It just wouldn’t be British Touring Cars without edge of your seat action all day long, would it? Races 19, 20 and 21 of the 2018 BTCC season at Rockingham on Sunday delivered on every level with some stunning drives from the back of the grid, epic last lap battles and some massive consequences in the title race for an unlucky few. I’m spoilt for choice when it comes to picking out some of my standout talking points from Rockingham this weekend, but I’ve selected some of the best to analyse in my weekend wrap. Read on to discover who I thought delivered the drive of a lifetime, who might just perform a miracle this season and what drivers I think are now surely out of the title race.
Morgan Back On The Money
I used my pre-race talking points to highlight how important Rockingham could be in Adam Morgan’s season, and I’m pleased to see that the Cicely Motorsport driver enjoyed his strongest weekend of the year so far. Pole position and a dominant lights to flag victory in race one was followed up by a strong second in race two, before 8th in race three rounded out his weekend and lifted him to 6th in the driver’s standings. Morgan drove with confidence and great speed all weekend long and whilst this late-season resurgence won’t be enough to bring him into the title fight, he could well end up best of the rest behind Turkington and Ingram.
It was great to see Morgan back up at the front of the grid, somewhere where we saw this weekend that if both car and driver are on form, he clearly belongs. With Knockhill up next, Morgan will be looking to continue this upturn in pace and challenge for podiums and race wins once again.
Tom Ingram Overtaking Masterclass
Two weeks after Ingram produced a stunning drive from 27th to 3rd in race two at Snetterton the unthinkable happened, he did exactly the same again. There was a fantastic roar from the crowd in the Rockingham grandstand each time Ingram picked up another position, and lap after lap the Speedworks Motorsport driver clawed his way up to 3rd place at the checkered flag. On pure speed alone, the Speedworks Toyota Avensis is one of the, if not the fastest car on the grid and the progress both team and driver have made over the last few seasons is nothing short of incredible. Ingram’s drives at Snetterton and now Rockingham are ones that will live firmly in the memories of those who were lucky enough to witness them, a bit like Shedden’s championship charge at Brands Hatch in 2016.
Despite a disastrous DNF after a race-long battle with Turkington in race one, Ingram’s weekend finished on a more positive note with 3rd and 5th place finishes. However, he now trails Turkington by 4 points in the driver’s standings with Knockhill next on the calendar, a track where Ingram won in race three last year.
Can Sutton Pull Off The Impossible?
After Oulton Park I said that it would take a miracle for Ash Sutton to defend his BTCC title. With just four finishes in the top ten in the first 12 races of the season, Sutton’s and Team BMR’s campaign looked to be a write-off. However, nine races later, including four 1st’s and two 2nd places have catapulted Sutton to 3rd in the championship table and 32 points off the top. The defending champion has produced a second-half turnaround even more remarkable than the Subaru’s managed in 2016 and now has a real chance at fighting for the 2018 driver’s title.
A fantastic start from 10th in the grid in race one enabled Sutton to finish in 2nd come the checkered flag. Another brilliant start in race two to jump Morgan off the line paved the way for a comfortable win in race two before a disastrous race three saw Sutton finish down in 17th. Nevertheless, it was a perhaps unexpected level of success that Sutton enjoyed this weekend, again helped by some lighting starts off the line. He finished 2nd, 1st and 4th at Knockhill last year, and will be confident of closing the gap to the top again in two weeks time.
If there’s one driver who could sit to of the championship table despite having won just once all year its Colin Turkington. One of the BTCC’s finest operators, if there’s any driver who knows how to close out a championship its this guy, and after a weekend of 7th, 5th and 2nd place finishes the two-time champion has moved to the head of the driver’s standings. The Team BMW cars were solid yet not fast enough to win at Rockingham, and all of Turkington, Jordan and Ricky Collard struggled in qualifying. However Turkington’s experience shone through and on a weekend where many of his championship rivals faltered, he stayed out of trouble to bring the car home with solid points each race.
Knockhill has been a happy hunting ground in the past for Turkington with three podiums last year and another in 2016. We’re being treated to a fantastic battle between Turkington and Ingram for this year’s BTCC title and it’s so close to call between the two. The BMW driver should be feeling confident heading up to Scotland but once again he will be qualifying with a full load of ballast on the car.
Some Other Standout Weekends
Chris Smiley, Matt Simpson, Mike Bushell and Rory Butcher were some of the surprise packages at Rockingham this weekend. Smiley added BTC Norlin’s second ever race victory to their trophy cabinet in race three after finishing 4th and 6th in races one and two. Simpson scored his second podium of the year with a 3rd in race three and both Bushell and Butcher were unlucky to miss out on a podium finish after really strong results. All four drivers performed brilliantly over the Rockingham weekend and will have high hopes of a repeat performance at Knockhill in two weeks time.
And Some Not So Standout Ones
After qualifying 9th and a good opening lap things were looking up for Jason Plato. That was until he ran wide in race one and rejoined near the back of the field. Solid driving in races two and some brilliant overtaking in race three did ensure that his eventual 11th place finish bought home some points but overall it was another disappointing weekend for a driver who has fallen away from the top of the BTCC. I don’t enjoy watching Plato battling at the back of the field, and again this weekend I was left wondering why he doesn’t seem to be able to match the speed of Sutton in the other Subaru. He’s tantalisingly close to 100 race wins, but I’m not sure he’s going to get there. I’d love to see it happen.
