The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship heads to Rockingham this weekend in continuation of an incredibly close title battle. The Checkered Flag has a more inclusive weekend preview than normal.
Will the same names crop up on the podium again or will we see another new race winner in 2018? Only this Sunday can tell us.
Tom Ingram – Despite reliability gremlins striking again at Snetterton, two strong podium finishes in the final two races saw him rocket back to the top of the drivers standings. Another one to watch even with ballast as long as the electrics in his Toyota Avensis stay on their best behaviour.
Colin Turkington – Second overall, the Northern Irishman will again be quick as he continues his attack towards a third title. Was in the top ten all weekend last year at Rockingham and the BMW will no doubt be there or thereabouts again. Reliability doesn’t seem to be an issue anymore, just other drivers.
Ricky Collard – Son of Rob Collard, Ricky replaces his father for the next couple of rounds and the main aim will be to keep out of trouble and possibly score some valuable points for Team BMW in the teams championship. Ricky isn’t going in blind though due to the fact he has tested the car multiple times in the past.
Halfords Yuasa Racing
Matt Neal – Still on the high of winning the Diamond Double third race at Snetterton, Neal has certainly put forward his title credentials when all talk at the start of the season was about the young guns. Another new circuit for an ever improving new Honda Civic Type R might see Matt taking another victory, although he will be a driver most of his rivals will want to beat.
Dan Cammish – The Jack Sears Trophy leader looks like he probably won’t lose his lead in that championship at Rockingham. Another podium last time out might give him confidence that he can hit the rostrum again and possibly even a maiden win. There is a victory for Dan this season but it’s just difficult to predict when.
Wix Racing with Eurotech
Jack Goff – A Eurotech turnaround completed with victory in the first race and second place in the Diamond Double at Snetterton put behind them an awful Croft weekend. Jack Goff is certainly not out of this title battle and with three top five finishes at Rockingham last year, barring any bad luck, he looks to be getting further up the drivers standings.
Brett Smith – A fast qualifier but still to translate it to a good race performance. Another circuit he has raced at before in the BTCC it’ll be another good opportunity to keep up a strong pace. Rockingham has a history of producing first time race winners, it’ll be a long shot but top five might be on the cards.
Power Maxed TAG Racing
Josh Cook – A race winning pace in the second race at Snetterton may have been fruitful if there were more laps but second place was welcomed. An outsider in the title race has proven pace at Rockingham so he could increase his 2018 podium tally this time around. Possibly victory.
Senna Proctor – Consistent points scoring has been the reason for Senna’s current tenth place in the championship where the Vauxhall Astra has been a quick car as proven by both drivers. Another podium foray may be possible in either the second or third reverse-grid race.
BMW Pirtek Racing
Andrew Jordan – On equal points with Josh Cook and still no victory in 2018 but Andrew is still in the title hunt. AJ’s last victory was in the third race at Rockingham in 2017 so he has proven pedigree at the circuit. If 2018 is to be his year, this is where he needs to top the podium for strong points.
Adrian Flux Subaru Racing
Ashley Sutton – The typical Subaru turnaround is in full swing and the first two races at Snetterton highlighted why Ash is a BTCC champion. Two podiums at Rockingham last year including his last victory of 2017 might be an omen for this weekend but anything can happen.
Jason Plato – Following a positive Croft weekend, Plato has reverted back to his earlier poor form whilst Sutton is streets ahead again. There are no signs that there will be improvement this weekend but you still have an inkling that it’s all car based. If Sutton is unstoppable, Plato may be the driver coming in second.
Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher
Tom Chilton – With the Ford Focus RS a consistent points scorer, an outsider may feel that it should be winning every single race with the hype it gets. Rockingham might be a strong circuit for the car and Chilton but you can just sense the train behind and the gap ahead to the other cars.
James Cole – Will probably need a miracle to replicate his pole position and race victory he scored here last year. Was quietly quick in the second qualifying session last time out at Snetterton but was then again completely anonymous as he didn’t score any points. I think the points drought will end this weekend.
Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport
Adam Morgan – Race three wonder Adam Morgan has had three retirements since his victory at Thruxton which has seen his early season title pace come off the rails a bit. Scored three top ten finishes including a podium at Rockingham last year so if the reverse grid goes well again he might be one for victory.
