Just 61-points separate Colin Turkington in 1st and Tom Ingram in 5th in the 2019 standings heading into the final round of the season at Brands Hatch GP. On a race weekend where quite literally anything can happen the stakes couldn’t be higher for Colin Turkington, Dan Cammish, Andrew Jordan, Josh Cook and Tom Ingram. I’ve taken a look all five of the title challengers as I preview the five-way fight for the BTCC title.
5th – Tom Ingram | Team Toyota GB: 236 points
Sitting 61 points behind the leader, Tom Ingram’s chances of securing his first BTCC title are slim at best, but even the fact that Ingram is in with a shout at the title at all is testament to the job done by everyone at Speedworks Motorsport to bed in the Toyota Corolla in its first year of BTCC competition.
Ingram’s chance at the BTCC title comes as a result of his fantastic double victory last time out at Silverstone, but the reality is that if he is to win the crown he will need an even better weekend, combined with drama for all of the drivers above him. Four race victories so far in 2019 have helped Ingram into 5th in the championship table. But it’s his consistency which has also been so remarkable. Ingram has finished outside the points in just four of 27 races this year as the Toyota driver has maximised his points haul even when the Corolla hasn’t been the quickest car.
Ingram has been in this position before as he went into the 2018 title decider at Brands Hatch with an outside chance of beating Turkington to the title. This year the gap he needs to close is greater than last, and Ingram will know that the Brands Hatch GP circuit might not suit the Toyota Corolla as well as the likes of Snetterton and Silverstone. Ingram is yet to win at Brands Hatch GP, with 2nd place finishes in 2015 and 2017, both in the Toyota Avensis his best results.
His chance to win the title is the smallest out of the championship five, but knowing the BTCC you can’t rule Ingram out just yet.
4th – Josh Cook | BTC Racing: 263 points
34-points off the top of the table, whatever happens at Brands Hatch GP Josh Cook will have had his best season in the BTCC. However, there’s no doubt that he’ll be focused on targeting the same kind of points swing that hit Turkington at Knockhill a few weeks ago.
Three race wins this year at Brands Hatch and Thruxton mean that Cook has already surpassed his win tally from 2018, and he’s one driver who I’ve enjoyed watching this season. More often than not, Cook has been one of the masters at maximising his race three points haul but at Brands Hatch GP a strong performance in race three won’t be enough.
Cook’s Achilles heel in 2019 has been single lap pace in qualifying, and he has regularly found himself with work to do in races one and two on Sunday after starting from a grid position which doesn’t reflect the speed of his Honda Civic. Saturday’s qualifying will be crucial for Cook, as it will for all the championship contenders, but the BTC Racing driver needs to outqualify the likes of Turkington, Jordan and Cammish, and that most likely means starting race one inside the front three rows. A strong second place in the final race of 2018 after a brilliant battle with Ash Sutton will give him hope of good performances this weekend, as will the fact that the FK8 Civic is a proven race-winner at Brands.
Like Ingram, Cook’s chances of securing his first BTCC title are slim, and he’ll need a little bit of luck along the way. Big points turnarounds do happen, but Cook will need to keep focused on securing race wins if he is to take this title battle right down to the final race of the day.
3rd – Andrew Jordan | PIRTEK Racing: 280 points
18 points off the top of the table, Andrew Jordan will be desperate to take home the BTCC crown as he prepares for his final weekend in the BTCC with backing from long-time partners, PIRTEK. 2019 has been Jordan’s best season in the BTCC points-wise since 2014 and in terms of overall championship placing it’s looking like it’ll be his best since his title-winning 2013. There’s no doubt that Jordan has been back to his best this year, but he’s still facing a mammoth task to secure his second title.
Six race wins so far in 2019 mean that Jordan has won the most races out of anyone and if it wasn’t for that no-score weekend at Donington Park where he was hospitalized after a heavy accident in race one, he would most likely have been sitting top of the table. Jordan’s performances have been as good as anyone’s over the first 27 races, but he’ll need at least an 18-point swing in his favour and that’ll be a tough ask given the level of competition.
Jordan’s confidence will be boosted by 8th, 3rd and 9th place finishes at Brands Hatch GP in 2018, but the reality is that he’ll need far more than that this weekend to bring home the title. On speed, there’s nothing to choose between himself, Cammish and Turkington, and staying out of trouble in the opening laps of the races is almost as important as the finishing positions themselves.