Neal and Goff, two of the championship contenders coming into Rockingham left with their hopes of challenging for the title looking slim, if not impossible. Neal laboured to 18th, 14th and 15th place finishes whilst Goff also struggled to 13th, 15th and 19th. Both are now 44 points off the lead and can’t afford another weekend like Rockingham if they want to challenge Turkington and Ingram.
Standout Driver: Adam Morgan for bouncing back from a tough run in style with pole position and two podiums.
Standout Moment: Tom Ingram’s sensational drive from 27th to 3rd. Again!
Most Disappointing Moment: Jason Plato not converting strong qualifying and opening lap into points.
What were your highlights of the weekend? Let me know over on Twitter or Facebook!
Driver’s Standings After Rockingham
|1||Colin TURKINGTON||Team BMW||220|
|2||Tom INGRAM||Speedworks Motorsport||216|
|3||Ashley SUTTON||Adrian Flux Subaru Racing||188|
|4||Jack GOFF||WIX Racing with Eurotech||176|
|5||Matt NEAL||Halfords Yuasa Racing||176|
|6||Adam MORGAN||Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport||169|
|7||Tom CHILTON||Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher||169|
|8||Josh COOK||Power Maxed TAG Racing||166|
|9||Andrew JORDAN||BMW Pirtek Racing||161|
|10||Senna PROCTOR||Power Maxed TAG Racing||128*|
|11||Dan CAMMISH||Halfords Yuasa Racing||129|
|12||Sam TORDOFF||Team GardX Racing with Motorbase||128|
|13||Chris SMILEY||BTC Norlin Racing||124|
|14||Matt SIMPSON||Simpson Racing||98|
|15||Rob COLLARD||Team BMW||86|
|16||Rob AUSTIN||DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing||72|
|17||Rory BUTCHER||AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing||71|
|18||Dan LLOYD||BTC Norlin Racing||59|
|19||James COLE||Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher||59|
|20||Aiden MOFFAT||Laser Tools Racing||58|
|21||Ollie JACKSON||AmD with Cobra Exhausts||54|
|22||Mike BUSHELL||Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing||49|
|23||Brett SMITH||WIX Racing with Eurotech||43|
|24||Tom OLIPHANT||Ciceley Motorsport||38|
|25||Jake HILL||Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing||29|
|26||Jason PLATO||Adrian Flux Subaru Racing||26|
|27||Bobby THOMPSON||Team HARD with Trade Price Cars||23|
|28||Tom BOARDMAN||AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing||14|
|29||Ant WHORTON-EALES||AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing||6|
|30||James NASH||BTC Norlin Racing||6|
|31||Stephen JELLEY||Team ParkerRacing||2|
Constructor’s Standings After Rockingham
Teams Standing’s After Rockingham
|2||Halfords Yuasa Racing||298|
|3||Power Maxed TAG Racing||291|
|4||Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher||216*|
|5||WIX Racing with Eurotech||209|
|7||BTC Norlin Racing||175*|
|8||Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport||163|
|9||BMW Pirtek Racing||160|
|10||Adrian Flux Subaru Racing||146*x5|
|11||Team GardX Racing with Motorbase||128|
|13||AmD with Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing||91|
|14||Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing||77|
|15||DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing||71|
|16||Laser Tools Racing||57|
|17||AmD with Cobra Exhausts||54|
|19||Team HARD with Trade Price Cars||23|
|20||Autoglym Academy Racing||0|
|21||Team Parker Racing||-8*|
Independent Driver’s Standings After Rockingham
|1||Tom INGRAM||Speedworks Motorsport||278|
|2||Tom CHILTON||Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher||241|
|3||Jack GOFF||WIX Racing with Eurotech||239|
|4||Adam MORGAN||Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport||218|
|5||Chris SMILEY||BTC Norlin Racing||192|
|6||Sam TORDOFF||Team GardX Racing with Motorbase||188|
|7||Matt SIMPSON||Simpson Racing||157|
|8||Rob AUSTIN||DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing||146|
|9||Aiden MOFFAT||Laser Tools Racing||132|
|10||Rory BUTCHER||AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing||130|
|11||Ollie JACKSON||AmD with Cobra Exhausts||119|
|12||James COLE||Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher||109|
|13||Tom OLIPHANT||Ciceley Motorsport||110|
|14||Daniel LLOYD||BTC Norlin Racing||99|
|15||Mike BUSHELL||Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing||91|
|16||Brett SMITH||WIX Racing with Eurotech||85|
|17||Jake HILL||Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing||64|
|18||Bobby THOMPSON||Team HARD with Trade Price Cars||58|
|19||Stephen JELLEY||Team ParkerRacing||54|
|20||Tom BOARDMAN||AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing||49|
|21||James NASH||BTC Norlin Racing||26|
|22||Ant WHORTON-EALES||AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing||25|
|23||Sam SMELT||AmD with Cobra Exhausts||19|
|24||Michael CAINE||Team HARD with Trade Price Cars||18|
|25||Dan WELCH||Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing||9|
|26||Glynn GEDDIE||AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing||3|
|27||Dan WELCH||Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing||1|
Independent Teams Standings After Rockingham
|2||WIX Racing with Eurotech||269|
|3||Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher||259*|
|4||BTC Norlin Racing||253*|
|5||Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport||229|
|6||Team GardX Racing with Motorbase||196|
|7||AmD with Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing||190|
|9||Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing||162|
|10||DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing||155|
|11||AmD with Cobra Exhausts||151|
|12||Laser Tools Racing||146|
|14||Team HARD with Trade Price Cars||103|
|15||Team Parker Racing||75*|