After weeks of tearing my hair out waiting for the return of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship, another format change to the race weekend preview will certainly keep things fresh and interesting. (I hope) However, I have been forced into this by technical limitations and inspiration from Smash Hits magazine back in the 1980s.
Croft, the circuit in Yorkshire was not named after a former tennis player turned TV presenter who once did loads of running about on a TV show called Interceptor. Interceptor was basically a cut price version of Treasure Hunt with an evil villain in a helicopter.
Filling up the schedule ahead of Oulton Park for once, the circuit tends to turn up ahead of a month long break and is often the scene for an Adrian Flux Subaru Racing turnaround. Ashley Sutton’s season has started off ominously early for his rivals in 2019 and if past form is anything to go by, the rear-wheel drive Subaru Levorg GT will be the car to beat.
Senna Proctor hasn’t had the best of starts to the season but you can foresee him on the pace and possibly going for podium finishes. His last podium actually coming in the final race of the day at Croft last season.
The BMW 330i M Sport has enjoyed one of the best debuts in motorsport history and you really have to applaud the best run team in the whole of the BTCC for having such a great car. In fact, the biggest surprise is that everyone is still in shock that despite the short development time, the car has been the one to beat. Of course it would be, a saloon BMW in the BTCC? Team BMW and BMW Pirtek Racing with West Surrey Racing knew what they had from the outset.
Andrew Jordan has been reinvigorated by the new machinery and with three wins to his name already this season, odds are in favour of him possibly adding to his 2013 drivers title. However, missing the bulk of the Donington Park weekend might hurt him in the long run.
Croft favours rear-wheel drive and keep this this bit quiet. Colin Turkington is quite good around there. It’s an unbelievable cliché, but the fact’s don’t lie. He hasn’t won at Croft since 2017 but you can pretty much expect that to change.
Joint championship leader Rory Butcher is good value for his current position. Consitency is Rory’s game and it’s something that currently eludes his teammate Sam Tordoff. Whilst technical issues can be excused, constant involvement in incidents can become tiring for drivers and it’s still admirable that Sam has a brave face on what should have been a strong start to his season.
Josh Cook is often bearing the brunt of hard luck this season before things seemingly turn around and he comes up smelling of roses. Two wins already this season has set him out to be a contender in the long run. A dramatic retirement at Croft last year due to brake failure will hopefully be avoided. That really goes without saying!
BTC Racing got their maiden victory at the circuit last year with Dan Lloyd and with their current excellent start to the season so far, you can forgive them for wanting to mark the occasion with another six fantastic results.
Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher had a pretty anonymous weekend last time out and with results bouncing around like a Giorgio Moroder bassline, Tom Chilton will be hopeful of a return to podium battles and Ollie Jackson will dream of a weekend where he can show all the doubters that he deserves the second Motorbase seat.
At the end of the day it’s incredibly futile to even predict what’s going to happen by looking at the past. Certain parallels can be drawn in order to predict a rough draft but at the end of the day predictions rarely come up tops. That aside, looking at what happened twelve month ago…
Tom Ingram scored two podium finishes in the first two races, he’s going to struggle to replicate this in 2019 but that is to be expected. Donington victory or not.
Jason Plato scored his only podium finish here in 2018 and that would have been down to the “second wind” the Levorg got at that time and the fact it has rear-wheel drive. However, with confidence slowly but surely creeping back up. The old JP seems to be making a reappearance and this is fantastic news for the BTCC and Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing.
Rob Collard is also enjoying a renaissance so this could be quite a fruitful weekend for the Vauxhall men.
Will we see surprises, probably. But what can be guaranteed is high class tin top racing at a classic BTCC circuit. The BTCC returns this weekend 15/16 June at Croft where qualifying will be live on itv.com/btcc Saturday and all three races shown live on ITV4 on the Sunday.