We’re just over one week away from from the BTCC season finale at Brands Hatch and a trio of races which will close another epic BTCC season. The series is going from strength to strength, and it’s fantastic to see the progress it has made since the early days of the Super Touring era. BTCC history is full of iconic cars, drivers and races and I feel like I could sit here for days writing about some of them. In a period of the BTCC which has seen the regulations move from Super Touring to NGCT, I’ve looked back at some of my favourite challengers from the last 20 years and attempted to pick out my ultimate favourite.
10. BTC-T Lexus IS200
The BTC-T Lexus IS200 was present in the BTCC for just one season, 2001. Driven by Kurt Lurby, Thomas Erdos and Steve Suttcliffe over the course of the 26-race season, the IS200 gets its place in my top ten because of its uniqueness, and simple paint scheme and livery. Debuting at round two at Thruxton, the IS200 missed the first two races of the season but was a solid top-ten finisher throughout the year. With the might of Vauxhall taking the 2001 season by storm, the BTC -T Lexus would never finish on the podium in its sole year of BTCC competition with Erdos’ two 4th place finishes at Croft and Donington Park marking its best results.
9. Williams Racing Renault Laguna
The Williams Racing Renault Laguna graced the BTCC from 1995 – 1999, but my favourite versions of the car have to be the 1998 and 1999 models with their emerald green livery. 1998 marked the first season post-Renault’s BTCC domination in 1997 and although the car didn’t manage to reach the heights it did in its championship winning year, it still managed to take four race victories as Volvo’s Rydell won the title. In 1999 Renault won just one race at Silverstone, and at the end of the season the car and team left the BTCC and are yet to return.
8. Ford Mondeo
Despite campaigning with the Mondeo in an array of models in the 1990’s, it wasn’t until Ford teamed up with Prodrive in 1999 that they started to taste real success. That success stepped up a level in 2000, where, in a trio of cars driven by Alain Menu, Anthony Reid and Rickard Rydell, the Ford Mondeo dominated the championship. The 2000 Prodrive Mondeo was perhaps the most sophisticated, fastest and most expensive Super Touring cars ever built and it will always be one of the most iconic. It was also fitting that we had to wait until the final season of the Super Touring regulations before we saw it’s last hurrah.
7. BTC-T Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch
Despite the Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch being Vauxhall’s least successful car of their 2001 – 2009 entrants, it was perhaps the best looking one of them of all, and easily makes my top ten. Run by the all-conquering Triple Eight Race Engineering, the Astra Sport Hatch competed in the 2005 and 2006 seasons, but couldn’t match the speed of the rival Dynamics-run Honda Integra (more on that one later). Out of sixty races entered in the hands of Triple Eight, the Astra Sport Hatch won just ten, despite winning on its debut and taking Vauxhall’s 100th BTCC race victory at Knockhill in 2006. Vauxhall also won the constructors championship in 2005, and the Astra Sport Hatch remained in the BTCC until the end of 2008 in the hands of the privateer Arkas Racing team.
6. S2000 Chevrolet Cruze
Run by RML and entered in the 2010 and 2011 BTCC seasons as Chevrolet’s official works entry, the Chevrolet Cruze enjoyed reasonable success. Powering Jason Plato to his second BTCC title in 2010, Chevrolet failed to win the Constructors titles with the Cruze and withdrew their works support for 2012, and instead focus their efforts on the WTCC. Despite its limited success, the 2010 – 2011 Cruze makes my list as I think its perhaps one of the best looking cars of its generation, especially with the blue and white livery and large front grille. The Cruze remained in the BTCC up until the end of the 2017 season in the hands of various privateer teams.
5. Subaru Levorg
Subaru’s BTCC entry in 2016 with the Subaru Levorg Sport Tourer marked the Japanese manufacturer’s first taste of BTCC action, and they tasted championship success with Ash Sutton in 2017. The Subaru Levorg sits fifth in my list of favourite modern BTCC cars, partly because of its originality, and partly because of the success its enjoyed since Subaru joined the series and commitment Subaru have shown to the BTCC. From an original four-car effort, Subaru’s factory involvement has dropped to two Team BMR-run cars for the immediate future. At the time of writing, there’s no available information about Subaru’s involvement heading into 2019, but the Levorg’s BTCC journey is only just beginning, and it has the potential to be one of the most successful cars of the last decade.
4. Honda Civic Type-R 9th Generation
Honda’s works return to the BTCC after a five-year absence in 2010 was successful, but it wasn’t until 2012 that the team entered the car which features on my list of favourites. The 9th generation Honda Civic Type-R ran by Team Dynamics powered Gordon Shedden to the driver’s title in 2012, Andrew Jordan to the title in 2013 and Honda to both constructors titles. A brilliantly designed NGTC car, the Civic Type-R and its beautifully simplistic red and white livery is a firm favourite of mine. Honda’s supreme performance over 2012 and 2013 cements its place in my list of favourites.
3. BTC-T Vauxhall Vectra
Vauxhall’s final BTCC challenger before their withdrawal at the end of 2009 was the BTC-T Vauxhall Vectra VXR. Winning the drivers championships in 2007 and 2008, the BTC-T Vectra was one of the most successful cars of the BTC era, and certainly one of the best looking. Originally featuring backing from Holiday Inn, I much prefer the simpler red and white livery the car sported in 2008 and 2009, and it drove Vauxhall to three successive manufacturers championships before Vauxhall left the series at the end of 2009.
2. BTC-T Honda Integra Type-R
Driving Matt Neal to the 2005 and 2006 drivers championships, the Team Dynamics built Honda Integra Type-R just misses out on the top spot in my list. Breaking Vauxhall’s dominant four-year win streak, Team Dynamics and the Honda Integra wrested the power from Triple Eight and would enjoy unprecedented success over the two year period. The Team Dynamics car would win eleven out of thirty races in both 2005 and 2006, and in the hands of Dan Eaves would become the first car to win all three races in one day in the BTCC. That achievement alone ensures it sits high up my list.
1. Volvo S40 BTCC
Sitting pretty as my absolute favourite BTCC car of the modern era is the Volvo S40. Present in the BTCC from 1997 until the end of 1999, the S40 claimed a brilliant 1998 drivers title in the hands of Rickard Rydell but never quite managed to secure the manufacturers crown. Featuring a great livery, incredible looks and a unique engine howl, the Volvo S40 remains a fan favourite over 21 after its BTCC debut and I’m it sure it will continue to do so for years to come. The car still features regularly in historic BTCC races, and I’m confident that it would feature at the top of many people’s lists of favourite touring cars.