Preview: 2018 British Touring Car Championship – Knockhill

by Stuart Richards
Knockhill BTCC

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship reaches a fan favourite circuit in the form of Knockhill this weekend so expect plenty of two-wheel action as these British tin top heroes give it one hundred percent around the shortest circuit on the calendar.

The rear-wheel drive cars tend to perform the best in Scotland and with that trend looking unlikely to be toppled, the rest of the field have to be on the top of their game.

Speedworks Motorsport

Tom Ingram – Surely three race one retirements in a row isn’t possible. Tom certainly would hope not despite heroics in the second races. Reliability once again being the hot potato of his title tilt, Knockhill will either make or break the rest of his season. Might be the best of the front-wheel drive runners.

Team BMW

Colin Turkington – When you hit the top there’s probably nothing better for the Northern Irishman than a rear-wheel drive circuit to help consolidate his championship lead. Three podiums in Scotland last year must be a worry for his nearest title rivals.

Ricky Collard – Unlucky not to start the final race at Rockingham due to mechanical issues on the green flag lap, Ricky continues his substitution role at Knockhill as he aims for solid finishes. The BMW 125i M Sport might even give him a point if he keeps it clean.

Halfords Yuasa Racing

Matt Neal – From the highs of Snetterton, Matt had an awful Rockingham weekend which begun with an engine change ahead of qualifying. Fifth in the championship and still in the hunt but another weekend akin to last time out will not help the veteran to a fourth possible title.

Dan Cammish – Undeniable qualifying pace but still has to work on his BTCC racecraft. Fifth in the first race at Rockingham was particularly lucky especially after spearing a rival on the first lap. I’ve often backed Dan to win his first race at some point in the tail end of 2018 but now I’m not so sure.

Wix Racing with Eurotech

Jack Goff – The bipolar results of Eurotech continued last time out with another poor weekend for Goff. Not what the doctor ordered regarding the title fight. Last year’s results are probably not giving Jack too much hope either for a return to form.

Brett Smith – Also hit by the Eurotech issues over a weekend, Brett will probably have to wait for his first points since the second race at Snetterton. The races afterwards might be good for his qualifying form but hope for this weekend isn’t too high.

Knockhill BTCC

Credit: btcc.net

Power Maxed TAG Racing

Josh Cook – The Vauxhall duo have been quietly scoring points and Josh Cook is just as likely as Andrew Jordan to win the title this year. You feel that more podiums visits are a must though. He tended to do well at Rockingham in the past but he trundled to two twelfth place finishes last time out. Twelfth was also the only points scoring position he scored last year in Scotland.

Senna Proctor – A strong fourth place finish in the second race at Rockingham highlighted that Senna is an incredibly quick driver and that the Vauxhall Astra is one of the surprises of the season. He has also been proving with further podium finishes that his victory at the start of the year wasn’t a fluke. Seventh was his best finish last year at Knockhill, he could do better this time around.

BMW Pirtek Racing

Andrew Jordan – Consistency has kept him in the hunt despite no victories for almost a year. In fact the Monday following this weekend will mark the exact date since he last stood on the top step of the podium. He’ll be in the same boat as all rear-wheel drive runners as he hopes that it’ll be the edge he needs. A poor showing in Fife last year is one he’ll try to avoid.

Adrian Flux Subaru Racing

Ashley Sutton – What can be said about the current champion that hasn’t been said already? Most wins of any driver this season, Ash is right in the title hunt and it’s probably more remarkable than his drive to the title last season considering where he came from. Sure, plenty will huff about and moan on Twitter but a great car can’t be at the front if the driver isn’t top class.

Jason Plato – Scene of his usual one victory a season with the Subaru, I’m backing JP to do the same this season. Plenty of dicing with his team-mate inbound. Race three at Rockingham saw the welcome return of the old Plato so hopefully this will continue into this weekend.

Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher

Tom Chilton – Unlucky that his pole position advantage only lasted two corners in the final race. Tom therefore will be aiming to get it right if the opportunity presents itself again. Podium will be the best to hope for again, I feel the RS will be on race winning form in 2019.

James Cole – A year on from his maiden victory, a return to Rockingham wasn’t to be happy for Cole. Last year he scored three fifth placed finishes at Knockhill so he could go well here. It’s worth bearing in mind that he was in rear-wheel drive machinery in 2017 so it might be harder to replicate.

Knockhill BTCC

Credit: btcc.net

Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport

Adam Morgan – Revitalised! A maiden pole en route to victory in race one Adam was on the way to becoming the highest points scorer of the last round. Confidence will be high as he adds his name to the ever growing list of outsiders for the title.

