As the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship served up another brilliant season in 2018, its band of support championships once again provided plenty of thrills and spills as well, with close-fought racing, memorable moments and epic title scraps.
From the talent-filled grids, The Checkered Flag has picked out the top fifteen drivers who impressed us most over the course of the season from the Renault UK Clio Cup, Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup, Porsche Carrera Cup GB, Ginetta Junior Championship and F4 British Championship.
Our list begins with a Porsche rising star …..
15. Daniel Harper – Porsche Carrera Cup GB
In his first season as the Porsche GB Junior driver, Harper suffered some early misfortune as he made the big step up from Ginetta Juniors, but he learnt from that and it all seemed to click for him from Oulton Park onwards as he enjoyed a stunning run of form.
The quickest one-lap driver of the season with more pole positions and fastest laps than anyone else, Harper was arguably the most exciting too with some stunning overtaking moves reminiscent of his Ginetta days on his way to two race wins, which sets him up nicely for 2019.
14. Luke Browning – Ginetta Juniors
Browning announced himself as the driver to beat in the Juniors this season with three victories in the opening four races of the season, however he saw retirements and a crucial disqualification at Oulton Park ultimately cost him dear in the title battle.
The Richardson Racing ace showed superb racecraft across the campaign and starred with double victories at Donington Park and Snetterton, and while championship glory slipped from his grasp, he took the battle down to the finale weekend courtesy of eighteen podiums in total.
13. Tom Wrigley – Porsche Carrera Cup GB
After a relatively subdued first Porsche campaign in 2017, Wrigley made a huge stride forward this year following a move to JTR and superbly ended the campaign with four wins, the joint-highest total on the grid, and more points scored across the final five meetings than anyone else.
Wrigley truly showcased his stunning pace with pole position at Oulton Park by four tenths of a second and a stunning fifth on the grid in his Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup debut at Silverstone, while eight podiums in total meant he finished just nine points shy of the champion.
11= Dennis Hauger/Jack Doohan – British F4
Heading into their maiden British F4 campaigns with the prestigious accolade of being Red Bull Junior drivers, Hauger and Doohan both pieced together impressive first seasons, with the duo being barely separated on track all year and therefore on this list as well.
Naturally mistakes came in their maiden seasons of car-racing competition, but on their day they each showed they could be the fastest in the field and they fought wheel-to-wheel at numerous points through the year over the Rookie title.
Hauger eventually pipped his Arden Motorsport team-mate to the class honours by a handful of points with four outright race wins to Doohan’s three, though the latter emerged with more podium finishes as both indicated they have bright futures ahead of them.
10. Paul Rivett – Renault UK Clio Cup
No matter the year, the competitiveness of the series and the talented young drivers up against him, Rivett is up there battling at the front of the field and this time around it was his turn to taste title success once again with an historic fourth Clio crown.
The WDE Motorsport ace wasn’t the fastest driver out there by any means with only one pole position and two race victories to his name, but supreme top six consistency and eleven podium finishes ensured he emerged on top from a close, controversial title battle.
9. Adam Smalley – Ginetta Juniors
The Ginetta Juniors produced one of the closest fought title battles in recent series history, with Smalley emerging from a three-way fight to the finish with championship glory following a brilliant campaign with the Elite Motorsport squad.
The former Scholarship winner established himself at the top of the standings with six race wins across the opening six meetings, meaning that regular podium finishes down the final stretch took him to the title on the Brands Hatch finale weekend.
8. Charlie Ladell – Ginetta GT4 Supercup
While the Supercup grid wasn’t nearly as strong as those faced by previous champions, you’ve got to beat what’s put in front of you and Ladell did exactly that with a fantastic charge to title glory in only his second season of GT competition in the Supercup.
The Rob Boston Racing driver finished the year with ten race victories, just one shy of the all-time Supercup record of eleven in a season, while his superb consistency meant he only finished off the podium in two races he contested, one of the best records in series history.
7. Max Coates – Renault UK Clio Cup
A number of recent Clio Cup champions won the title in their third Clio campaigns, and Coates couldn’t have come much closer to joining them after a brilliant season in which the popular Yorkshireman won four times on his way to a top three championship finish.
A victory on the opening weekend and then a run of six podiums in a row in the first half of the campaign ensured Coates was in the battle at the top of the standings, however it would ultimately be two late retirements that cost him the overall crown.
6. Johnathan Hoggard – British F4
It didn’t always go to plan for Hoggard, but when it clicked for the Fortec Motorsport racer he was able to absolutely dominate a competitive F4 field, as proven by standout double victories through the year at Donington Park, Knockhill and Silverstone.
Early misfortune meant Hoggard was never in title contention, but a sensational run of form saw him accumulate more points than anyone else over the second half of the season to rise to third in the points, with a brilliant final tally of eight wins being the best on the grid.
5. Tio Ellinas – Porsche Carrera Cup GB
Despite being in one of the most competitive Pro class entries in recent Carrera Cup GB history and battling the lottery of reverse grids for the first time in the series, Ellinas was able to piece together some remarkable consistency on his way to the title.
A move to Slidesports for 2018 was a surprise, but the Cypriot took them to the front of the grid. While he only recorded one win, he was the only driver in the field to impressively finish every single race in the top five, and he took more podiums than anyone else with thirteen.
4. James Dorlin – Renault UK Clio Cup
Dorlin was one of the most exciting talents to watch in the Clios heading into 2018 after an impressive rookie campaign last year, and he very quickly highlighted his massive potential early in the season with a truly stunning run of five consecutive race victories.
After becoming only the third driver ever to achieve that feat in the series, Dorlin kept himself in contention with regular podium finishes and he thought he’d won the title with a majestic win on the finale weekend, only to cruelly lose out post-season.
3. Dino Zamparelli – Porsche Carrera Cup GB
It’s hard to imagine how Zamparelli must have felt at Brands Hatch as he missed out on title glory in heart-breaking fashion for the second season in a row, though he should end 2018 with his head held high after another fantastic campaign.
On raw pace, Zamparelli eclipsed the champion Tio Ellinas with four wins to one, five fastest laps to two and 91 laps led to 20, but sheer bad luck would be his downfall. The Redline Racing ace was a class act throughout and comes away as vice-champion for the third season in a row.
2. Louis Foster – Ginetta Juniors
Heading into a new Ginetta Junior season, it’s always tricky to gauge which new drivers will shine and no-one could have anticipated quite how sensational Foster’s 2018 season would be, as he enjoyed a dominant Rookie Class championship success and fought for the overall title too.
Battling at the front from the off, Foster truly excelled in the second half of the season with a remarkable seven outright wins in eight races; only finishing off the overall podium twice in the last fifteen races as he incredibly missed out on the top honours by just eight points.
1. Kiern Jewiss – British F4
Following on from a stunning rookie Ginetta Junior campaign of his own last year, Jewiss has announced himself as Britain’s latest young standout single-seater talent courtesy of a stunning run to title glory in a sensational maiden British F4 campaign.
A double visitor to the podium on the opening weekend, Jewiss then used his superb pace and thrilling racecraft to secure victories in each of the next four meetings to establish himself at the top. From there, frequent visits to the podium took him to title glory in style.
Do you agree with our countdown? Have we chosen the right no.1? Let us know in the comments below, or on Twitter @TheCheckerFlag.