After a breathless opening weekend at Brands Hatch in the 2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship, Donington Park is the next venue for the travelling British tin top circus as each team and driver continue their pursuit for title glory come the end of the season.
Taking a driver by driver look at all those competing this weekend, The Checkered Flag will attempt to use the opening weekend as a barometer for what we can expect. Don’t expect too much from us to make heads or tails of this unpredictable championship.
Colin Turkington – The BMW 330i M Sport is a winning car but most people would have expected the reigning champion to be able to score the car’s maiden victory. However, a strange lack of pace in the second race pointed out to the Northern Irishman that there is still development with the car to be done. Despite this, expect the Beemers to start their rise at Donington.
Tom Oliphant – Seemed to have the measure of his esteemed teammate and the rear-wheel drive, as was expected, is giving Tom the best opportunity to show off his talent. Tom scored his first ever BTCC top ten at Donington Park last season so this might be a happy hunting ground for the Team BMW man.
BMW Pirtek Racing
Andrew Jordan – A supreme victory in the second race really outed AJ as a possible title contender but I personally believe it’s still too early jumping the gun considering all the various permutations that this championship can throw up. It was a deserved victory of course but there is still a long way to go. Reliability issues hampered opportunity for points in the first two races last year so hopefully this won’t be repeated.
Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing
Jason Plato – It all looked so rosy for the veteran as a return to the front row of the grid in qualifying silenced most of his critics. Harshly punished in the first race due to a grid box infringement that many others fell foul of. But, despite all this, a buoyant mood is undoubtedly beginning to show as is the pace that we all know is there which can finally be seen again.
Rob Collard – Pretty anonymous in the opening races it’s difficult to judge whether we’ll see Rob mixing it up at the front this weekend. There is pace in the car but continuing the adaption back to front-wheel drive might be the main focus again in practice.
Adrian Flux Subaru Racing
Ashley Sutton – The Subaru Levorg GT has mystified us all with immediate pace at the start of the season. I’d say that other teams should be worried if they’re this quick at the start of the season. Ash will undoubtedly be mixing it at the front this weekend and the start of his usual multiple victories in a season begins now.
Senna Proctor – It was a shame to see reverse grid pole advantage wiped away on the opening lap but Senna can be pleased with steady progress through the weekend. Whilst it’ll be difficult to foresee similar pace to his former championship winning teammate you can believe that by the end of the season he’ll be threatening podium finishes on the regular.
Halfords Yuasa Racing
Matt Neal – Solid and consistent finishes was Matt’s game last time out and despite the third race incidents he can be pleased with a good start to the season. Whether all the pressure from pundits on the team regarding the development and speed of the car is affecting everyone is unknown but one thing is for certain, he’ll be gunning for victory at Donington to make up for race three at Brands.
Dan Cammish – Didn’t trouble the top ten at Brands Hatch which was a surprise to many who thought he was going to run away with podiums considering his well known pace there. After all it was just a blip and it’s pretty safe to assume there is absolutely nothing to worry about.
Team Toyota GB with Ginsters
Tom Ingram – Whilst having a new car would have placed all eyes on Tom to see where he’d finish in each race last time out, the pace of the BMWs seemingly took the pressure off and Tom had the opportunity to consistently take his Toyota Corolla GT to three points scoring finishes. There is pace there and it will be interesting to see how he’ll perform at Donington. A track he has won at previously.
Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher
Tom Chilton – Maybe harshly denied victory post third race but it shouldn’t take away from the fact that Tom has great pace in the Focus and the continuity from last season is there. Donington will now be the main acid test to see whether the opening weekend wasn’t a fluke.
Ollie Jackson – Unfortunately caught up in silly incidents we didn’t get the chance to see how Jackson would perform in a front running car. Thankfully it was only the first race weekend and there is still the opportunity to prove why he was selected. Ollie’s season starts here.
ROKiT Racing with Motorbase
Nicolas Hamilton – After a wonderful qualifying, Nic managed to not ruffle too many feathers and keep out of trouble to bring his car home. With two twentieth place finishes under his belt, Nic can now focus on going forward and possibly brushing the points paying positions.
Rob Smith – The opening weekend could have gone better but Rob can be buoyed by a strong pace from the rebuilt MG6’s. Whilst Excelr8 weren’t expected to set the championship alight there is a feeling that a surprise result could come sooner or later.
