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 with drivers 5th – 1st.
5th – Andrew Jordan – PIRTEK Racing (BMW) – 247 points. Best result 1st.
This year was Jordan’s best since 2015 and was one where he was an outside contender for the championship right up until Silverstone. One race victory at Knockhill and five further podium finishes is a solid haul from a good campaign from Jordan, although he will be disappointed not to have finished higher and challenged his teammate for the title. Just one points finish in the first five races of the season did his points tally a great deal of harm, and missing the final race of the day at Thruxton due to illness was another race he would look back on as points lost. As would the two disappointing opening races at Silverstone.
Nevertheless, I think we saw a much better Andrew Jordan this year than we have in either 2016 or 2017 and it just shows how good he can be if everything falls into place. It’ll be interesting to see what Jordan can do next year. He’s just 29 years old, with plenty of years left in the BTCC if he wants them. With PIRTEK backing secure for the next few seasons, and fast becoming one of the most experienced drivers on the grid, I think there’s at least one more title in there for Jordan.
4th – Ash Sutton – Team BMW (Subaru) – 256 points. Best result 1st.
In terms of outright driving, there’s an argument for Ash Sutton to be many people’s top BTCC driver of the year, a thought backed up by the fact that in an insanely competitive year he won the most races. Team BMR were lucky last year, lucky in the fact that even though they started the year slowly the Subaru was fast enough to still carry Sutton to the title. In 2018 they weren’t so lucky, and their lack of pace at the start of the year almost certainly cost them the title. It wasn’t until Croft that Sutton finished on the podium, but two 1st places and a 7th in North Yorkshire marked the start of a scintilating run of form which lasted until his disqualitifaction at Knockhill.
Given Team BMR’s early season struggles, it was an admirable title defence for Sutton. He completely dominated his teammate Plato and has established as one of the BTCC’s top drivers. If BMR can start next season strongly, it will be hard to look past this man for a second BTCC title.
3rd – Tom Chilton – Motorbase Performance (Ford) – 266 points. Best result 1st.
I think it’s fair to say that Chilton’s performances went under the radar this season. 3rd in the standings in just the second year of his BTCC return marks a great result for the Motorbase driver, especially when you consider that as a team, Motorbase has to be among the unluckiest in 2018. One race victory at Silverstone and five further podium finishes was a good haul for Chilton this year in a car when free from reliability problems is one of the best in the BTCC. A tough start to the year hampered his title chances but once he got going Chilton was scoring points in almost every race. However his results whilst strong, lacked the supreme consistency of the ones which took Colin Turkington to the title.
In a car which can produce the results I think Chilton could be a real contender for the title. It’s easy to forget that he’s been touring car racing for almost 20 years, and has campaigned against some of the very best in the world. That experience, combined with a reliable, fast car is as good a package as anyone else on the grid.
2nd – Tom Ingram – Speedworks Motorsport (Toyota) – 292 points. Best result 1st.
What a year it was for Ingram and Speedworks. In the face of tougher competition they went one better than 3rd in 2017 and came so close to winning the outright 2018 title. The people’s favourite, and a driver responsible for delivering some of the best drives I’ve ever seen in the BTCC, Tom Ingram used 2018 to establish himself as one of the best in the business. Three race wins and six further podiums ensured that Ingram kept the championship battle alive right up until the end of race 29 at Brands Hatch and if it wasn’t for the disqualification at Knockhill, things could well have turned out differently.
We’ve been so accustomed to seeing Ingram start the year strongly but then fade away towards the latter part of the season, but 2018 was different. Ingram started strongly and then continued to perform at the highest level throughout the course of the season. There were disappointing retirements in race one at both Snetterton and Rockingham, but both times Ingram bounced back from 27th on the grid to claim incredible podium finishes. You can’t fault anything Ingram or Speedworks did this year, as they came so close to beating the big manufacturer backed teams to the title. Hopes will be high that they can go one better next season and based on 2018, I don’t see why not.
1st – Colin Turkington – West Surrey Racing (BMW) – 304 points. Best result 1st.
I think we will long remember 2018 as the year Colin Turkington gave us a championship masterclass. Turkington’s third BTCC title earns him a place among the series’ elite, and is even more incredible when you consider just how tough the competition was this year. One race win at Oulton Park and nine further podiums merely scratch the surface of what was the stunning consistency shown by Turkington, and it was a lesson to everyone in how to win a championship. He was one of the early season favourites for the title, but had a tough first two rounds before things really started to kick off at Thruxton in May. What followed was points finishes in all but three of the remaining 24 races, and one of those came after he won the title.
Turkington’s experience really shone through in 2018, and in terms of championship calibre, he was deservedly well above the rest. I can’t remember the last time the BTCC title was won by displaying such amazing consistency, and I think it will be a few years before we see such a complete performance again. I’ve heard that rumours that Turkington is WTCR bound for 2019, but I hope not. He would be a huge loss to the BTCC, and I’d love to see him try and defend his championship.
Who was your standout performer of the course of the season? Which race was your favourite? Let me know in the comments below or over on Facebook!