The BTCC’s 60th-anniversary celebrations at Snetterton provided us with some of the closest finishes and best drives we have seen this season. On a wet Sunday in Norfolk the 2018 BTCC season took another dramatic twist and alongside seeing the title fight close right up, we saw what surely have to be contenders for start, drive and finish of the season. Snetterton was a potentially pivotal weekend in this year’s race to become BTCC champion and whilst some drivers will be left ruing missed opportunities, some have been bought right back into contention, making for a fascinating final four rounds of the year. Read on to discover some of my biggest take-homes from the Snetterton weekend.
The Championship Fight Closes Up
I think any one of the top seven drivers could still consider themselves in the championship fight, but its right at the top of the table that things are starting to tighten up. Ingram, Turkington, Neal and Goff are covered by just 17 points after a trio of races which saw all four drivers fail to fully capitalise on what points could have been available. Ingram suffered an unfortunate retirement in race one which set the scene for a spectacular drive to 3rd from 27th on the grid in race two. A further 3rd place in the diamond double ensured that the Speedworks Motorsport driver leaves Snetterton leading the title race by 6 points from Turkington.
Turkington had a time to forget at Snetterton, finishing 15th, DNF and 6th. In a weekend where West Surrey Racing didn’t have the raw car pace to match the Hondas or Ingram, it was very much damage limitation for Turkington who spent most of the weekend battling hard in the pack. The fact that he trails Ingram by just 6 points after one of his worst weekends of the year is largely down both his title rivals failing to maximise points scoring opportunities, and his 6th place in the double points race three.
Matt Neal and Jack Goff were two of the weekend’s top performers (among many) for me. If any driver was to win the historic diamond double race it had to be Neal, a driver who has performed at the top level in the BTCC since the 1990’s. That race victory catapulted him right back into the title fight after finishing 14th and 21st in races one and two. Failing to have the tyres fitted in time for the three-minute warning before the race may come back to haunt Jack Goff and Eurotech later on this season. Goff was arguably the fastest driver at Snetterton all weekend and a sensational race one victory would have no doubt been backed up by a podium in race two had his Honda Civic not been relegated to start from the pit lane. However, both pole positions and a further podium in the diamond double were worthy rewards for Goff who is really starting to make his mark in the BTCC.
A Weekend of Standout Moments
I’m really struggling to pick out my favourite moment from Snetterton because there are honestly so many to pick from. Ash Sutton’s start from 9th on the grid in race one was one of the best I’ve ever seen in the BTCC, and it ensured we had a grandstand finish with both Sutton and Goff racing for the line in one of the finishes of the season. Sutton backed up Subaru’s continued improvement by taking his third victory of the season in race two before an unfortunate 30-second stop-go penalty in race three ruined his chances in the diamond double. Nevertheless, a 2nd and a 1st mean that Sutton remains an outside bet to retain his BTCC drivers title after a weekend where his illustrious teammate Plato yet again struggled to make an impact.
Tom Ingram’s drive from 27th to 3rd in race two was nothing short of incredible. Speedwords Motorsport have developed the Toyota Avensis into one of the fastest cars on the BTCC grid, and Ingram delivered the drive of a lifetime to climb 24 places by the checkered flag. He leaves Snetterton leading the title race by 6 points as the series heads to Rockingham, a track where Ingram has been strong in the past. After two years where his title challenge faded during the mid part of the season, 2018 is proving to be a fantastic year for Ingram. If he manages to keep this form going he has a real chance of becoming a BTCC champion.
Race Three Nightmare For Cammish and Tordoff
After a great start to his rookie year, Dan Cammish hasn’t had the rub of the green from race two at Thruxton onwards. Snetterton marked a welcome return the podium in race one for Cammish who followed up his impressive pace with a 4th place in race two. Whilst the double points race didn’t go entirely to plan (14th), especially as the Dynamics Civic proved itself to be one of the grids fastest cars, Cammish can hope that as we begin the closing leg of 2018, his mid-season nightmare is well and truly behind him.
Despite not yet finishing on the podium this year, Tordoff has been one of 2018’s most consistent drivers in a Motorbase Focus which is fast, but not quite fast enough to challenge the likes of Ingram, Turkington, Neal and Goff. On a weekend where Tordoff featured a striking pink livery on his car, he finished 5th and 6th in races one and two before failing to finish the diamond double. All but out of championship contention this year, he sits 33 points behind Motorbase teammate Chilton who will surely be his target to beat come the end of the season.
Strong Weekends For Cook and Smiley
Just as Cook’s season looked to continue its sudden downward trend, the Power Maxed Racing driver responded with a brilliant trio of 4th, 2nd and 7th place finishes at Snetterton. Those strong points finish ensure Cook sits 5th in the championship table and continues Vauxhall’s impressive form on the second season of their BTCC comeback. Rockingham will provide a different challenge, but Cook is most certainly on course for the best season of his BTCC career to date.
Chris Smiley continued BTC Norlin Racing’s strong season which see’s them sit 4th in the Independent team’s championship. After Dan Lloyd took victory at Croft a few weeks ago, Smiley backed up the Civic’s pace with 7th and 5th place finishes before some fine defensive driving for the majority of race three. Smiley would, unfortunately, fail to finish the third race, but it was a good weekend for the Northern Irishman who sits 14th in the table.
My Standouts for the Weekend
Drivers – Jack Goff, Tom Ingram, Matt Neal
Moment – Ash Sutton’s start in race one
Team – Eurotech Racing
Drivers Table After Snetterton
|1||Tom INGRAM||Speedworks Motorsport||189|
|2||Colin TURKINGTON||Team BMW||183|
|3||Matt NEAL||Halfords Yuasa Racing||173|
|4||Jack GOFF||WIX Racing with Eurotech||172|
|5||Josh COOK||Power Maxed TAG Racing||157|
|6||Andrew JORDAN||BMW Pirtek Racing||157|
|7||Ashley SUTTON||Adrian Flux Subaru Racing||150|
|8||Tom CHILTON||Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher||148|
|9||Adam MORGAN||Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport||122|
|10||Sam TORDOFF||Team GardX Racing with Motorbase||115|
|11||Dan CAMMISH||Halfords Yuasa Racing||112|
|12||Senna PROCTOR||Power Maxed TAG Racing||111*|
|13||Rob COLLARD||Team BMW||86|
|14||Chris SMILEY||BTC Norlin Racing||80|
|15||Matt SIMPSON||Simpson Racing||70|
|16||Rob AUSTIN||DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing||67|
|17||Dan LLOYD||BTC Norlin Racing||59|
|18||James COLE||Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher||59|
|19||Aiden MOFFAT||Laser Tools Racing||50|
|20||Rory BUTCHER||AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing||46|
|21||Brett SMITH||WIX Racing with Eurotech||43|
|22||Ollie JACKSON||AmD with Cobra Exhausts||42|
|23||Tom OLIPHANT||Ciceley Motorsport||35|
|24||Jake HILL||Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing||29|
|25||Mike BUSHELL||Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing||29|
|26||Jason PLATO||Adrian Flux Subaru Racing||21|
|27||Tom BOARDMAN||AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing||14|
|28||Bobby THOMPSON||Team HARD with Trade Price Cars||14|
|29||Ant WHORTON-EALES||AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing||6|
|30||James NASH||BTC Norlin Racing||6|
Constructors Table After Snetterton
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