Sam Osborne – After what he called a “baptism of fire” at the opening weekend, Sam will probably still be learning the BTCC ropes heading to Donington Park but thankfully it will probably remain dry and wet running will be nothing to worry about. Keeping the car in one piece will be the main aim.
Cobra Sport AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing
Sam Tordoff – It seems the bad luck that plagued Sam throughout 2018 still hasn’t fully been shaken. The car is quick so there’s no worries there but a fear of getting involved with other drivers’ misfortune may prove to be a downfall. Sam’s season starts properly at Donington this weekend!
Rory Butcher – Undoubtedly buzzing after his maiden BTCC victory, Rory will be going out on track to prove that he’s able to take victory on track and not within the post race stewards office. Whilst it’s early doors the strong start to the season must not be wasted and consistency will be the most important thing to focus on as the weekend rolls on.
Trade Price Cars Racing
Jake Hill – Certainly the surprise of Brands Hatch, Jake read the conditions to perfection and he benefitted from two fantastic top five finishes which also included a podium. It’ll probably be tough to replicate, however Donington will give us a great opportunity to see how far the car has come from the end of last season.
Mark Blundell – It’s hard to fathom that a driver of Blundell’s stature is in the BTCC saying that it’s one of the toughest championships that he’s ever competed in, but he is giving it one hell of a good go. I don’t imagine it’ll be long until we’re seeing him roughing up the regulars to consistently fight for points.
Team Parker Racing
Stephen Jelley – It’s amazing what an engine upgrade can do. Stephen is finally enjoying the rewards that a BMW 125i M Sport should consistently bring and you can imagine he’ll be fighting for points again this weekend. A podium may be a bit far fetched but stranger things have happened.
Laser Tools Racing
Aiden Moffat – Returning to the scene of his maiden victory in 2017, Aiden comes off a weekend where he quietly impressed and seemingly put behind the year of ups and downs behind him. Two podiums were scored at Donington last year and it’ll be difficult to deny the possibility of this happening again.
GKR Scaffolding with Autobrite Direct
Bobby Thompson – Was one of the slick brigade in the first race to score a superb sixth, but the rest of the weekend showed that when there is (relative) parity amongst the drivers, Bobby is still able to get points. This looks like it may be a fruitful year for the Volkswagen man.
Michael Crees – A joy to have in the paddock, it doesn’t matter what Donington Park may bring it’ll be fantastic to see another strong result to see the reaction. Points will definitely be on the agenda again for Michael.
RCIB Insurance with Fox Transport
Jack Goff – Was there any expectation to re-set the championship alight in his “return”? Probably did what was within the capabilities of the car and if you take everything into consideration the only way is up. A podium was scored at Donington last year. But, considering the change of machinery. That will probably be tough to replicate.
Carl Boardley – A tough start to the season therefore aims for Donington will be to stay out of trouble and try to get off the foot of the table.
Josh Cook – Nobody expected victory in the first race but it was a supreme read of the conditions and nothing less than Josh deserved. The Civic appears to be a formidable package and BTC Racing have quite the driver on their hands. Donington was the scene of Josh’s maiden pole position and victory last year and with the car the way it is currently, he might be up there again.
Chris Smiley – An inconspicuous start paved the way to a strong seventh in the reverse grid race. Much like his teammate, Chris enjoyed a superb weekend at Donington Park last year so BTC will probably be the team to watch this weekend.
Cataclean Racing with Ciceley Motorsport
Daniel Rowbottom – Another driver with a maiden weekend under his belt and the opportunity to now go forwards is the strongest aim there is for the Worcestershire man. The Mercedes Benz A-Class does have a good track record around Donington so this might be a good chance for Dan’s first BTCC points.
MAC Tools with Ciceley Motorsport
Adam Morgan – Another driver to enjoy a solid start to the season, you feel that considering the longevity and promise that Adam has shown over recent years, 2019 will be his best chance to go for either independent or overall glory. The first of three victories in 2018 was scored at Donington so he’ll be hoping for more of the same.
Matt Simpson – First full season as an independent team started off with good speed but nothing to show for it in races. The FK2 Honda Civic Type R is a strong car as we all well know so Matt will be hoping that the first weekend was just a slight blip.
The BTCC returns this weekend 27/28 April at Donington Park where qualifying will be live on itv.com/btcc Saturday and all three races shown live on ITV4 on the Sunday.