Finally. I feel like as we approach the end of February the 2019 BTCC season is finally within touching distance, and with the season launch and test day announced for March 26th and 27th, I’m sure 2019 is going to be another brilliant touring car year. Colin Turkington will be aiming to retain his drivers crown and equal Andy Rouse as the BTCC’s most successful ever driver, Tom Ingram and Speedworks will be looking to return Toyota to the top of the table and Team Dynamics will be looking to continue their partnership with Honda, by adding yet another set of titles to their trophy cabinet. Whilst we’re still waiting for a few big announcements, lots of the BTCC grid has taken shape and I’ve put together my thoughts on some of the things I’m most excited to see in 2019.
Toyota’s return to the BTCC as a constructor was one of the biggest talking points of the winter break and the 2019 BTCC grid will be graced by the all-new Toyota Corolla this season. With a successful last few seasons under their belt running an Independent Toyota Avensis, its no surprise that Speedworks Motorsport were the team chosen to run Toyota’s works BTCC program, but the added pressure of the Japanese giant will add a certain level of expectation to Speedworks and Ingram.
After coming so close to winning the outright BTCC title last year, Ingram and Speedworks won the hearts of BTCC fans all over the world with some eye-catching drives from the back of the grid to the podium on more than one occasion. With manufacturer backing there is nowhere to hide in 2019 for Speedworks, and whilst they may not be expected to win the title this season, they will certainly be expected to challenge. It’ll be fascinating to see how the season plays out, and despite the Corolla being a new car I wouldn’t be surprised to see it pick up a few race wins in the hands of Ingram. But the year will be a learning curve for Ingram, Speedworks and Toyota GB ahead of an anticipated title charge in 2020.
Stability The Key At Team Dynamics
Team Dynamics have always been a team which prides themselves on stability and with Honda, Halfords, Neal and Cammish all on board again for 2019 they will be hoping for an improvement in fortunes this season. On the face of it, 2nd in the constructor’s championship in 2018 isn’t a terrible return, but Neal and Cammish finished 9th and 10th in the driver’s championship respectively and post Snetterton never looked like getting back into the title fight.
2019 will mark the second year with the Civic Type R FK8, and its the year which the teams needs to mount a title challenge once again. We’ve been so accustomed to seeing Honda and Team Dynamics in the title fight that two years without a title seems like an age. The final round of 2018 at Brands Hatch was fantastic, with Cammish and Neal securing two 1-2 finishes. If they can carry that form on into 2019 the team can put themselves right back in the mix for a championship.
The sad demise of Eurotech racing at the end of 2018 meant that the race-winning Honda Civic Type Rs from last season have ended up in the hands of AmD Tuning. With a proven BTCC race winner and title challenger in the form of Sam Tordoff on board alongside rising talent Rory Butcher, AmD Tuning start 2019 as a team which can trouble the frontrunners.
In the hands of Jack Goff last year the Honda Civic took two race wins, three further podiums and finished 8th in the driver’s championship proving that there is pace in the car if one of Tordoff or Butcher is able to extract it. Tordoff is no stranger to BTCC success, and his signing is a real coup for AmD Tuning as they look to continue their progress up the grid. Whilst I’m not sure that the team will be able to sustain a championship challenge against the likes of BMW and Honda, they should be regular challengers for podiums and the occasional race win, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they are capable of as the season progresses.
Aiming For Title #4
Turkington won the 2018 BTCC drivers title with an exceptional display of consistent, mature and professional driving not often seen in touring car races. Despite winning just one race, it was his exceptional consistency which secured him the title, and that kind of consistency only comes with over a decade of BTCC experience. Turkington will remain at West Surrey Racing with BMW backing for 2019, and the continuation of what has been such a successful partnership should be a warning sign to the rest of the grid.
Turkington will be going for title number four in 2019, a feat which would put him level with Andy Rouse as the most successful BTCC driver in history. With Andrew Jordan also remaining on as his teammate, and newcomer Tom Oliphant entering the WSR fold, all the ingredients are there for the team to succeed once again this season. I don’t think we’ll see a different approach from Turkington and WSR in 2019. The team are so well-drilled and good at what they do that they know exactly what it takes to close out a BTCC title. I’m sure that one of Turkington or Jordan will be right in the title fight once again.
What are you looking forward to most in 2019? Who’s established themselves as your early season favourite? Let me know in the comments below or over on Facebook!