The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship heads for Thruxton this weekend to continue the fascinating script for this 2018 season. With plenty of drivers in the past six rounds staking their claim towards a title tilt, the fastest circuit on the calendar will certainly be on their podium hit list.
Tom Ingram has been the only driver to win more than one race this season in his Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis. The Buckinghamshire man has been good value for his drivers championship lead so far and with podium finishes in the second and third races of the day at Thruxton last year, it’ll be tough not to bet on him to reach the top step.
Whenever Thruxton is mentioned, the first thing that usually comes up is the fact that it’s seen as a Honda circuit due to the success that the marque has had there for so many years. Matt Neal grabbed pole and won the first race of the day at the circuit last year and whether this trend can continue with the Civic Type R FK8 remains to be seen. With Dan Cammish also grabbing his maiden podium finish at Donington Park last time out, Halfords Yuasa Racing can remain quietly confident that their new machine could possibly continue this Honda consistency.
With that in mind, Wix Racing with Eurotech and BTC Norlin Racing who run the older shaped Civic Type R FK2 enter the weekend knowing that their cars are proven around the circuit. Jack Goff scored two podiums at the circuit last year and to bounce back from a mixed result Donington weekend will be his main goal. Meanwhile Brett Smith who scored his best BTCC finish to date with fourth in the first race at Donington will also be hoping to score more top ten finishes.
A polarising weekend for opposite ends of the garage at BTC Norlin last time out, although most of the gremlins were barely the fault of James Nash. Chris Smiley proved with the right machinery he can battle it out at the front with seasoned long competitiors. Although his driving standards in race three were questionable, nothing can take away the quality he had shown in the battle for the lead in race two which led to a second place finish and his first podium in the series. Nash will hope that this will be the first chance this season where he can show the pace that he undoubtedly holds.
Surprise package Power Maxed TAG Racing proved that their Vauxhall Astra can take hard fought victory and not have to rely on the misfortune of others like Senna Proctor enjoyed in race two at Brands Hatch. Josh Cook showed great talent and maturity for his first victory in race one and his podium finish in the final race of the day at Donington to highlight the well developed machine Power Maxed have put together. Whether or not their great start to the season can continue on into Thruxton but, Josh and Senna have been on inspired form and great finishes may be forthcoming once again.
Fastest in the Thruxton test a few weeks ago, Ashley Sutton in the Adrian Flux Subaru Racing Subaru Levorg will be heading to the circuit with positive thoughts if his car is able to head the field again. Driving such a troublesome machine to point scoring finishes and currently fifth in the drivers championship shows that Ash doesn’t need the best car on the grid to showcase his talents. With team-mate Jason Plato struggling with his Levorg so far this season, this has been a highlight of the young scene that is now taking over the championship. Something that the media reporting on the BTCC has been telling us for weeks.
Team BMW will no doubt have been pinpointing the unreliability that two of their BMW 125i M Sport cars suffered at Donington. Andrew Jordan faced turbo issues in qualifying which put him on the back foot for the rest of the weekend, then Colin Turkington saw two occurences of water pump failure on the Sunday to see him pointless in two of the three races of the day. BMW tend to be bulletproof in terms of their reliability, but Donington masked this illusion immediately and the cars do have their weak points.
And finally, an honourable mention must go to AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing driver Rory Butcher who has scored points in five of the six races so far with the aging MG6 GT. His pole position in the reverse-grid draw at Donington sadly saw him head the field with the least favourable of the tyre compounds, therefore we were unable to see how he would have faired with better rubber underneath him. Second in the Jack Sears Trophy by one point behind Dan Cammish, who was expected to walk that championship, highlights why Butcher may be one to watch at Thruxton and for the rest of the season.
The BTCC returns this weekend 19/20 May at Thruxton where qualifying will be live on itv.com/btcc Saturday and all three races shown live on ITV4 on the Sunday.