Silverstone provided us with another tumultuous BTCC weekend as Sunday’s changeable weather conditions set the stage perfectly for an enthralling day of touring car action. In the end, it was Tom Ingram who stamped his authority on the 1.6-mile Silverstone National Circuit as the Toyota Corolla driver won the opening two races of the season to give him a fighting chance of the title heading into Brands Hatch GP. To say Silverstone was action-packed would be an understatement. I’ve given my thoughts on the action in Silverstone Weekend Wrap.
Advantage Turkington Heading Into Brands Hatch GP
Whilst his championship lead was slashed after race two at Knockhill, it’s Colin Turkington who still holds the advantage going into the final race weekend of the season after 14th, 2nd and 7th place finishes over the Silverstone weekend. Coming through the rollercoaster weekend that was the Silverstone weekend unscathed would have required Turkington to draw upon all his years of BTCC experience, and a strong 2nd place in a red-flagged race two ensured him his first silverware since race two at Snetterton three rounds before. Given the strength of the BMW, it’s hard to believe that Turkington had gone eight races without reaching the podium.
Qualifying was always going to be a challenge with the weight in the car, and whilst Jordan and Cammish would close the gap in race one, it was Turkington who finished best of the trio in both the following two races to open up his points lead again. 16 points isn’t a huge amount heading into the final three races at Brands, but it’s a gap nonetheless and once which Turkington will have to do anything and everything to protect.
Separated by just one point, Dan Cammish and Andrew Jordan’s tense fight to be best of the rest came to a head in race two under the safety car as the pair banged doors on the approach to Brooklands. Whilst Cammish would finish the race in 3rd and Jordan down in 8th, Cammish was hit with a £1500 fine and three penalty points post-race, with strong words coming from both in the aftermath.
With neither driver having anything to lose in the Brands Hatch title finale the clash adds a fascinating subplot to the championship fight. Cammish’s two-year contract extension at Team Dynamics means his BTCC future is secure, whilst Jordan’s plans to stay on the grid for 2020 appear to be less than firm following PIRTEK’s unfortunate withdrawal.
Either way, I cannot wait for race one at Brands to get underway. 11th, 3rd and 12th place finishes for Cammish and 10th, 8th and 8th place finishes for Jordan mean that the pair both suffered challenging weekends, but the title fight isn’t over yet. Both will have eyes for one thing only, and that’s the #1 currently on the side of Turkington’s car.
Tom Ingram The Silverstone King
Tom Ingram’s record at Silverstone is nothing short of fantastic, and two race victories on Sunday bring his win tally to five in four years at the circuit. The Toyota Corolla has been quick at the fast-flowing circuits and Silverstone was no exception as Ingram passed Plato at Brooklands for the lead in race one, and then recovered brilliantly after losing the lead to Oliphant in race two following contact with Plato.
They were Ingram’s first back to back race wins in the BTCC, and they lifted him into championship contention going into the final weekend, with the Speedworks driver 61 points off the lead with 67 left to play for. Whilst mathematically possible, Ingram’s chances of a title in his first season as a works Toyota driver appear slim at best.
With a season of experience in the Corolla now under his belt, Ingram will no doubt be targeting the title in 2020. His consistency this year has been remarkable, and two race wins at Silverstone mean that everyone at Speedworks will head into Brands Hatch and the offseason with a spring in their step and a hell of a lot of confidence for 2020.
So Close Yet So Far For Jason Plato
Jason Plato’s first pole position since 2017 demonstrated the potential of the Power Maxed Racing Astra around confines of the Silverstone National Circuit, and for many JP fans, hopes were high for win number 97 on Sunday after a long wait since the last drink.
2nd, 4th and 6th place finishes across the three races mean that despite not reaching the top step, Plato’s Silverstone weekend was, in fact, a good one. He rose to 7th in the championship standings on 205 points.
Whilst a good overall package, the Vauxhall Astra hasn’t quite managed to keep pace with the likes on the FK8 Civic or BMW 3 Series in 2019 but Plato will take solace from the fact that after two disappointing seasons of finishing 12th and 27th in the standings, he looks to be back on the right track this year. He sits just 23 points behind Rory Butcher who occupies 6th and perhaps sweeter still, he’s ahead of both Matt Neal and ex-teammate Ash Sutton in the table, and 88 points ahead of teammate Rob Collard.
Standout Weekend For Team HARD
Part of the BTCC fabric since 2012, Team HARD were rewarded for their commitment to the series with a fantastic Silverstone and a long-awaited first race victory. 2019 has been a tough year for Tony Gilham’s outfit, fielding four ageing Volkswagen CCs in a competitive field. But there can be no doubt that Jack Goff’s race three victory was fully deserved, and it will be a popular result in the BTCC community.
A smart strategy call to change to wet tyres when the rain came down was aided by the fact in a sense there was nothing to lose from making the move. Jack Goff held on superbly in a tight battle with Aiden Moffat to ensure he remains a BTCC race winner for the third year in a row.
Given a BTCC lifeline at the last minute, Goff now sits best of the Team HARD VWs in 21st in the championship standings just four points behind Senna Proctor. His cool head and experience were invaluable in helping Team HARD take their first race win. Michael Crees was another to take advantage of the opportunity to switch to wet tyres as he secured his best ever BTCC race finish of 9th in race three.
Truth be told, it’s unlikely that the Volkswagen CC will ever be a regular race winner in the BTCC again. However race three on Sunday was a brilliant reminder of what winning touring car races means to teams and drivers, and it was a just reward for everyone at Team HARD for their commitment to the BTCC.
The final round of the 2019 BTCC season takes place at Brands Hatch GP on the 12th/13th October.
Championship Top Ten After Silverstone
1 Colin TURKINGTON Team BMW 297
2 Dan CAMMISH Halfords Yuasa Racing 281
3 Andrew JORDAN BMW Pirtek Racing 280
4 Josh COOK BTC Racing 263
5 Tom INGRAM Team Toyota GB with Ginsters 236
6 Rory BUTCHER Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance 228
7 Jason PLATO Power Maxed Racing 205
8 Matt NEAL Halfords Yuasa Racing 199
9 Ashley SUTTON Adrian Flux Subaru Racing 191
10 Tom CHILTON Team Shredded Wheat Racing 174