After nine rounds of action, the final three races of the 2019 BTCC season are upon us as a five-way title fight reaches its conclusion at Brands Hatch GP this weekend. 61 points separate Colin Turkington at the top of the table and Tom Ingram in 5th, and the stakes couldn’t be higher heading into Saturday and Sunday. Colin Turkington and Andrew Jordan will be chasing their fourth and second titles respectively, whilst Dan Cammish, Josh Cook and Tom Ingram will all be going after their first. It’s going to be a cracking weekend, and I’ve given my thoughts on all the biggest pre-race talking points in my Brands Hatch GP weekend preview.
All Eyes At The Top Of The Table
It’s say something about the competitiveness of the BTCC that you can head in the final round of the season after 27 races and still have five drivers in with a shout of winning the title. All of Turkington, Cammish, Jordan, Cook and Ingram have a chance to secure the crown, but some will require more luck than others. Whilst Ingram and Cook will be relying on misfortune to hit Turkington, Jordan and Cammish, the top three in the table will know that if they perform strongly across all the races, they’ll be in with a serious shot at the title.
Truth be told, any one of the five would be deserving winners of the 2019 title, but with Cook and Ingram’s chances slimmer than the rest I think it’s likely that either one of Turkington, Cammish or Jordan will be lifting the trophy at the end of the day. All three have performed fantastically this season, and on Sunday it’s going to be all about speed, consistency and staying out of trouble in the chaos that can sometimes accompany the final races of the season.
Turkington’s 16-point lead means that he’s the man at the top with the target on his back, and whilst the advantage is a good buffer, it’s also a tricky position as the defending champion has something to defend in the races, and he’ll have to be careful of being over-conservative. Both Cammish and Jordan, with just one point between them will be going into Sunday with an all or nothing attitude and Jordan, in particular, will be desperate to secure the title in his final season of PIRTEK backing.
Cammish’s two wins last year at Brands Hatch GP show us that both car and driver have form and good speed at the circuit, whilst it’ll be another new track for the BMW 3 Series. The new track factor doesn’t seem to have hampered WSR at all this season but in title races with the finest of margins, it’s that familiarity and comfort for Cammish that could make all the difference.
Conclusion Of The Jack Sears Trophy
Of the 11 drivers eligible for the 2019 Jack Sears Trophy, two will go into the final weekend with a chance of securing the title. Alongside the championship five battling for the title, Rory Butcher and Tom Oliphant will lock horns on Sunday as Oliphant aims to close and turnaround an 11-point gap to Butcher in the standings.
Both drivers have been impressive in 2019, Butcher in particular as his three race wins have helped him to 6th in the overall driver’s standings. Oliphant sits in 11th, but in terms of the Jack Sears Trophy points the pair are almost neck and neck with Butchers 260 compared to Oliphant’s 249. With 60 points on offer for the highest-placed Jack Sears Trophy driver across Sunday’s three races, the margin is as close as it can get, and both will be targeting the coveted silverware.
Both Butcher and Oliphant were in slower cars last year when the series concluded at Brands Hatch GP as Butcher managed a best result of 23rd in the MG 6 and Oliphant managed a best finish of 13th in the Mercedes-Benz A-Class. The pair will have far higher expectations this time around and Oliphant, in particular, will be keen to make the most of a ballast-free car in qualifying to take the upper hand into race one.
Whilst Butcher will be free to race for himself, Oliphants status as Turkington and Jordan’s WSR teammate means that he could well be drafted in to assist a title push should the need arise. The Jack Sears Trophy will be a fascinating subplot to Sunday’s action and both will be keen to secure it before they become ineligible next year.
Independent Honours Still To Tie Up
22 points separate Josh Cook and Rory Butcher at the head of the Independent driver’s standings with a maximum of 60 points available for the top driver this weekend. Both Cook and Butcher sit inside the overall championship top six, something which is a testament to the fantastic work BTC Racing (Cook) and AmD Tuning (Butcher) have done this season with their Honda Civics. Whilst fighting for the overall driver’s title and Jack Sears Trophy respectively, Cook and Butcher will also have one eye on the Independent driver’s championship come the end of race three on Sunday.
Whilst it’s Butcher who’s won most recently, a strong Silverstone for Cook combined with a disappointing one for Butcher means that the momentum is with Cook heading into Brands Hatch. That, combined with his 22-point advantage means that it’ll be Butcher who needs to work to heavily outscore Cook this weekend if he is to close and overcome the gap. Cook has finished on the podium at Brands Hatch GP twice in his last three visits, once in 2016 and then again in 2018, and the BTC Racing driver will be confident of maintaining his lead.
Will Ash Sutton Look To Muscle In On The Action?
Whilst all the focus will be on the conclusion the championships, Ash Sutton will be looking to end his season on a high note.
Victorious in the final race of the season last year, Sutton’s 2019 campaign has taken a dramatic nosedive in recent rounds as the Subaru Levorg driver has gone from leading the standings following Donington Park to 9th in the table heading into this weekend. In truth, 2019 has been a year to forget for Sutton who hasn’t finished on the podium since Thruxton in May and is yet to win a race for the first time in his four year BTCC career. There have been times where that victory has been close, most notably at Snetterton where Sutton and Plato collied and dropped them both out the running. But it’s been an overall lack of pace since the summer that has plagued the Team BMR Subaru, a car which has been a staple at the head of the field since it’s debut back in 2016.
Widely regarded as one of the fastest men on the grid, Sutton’s quest for a second title this year has been severely hampered by what looks like a drastic lack of straight-line speed from his Levorg. Whilst the title is out of reach, Sutton will be keen for a repeat of 2018 as he bids for victory at Brands Hatch. His win last year came after a thrilling race-long battle with Josh Cook and from what we’ve seen of Sutton so far in his career I’m sure he’ll be back in the title race soon enough.
The final rounds of the 2019 BTCC season take place on the 12th/13th October at Brands Hatch Grand Prix.