In this article, I will go through each of the teams on the BTCC grid and make my predictions on the upcoming season. This season, there is a record amount of race winning drivers competing; which should ensure one of the most exciting seasons in the BTCC’s 60 year history.
Team BMW/BMW Pirtek Racing
Position in last year’s Constructor’s Championship: 1st/8th
This season’s drivers and their position in last year’s driver’s championship: Colin Turkington (2nd), Rob Collard (5th)/ Andrew Jordan (9th)
Car: BMW 125i M Sport
Team BMW have an extremely strong lineup going into this year’s season. Whichever way you look, there aren’t many obvious weaknesses. They kept their extremely strong driver lineup from 2017 in 2 time champion Colin Turkington with Rob Collard; not a championship winner, however an extremely strong driver with 14 wins in the BTCC. Then to top it all off, the BMW 125i car is one of the strongest in the field. So long as they can stay consistent, BMW should have a big chance of winning the Constructor’s Championship again and maybe in Colin Turkington, the driver’s championship. Whilst Collard is a very good driver, his qualifying performances aren’t always brilliant. However, that can lead to his trademark charges up the field which are fantastic to watch. Andrew Jordan didn’t show what I think he is capable of in the Pirtek BMW last year. Expect him to be strong this season after possibly struggling to get used to rear wheel drive last season.
Halfords Yuasa Racing
Position in last year’s Constructor’s Championship: 2nd
This season’s drivers and their position in last year’s driver’s championship: Matt Neal (7th)
Dan Cammish (N/a)
Car: Honda Civic Type R (FK8)
Halfords Yuasa Racing are one of the most successful teams in the recent history of the BTCC. The driver lineup of 3 time champion Gordon Shedden and 2 time champion Matt Neal worked extremely well. Both drivers respected each other and were always willing to let the other through if it would help the team in the championship. However, Gordon Shedden has now departed. This means that 28 year old Dan Cammish will start his rookie season in the championship. Cammish won the Porsche Carrera GB in 2015 and 2016. He also won the British Formula Ford championship in 2013. A good CV, however, we will have to see whether he can live up to his predecessor Shedden. The 51 year old Neal had some bad luck last season but I’m sure this season he’ll be looking to improve and fight for the championship.
Adrian Flux Subaru Racing/ Autoglym Academy Racing
Position in last year’s Constructor’s Championship last year: 3rd/19th
This season’s drivers and their position in last year’s driver’s championship: Ashley Sutton (1st) Jason Plato (12th)/ Josh Price (31st)
Car: Subaru Levorg GT
Adrian Flux Subaru Racing need to have a big season this year. After entering the sport in 2016 and struggling in the first 2 weekends and missing the 3rd weekend of the season, the Subaru Levorg came good in the following weekends winning 6 of the remaining 21 races. It was a similar story in 2017, winning 8 of the last 21 races; 6 of those coming from reigning champion, Ashley Sutton. Sutton had an incredible season last year and he was able to get the best out of his car much earlier than his teammates. Jason Plato will be hoping to have a much better season after a frustrating season that only brought him one win. In the Autoglym Academy car, Josh Price had a relatively poor rookie season. Unlike Sutton, he was never able to set the car up in a way that would maximise his potential. He’ll be hoping for a much better second season in the BTCC.
Position in last year’s Constructor’s Championship: 4th
This season’s drivers and their position in last year’s driver’s championship: Tom Ingram (3rd)
Car: Toyota Avensis
The first independent team in this preview; Speedworks had an incredible season last year to finish 4th in the championship; winning the Independent’s Championship in the process. For most of the season, Tom Ingram was a contender for the championship. To see how good he is, just watch his drive from race 3 at Knockhill last season. I was lucky enough to witness this race in person and Ingram was truly brilliant. They’ll be hoping for the Independent’s Championship once again this season and I’m sure that Tom Ingram will want to win the Driver’s Championship too.
