In continuation of part one from yesterday. The Checkered Flag is looking at the field of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship and putting forward an opinion about how we feel their 2018 is going so far.
WIX Racing with Eurotech
Jack Goff – Eighth in the championship – Best result 1x 1st
A perfect start to the year with victory in race one at Brands Hatch may have set the scene for the remainder of the season. However, only two further podium visits wasn’t the consistency that Goff would have hoped for. An awful round at Croft due to balance issues with the car must have been galling for the twenty-seven year old but as the older shaped Honda Civic Type R FK2 has proved this year, there is still fight in the old car yet. Goff will undoubtedly score victory again after the Summer break but it will all depend on the car performing the way he wants.
Brett Smith – Twenty-first in the championship – Best result 1x 4th
Brett has certainly come a long way from when he was drafted in at the Eurotech squad due to injuries suffered by his father Jeff Smith in qualifying at Croft last year. At some points in 2018 he has been the match or betterer of his race winning team-mate over the season with the highlight being a superb third on the grid after qualifying at Thruxton. With almost a year in the series Brett can’t be denied the fact that he is one of the most improved drivers but to stay consistent with points finishes is going to be his main goal for the rest of the season.
Power Maxed TAG Racing
Josh Cook – Ninth in the championship – Best result 2x 1st
A revelation in 2018, Josh Cook is finally converting the promise he has shown for years into victories and with the Power Maxed Vauxhall Astra being incredibly quick. Josh has been a surprise title contender since Donington Park. With the car being badly affected by ballast, Josh needs to adapt his style in order to score good results in more of a damage limitation mode but that shouldn’t take away from the performances when it seemed he was unstoppable. A definite title outsider but he has to regain his early season form.
Senna Proctor – Tenth in the championship – Best result 1x 1st
Let’s be honest here. Senna won the second race at Brands Hatch due to a mix of luck, tyre choice and the punting of Aiden Moffat into the barriers. Since then he has scored two further podiums to show that the win may not have been such a fluke after all. Currently regaining form after the first two races at Oulton Park where he was pointless, Senna could spring up a further shock if everything falls into place. The Vauxhall is capable.
Team GardX Racing with Motorbase
Sam Tordoff – Eleventh in the championship – Best result 6x 4th
He will get the luck at some point. The best average qualifier has had the best Saturdays of anyone but still hasn’t been on pole. Despite good starting positions, a best result of fourth so far this season doesn’t exactly show the pace that the 2016 runner up undoubtedly holds. Whenever he is about to score well or finish on the podium, bad luck in the way of mechanical failure or the driving standards of others has seen promise shattered. If he doesn’t lose the love of the BTCC again, 2019 will probably be better than this year.
BTC Norlin Racing
Chris Smiley – Fourteenth in the championship – Best result 1x 2nd
Finally in a car to score regular points, Smiley has been another surprise this season with a few good drives in the top ten. A podium finish in the second race at Donington Park was very popular but from an outsider there have been moments where his driving standards haven’t really been up to par. The latest incident with Aiden Moffat at Croft was questionable and some may come to his defence saying that you have to be tough to do well in the championship. But you have to be fair as well.
James Nash – Best result 1x 12th
Sadly having to leave the championship due to personal commitments, it wasn’t to be the return most fans would have wanted from the former race winner. Not being used to NGTC machinery must have been a factor to his poor results but sadly what happened has happened and his replacement has done pretty well so far.
Daniel Lloyd – Twentieth in the championship – Best result 1x 1st
Finally pushing a racing car to one hundred percent instead of five percent in the other series, Dan has finally scored his first win in the premier UK touring car category. When he rejoined the series at Oulton Park he wasn’t expected to set the weekend alight. But, once the new driver ballast was taken off his Civic at Croft, three top ten finishes which included a win highlighted the talent Lloyd has. Certainly the most perfect replacement BTC Norlin could have hoped for.
Matt Simpson – Sixteenth in the championship – Best result 1x 1st
Absolutely on it at Oulton Park, it was a shame that we couldn’t see what he could have done in the second race from pole with ballast. Having already beaten his 2017 points total you can already see that Matt is getting more used to racing in the BTCC. He only visited the top ten for the first time ever in the series in race two at Brands Hatch before repeating the feat in the third. But, who was to expect that superb pole and victory in Cheshire? It’s going to be tough to replicate but I doubt he minds. He’s gotten the win, what’s next?
DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing
Rob Austin – Seventeenth in the championship – Best result 1x 3rd
With a new car this has pretty much been a developmental year for Rob and the HMS Racing squad. Fastest in the pre-season test and a podium in the first weekend might have been encouraging but it’s still too early to start thinking about race wins. Rob keeps talking about finding the sweet spot of the car and then it’ll be perfect. If they find it before the end of the year it will definitely be a feel good story of the year. The heartbreak in the final race at Oulton Park was incredibly bad luck but the Alfa Romeo Giulietta will be at the front as we are constantly promised.
Laser Tools Racing
Aiden Moffat – Eighteenth in the championship – Best result 2x 3rd
Almost winning at Brands Hatch was as good as it got for Aiden so far this year. With two visits to the podium in 2018 more was to be expected considering his two victories in 2017. Having not scored a point since the third race at Thruxton it’s gone downhill. However, the Mercedes-Benz is a good package come circuits later in the year. Now solely focussing on the BTCC following exploits elsewhere which fell through, this lowly championship position isn’t flattering for the Scotsman. Must do better.
That’s part two of The Checkered Flag’s look at the drivers of the BTCC halfway through the 2018 season. The finale will come out tomorrow.