Team GardX Racing with Motorbase

Sam Tordoff – There is a famous Blues track called Born Under A Bad Sign with the lyric ‘If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all’. If you ignore the double negative, the lyrics have been posted on Facebook by some fifty-something and Sam Tordoff has been ironically tagged. We can only preview the incident that he’s going to be unluckily involved in. Probably contact through the chicane.

BTC Norlin Racing

Chris Smiley – Pleasing to see one of the most improved drivers take victory. Critics at the start of the year began talking about the Honda Civic Type R and how he finally has the chance to prove his beliefs. His victory would have undoubtedly unlocked something more in the psyche and the Norlin boys will be ones to watch in the remainder of the season.

Dan Lloyd – A relatively disappointing Rockingham compared to his team-mate, Lloyd left Northamptonshire pointless which if you consider his form leading up to the event was rather unfair. This shape Civic has appeared on the Knockhill podium many times and the Norlin duo will no doubt be cleaning up if Eurotech are still in their slump.

Simpson Racing

Matt Simpson – Racing independently for the remainder of the season and with Geoff Kingston joining the engineering team, all eyes will be on Matt and his squad to see what they can do. With another podium sewn up in race three last time out he’ll have the momentum and with the opportunity to prove things to people. He’ll be racing for honour.

DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing

Rob Austin – Always involved in other people’s incidents, it’s been tough to gauge the progress of the Alfa Romeo. It’s always a plight to say you’re having a development year because everyone still expects you to be fighting for wins week in week out. Enough for the team to set unrealistic expectations. Rob has qualified on pole at Knockhill in the past. However, as with the results of James Cole last year, he was in a rear-wheel drive car.

Laser Tools Racing

Aiden Moffat – Finally scored a top ten finish for the first time since the final race at Donington Park, Aiden will be hoping for home crowd support as he aims towards a better end to this season than the middle. Two podiums at the start of the year certainly didn’t forsee the struggles ahead.

AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing

Rory Butcher – Three top ten finishes was a great result for Rory and the MG6 side of AmD. Akin to Moffat, he’ll be hoping for the home crowd’s support to give him an extra push. Knockhill was also the circuit he first raced at in the BTCC and he scored two top ten finishes. An even better set of results will go down well.

Glynn Geddie – Affected by ballast and conditions during his BTCC return, Glynn hits his home circuit with the opportunity to pull off some good results again. Points in the lower end of those positions will be the most realistic goal.

Knockhill BTCC

Knockhill always draws in the crowds. Credit: btcc.net

AmD with Cobra Exhausts

Ollie Jackson – Riding the crest of a points scoring wave Ollie will be aiming for more. It’s going to be tough considering the Audi S3 Saloon’s previous experience at the circuit. But as a tough fighter anything is possible.

Sam Smelt – Looked to have finally turned a corner with his best ever qualifying at Rockingham. It was a shame that we didn’t get to see how he’d do as he got caught up in the first race second corner incident which then put him on the back foot for the rest of the weekend. If it wasn’t a fluke, he’d be right to perform more Saturday heroics then try to keep out of trouble on Sunday.

Ciceley Motorsport

Tom Oliphant – The curse of the ITV4 cameras continued as Tom didn’t have that good of a weekend last time out. However, he did score some points in the final race which highlighted that Mercedes-Benz package again. Scored a podium at Knockhill last year in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB so does have good pace at the circuit.

Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing

Mike Bushell – Surprised all with his two sixth place finishes and his very strong qualifying last time out. Sadly I don’t see a repeat of this at Knockhill, but it was good that he finally managed to get a chance to prove his worth in 2018.

Ollie Pidgley – The Volkswagen may have been revitalised at Rockingham but I still wouldn’t want to be in the car with extra ballast. It’s going to be another tough weekend for Ollie despite not having to carry the mid-season driver change ballast for qualifying anymore.

Team HARD with Trade Price Cars

Bobby Thompson – Points at Snetterton was what Bobby needed to take off the pressure and drive a fantastic race to seventh in the third race at Rockingham. He along with Bushell are the best Volkswagen drivers by a mile and both will certainly be the class of their respective different named teams.

Carl Boardley – I’m not going to judge Carl. He has been given a BTCC opportunity in a car which certainly isn’t going to set the world alight with a rookie behind the wheel and ballast partway through the season. It will be a successful weekend if he doesn’t finish dead last on the road.

Team Parker Racing

Stephen Jelley – Scored his first points of the year at Rockingham before an incident in the second race put him on the back foot again. Knockhill may be a rear-wheel drive circuit but with Jelley you just feel that for that type of car to perform well, the driver has to at least be good too.

The BTCC returns this weekend 25/26 August at Knockhill where qualifying will be live on itv.com/btcc Saturday and all three races shown live on ITV4 on the Sunday.

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