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

by Stuart Richards
Croft BTCC

This is part three of The Checkered Flag’s 2018 British Touring Car Championship season review. Part one includes background and an introduction therefore part three is going to jump straight back into the final drivers standings.

Jason Plato

Best race result – 1 second

You can’t sugarcoat it. 2018 was JP’s worst ever season in the BTCC and it must have been galling for him as he watched drivers he’s battled for years take victories and championship honours throughout the year. Second place in the first race at Croft after “Boostgate” should have brought on the onset of results that his team-mate Sutton duly delivered. But, things just don’t seem to work out between the Subaru Levorg and Plato. With a return to front-wheel drive mooted, the drive towards one hundred victories might be back on. However, it’s going to take a lot to bounce back from such a demoralising year.

Bobby Thompson

Best race result – 1 seventh

Definitely one for the future and scored a deserved seventh at Rockingham following a fantastic battle through the field. Whilst he only scored three points finishes in the year, Bobby showed a maturity and racecraft that warranted a return for 2019 in Team HARD’s eyes. Next season will be all important and results have to be consistent if he’s to see a future in the championship.

Snetterton BTCC

Credit: btcc.net

Tom Boardman

Best race result – 1 fourth

It just didn’t seem to work out for one reason or another. The former race winner was a surprise addition to the grid piloting one of the AmD MG6’s but despite a surprise fourth in the topsy turvy second race at Brands Hatch, results weren’t forthcoming.

Ant Whorton-Eales

Best race result – 1 tenth

If it wasn’t for MINI Challenge duties, Ant should have been given Boardman’s MG seat for the remainder of the year. In his single weekend at Snetterton a result of tenth in the second race after a superb drive through the field was impressive and possibly raised a few eyebrows. As a reserve driver he couldn’t have done any more.

James Nash

Best race result – 1 twelfth

James Nash’s return did bring a bit of substance to BTC Norlin Racing’s season as the former race winner is a deft hand in touring cars. However, beset with similar issues to Tom Boardman in regards to the NGTC machinery and other limitations, the decision was taken to step away from the championship to focus on other businesses. Therefore we saw James being replaced by Dan Lloyd after the Thruxton weekend for the remainder of the season.

Stephen Jelley

Best race results – 2 fourteenths

After acquiring a BMW 125i M Sport for use in 2018, Team Parker Racing and Stephen Jelley would have been forgiven for thinking that they would blitz their 2017 performance where they only scored two points. Not only did they double their tally they also almost pulled off the surprise of the season at Knockhill. After a supreme qualifying where Stephen plonked the Beemer on the front row of the grid, a podium was on the cards with a handful of laps remaining. That was until a certain triple champion decided to plow into the back of the Stephen’s BMW under braking. Jelley’s 2018 season was a perfect example of how old spec engines compare to newer versions.

Glynn Geddie

Best race result – 1 fifteenth

Another to drive an MG in 2018 and managed to score a point at his home race of Knockhill. After not competing in the championship for four seasons and being practically dropped into the deep end, Geddie did enough to stay out of trouble and contribute a point to final standings for the AmD MG team in the two weekends he competed in.

Donington Park BTCC

Credit: btcc.net

Sam Smelt

Best race result – 1 seventeenth

Came very close to scoring two points in the Diamond Double race at Snetterton but sadly never looked like he was going to trouble the top fifteen once throughout the season. Whilst qualifying pace improved as the season went on, the race pace was never there. Whilst this was a learning season and the knowledge gained about the series was very valuable, you feel that he may have jumped to the BTCC to quickly after just a year in British F4.

Josh Price

Best race result – 1 eighteenth

Whilst the tail end of 2017 saw some strong finishes by Josh including a top ten finish. 2018 ended up being a disappointment when he was dropped partway through the year. There are probably many reasons as to why but it would be wrong to speculate here. Subaru issues didn’t just hit veteran Plato obviously. Took a deserved win in the final TCR UK round to cap off a difficult year.

Michael Caine

Best race result – 3 nineteenths

After sporadic appearances in the championship over just three seasons, the opportunity to run a full season was perfect for the veteran and with the Volkswagen CC being a strong package, there was undoubtedly excitement to see what Mr Caine could do. However, things just didn’t seem to click and following the Rockingham round Michael was dropped.

Daniel Welch

Best race result – 1 nineteenth

Dan Welch took part in the Diamond Double celebrations at Snetterton. With the ballast penalty applied due to being a mid-season replacement, speed wasn’t going to be be there from the outset. This affected every driver who came in partway through the year. If conditions weren’t so atrocious, races two and three might have seen the possibility of a top fifteen finish. Depsite the one weekend, it was good to see Dan back on the grid.

Ollie Pidgley

Best race result – 1 twentieth

Aims of reaching the top twenty in his four weekends, Ollie managed it once and when he tried to do it again reliability issues hampered the opportunity. At Silverstone, there was a chance for points until Ollie ran wide and dropped down the order. Sadly for Ollie that was as close he was going to get.

Ethan Hammerton

Best race result – 1 twentieth

The first driver in the BTCC born in the 2000’s. The youngster was a winner of the Team HARD scholarship and was put into the seat for the final two weekends. Whilst dreams of driving in the BTCC in 2019 might not happen, his performances in the final two weekends can’t have hampered him for a seat in the not too distant future.

Michael Caine BTCC

Credit: btcc.net

Josh Caygill

Best race result – 1 twenty-first

After admitting it was just for the chance to drive in the championship, the Blancpain GT driver had the final two weekends to have a go at the hustle and bustle of BTCC. Satisfied with progress at Silverstone, hopes were high to push forward at Brands Hatch. However, steering issues meant we never had the chance to see Josh flex his touring car mettle.

Carl Boardley

Best race result – N/A

Officially not classified in the final standings due to the fact he was disqualified from each race in the only weekend he took part in. Carl Boardley has been given a chance to make amends after he was given a Team HARD seat for 2019. The six time race winner in the 2018 Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup will come to the BTCC with a strong pedigree and the opportunity to possibly score some points.

This concludes The Checkered Flag’s 2018 British Touring Car Championship season review and one final word from the author as he wishes to thank TCF for the opportunity to write about this fantastic championship and finally put his Journalism degree to good use. The rings from the bottom of mugs were starting to make it look like it had sunk with an old pirate ship. With news of the 2019 championship slowly dripping through, this keeps up the unwaivering excitement and you can bet that next season will be reported upon with enthusiasm akin to the season we’ve just witnessed.

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