To say the weekend’s action at Oulton Park was action-packed would be an understatement, and races 13, 14 and 15 of the 2019 BTCC season certainly didn’t fail to entertain. In reality, Oulton Park belonged to Colin Turkington, and the defending champion put on a fantastic show as he continues to chase down a fourth BTCC title, one which would seal his place as the most successful BTCC in history along with Andy Rouse. Elsewhere down the field, there were some brilliant battles, standout performances and some serious reality checks, I’ve got them all covered in my Oulton Park Weekend Wrap.
Colin Turkington In Superb Form
Traditionally a circuit where BMW cars have gone strong, Oulton Park was once again was a happy hunting ground for the marque as BMWs won all three races along with pole position. The weekend started well with a sensational pole lap and one which will be looked back on as one of the best pole position laps in recent series history. With full ballast in the car, qualifying first on Saturday was a serious statement to the rest of the grid and Turkington followed up beautifully on Sunday with two controlled lights to flag victories in races one and two. Race three saw him finish 8th, and all in all, it was a brilliant weekend for a driver who looks to be operating at the very top of his game. There’s no doubt that the BMW 3 Series is the class of the field this year, but Turkington has been at the sharp end of the BTCC for so long that when his career finally ends, he’s certainly going to go down as one of the all-time greats.
Turkington’s victories move him to 50 overall BTCC career wins, making him only the fourth ever driver to reach the milestone. Only Jason Plato, Matt Neal and Andy Rouse have more, and Oulton Park was a real statement of intent from Turkington who is going in chase of his fourth BTCC crown. His 33 point gap at the top of the standings is the biggest at the halfway point of the season since Matt Neal in 2006, and it’s going to take a mammoth effort from the rest of the field to reel him in.
A Strong Weekend For The Rest Of The BMW Pack
Whilst Turkington stole the show, all of Andrew Jordan, Tom Oliphant and privateer Stephen Jelley also tasted success on Sunday. Jordan, Turkington’s closest challenger in the championship finished 3rd, 2nd and 4th and whilst in isolation those results would represent a fantastic weekend, the form of his BMW teammate means that Oulton Park was more damage limitation than anything else.
Heading into the weekend, I had actually predicted Jordan to be the stronger of the two with less ballast in the car for qualifying and the form book on his side, but he just wasn’t able to match Turkington in races one and two, but did move up into 2nd in the championship standings.
With Jordan’s future on the BTCC grid post-2019 unclear following the loss of PIRTEK backing, it’s fitting that he’s currently having his best season since his title-winning 2013 campaign. A 33 point gap to the championship leader at the halfway point is by no means unreachable, and had he not been taken to hospital following race one at Donington Park I think he would be much closer. Nevertheless, I’m really looking forward to seeing the battle play out between Jordan and Turkington in the second half of 2019. I think the pendulum and momentum will swing between the two at the remaining circuits on the calendar, but the 2019 BTCC title is fast becoming a two horse race.
Tom Oliphant had his best weekend yet in the BTCC, finishing 6th, 4th and 2nd to rise to 11th the championship standings. Oliphant certainly maximized his points haul on a weekend where the BMW 3 Series was strong after a disappointing run at Croft, and the real challenge is going to be maintaining the good results in the second half of the year. Oliphant will be looking to continue the strong momentum he’s picked up at Oulton Park after the summer break, and I’m backing him to continue improving right until the end of the season.
Although he didn’t take the flag first, Stephen Jelley’s first race win since 2009 was a welcome result for Team Parker Racing. 11th and 6th in races one and two paved the way for a solid race three, and Jake Hill’s penalty for turning Matt Neal ensured that Jelley moved up from 2nd to 1st post-race. Jelley’s BMW 1 Series was always going to be strong at Oulton Park, and like all of the BMW drivers, he extracted everything he could from his car on Sunday. Whilst I don’t expect Jelley to regularly feature on the podium in the year’s remaining races, he’s having a brilliant second year with Team Parker Racing, and one which is unrecognisable from 2018.
Sam Tordoff Back On Track
Oulton Park saw Sam Tordoff return to the podium in race three after Jake Hill’s time penalty was applied and it was a good weekend all round for the 2016 series runner-up. Tordoff has struggled with consistency in the AmD Tuning Honda Civic, and after Oulton Park has registered just five top ten finishes this year. There is pace in the AmD Civic even with its age, as demonstrated by Rory Butcher who sits 4th in the championship standings.
5th, 5th and 3rd at Oulton Park were great results for Tordoff, who rises to 13th in the standings as a result. Whilst the championship is certainly out of reach, getting into the top ten in the table by the end of the season should certainly be an achievable target.
Josh Cook’s Tough Weekend, Dan Cammish Rising
When Josh Cook looks back on Oulton Park at the end of the season he’ll be hoping that it doesn’t mark the start of a fall away from the top of the table. So consistent in his challenge for the first four rounds of the season, Oulton Park marked the only round of the year so far that Cook failed to finish on the podium and a set of 17th, 10th and 6th place finishes could prove costly at the end of 2019. He recovered well from a poor qualifying, and whilst he’s still firmly in touch in 3rd place in the standings, the next round at Snetterton following the summer break is now so, so important. Cook and BTC Racing have been fantastic so far in 2019, and now the real test is going to come as they try to take on WSR for the overall BTCC title.
2nd, 3rd and 17th place finishes for Dan Cammish continue a strong run of form which began at Thruxton, and the Team Dynamics driver has risen to 6th in the standings following Oulton Park. The Team Dynamics Hondas were strong, and whilst Matt Neal was unlucky to lose a wheel in race one which ruined his weekend, Cammish’s strong performance meant that Honda still finished Sunday with silverware. In truth, there wasn’t much else Cammish could have done on Sunday given the strength of Turkington and Jordan, but it was another great day and it’ll be fascinating to see how he progresses in the second half of the year.