Team GardX Racing with Motorbase
Sam Tordoff – A case of he should be doing so much better. Whenever people come to the defense of someone saying that “it isn’t their fault” you try to pick holes. Not with Sam Tordoff, absolutely wretched luck and a great weekend at Rockingham will be what he deserves. Whether he is sticking with the pink livery is unknown.
BTC Norlin Racing
Chris Smiley – Another strong weekend in Norfolk highlighted both the Civic Type R package and the improvements Chris Smiley has made as a driver. A first victory can’t be too far away, but you feel that some of the drivers ahead of him in the table will make life difficult if he’s at the front. Will battle hard to regain position though.
Dan Lloyd – A revelation this season, the soft spoken Yorkshireman scored well again last time out and with that victory at Croft you can sense confidence is high. Along with Smiley in the Civic, surprise results begin to turn into non surprises because you expect it.
Matt Simpson – The quick practice and qualifying pace returned for a driver who needed good sessions following a shocking Croft weekend where he salvaged a point. The Eurotech Honda’s have come good recently and expect to see Matt near the sharp end on Saturday. Another Oulton Park race one pace would be nice.
DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing
Rob Austin – Reliability is still the weakpoint of the Alfa Romeo but you have to remember it’s a learning year for the squad in regards to the car. You’ll have to look towards a shock result before this car is consistently near the front and even then you may have to wait a whole season before they get it right. Top ten will probably be the aim.
Laser Tools Racing
Aiden Moffat – Incredibly anonymous recently. Scored three points in the second race last time out which was the first time he’s scored points since Thruxton. The Mercedes-Benz is a good car as proven by another driver. However, he still hasn’t found the sweet spot he had last year.
AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing
Rory Butcher – Certainly the best of the MG bunch so far and incredibly unlucky with reliability issues last time out. Didn’t do too well last year at Rockingham but you feel he’s come a long way since then. The most underrated driver of the year so far will probably score more top tens later in the year. Especially when it’s wet.
Glynn Geddie – Much like Ricky Collard, Glynn will be out there to keep out of trouble and possibly even score a point or two if he’s lucky enough. Ant Whorton-Eales managed a top ten finish at Snetterton so he has a target to work towards.
AmD with Cobra Exhausts
Ollie Jackson – Eight points scored in the Diamond Double race was a good reward for a car that they tell us is constantly improving despite its age. A run of four points finishes started in the first race at Rockingham last year and Ollie’s endeavour will deserve this. On the fringes of the top ten possibly.
Sam Smelt – Almost scored his first points in the Diamond Double last time out but sadly faded in the closing laps due to plenty of argy-bargy for the final points paying position. Qualifying pace still isn’t there but race craft is getting him a few places in the race. Points are the aim every weekend.
Tom Oliphant – Had his best weekend last time out with two strong qualifying sessions and two top ten finishes in the first two races. Deserved so much more in the final race but was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and couldn’t avoid the collision with Brett Smith. Will be out at Rockingham to make up for that and keep up his initial points scoring streak.
Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing
Mike Bushell – Another who deserves the title of most underrated driver this season for performing miracles with a car that sadly hasn’t been that quick. Scored his worst finish at Rockingham last year on the way to the Renault UK Clio Cup title but that obviously won’t be on his mind this weekend. Has had a few retirements recently but he’ll be hoping that has changed so he can surprise again.
Ollie Pidgley – Has raced in the Clio Cup previously. No doubt out there to stay out of trouble and keep the car in one piece. Has a tricky Volkswagen to keep happy though.
Team HARD with Trade Price Cars
Bobby Thompson – Confidence sky high with his first points in the last race at Snetterton, a top ten finish no less! With points finally on the board the pressure should be off so he’ll be aiming towards having a better qualifying.
Michael Caine – Been disappointing this season and it’s a shame for a driver of this calibre. We can sit here and say all we want about how he’ll be aiming for points but I don’t see it happening sadly.
Team Parker Racing
Stephen Jelley – The Croft pace mysteriously disappeared at Snetterton which was a shame for a driver who would welcome some points. Seemingly involved in every accident that happens in a race and that isn’t good for someone who is driving one of the best cars on the grid. He did score his only two BTCC victories at Rockingham in 2009 so that might account for something.
The BTCC returns this weekend 11/12 August at Rockingham where qualifying will be live on itv.com/btcc Saturday and all three races shown live on ITV4 on the Sunday.