WIX Racing with Eurotech/ Simpson Racing
Position in last year’s Constructor’s Championship: 5th/18th
This season’s drivers and position in last year’s championship: Jack Goff (6th) Brett Smith (30th)/ Matt Simpson (24th)
Car: Honda Civic Type R (FK2)
Jeff Smith got Eurotech off to a great start last season after claiming pole position at the first race of the season. Jack Goff and Jeff Smith were a great partnership, doing extremely well in the championship. However, Jeff Smith has an extremely unfortunate crash in qualifying at Croft which meant that he was out for the season. His son, Brett Smith, replaced him and impressed in the few races he had for the team. They should be competitive this season as usual and we should expect them to fight for some podiums here and there. Matt Simpson is now part of the team in his own Simpson Racing car. Matt has been extremely unlucky so far in his BTCC career and has never really shown pace. Will he show his potential this season?
Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher/Team GuardX Racing with Motorbase
Position in last year’s Constructor’s Championship: 6th/ N/a
This season’s drivers and their position in last year’s driver’s championship: Tom Chilton (15th for Power Maxed TAG Racing) James Cole (16th for Adrian Flux Subaru Racing)/ Sam Tordoff (N/a)
Car: Ford Focus RS
Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher had a disappointing season last year. The team only had 1 win all season which came from experienced driver Mat Jackson. However, he left the team despite being confirmed for this season which meant race winner James Cole joined the team. Tom Chilton also joins the team from Power Maxed TAG Racing. Chilton is a solid driver who should bring some good points for the team when given the opportunity. Then we have Team GuardX Racing with Motorbase. After taking a year out of BTCC, the man with the pink helmet is back. Sam Tordoff returns to the championship after taking a year out. After coming so close to the title in 2016, Tordoff will want to make sure he had has a competitive car this year to make sure that he can compete for the title once again.
Power Maxed TAG Racing
Position in last year’s Constructor’s Championship: 7th
This season’s drivers and their position in last year’s driver’s championship: Senna Proctor (19th) Josh Cook (18th for Team Parker with Maximum Motorsport and MG Racing RCIB Insurance)
Car: Vauxhall Astra
After a decent first year in the BTCC, Power Maxed TAG Racing will be hoping for another strong season. With Jack Sears’ trophy winner Senna Proctor behind the wheel along with with Josh Cook, the Vauxhall Astra should be a strong contender this season. However, will they be able to improve on their last season?
Mac Tools with Cicely Motorsport/Cicely Motorsport
Position in last year’s Constructor’s Championship: 9th
This season’s drivers and position in last year’s championship: Adam Morgan (10th)/ Tom Oliphant (N/a)
Car: Mercedes A-Class
Cicely are a strong independent team who finished well last season despite only running one car. With two podiums last season coming from Adam Morgan, they had a good year. However, this year, they have two cars with the race winning Adam Morgan staying at the team alongside Tom Oliphant. Oliphant has previously won the Ginetta GT4 Supercup in 2015. The Mercedes A-Class is usually a decent car, so these drivers should be towards the front of the pack most of the time.
Now for the preview you’ve probably been most excited to read. Alfa Romeo is back in the BTCC with the help of Duo Motorsport with HMS Racing. I won’t go into much detail on last season for this team, however it was a good season for the team with Austin taking a podium in the 4th race of the season and a win in the last. Last season doesn’t mean anything to this team as they now have a new car which looks quick too. Austin topped the time-sheets at the BTCC launch at Donington and is confident in his car. He later said “What I will say, this Duo Motorsport with HMS Alfa Romeo is the best package I’ve ever started a season with.” This is promising for Alfa’s return to Britain’s premier Motorsport category. Alfa Romeo last won the BTCC in 1994 with Gabrielle Tarquini behind the wheel alongside Giampiero Simoni. Tarquini won the championship with Simoni finishing 5th. However in 1995, results were poor after Prodrive took control of the works Alfa team and they withdrew at the end of the 1995 season. 23 years later, Rob Austin will be looking to emulate the success of that team. Sadly, they aren’t a works team; but if they do well enough, Duo Motorsport with HMS Racing might catch the attention of Alfa who might make the return to the BTCC as a works team. We can only hope.
BTC Norlin Racing
Position in last year’s Constructor’s Championship: 11th
This season’s drivers and position in last year’s championship: Chris Smiley (21st)
James Nash (N/a)
Car: Honda Civic Type R (FK2)
BTC Norlin Racing had a quiet first season in the sport. They didn’t make many headlines, but with the help of Dave Newsham, the team were able to drag the Chevrolet Cruze up the order during some races. This year should see an improvement for the team, as with Honda machinery they should be much more competitive. James Nash will be looking to impress in his first season back in the BTCC since 2011 when he won the independent’s championship.
