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.
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.
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.
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!
Championship Top 15 Table Before Oulton Park
|1||Adam MORGAN||Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport||96|
|2||Josh COOK||Power Maxed TAG Racing||95|
|3||Tom INGRAM||Speedworks Motorsport||85|
|4||Jack GOFF||WIX Racing with Eurotech||83|
|5||Colin TURKINGTON||Team BMW||78|
|6||Matt NEAL||Halfords Yuasa Racing||68|
|7||Senna PROCTOR||Power Maxed TAG Racing||62*|
|8||Dan CAMMISH||Halfords Yuasa Racing||62|
|9||Ashley SUTTON||Adrian Flux Subaru Racing||55|
|10||Chris SMILEY||BTC Norlin Racing||52|
|11||Andrew JORDAN||BMW Pirtek Racing||48|
|12||Tom CHILTON||Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher||48|
|13||Aiden MOFFAT||Laser Tools Racing||47|
|14||Sam TORDOFF||Team GardX Racing with Motorbase||47|
|15||Rob AUSTIN||DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing||35|
Manufacturers Standings Ahead Of Oulton Park
Teams Standings Ahead Of Oulton Park
|1||Power Maxed TAG Racing||153|
|2||Halfords Yuasa Racing||127|
|3||WIX Racing with Eurotech||108|
|5||Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport||92|
|7||Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher||75|
|8||BTC Norlin Racing||57|
|9||BMW Pirtek Racing||47|
|10||Team GardX Racing with Motorbase||47|
|11||Laser Tools Racing||46|
|12||AmD with Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing||45|
|13||Adrian Flux Subaru Racing||44*|
|14||Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing||43|
|15||Duo Motorsport with HMS Racing||34|
|17||AmD with Cobra Exhausts||21|
|19||Autoglym Academy Racing||0|
|20||Team HARD with Trade Price Cars||0|
|21||Team Parker Racing||0|
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)