Colin Turkington became only the second driver in series history to win four BSCC/BTCC titles on an unforgettable day of action at Brands Hatch GP. Turkington’s title came courtesy of a dramatic final race of the season after he looked to have all but an outside chance following his 25th place finish in race two.
In race one of the day, pole-sitter Turkington lost his head to the Subaru Levorg of Ash Sutton and the pair engaged in an intense series of exchanges before Turkington re-took the lead at Druids. As it stood, Turkington’s lead in the standings would have been 28 points.
However, when Matt Simpson hit the barriers at Paddock Hill Bend the safety car was called and rain began to fall, making the Brands Hatch GP circuit damper and greasy. On the restart, the rear-wheel-drive BMWs and Subaru of Sutton struggled, and Rory Butcher took the race lead as Dan Cammish began his charge through the field.
Cammish was supreme in the tricky conditions as he passed all of Jordan, Sutton and Turkington before the Team Dynamics driver passed race-leader Butcher around the outside at Paddock Hill Bend on lap 16. The podium was completed by Cammish’s teammate Matt Neal and Motorbase driver Tom Chilton, who had both changed to wet tyres during the safety car period. Turkington would finish 5th and Jordan in 8th. Both Josh Cook and Tom Ingram failed to score and their title hopes were ended.
The championship would turn on its head at the start of race two. Cammish led from pole, but the fast-starting Turkington from 5th on the grid found himself up to second by the exit of Druids on the opening lap. However, Matt Neal who had been passed by Turkington fought back and Neal made contact with Turkington at Graham Hill Bend, spinning the Team BMW driver down the order.
Turkington immediately pitted for slick tyres in a bid to climb back up the order with several other runners who would gamble on a drying track. However, conditions proved tricky for the BMW 3 Series and Turkington would only manage to finish in 25th place. The race was won by Ash Sutton who scored his first victory of 2019. Andrew Jordan finished 2nd and Cammish in 3rd, meaning that Cammish had a championship lead of eight points over Turkington for the final race of the day.
The final race of the year was a nail-biter as Turkington lined up on the grid in 25th place whilst Cammish and Jordan would both start on the fourth row. The race itself would go the way of Jason Plato, who scored his first BTCC race victory since Knockhill 2017 as Rory Butcher would finish 2nd to secure the Independent’s title and Sutton in 3rd.
But it was behind the leading pack where the action was unfolding. Turkington was on fire, and he had carved his way through the field on the opening lap on his way to 15th position at the start of lap two. His charge continued as he passed Neal and then Ingram to be onto the back of Cammish. Cammish himself was unable to pass the Ford Focus of Ollie Jackson.
With four laps left to go, Turkington passed Cammish at Druids, but Cammish was safe in the knowledge that he would still win the title, all he needed was an 8th place finish.
However, in what will go down as one of the most dramatic moments in the history of the BTCC, Cammish suffered a brake failure on the entry to Hawthorn Bend and retired from the race as his title hopes ended in the tyre barriers. Previously the only driver to have completed every racing lap of 2019, Cammish’s title hopes were over in a split second.
Turkington would go on to finish the race in 6th and secure his fourth BTCC drivers title, becoming the equal-most successful driver in series history in the process on 320 points. Turkington would finish just two points ahead of Jordan and Cammish. BMW secured the manufacturer’s crown and Halfords Yuasa Racing won the team’s title. Rory Butcher would secure both the Independent drivers and Jack Sears Trophy honours.
Reflecting on his title victory, Turkington said “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get close to Andy Rouse’s record – that’s amazing and very special. I was in shock when I crossed the finish line and was told I was champion. It was just pure elation – nothing else in life gives you that feeling.”
The Northern Irishman also acknowledged the level of competition in this year’s BTCC, and especially how hard both Cammish and Jordan had pushed him to the title. “I really do feel for both Andrew and Dan – it’s a bitter pill to swallow. You put in a full year’s work to try to win this, and I honestly thought it had got away from me after race two. This has been my hardest championship yet by a long shot – to win it two laps from the end of the season is completely different from the other ones.”
The 2020 BTCC season will return on the 28th/28th March at Donington Park.
BTCC 2019 Final Championship Standings
1 Colin TURKINGTON Team BMW 320
2 Dan CAMMISH Halfords Yuasa Racing 318
3 Andrew JORDAN BMW Pirtek Racing 318
4 Josh COOK BTC Racing 278
5 Rory BUTCHER Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance 266
6 Tom INGRAM Team Toyota GB with Ginsters 245
7 Jason PLATO Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing 237
8 Ashley SUTTON Adrian Flux Subaru Racing 233
9 Matt NEAL Halfords Yuasa Racing 232
10 Tom CHILTON Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher 200
11 Tom OLIPHANT Team BMW 178
12 Adam MORGAN Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport 155
13 Sam TORDOFF Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance 147
14 Chris SMILEY BTC Racing 132
15 Jake HILL TradePriceCars.com 131
16 Rob COLLARD Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing 118
17 Stephen JELLEY Team Parker Racing 105
18 Aiden MOFFAT Laser Tools Racing 89
19 Ollie JACKSON Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher 81
20 Senna PROCTOR Adrian Flux Subaru Racing 47
21 Jack GOFF RCIB Insurance with Fox Transport 40
22 Bobby THOMPSON GKR Scaffolding with Autobrite Direct 35
23 Matt SIMPSON Simpson Racing 33
24 Mike BUSHELL Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance 27
25 Michael CAINE Motorbase Performance 16
26 Michael CREES GKR Scaffolding with Autobrite Direct 11
27 Daniel ROWBOTTOM Cataclean Racing with Ciceley Motorsport 5
28 Mark BLUNDELL TradePriceCars.com 5
29 Carl BOARDLEY RCIB Insurance with Fox Transport 5
30 Daniel ROWBOTTOM Cataclean Racing with Ciceley Motorsport 4
31 Sam OSBORNE Excelr8 Motorsport 2
32 Rob SMITH Excelr8 Motorsport 2
33 Nic HAMILTON ROKiT Racing with Motorbase 0