Season Review: 2018 British Touring Car Championship: Taking the Diamond Jubilee line – Part One

by Stuart Richards
Brands Hatch Indy 2018 BTCC

The 2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship was a season of celebration. Sixty years of saloon car racing in the United Kingdom was to be christened the Diamond Jubilee and it was a milestone championship that every driver wanted to win.

A thesaurus worth of cliché could be thrust upon a rose tinted vision as we praise this premier tin top series. However, it’s better to sit back and reminisce about the high paced, heart stopping action that only the BTCC can produce. 2018 was no different in this evaluation as we saw the common giving us their usual hello. But also the unexpected strutting their magic to front of stage.

Far from becoming a tedious and Ceefax (Teletext or Oracle depending on your preference) look back at a season, this review will follow the final drivers championship standings and give a little blurb about each driver who took part during the year. Whether they did the full season or just a one off weekend.

Colin Turkington

Best race result – 1 win

Three is the magic number and who could deny the Northern Irishman a title in one of his toughest years both personally and on the race track. If you look up consistency in the dictionary, Colin’s 2018 season should be the example that is printed next to it. Whilst 2017 ended in disappointment, the only way to bounce back in his mind was to win the title. Despite only one victory, Colin’s professionalism was second to none and it showed as he sealed up the title with one race to go. BMW/West Surrey Racing plus Colin is a lethal combination and one that should be looked back upon with respect in the future.

Tom Ingram

Best race result – 3 wins

The miracles that Tom and Speedworks Motorsport performed in 2018 cannot be overlooked and it was just a shame that his incredibly hard work pushing for strong results in certain races was often undone by reliability issues which when you put two and two together contributed to him not winning the championship. When it was working, the Toyota Avensis was undeniably quick and that was shown in superb comeback drives that might be the lasting impression on fans in the 2018 season. Gracious in defeat and with an exciting 2019 to look forward to with Toyota GB backing, Tom Ingram is setting himself up to be one to always watch.

Colin Turkington BTCC

Credit: btcc.net

Tom Chilton

Best race result – 1 win

The classic football cliché of ‘a game of two halves’ could be dissected and then put back together to make it work in a motor sport situation to describe Tom’s 2018. ‘A British Touring Car Championship season of two halves’ is the best that I’ve come up with and now I’ve realised that I’m never going to get that half an hour back again.

That aside, the return of RS badging to the BTCC grid was an exciting one and at the start of the year, unnecessary expectation was thrust upon Motorbase and their drivers in the possibility of immediate podiums and possible victory that the RS brand demands in an historical context. Oulton Park was certainly the scene of when the weight was lifted with a podium in the first race and from then on Tom was only outside of the top ten six more times until the end of the year. With the Focus getting quicker and quicker third place was an incredible finish to a year which started slowly.

Ashley Sutton

Best race result – 6 wins

Up until disqualification at Knockhill, the possibility of 2017 repeating itself was getting stronger each weekend. Although that might not have been the case without the pace of the Subaru Levorg hitting the front in a World Touring Car Cup balance of performance style. Or that’s what the critical fans were whispering before considering that hard work does get you a long way sometimes. That aforementioned second race at Knockhill took the wind out of his sails and victory at the final race following a fantastic battle with Josh Cook was definitely the way the outgoing champion would have wanted to go. Ash was superb again in what was only his third full season in the BTCC and hopefully he stays a little while longer.

Andrew Jordan

Best race result – 1 win

Fifth seriously flatters Andrew in quite a topsy turvy season which he was expected to do much better in. Fifth isn’t the end of the world but when you consider that his only victory came because the two cars ahead of him were disqualified, you would have thought he might have done a bit more with the machinery and backing he had. Whether it was just a prelude to something better in the future is unknown. But, it’ll be unfair for me to critique a performance such as this when you consider the championship was won by a driver who had the same amount of victories in the year.

Josh Cook

Best race result – 2 wins

Undoubtedly one of the surprise packages during the season, it was finally great to see the untapped potential of both Josh and the Vauxhall Astra bursting to the front. Buoyed by his team-mate taking victory at Brands Hatch, this was probably the kick up the rear end that led to victory at both Donington Park and Thruxton where the latter was a supreme drive through the field to victory. Mightily unlucky not to take a third win in the final race but if work on the Astra over the Winter means retaining both of its good characteristics and the driver, 2019 could produce so much more for a driver on the up.

