It’s all come down to this. Through crashes, heartbreak, tears and joy the 2015 BTCC title is nearing its climax. After a weekend in which we saw what could be champions of the future rise to the fore, Jackson, Shedden and Plato held their own to take a race victory apiece at the Rock.
With just six races remaining until a Champion must be crowned, the focus will shortly turn to Silverstone, where rounds 25, 26 and 27 could see a clear favourite emerge. 2015 has been close to a vintage season for the BTCC, with bumper grids, plenty of different race winners, and returning Touring Car legends and as it starts to draw to a close, thehairpincorner assess the title chances of the top five drivers in the table.
A more than stellar first half to the season has allowed Gordon Shedden to keep pace in the title race, even when weekends like Snetterton failed to go his way, and a solid points haul at Rockingham certainly did nothing to harm his cause. Just six points ahead of Plato, Flash could have his work cut out at Silverstone, given the form of the then MG driver last year, but more of his what has become trademark consistency could see him very well placed come the finale at brands.
Championship Chance : 8/10
If Plato repeats the kind of form he showed at Silverstone last year (Pole and two victories) then the BMR driver could well arrive at Brands Hatch sitting pretty at the top of the table. With Silverstone historically being a happy hunting ground for JP, you wouldn’t want to bet against him adding to his victory count at the circuit. With both Plato and Shedden displaying good form at Brands in the season opener (albeit an extremely unlucky Plato) Jason’s Silverstone form allows him to just edge out Shedden in our overall prediction.
Championship Chance: 8.5/10
Triple champ Matt Neal could well find himself playing rear gunner for his Honda teammate if he finds himself significantly outscored at Silverstone. None the less, the Civic is right up at the top of the grid in terms of competitiveness and a good weekend for Neal at Silverstone could cause both Shedden and Plato to look nervously over their shoulders. Neal hasn’t enjoyed the happiest of times at Silverstone in the past, and a repeat of his 21st, 12th and 13th places from 2014 would most likely drop him out of the title hunt.
Neal’s past form at Silverstone counts against him but with the incredibly competitive nature of this year’s Championship he could find himself well in the hunt come Brands. The chances could be slim though.
Championship Chance: 6.5/10
There can be no doubting Turkington’s ability to close out a Championship. His trio of podium finishes at Silverstone last year, especially after such a strong weekend for his main title rival Plato, set the Irishman up to seal his second BTCC crown at last year’s season final. In his first season back in a front wheel drive car, for Turkington to be only 33 points behind Shedden can only be considered nothing short of remarkable. Snetterton’s double victory propelled the Team BMR driver right back into the championship hunt at race three’s podium at Rockingham capped the end of a disappointing two rounds for the whole Volkswagen squad.
Credit must go to both Turkington and Plato for staying right in the championship hunt when rivals have had stronger weekends, especially at Knockhill and their professionalism and consistency have left Team BMR with a real shot at their first driver’s title.
Turk just edges out Neal due to his superior Silverstone form but good weekends for Shedden and Plato could see both fall further away from the top.
Championship Chance: 7/10
It seems consistency has become the new fashion in the BTCC, and if so, Jordan is surely the best example to date. His 4th and last 2015 podium came back at Oulton Park in June, but his
regular points scoring finishes have left Triple Eight with a (very slim) shot at the title. 46 points behind the lead Honda, if the MG is as good at Silverstone as it was last year, Andrew could yet force (and it would literally have to be force) his way back into contention. With Plato’s MG easily the class of the field here in 2014, the same form for Triple Eight this year, combined with bad weekends for a couple above him could see AJ in with an outside shot come Brands Hatch. The chances remain unlikely, especially given the consistency of all the drivers above him this year, but it’s still there.
With the MG clearly not the class of the 2015 grid, Triple Eight could well find their work cut out at Brands Hatch, even with a best possible scenario at Silverstone.
Championship Chance: 4/10
Since, when did anything in the BTCC ever go as planned, but we’re going to commit anyway and hedge our bets that Jason Plato will be this year’s BTCC champion. Let us know what you think in the comments below or on Twitter, we’d love to hear your opinion!
Let the championship roll on.