BTCC Oulton Park Weekend Preview: Sutton's Season Starts Here?

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Ash Sutton leads Rob Collard home in race two at Oulton Park in 2017. Image thanks to autocar.co.uk

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Ash Sutton leads Rob Collard home in race two at Oulton Park in 2017. Image thanks to autocar.co.uk

Oulton Park is one of my favourite circuits on the BTCC Calendar. I think it suits touring car racing perfectly and there’s no better sight than watching cars stream through Dentons the Cascades on the opening lap of a race. UK touring car racing has come a long way since the first rounds of the British Saloon Car Championships were held at Oulton Park in 1960, but the track remains a favourite among drivers and fans and I can’t wait for practice to begin on Saturday morning. Here are some things to look out for at round 4 of the 2018 British Touring Car Championship season.
Rear Wheel Drive Cars Could Be The Ones To Beat
Oulton Park marks the first of a series of circuits where rear wheel drive cars have traditionally had the upper hand. With both BMW and Subaru arguably underperforming so far this season, races 10, 11 and 12 of the championship represent a great chance for drivers of both teams to bag some top-five finishes and move up the table. Both Ash Sutton and Andrew Jordan took wins at Oulton Park in 2017 and I’m backing both put in a strong performance this weekend. Jordan took a 6th and 5th last time out at Thruxton before food poisoning ruled him out race 3, but Sutton had a disappointing weekend where 15th, 11th and 20th place finish dropped him to 9th in the championship table.
I expect all three WSR BMW’s, and the Subaru of Sutton (and maybe Plato) to be much improved this weekend at Oulton Park. Jason Plato and Rob Collard have yet to see their 2018 season take off, and both are in need of solid points scoring finishes.
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Plato has endured a torrid start to the season, and is the biggest name driver yet to score a point. Image thanks to LAT Images.

Can Tom Ingram Keep The Pace? 
Oulton Park was where Tom Ingram’s championship charge began to derail in 2017. The Speedworks Motorsport Toyota registered DNF, DNF and 20th over the three races last year and will be desperate to still be in the championship’s top five come the end of the weekend. Ingram recovered from a tough start to the last round at Thruxton to come through and finish 7th in race three, and he will need the same kind of resilience this weekend if things start to unravel.
With 2 race wins to his name already this season Ingram has been among the strongest performers so far in 2018 and just seems to keep improving year on year. The Speedworks Toyota Avensis has been a great package for the last 2 – 3 seasons, and the team, with Ingram behind the wheel, have proved themselves more than capable of fighting for the outright BTCC drivers title. They just need to keep bagging consistent points-scoring finishes in a period of the year and a series of tracks where they historically struggled.
Will The New Honda Civic Type R Keep Improving
Matt Neal’s season really got going at Thruxton last time out, as did the new Team Dynamics Honda Civic Type R. Pole position, and a trio of 1st, 3rd and 8th place finishes catapulted Neal to 6th in the championship table. The 3-time BTCC drivers champion finished on the podium in all 3 races last year at Oulton Park and despite the track traditionally favouring the rear wheel drive cars I’m backing the new Honda Civic to be up at the sharp end of the pack.
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Matt Neal scored a sensational pole position last time out at Thruxton. Image thanks to btcc.net

Dan Cammish had an unfortunate end to his Thruxton weekend following a second BTCC podium in race 1, however, the rookie sits just 6 points behind teammate and level on 62 points with Senna Proctor. Cammish is having a remarkable rookie campaign in the BTCC and its really only matter of time before he chalks up his first race win. I’ve been so impressed with Cammish, and I fully expect him to be there or thereabouts come to the crunch end of the season. The 2-time Porsche Carrera Cup GB Champion has been amongst 2018’s standout performers and both Team Dynamics Civics are my top picks to challenge BMW and Subaru this weekend.
The Championship Race Hots Up
I mentioned in my  Thruxton weekend roundup that I’m finding it hard to believe that all of Morgan, Cook, Ingram and Goff will be in championship contention at the end of the season but I’d love to be proved wrong. Out of the 4 championship challengers, it was Josh Cook who had the best time at Oulton Park last season and I’m expecting the PMR Vauxhall Astra to be strong again this weekend. Another great weekend at Thruxton saw Vauxhall maintain their lead in the manufacturer’s championship in the 2nd season of their BTCC comeback but Oulton Park will be a completely different challenge. The team scored a 15th place finish in the hands of Senna Proctor in race 1 at Oulton Park last year and I think finishing inside the top 7 across the weekends’ 3 races would represent a good result for the team.
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Morgan had a torrid time at Oulton Park last season and failed to start 2 of 3 races. Image thanks to Ciceley Motorsport.

I expect Jack Goff to be there or thereabouts, at a track where the Honda Civic has been strong, despite the Eurotech driver having a tough weekend at Oulton Park last year. Championship leader Adam Morgan might struggle in qualifying with full ballast on his Mercedes A-Class, but if he can qualifying inside the top ten he could position himself perfectly for a race 3 charge to the top of the podium.
My Weekend Prediction
I think the three WSR BMW’s and Ash Sutton are going to be tough to beat and I’m backing one of those four cars for pole. The Team Dynamics Hondas are my weekend’s dark horses and Jack Goff might sneak in a podium at some point. I’m not expecting Cook and Ingram to be as strong as they have done in previous rounds but they could maintain their positions in the championship with consistent top 10 finishes.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the upcoming weekend! Let me know in the comments below!
 
Form Guide

Championship Top 15 Table Before Oulton Park

1Adam MORGANMac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport96
2Josh COOKPower Maxed TAG Racing95
3Tom INGRAMSpeedworks Motorsport85
4Jack GOFFWIX Racing with Eurotech83
5Colin TURKINGTONTeam BMW78
6Matt NEALHalfords Yuasa Racing68
7Senna PROCTORPower Maxed TAG Racing62*
8Dan CAMMISHHalfords Yuasa Racing62
9Ashley SUTTONAdrian Flux Subaru Racing55
10Chris SMILEYBTC Norlin Racing52
11Andrew JORDANBMW Pirtek Racing48
12Tom CHILTONTeam Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher48
13Aiden MOFFATLaser Tools Racing47
14Sam TORDOFFTeam GardX Racing with Motorbase47
15Rob AUSTINDUO Motorsport with HMS Racing35

Manufacturers Standings Ahead Of Oulton Park

1Vauxhall237
2BMW219
3Honda219
4Subaru157*

Teams Standings Ahead Of Oulton Park

1Power Maxed TAG Racing153
2Halfords Yuasa Racing127
3WIX Racing with Eurotech108
4Team BMW108
5Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport92
6Speedworks Motorsport81
7Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher75
8BTC Norlin Racing57
9BMW Pirtek Racing47
10Team GardX Racing with Motorbase47
11Laser Tools Racing46
12AmD with Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing45
13Adrian Flux Subaru Racing44*
14Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing43
15Duo Motorsport with HMS Racing34
16Simpson Racing30
17AmD with Cobra Exhausts21
18Ciceley Motorsport11
19Autoglym Academy Racing0
20Team HARD with Trade Price Cars0
21Team Parker Racing0

2017 Results at Oulton Park

Pole Position: Matt Neal
Race 1: Andrew Jordan (1st), Matt Neal (2nd), Ashley Sutton (3rd)
Race 2: Ashley Sutton (1st), Rob Collard (2nd), Matt Neal (3rd)
Race 3: Gordon Shedden (1st), Matt Neal (2nd), Andrew Jordan (3rd)
 
 
 
 

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