PREVIEW: 2019 British Touring Car Championship – Oulton Park

by Stuart Richards
BTCC 2019

Oulton Park. A circuit of history, a circuit of fantastic racing, a circuit where you reminisce about Kelvin Burt destroying his Volvo on the run to Cascades. It may have been announced recently that it’s going to feature during Wales Rally GB but ahead of then, it makes its annual appearance on the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship calendar.

Last year, Matt Simpson was the surprise package when he qualified on pole in qualifying. Even when he binned his Honda Civic Type R at the hairpin he remained on top. His maiden victory in the BTCC followed on the Sunday with a competent lights to flag victory, However, his weekend was curtailed when an engine issue saw him miss out on races one and two. Whether success can happen again is a longshot considering the season so far, but the fact Matt knows he’s able to get the business done at Oulton Park might see him score his best results of the season so far.

Andrew Jordan provided further proof that the BMW 330i M Sport is perfect even when it had been nerfed by a technical change by taking two further victories at Croft. However, it does put forward questions about the success ballast change ahead of the season. Whilst fans and drivers rejoiced, it has closed the window of opportunity for three different winners during a weekend. If the BMW’s get another good start, they will undoubtedly be unstoppable in the second race as well.

This would be the point where I mention Colin Turkington. However, since Oulton Park is Tom Oliphant’s home race I am going to go out on a limb and expect him to improve on the third place finish he enjoyed at Donington Park. Second place or victory this weekend Tom, no pressure!

With a victory finally scored in 2019, Tom Chilton has the experience to now string together consistent results and Oulton Park saw him score the first of his podiums scored last season. Whilst the season may have started “slow” the car will now only improve and he’ll start to become a familiar face in top three parc ferme.

BTCC 2019
Credit: btcc.net

Tom’s teammate Ollie Jackson enjoyed a strong weekend last time out. If it wasn’t for the incident in race one and resultant sabotage that he may or may not have been on purpose, the final two races could have been very fruitful. Oulton Park saw one of Ollie’s most daring drives and if the Croft form continues, he could be on for more points.

Josh Cook has scored a podium at each race weekend and he’s good value for his current second place position in the drivers championship. The possibility for this continuing looks strong, however it’ll be later on in the day since he appears to struggle with ballast. Considering how the ballast was reduced and not affecting the top teams.

Third in the championship and having not won a race so far this season, Ashley Sutton appears to be going for the Turkington approach to 2019. With a so-so weekend at Croft, Oulton Park has rarely been a happy hunting ground so he and the team will be aiming to change this. The dizzy heights of six victories in a season might be a long shot this time around.

Elsewhere on the grid, Jason Plato was pleased with his first podium finish of the season last time out and with the Vauxhall Astra gradually coming up to front running pace, it might be another strong weekend for the veteran. Dan Cammish meanwhile quietly got to the business of racing well at Croft and enjoyed a podium finish in the second race. It’s odd, you guarantee a strong weekend for Dan and his teammate, Matt Neal, but I still can’t see a victory forthcoming. I am willing to be shut up this weekend though.

Jake Hill is still scoring points every so often, Tom Ingram will be wanting to put Croft third race disappointment behind him and Adam Morgan will be working towards a better Saturday. One where it’s comparable to his Sundays.

Sam Tordoff and Rory Butcher will be hoping Croft was just a slight blip and that their car can make a return to the top. Looking in the hypothetical history books, where the books are hypothetical and not the records within them, don’t nit pick… The FK2 Honda Civic Type R often does well. Just look at Matt Simpson last year.

The BTCC returns this weekend 29/30 June at Oulton Park where qualifying will be live on itv.com/btcc Saturday and all three races shown live on ITV4 on the Sunday.

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