now has the top step of the podium in his sights, with a breakthrough win the first target in a season filled with much promise.
20. Ruben Del Sarte (Total Control Racing) – Ginetta Junior Championship
Del Sarte gets set to tackle his second season in the Ginetta Juniors as one of the most promising returnees from 2017, with an impressively consistent first campaign seeing him finish in the top ten in sixteen of the twenty-six races.
Following a promising showing in the Winter Series, the Dutchman moves to Total Control Racing to lead their challenge as they return to the championship and will be aiming to build upon his experience so far and take a podium breakthrough as soon as possible.
19. Paul Rivett (WDE Motorsport) – Renault UK Clio Cup
The master of the Clio Cup, three-time champion Rivett continues to be a prominent force in the championship every season in which he competes, and seventeen years on from his series debut he remains a clear title contender this season.
Last season he finished as series runner-up for the fourth time alongside his three titles and with reigning champion Mike Bushell moving on, Rivett enters as the highest placed returning driver hoping all his experience in the series can guide him to an historic fourth crown.
Keep an eye on the site over the next couple of days to see who else makes it into 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 we should be including in the final eighteen?