Like everyone else, the direction of Jordan’s weekend will become clearer after qualifying on Saturday, but he needs podiums at the very least to close and then overcome the gap. He’s been here before, this weekend will require him to draw upon all his years of BTCC experience.
2nd – Dan Cammish | Team Dynamics: 281 points
Sitting with a 17-point gap between himself and Colin Turkington, Dan Cammish will be looking for a repeat of 2018 at Brands Hatch where he secured a fantastic double-victory. Achieve that, and the championship battle will be taken down to race three where absolutely anything can happen.
Like Jordan, Cammish needs to be at his best all weekend long whilst hoping that Turkington suffers from either slow speed or misfortune, but a run of 11 podiums in 17 races has helped Cammish rise from 18th in the table after the opening weekend to the 2nd place he occupies now. Cammish’s progress in 2019 has been remarkable to see and his brilliant performances have been rewarded with a new two-year contract at Team Dynamics until the end of 2021. With that kind of job security signed and locked away, Cammish will be free to focus on the only thing that will matter this weekend, outscoring Turkington by 18 points over three races.
Cammish told the BTCC website “It’s not a million miles away, 16 points. If you’d said that in the middle of the season, I wouldn’t have believed you. The team have been great, I’ve been consistent and we’ve put up a fight.”
Cammish’s one race win so far in 2019 came at a rapidly dampening Thruxton seven races ago, but with form at Brands Hatch GP, evidenced by his two wins last year, Cammish will confident that the Honda Civic has everything he needs to carry him to the title. Success ballast in qualifying will be a factor, but unlike some of his championship rivals, the Team Dynamics Civic seems to carry the weight well and that could play into Cammish’s hands come Saturday afternoon.
Cammish needs his brilliant run of form stretching back to May to continue for one more weekend if he is to lift his first BTCC title in just his second year in the series. With a racy and experienced Matt Neal as his teammate, Cammish will be safe in the knowledge that he has backup against the two WSR BMWs on Sunday. That could prove vital, and as previous races have shown us, that 17-point deficit can vanish in an instant.
1st – Colin Turkington | Team BMW – 297 points
So consistent over the opening rounds of 2019, Turkington’s season has become more challenging since Thruxton in August with just one podium finish in nine races coming at Silverstone last time out. With five race wins so far this season coming at Donington Park, Oulton Park and Snetterton, Turkington’s experience and consistency has allowed him to maintain his position at the top of the standings even though his advantage has been cut by over half in recent rounds.
Colin Turkington has already achieved enough in his BTCC career to ensure he goes down as a series legend, but on Sunday at Brands Hatch GP he will aim to become only the second person in the BTCC’s history to become a four-time champion.
Knockhill was damaging, and he could have well lost his championship lead to Andrew Jordan had Jordan not retired from the race. But Turkington is now one of the most experienced drivers on the grid and Sunday won’t have been the first time he’s been involved in a final day title fight.
Despite winning the title at Brands Hatch GP in 2018, his weekend in Kent was poor results-wise as he finished 12th, 22nd and 23rd over the three races. Last year that was more than enough to secure the crown, but Turkington will be well aware that he will need top-ten finishes this time around at the very least to keep #1 on the car for the second year in succession. However, Turkington has shown good form at Brands Hatch GP in the past, winning twice in 2016 and once in 2017 to underline his strong credentials.
Ahead of Brands Hatch, Turkington told the BTCC “It’s a completely different race weekend to any other. The focus on the drivers is huge and there’s a lot at stake, but I know how to approach it – you learn year-by-year. The first title is the hardest to get over the line. It doesn’t get any easier but you’ve a greater bank of knowledge to rely on and you bat away the negative thoughts a bit easier.”
Qualifying for Turkington will be key, and if he can qualify for race one ahead of the likes of Cammish and Jordan then he stands a chance of controlling the title race from the front. It’s going to be nail-biting, and as the target man at the top of the standings, Turkington will be hunted all weekend long by the four below him. He’s the benchmark, and the one they all want to beat.
Turkington has shown he’s more than capable of bagging strong results when the pressure is on, as we saw in race two at Silverstone where he lined up on the grid with a championship advantage of just four points. Like everyone else, he’ll need to bring his A-game and might well need to get his elbows out in his quest for title number four.