Nestled away in Hampshire, the UK’s fastest circuit, Thruxton plays host to round three of the 2019 BTCC season this weekend. The first of two rounds to be held at Thruxton this year, the BTCC arrives at the circuit after a Donington Park weekend which slowly but surely developed and left us with a familiar group of names at the top of the championship table come the third race on Sunday. It’s still all to play for at Thruxton, a track which has been the site of many a great BTCC race over the seasons. Ash Sutton will be looking to maintain the level of consistency and speed which has lifted him to 1st in the table, Cook, Turkington, Chilton and Butcher will be hoping to close their respective deficits and the likes of Ingram, Neal, Plato, Collard and Cammish will be hoping to break into the championship top five. I’ve given my thoughts on all the biggest talking points ahead of Thruxton in my BTCC weekend preview.
Repeat Success For 2018’s Thruxton Winners?
Matt Neal, Josh Cook and Adam Morgan all took victory last year at Thruxton and will head into the weekend high on confidence and a repeat victory in 2019 is anything but out of the question. Cook has enjoyed a phenomenal start to the season winning the opening race at Brands Hatch and finishing 3rd in race three at Donington to sit 2nd in the championship standings. Just three points off the lead in a car which has already proved itself capable of winning races, Cook will be looking at Thruxton as an opportunity to return to the top of the championship table and continue the brilliant form he has shown in the new BTC Racing Civic.
The car has proved to be fast out the box, and currently at least has out-performed its factory counterpart over at Team Dynamics. Over the course of the season I’d expect the balance of power to shift back to Team Dynamics, however, Honda’s factory team have a real fight on their hands this year. Qualifying with the second-most ballast could harm Cook’s chances on Saturday, but expect to see him around the podium positions on Sunday and a race win certainly isn’t out of the question.
Matt Neal won race one at Thruxton last season and despite sitting 7th in the championship table heading into this weekend you get the feeling that there is much more to come for Neal and Dynamics this year. He opened his 2019 podium account with a strong 2nd place in race two at Donington but Neal, who also won race one at Thruxton in 2017 will be targeting victories this weekend.
Neal and Dynamics have always been strong at the Hampshire Circuit and you’d be hard-pressed to find a reason why they wouldn’t be again. Qualifying is going to be important, and with less ballast than a number of cars with the potential to win this weekend, a strong grid slot on Saturday could set Neal up for a great first two races on Sunday.
Adam Morgan will be keen to put a tough Donington weekend behind him by returning to a track which has been favourable to Cicely in the past. A race three winner last year at Thruxton, Morgan’s 2019 title charge hasn’t yet fully kicked into gear despite a solid podium at Brands Hatch, and like Cook and Neal, he’s a driver who can easily be regarded as a solid bet for a podium at least. For Morgan, who sits 9th in the standings and 27 points off the top it’s vital that he keeps in touch with the top of the championship table in the early part of the year to avoid being cut off from the title fight early on. On past seasons form at least, Thruxton could well be Morgan’s best chance to win races for a few rounds, and it’s critical that he takes advantage of the pace the A-Class has around the track.
Cleaner Racing To Come?
It’s fair to say that standing on the sidelines at least, the last round at Donington sometimes had a bit of a destruction derby feel to it. Multiple reprimands were handed out after the Donington weekend and I really hope we see some firm but fair racing at Thruxton. Contact is part and parcel of touring car racing and whilst I enjoy watching tough on-track battles as much as the next person, the rate of attrition last time out was alarming. I’m sure it was a one-off, and I’m looking forward to seeing normal service resumed this weekend. Thruxton already has the formidable Church corner and final chance which seem to generate plenty of incidents on their own!
Cammish Looking To Kick-Start His Season
One driver who will be desperately hoping for a turn of fortune this weekend is Dan Cammish. The 2018 Jack Sears Trophy winner finished off last season in style with two fantastic race wins on the final day at Brands Hatch but has so far finished in the top ten just once in 2019. I rate Cammish highly, and I think he’s got all the ingredients to make him a really strong touring car driver for years to come. However, on a track which should suit the Dynamics FK8 Civic the time has come for a breakthrough result in 2019.
He arrives at Thruxton 14th in the championship standings, 45 points off the lead and 10 points on 10th in the table. Sitting outside the top ten means he qualifies with zero ballast in the car, giving him a vital aid for Saturday’s qualifying session. With many of his competitors hampered by weight, Cammish will be targeting a high grid spot for race one to get his 2019 season off the mark this weekend.
AmD Tuning To Continue Their Impressive Form?
AmD have been one of the surprise packages so far in 2019 with Rory Butcher sitting a fantastic 5th place in the championship table after six races. A race winner already in 2019 courtesy of Chilton’s Brands Hatch penalty, I feel that it’s only a matter of time before Butcher takes the checkered flag first this season on track. 11th, 5th and 4th place finishes at a chaotic Donington go some way to suggesting that Butcher is a very wise head on young shoulders, and he finished in the points (14th) in race three at Thruxton last year in the uncompetitive MG 6. I’m backing Butcher to be strong again this weekend, and whilst I think race victories could be tough to achieve at Thruxton he’s certainly a contender for the podium.
However despite all the strong pace AmD have shown, fortunes couldn’t be more different on the other side of the garage. Despite often showing incredible pace, Sam Tordoff sits 21st in the championship standings after another testing weekend at Donington last time out. A trio of 4th place finishes last year in the Ford Focus will give Tordoff confidence that he has the talent and speed to turn this difficult run of form around, he’s a driver who will be absolutely desperate to string together a consistent weekend.
What are your thoughts ahead of the Thruxton weekend? Let me know in the comments below or over on Facebook!