PIRTEK Racing’s Andrew Jordan and BTC Racing’s Josh Cook shared the honours on a fascinating weekend of BTCC action at Thruxton. Superb victories in races one and two helped Jordan bounce back in the most impressive fashion possible after Donington Park and Josh Cook showed his championship credentials in race three, scoring victory after what was looking like being a tough weekend. We were treated to some great performances up and down the field and I was pleased to see a much higher standard of driving on show that we saw at Donington, too.
As Colin Turkington and Rory Butcher leave Thruxton level on points at the top of the table, I’ve given my thoughts on all the weekend’s biggest talking points in my Thruxton Weekend Wrap.
AmD Tuning Having A Brilliant Year
AmD Tuning are quickly establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the 2019 BTCC, and the fact that they sit 3rd in the teams championship ahead of the likes of Team BMR and Power Maxed Racing is a testament to the fantastic effort they’ve put in so far.
The weekend started on the best foot possible in Saturday’s qualifying as Sam Tordoff took pole position with a fantastic lap in the dying moments of the session. He scored his best finish of the season in race one, coming home 2nd before the ballast saw him drop to 6th by the end of race two. Race three saw Tordoff register a 2nd DNF of the year, however, the 2016 championship runner-up will have been delighted to have finally got his BTCC season up and running. He rises to 16th in the championship as a result but the confidence gained from some great performances at a track which isn’t one of his favourites will be the real prize from Thruxton. If all goes his way on race day, Tordoff is one of the best out there and I expect him to push on and be a regular feature in the top ten from now on.
Rory Butcher is having a sensational season on the other side of the garage and leaves Thruxton level 102 on points at the top of the table with Colin Turkington. Butcher has exploded onto the scene this year, and although we knew he had the potential to be brilliant, I must admit I didn’t expect to see him up there at the sharp end so soon. Brother-in-law of three-time champion Gordon Shedden, Butcher has all the talent to emulate his fellow countrymen Shedden and Cleland in terms of BTCC success and he’s my standout driver so far of 2019. 5th, 7th and a 2nd place finishes in the weekend’s three races are another fantastic set of results and from what we’ve seen so far, all the indications are that Butcher will be right in the mix all year long.
Memories Of Years Gone By
For the first time in a long time, Thruxton saw Jason Plato and Matt Neal bought together for a full three races fighting for the same piece of tarmac. Watching the pair fight for position inside the top ten brought back memories of watching the BTCC in the mid-2000s and it’s great to see Plato back in a car that he feels comfortable in. Thruxton was his best round yet back in a Vauxhall Astra as he scored 6th, 4th and 8th place finishes over the three races to rise to 10th in the championship on 60 points. Both car and driver are improving steadily this season and you get the feeling that a breakthrough podium finish is not too far away. Challenging for the title could be a stretch this year, but by the end of the season race wins should firmly be the target. Plato looks like he is enjoying his racing once again, and it’s brilliant to see him back up where a driver of his calibre belongs.
Matt Neal is having a really solid season in the Dynamics Honda and Thruxton was another set of races where it was his consistency, rather than blinding speed that allowed him to bag a great haul of points. 7th, 5th and 4th place finishes leave him 5th in the championship race on 80 points, and he is well within striking distance of the top. You can never discount someone like Neal, and whilst all of the attention prior to the start of 2019 was on Turkington equalling Andy Rouse’s record of four titles, Neal also has three BTCC championships to his name. He’s yet to win a race, but we saw last year that race wins aren’t the most important factor when it comes to winning a BTCC championship.
The BMW 3 Series Is A Fantastic Car
West Surrey Racing have built a phenomenal car to defend their BTCC titles. The BMW 3 series is proving to be the class of the field so far this season sweeping to race wins in five out of nine races. Whilst Jordan would win two races at Thruxton, it was his teammate Turkington who moved to the top of the championship standings finishing 4th, 2nd and 9th. With Oulton Park and Croft up next, the rest of the field will be keeping a very close eye on West Surrey Racing and the next few races will be critical in the championship fight. Traditionally circuits where rear wheel drive cars have run well, Turkington will be eyeing the next two months as an opportunity to build a buffer at the top of the table whilst the likes of Butcher, Cook, Chilton and Sutton will need to limit any points given away.
WSR have built a car which is going to be a BTCC frontrunner for years to come, and when they are able to extract the maximum setup from the car with more information and circuit data, it’s going to be a very hard car to beat.
Cook And Cammish Complete A Strong Honda Civic Showing
Ahead of Thruxton we thought the Honda Civics would be fast, and we weren’t wrong. Whilst Jordan won races one and two, Josh Cook took advantage of a reverse grid and a brilliant opening two corners in race three to win his second race of the season. After almost a third of the season gone, Cook is just two points off the top of the table and he will be delighted with how his first year with BTC Racing is developing.
However, more so than most, the next phase of the season will be vital for Cook. Cook was strong last year until this point in the championship, but a poor run of races at Oulton Park and Croft all but dropped him from title contention. If he gets through the next six races and is still within touching distance of the top then Cook will be a real threat for the title, and all the signs are there so far that the BTC Racing Civic is capable of fighting for it.
Like Sam Tordoff, Dan Cammish will be hoping that Thruxton marks the turning point in his 2019 campaign as two 3rd place finishes and a 6th in race three lifted him inside the championship top ten for the first time this season. Thruxton was Cammish’s best weekend yet of 2019, and his strong performances helped Team Dynamics and Honda move to the top of both the teams and constructors championships. With so much Porsche Carrera Cup experience under his belt, we know that Cammish is a very capable race driver and I’m backing an improved showing from now until the end of the season. He will be pleased to get his 2019 off the mark, but there’s work to do if he wants to feature in this year’s championship fight and improve on his solid rookie year last year.
What were your thoughts on the Thruxton weekend? Let me know in the comments below or over on Facebook!