Laser Tools Racing
Position in last year’s Constructor’s Championship: 12th
This season’s drivers and position in last year’s championship: Aiden Moffat (13th)
Car: Mercedes A-Class
What happened to Aiden Moffat last season? He started the season so well including a brilliant race 1 win at Donington Park. However, for the rest of the season his results were slightly less exciting. He was mostly fighting in the midfield last season until Brands Hatch GP where he got his 2nd win of the season. This season, Moffat will be looking to be more consistent and be fighting at the front more often. The Mercedes is a good car so he should be able to get some good results this season.
AmD with Cobra Exhausts
Position in last year’s Constructor’s Championship: 14th
This season’s drivers and position in last year’s championship: Ollie Jackson (22nd), Sam Smelt (N/a)
Car: Audi S3
The Audi S3 hasn’t been a big hit in BTCC. It has never really been able to fight in the few years it has competed in the championship . Last year didn’t show much progress for the team but I’m sure they will be hopeful for a better 2018. Ollie Jackson rejoins the team for a third season in the Audi alongside British F4 champion, Sam Smelt. The 21 year old is in his rookie season and will be hopeful to show his pace in a big championship.
AmD with Autoaid RCIB Insurance
Position in last year’s Constructor’s Championship: 16th
This season’s drivers and position in last year’s championship: Rory Butcher (29th for Team Shredded Wheat with DUO) Tom Boardman (N/a)
Car: MG 6
MG no longer have Irishman Árón Taylor-Smith or Josh Cook behind the wheel. After a quiet season from the MG last season, maybe their new driver lineup can bring the team some glory. On the surface, 29th in the championship doesn’t look like a particularly good season. However, Butcher only came into the championship at Knockhill, meaning he had nowhere near as many races as others to make his way up the championship. At his first weekend, he was the best independent driver; so it’ll be interesting to see what he can do in a full season. Back in 2001 Boardman became the youngest driver to compete in the BTCC. He finished in 6th the following season. Let’s see how competitive they are.
Team HARD with Trade Price Cars/ Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing
Positions in last year’s Constructor’s Championship: 15th
This season’s drivers and position in last year’s championship: Bobby Thompson (N/a), Michael Caine (N/a)/ Mike Bushall (N/a), Jake Hill (20th)
Car: Volkswagen CC
Like the Audi S3, the Volkswagen CC hasn’t been a massive success so far in the BTCC. Team HARD with Trade Price Cars however are looking for change with an all near all new driver lineup which includes Vw Racing Cup champion Bobby Thompson and British GT champion from 2012 Michael Caine. Mike Bushell who is a two time Renault Clio Cup champion and reigning champion in that competition. Then Jake Hill returns to the team for this season and will be hoping for a better season alongside his fellow teammates whose experience in other categories should help this team climb up the field.
Team Parker Racing
Position in last year’s Constructor’s Championship: 17th
This season’s drivers and position in last year’s championship: Stephen Jelley (34th)
Car: BMW M125i M Sport
Last season started well for Team Parker Racing with Josh Cook finding 59 points in the first four weekends of the season. This put them in a good place in the championship. However, Cook left going into the 5th weekend of the season at Croft to drive for his old team MG. He was replaced by Dennis Strandberg for a one off weekend and then Stewart Lines for the rest of the season. Neither Lines nor Strandberg scored a point. Jelley was able to score 2 over the season. Cook’s mid-season departure was a poor move from both parties’ perspective; as Cook only scored 16 more points during the next 6 weekends. He scored so many more with Team Parker in 4 weekends. This season, only Stephen Jelley is driving and the old Ford Focus has been axed to make way for a BMW M125i M Sport. Hopefully, this season should come right for Team Parker Racing.
This year should be a very exciting year in the BTCC. I feel like that there are so many possibilities going into this season. I said at the start of the article that I would go though my predictions. However, BTCC is so unpredictable that predictions are extremely difficult to make. I would say that Ashley Sutton, Colin Turkington, Andrew Jordan, Tom Ingram and Sam Tordoff are the most likely to win the championship in my view. However, the “old boys” in Jason Plato and Matt Neal should be able to use their experience to be quick. Rob Austin in the Alfa Romeo should be interesting to watch too; I hope he can be quick and do the Italian marque proud.