It was another final weekend of epic proportions at Brands Hatch GP and the 2018 BTCC season drew to a dramatic close with the crowning of Colin Turkington as the champion. Turkington, who also won the title in 2009 and 2014 sealed the championship in a pulsating second race where contact with Dan Llyod at Paddock Hill Bend saw him drop out the points to 22nd. Nevertheless, Ingram’s 4th place finish was enough for Turkington to win his third BTCC title, and drive himself into the history books as one the BTCC’s greatest ever drivers. With my full season review to follow in the coming days, I’ve picked out the biggest talking points from Brands Hatch to discuss in my BTCC weekend wrap.
A Fitting Champion
Truth be told, both Turkington and Ingram would have made thoroughly deserved champions this year but Turkington’s third BTCC title will probably go down as his best yet. The Northern Irishman’s season had all the hallmarks of an experienced operator, and Turkington’s remarkable consistency which was displayed so often during his 2018 campaign was high and above anyone else in the field. In fact, Turkington was consistent over the course of 2018 that just one 12th place points finish on Sunday was enough to secure him the title with an eight-point gap over Ingram.
If you told me at the start of the year that a driver with once race victory (at Oulton Park) would win the championship I wouldn’t have believed you. However, Turkington finished outside the points just six times in 30 races scoring nine further podiums along the way. In a season with 17 different race winners, consistency is the key to winning championships and regular points finishes can be far more valuable than the odd race win. We’ve been treated to a masterclass this year in how to win a BTCC title, and the odds will be short for Turkington to do it all again in 2019.
Cammish Off The Mark
After sealing the Jack Sears Trophy last time out at Silverstone, Dan Cammish opened his win account in race one on Sunday and then immediately doubled up with another win in race two. Though he fell back to 17th in race three, his two 1st place finishes were enough to secure him a season-ending position in the top ten, just five points behind the far more experienced Matt Neal. All of the Hondas were strong at Brands Hatch, but after a debut season which featured many highs and the occasional low, Cammish can end 2018 with his head held high and be confident of more wins and podiums next year.
I fully expect the Dynamics Hondas to be stronger next year as they enter the second year of the development cycle of the Civic Type-R FK8. There have been times this season when they’ve looked like seriously fast cars, backed up by Neal’s victory in the diamond double at Snetterton. However, they haven’t had enough to keep the pace at the top of the table and both Cammish and Neal will be targeting championship honours next season.
What A Way To Close The Season
In a year which has given us so many memorable races, race three on Sunday was a fantastic way to close 2018. After losing out to Austin off the line, Cook re-took 1st place before engaging in a brilliant race-long battle with outgoing champion Ash Sutton and was pipped in an epic drag race to the line. Cook displayed some brilliant defensive driving in the closing laps at Brands Hatch, holding off Sutton and making his Astra as wide as possible. However Sutton’s Subaru had just enough on the final straight, and after looking like he was going to make his way through for a number of laps, he finally did it on the line in a finish reminiscent of race one at Snetterton earlier in the year.
After a season where a slow start hampered his title defence, the back-half of Sutton’s year was phenomenal and if it wasn’t for the disqualification in race two at Knockhill I think we would have seen a three-way fight for the title. The signs are good for 2019, and ending the year with a win, and as the driver with the most race wins mean that there is something to cheer about for Team BMR and Subaru. Cook and the whole Power Maxed Racing/Vauxhall outfit have had a brilliant year, and are one of my standout team and driver combos. Following on from a tough first season with the Astra, Cook’s return has helped the team to 3rd in team’s championship, and Cook finished a fine 6th in the drivers standings.
Elsewhere Down The Field
It was a strong final weekend for a number of drivers up and down the grid. Andrew Jordan finished 8th, 3rd and 9th in Sunday’s three races helping him to a final position of 5th in the standings, and Tom Chilton cemented a 3rd place finish in the table with 9th, 6th and 4th place finishes. Motorbase weren’t as strong as I thought they would be at Brands Hatch, and they missed out on both the Independent drivers and teams titles to a fantastic Ingram and Speedworks.
After a strong qualifying on Saturday, Jack Goff’s weekend took a turn for the worse following a retirement in race two and Jason Plato went backwards in the races once again following a strong 13th in qualifying. I think Goff has done more than enough to secure himself a seat at a top team for another season. It’s been another year of progress and Goff is slowly establishing himself as one of the BTCC’s top operators. If it wasn’t for a poor run of results midseason then he would have found himself in the title fight.
Standout Driver Of The Weekend – Dan Cammish
Most Disappointing Moment – Jack Goff’s retirement in race two
Standout Moment – The whole of race three, especially the finish.
What were your thoughts on the Brands Hatch weekend? Let me know in the comments below or over on Facebook!