Adam Morgan

Best race result – 3 wins

2017 had been a relatively disappointing year for Adam with no victories in a car that he often does get the odd win in. 2018 was a fine return to form and then some because unbelievably he scored his maiden pole position in the championship at Rockingham. Whilst pundits in the know tend to go for the obvious in regards to a championship contender, fans still hold onto a vague belief that a driver who is there or there abouts could pull off a surprise. It doesn’t matter whether they are leading the standings after two or three weekends either if a miracle has a good start. It’s often looked at closely until they drift away with just a few races remaining, Morgan and Cook both had seasons like this.

Jack Goff

Best race result – 2 wins

Is Jack Goff becoming one of the unluckiest drivers in the championship? Pace is never in doubt with the twenty-seven year old but you feel that whenever things get tied together perfectly something always comes along to unravel it. A case in point was the Diamond Jubilee weekend at Snetterton where Jack should have been unstoppable. Both qualifying sessions went to plan and so did the first race. However, pole position in the second race was missed due to a mistake in pitlane timings and victory in the third race was thrown away following a mistake in the wet. That weekend should have been his to make a serious imprint in the championship’s history. 2019 was made much more difficult with Eurotech pulling out but a driver with Jack’s ability shouldn’t be out on the sidelines.

Dan Cammish BTCC

Credit: btcc.net

Matt Neal

Best race result – 2 wins

New car, same old driver but that isn’t an insult. Matt Neal is an undeniable legend of the championship and his victory in the special double distance and points Diamond Double race couldn’t have been more apt. Relatively anonymous most of the year but when the car was perfect, Matt continued to be one of the quickest drivers on the circuit. Team Dynamics rarely produce duff cars and a switch from one of the best NGTC machines to a newer model might have been a daunting task for a squad lower down the grid. The veterans of the championship had a tremendously up and down season and Matt was in the middle of it all. Two victories was fair for the Midlander.

Dan Cammish

Best race result – 2 wins

To fill the boots of triple champion Gordon Shedden would have made any long serving driver feel under pressure, let alone a débutant in the championship. Dan came in with an incredible CV and the speed shown in the opening weekend certainly made everybody stand to attention. Whilst an electrifying pole position was taken away, he’d have to wait until Knockhill before making amends. But, a succession of podiums were learning processes towards a season finale to remember. Two victories were nothing less than Dan deserved and it promoted him to a top ten in the final championship standings. Practically walked towards Jack Sears Trophy victory but on paper that was to be expected.

Sam Tordoff

Best race result – 1 win

Sam’s return was welcomed by many and he was another driver to be put under the pressure of immediate success despite needing time to get up to speed. An incredible succession of fourth place finishes saw him get agonisingly close to the podium and like DanCam ahead of him in the table he’d have to wait until the final few rounds of the season to take victory. Throughout the season there was a constant nagging feeling that 2018 was just a precursor towards a more “serious” 2019. However, with silly season in full swing. Fans seem to have consigned Tordoff to the Motorbase dustbin already in an unfair prediction.

Senna Proctor

Best race result – 1 win

Nobody could have predicted victory for Senna ahead of the season and some killjoys probably still argue that it was all strategy and conditions which gifted him victory. Two further podiums hinted that it wasn’t a fluke and the former Jack Sears Trophy winner proved that with the right machinery under him he can mix it with the front. All in all, Senna can be proud of a job well done in his second year.

Rockingham BTCC

Credit: btcc.net

Chris Smiley

Best race result – 1 win

2018 saw an aggressive Chris Smiley take to the track not wanting to be pushed around by anyone. The acquisition of the FK2 Honda Civic Type R’s were an incredible opportunity for BTC Norlin Racing and Chris made sure to take this opportunity for superb results with both hands. Donington Park was just the beginning as he qualified on the front row and also took his maiden podium in the second race of that weekend. Rockingham will forever stay in the mind as he tip-toed around the mayhem which had just taken place ahead of him to sweep to his maiden victory. An elated Smiley celebrating in the seat of his car in parc ferme is the scene which sums up the elation of the 2018 British Touring Car Championship season for me.

This concludes part one of The Checkered Flag 2018 British Touring Car Championship season review. Parts two and three will follow in due course.

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