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BTCC 2018 Season Review: Drivers 10th – 6th

 

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Dan Cammish finished 10th and won the Jack Sears Trophy in his rookie 2018 season. Image thanks to f1.co.uk

The 2018 BTCC season was brilliant on every single level. We had success stories, drama and some moments which will go down as truly historic as Colin Turkington claimed the title for the third time. I’ve got a whole host of articles coming up in the next two weeks with interviews, stats and analysis on their way but first I’m exploring the fortunes of the drivers who finished in the top ten in the table, starting today with drivers 10th – 6th.

10th – Dan Cammish – Halfords Yuasa Racing (Honda) – 218 points. Best result 1st.

It was a tough ask for Cammish, drafted in to replace the WTCR-bound triple BTCC champion, Gordon Shedden. A rookie year in the BTCC is a daunting prospect for one in any team, but with the added pressure of a factory drive in one of the grid’s fastest and most established outfits, Cammish rose to the challenge and had a fantastic year. The two-time Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion started strongly, scoring a 2nd place finish at Donington Park in race one, before a 3rd place at Thruxton one round later. Three more 3rd place finishes would follow at Snetterton and Knockhill before he took two sensational victories at Brands Hatch GP at the end of the year.

Finishing just five points behind Matt Neal in your debut year is no mean feat, and Cammish also took home the Jack Sears Trophy as the highest scoring driver not to have finished on the podium before the start of the season. With the development of Honda’s new Civic FK8 entering its second year in 2019 I’m expecting Cammish to push on and feature much more heavily. Cammish is no ordinary rookie, and with championship-winning experience in Porsches this is a driver who knows how to close out a title. If Team Dynamics can make the gains with their car, I expect Cammish to be a championship contender from round one next season.

9th – Matt Neal – Halfords Yuasa Racing (Honda) – 223 points. Best result 1st.

It was another solid year for Matt Neal, who showed his usual flashes of brilliance but never quite had the pace and consistency to challenge for the title. Two race wins, and four further podiums took him to 9th in the table, his lowest finish since 2001 but a fantastic victory in the BTCC’s diamond double race at Snetterton is some consolation. There’s no doubt that Neal is still a top operator, and like Cammish, I think he could be a real threat to the title once Team Dynamics get to grips with their new car. Having a driver of Neal’s experience and ability in the team is critical to an outfit which has been running at the head of the field for over ten years. I expect an improvement in 2019.

8th – Jack Goff – Eurotech Racing (Honda) – 228 points. Best result 1st.

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Goff secured both pole positions at Snetterton, underlying the pace of the Eurotech Honda Civic. Image thanks to Snetterton Circuit.

Although Goff finished 8th, two places lower than last year I think that 2018 was his best BTCC season to date, and the one in which he really started to deliver on the potential we have seen for a number of years. Two race wins, and three further podiums meant that Goff was in championship contention right up until Rockingham where results started to go downhill. It’s so tight at the top of the table, and one or two poor weekends can send you tumbling down the order. Nevertheless, Goff was Eurotech’s top driver for the second year in a row and he’s started to develop into a top, top BTCC operator.

It’s such a shame that Eurotech won’t be on the grid next year, especially after the progress the team has made in recent seasons. Goff’s 2018 reminds me of the fate which fell to Tom Ingram in year’s before, and by that I mean a stunning start to the season was undone by poor luck and form during the mid-late part of the year. However, this year has shown us that Goff belongs in a top team, and I hope to see him back in the top ten next year.

7th – Adam Morgan – MAC Tools Racing (Mercedes) – 232 points. Best result 1st.

Morgan has been up at the sharp end of the BTCC grid for six years now, and 2018 marked his best end of season finish since 2015. Three race wins and a further two podiums ensured he broke his victory drought which started at Thruxton in 2016, but 2018 was another year of what could have been. He established himself as one of the early season title favourites after some stunning results at Brands Hatch Indy, Donington Park and Thruxton. However a torrid run of results at Oulton Park, Croft and Snetterton dropped him from the title fight before his return to form at Rockingham.

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class has been right up there as one of the fastest packages on the grid for a few years, but I get the feeling that either through form or luck, Cicely Motorsport have never quite managed to extract the maximum from it. In a series as tough and as close as the BTCC, luck plays a huge part, and I think that Morgan would have finished higher up the table if luck had fallen his way. That being said, another solid season safely inside the BTCC’s top ten is nothing to be baulked at, and it was yet another great job from Morgan and the team. I’m really keen to see just how they perform in the intensity of a title fight.

6th – Josh Cook – Power Maxed TAG Racing (Vauxhall) – 246 points. Best result 1st.

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Josh Cook took his first BTCC race victory at Donington Park. Image thanks to PSP Images.

Josh Cook and Vauxhall were one of 2018’s great success stories and although like Goff and Morgan, Cook’s title challenge faded throughout the year, it was a brilliant effort overall in 2018. 6th in the table marks Cook’s best ever finish in the BTCC and two race wins plus four further podiums is a great trophy haul for the year. He enjoyed a brilliant start to the season, winning his first ever BTCC race at Donington Park before following it up with another win at Thruxton one round later. The middle part of the year proved more difficult as a combination of lack of speed at some circuits, bad luck and reliability hampered his championship challenge. More podiums did come, but the results lacked the consistency of earlier in the year.

Nevertheless, Cook and the whole Vauxhall team are one of my standout success stories in 2018. I can’t think of a team which showed more improvement. With their breakthrough year in the series now behind them, I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do next year now they are established at the head of the field.

Look out for part two featuring drivers 5th – 1st tomorrow and in the meantime, why not check out my DTM 2018 season review?

 

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