For the second time in 2019, the BTCC will travel to Thruxton, the UK’s temple of speed for three races which could have a monumental impact on the 2019 title race. It’s been a while since Thruxton featured somewhere other than the opening few rounds of the BTCC calendar but it’s one of my favourite meetings of the year so I’m delighted to get the chance to watch another three races around the Hampshire circuit.
Whilst Colin Turkington’s championship lead sits at 36 points, almost two full race victories, there’s still plenty to play for at Thruxton and that 36 point margin is still close enough that a bad weekend for Turkington and a good weekend for Andrew Jordan could close the title race back up. But like Thruxton earlier in the year, and Snetterton last time out the competition for the BMW pair will be tougher than it was at Croft and Oulton Park. The six Honda Civics will all be strong, as will the Subaru Levorg of Ash Sutton, and what of Tom Ingram whose Toyota Corolla looked to have turned a corner with a fantastic pole and race win at Snetterton last time out. I’ve got all the major pre-race talking points covered in my Thruxton Weekend Preview.
Andrew Jordan The Man To Beat?
Andrew Jordan has made success at Thruxton somewhat of a habit in recent years scoring wins in 2014, 2016 and now 2019 to underline his strong form at the circuit. Frequently on the podium too, Jordan will have earmarked Thruxton as a weekend where he can claw back major points from Colin Turkington and it’s one where I’m backing him to have the advantage. Whilst Jordan enjoyed a sensational run at Thruxton and Croft earlier in the summer, the last two rounds at Oulton Park and Snetterton have seen the pendulum swing back to Turkington in terms of overall pace. 1st, 1st and 17th at Thruxton earlier in the year for Jordan means that he has every reason to be confident, but with the doubt over a 2020 drive ever-present in his mind, he’ll need to maintain 100% focus on the track this weekend. I’m backing Jordan to have the upper hand here, just.
However, the PIRTEK Racing driver won’t have everything his way. Turkington’s 4th, 2nd and 9th at Thruxton earlier in the season would represent a solid set of results should he achieve them again this weekend, and he’ll be confident that he’s got the measure of the BMW 3 Series in qualifying with full ballast, too. He won at Snetterton in race two last time out, and he’s still my overall pick for the championship title. It’s going to take a poor weekend for Turkington and a fantastic one for Jordan to turn this title race around.
Sam Tordoff A Threat
Pole position and a 2nd in race one at Thruxton earlier in the season mark Tordoff’s best results of 2019 and the Yorkshire driver will be confident of at least matching those results again this weekend. The AmD Tuning Honda Civics were strong in May and whilst then perhaps the jury was out about whether they could maintain that pace for the whole season, there are no such doubts this time around. Both Tordoff and teammate Rory Butcher have been scintillating at times in 2019 but in the overall championship standings, it’s Butcher who holds a 65 point advantage. That advantage is the difference between 3rd and 11th in the table, but Thruxton is a chance for Tordoff to close that gap.
Like last year with Motorbase, Tordoff has struggled for consistency in 2019 but with a result card which reads 5th, 5th, 3rd,3rd, 5th and 6th for the last six races the signs are there that he’s begun to turn his year around. Based on current form and the inconsistencies of those drivers above him, finishing inside the championship’s top ten is still more than an achievable aim for Tordoff and it’s something I expect him to do. He’s got strong pace around Thruxton and don’t be surprised to see him qualify high up the grid with no ballast in the car.
Josh Cook To Get Back On Track
Despite recovering well from a poor qualifying at both Oulton Park and Snetterton, Josh Cook’s championship challenge has lost momentum over the last two rounds. So strong earlier in the year, just three top-ten finishes in the last six races have all but ended Cook’s championship charge. However, that shouldn’t take away from the fact that the BTC Racing driver is enjoying a fantastic first season in the Honda Civic.
Cook’s 2nd place finish in race three at Snetterton kept him at the head of a chasing pack of cars which includes Dan Cammish also on 166 points, and Ash Sutton just six behind on 160. With Rory Butcher just 11 points ahead in third, there’s still a hotly contested battle going on for 3rd – 6th in the championship standings and it’s one which I expect will continue for the remainder of the season. Cook won at Thruxton in 2018 and again earlier this season making his recent form at the circuit is enough for me to believe he’s a serious contender for victory this weekend. Qualifying has been his Achilles heel of late, but if he can qualify his car inside the top three rows then I’m banking on Cook being a regular feature inside the top five on Sunday.
Matt Neal Dropping Down The Championship Table
You have to go back seven races, to race three at Croft to find the last time Matt Neal finished inside the top ten and as result, he’s dropped to 8th in the championship standings, just two points ahead of long-time rival Jason Plato. Neal started the season strongly and a 2nd place finish came at Donington Park. However, that remains his only podium at best result to date. Bad luck and mechanical issues have certainly played their part and as teammate Dan Cammish has shown, the Team Dynamics Honda Civic has been a car capable of podium finishes in almost all of the last few races.
Whilst Neal’s championship challenge is all but over for 2019, I’m banking on him having a strong weekend at Thruxton. Being lower down in the championship does have its benefits when it comes to qualifying, and Neal has made a habit of winning regularly at Thruxton throughout his career. The three-time champion has secured a podium finish at the circuit for the last 17 years in a row! If there’s any meeting to get his season back on track it’s this one, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Neal continue that podium streak and make it 18 years in a row this weekend.
Based on the form he showed in May, you can’t look past Andrew Jordan to be the top dog at Thruxton this weekend but I think he’s going to be strongly challenged by the Honda Civics and Turkington. With the championship on the line and ground to make up in the points, Jordan has to go for race wins and I think he’ll come out all guns blazing.
I think there will be a win for at least one of the six Civics, but they’re all so closely matched in pace at the moment that it’s hard to pick a winner. If I did, I’m going to go Thruxton favourite, Josh Cook with form man Dan Cammish closely behind.
What are your thoughts ahead of the Thruxton weekend? Let me know in the comments below.