Wow. What a weekend it was. The final three races of 2019 had everything you could have ever asked for and more from a championship finale, and at the end of three frantic races, it was Colin Turkington who won the battle and secured his fourth BTCC crown. Turkington’s title moves him to level with Andy Rouse on four BSCC/BTCC championships and he’s now the joint-most successful driver in series history in terms of championship wins. Brands Hatch had it all, and I’ve attempted to give my thoughts on all the biggest talking points from a crazy weekend in my final Weekend Wrap of 2019.
An Enthralling Final Day
You literally couldn’t script what happened at Brands Hatch on Sunday. Heading into the weekend I sort of believed that Turkington would prevail, but I just wasn’t 100% certain given the two race wins Cammish had at Brands Hatch GP last year. I was so undecided in my mind whether the Team Dynamics driver could pull off an upset and secure the title. Even now looking back, I still can’t decide who I picked out as my favourite for the title!
Cammish’s win in race one was fantastic and it set him up brilliantly for the day’s final two races. But the biggest talking point of the day came in race two, as Neal made contact with Turkington down at Graham Hill Bend and sent the BMW spinning to the rear. Whilst Cammish would end the race in 3rd and inherit the championship lead, Turkington finished down in 25th, and that race three grid slot meant curtains for his title hopes. Or so I thought!
Turkington himself described his race three as the “drive of his life” and he wasn’t wrong. With nothing to lose the Team BMW driver carved his way through the field in a way which was reminiscent of Gordon Shedden’s drive a few years ago. He passed Cammish, but the Honda driver just needed 8th to secure the title and until one and a half laps to go, it looked like Turkington’s effort wouldn’t be enough.
Brake failure at Hawthorn sent Cammish’s Honda Civic spearing into the barriers rear-end first and with it, his title hopes went up in smoke. It was the cruellest of ways to lose out on a title, even more so when you consider that it was Cammish’s first DNF of 2019 and only the third time he’d failed to score points. It was a brutal way to end the year, but I think we’ve seen enough of Cammish this season to be safe in the knowledge that he’s going to be a front runner in the BTCC for a long time to come.
Whilst the DNF was cruel, in my opinion, I think that the right driver won in the end. That’s not to say that Cammish or Jordan didn’t deserve the title, because any one of the trio would have been worthy champions, but I believe that had Turkington not been spun in race two, he would have finished race two in the top ten and started race three with a small championship lead which he would have seen home.
It was one of the most intense final days of the season I can remember for a while, and that’s saying something as we’ve had some great ones in the last few years. For the top three drivers to finish within two points of each other says something about how competitive this year’s BTCC has been, and that of the standard of competition we’ve had. Roll on 2020 I say.
Motorbase Put On An Improved Show
It’s hard to believe given how fast the Ford Focus has been over the years, but Tom Chilton’s 3rd place finish in race one was Motorbase’s first podium finish since Chilton’s win at Croft in June. After finishing 2018 so strongly, Chilton, in particular, began 2019 on the front foot and featured heavily in the title tussle until a poor second half of the season derailed his campaign. A 3rd, 5th and unfortunate DNF was still enough for Chilton to secure 10th place in the overall standings, but I feel that we’ve only seen glimpses of what both car and driver are capable of this year.
Brands Hatch GP was an improved showing for Motorbase all round as Ollie Jackson enjoyed his second-best round of 2019 with 10th, 6th and 8th place finishes and Michael Caine finished 12th, 8th and 17th. Jackson ends the year 19th in the standings with Caine 25th, and Motorbase end the season 3rd in the Independent team’s standings.
The cars will have a different look next year as Shredded Wheat end their title sponsorship of the team, but Brands Hatch was an opportunity for the team to put on a good showing in their final race in yellow colours. That they did, but it’ll be back to the drawing board over the winter in a search for what they can do to close the gap to the top factory teams.
I’ve long believed that Motorbase are a team capable of winning the overall title, and I’m looking forward to seeing what 2020 brings.
Rory Butcher Takes Home Two Trophies
Whilst out of the overall title race heading into Brands Hatch, Rory Butcher found himself the hunter in the Independent title race and the hunted in the race for the Jack Sears Trophy, but would end Sunday as the winner of both.
Butcher finished 4th, 9th and 2nd over the three races to take home both titles as he beat Josh Cook by 2 points in the Independent’s championship and Tom Oliphant by 36 points to win the Jack Sears Trophy. The titles cap off an incredible year for Butcher and his team, AmD Tuning who were rocked late in the season by the tragic circumstances which surrounded Sam Tordoff’s withdrawal from the campaign.
The Scot has enjoyed a rapid rise to prominence in his two and a half seasons of BTCC competition. He finished the 2019 campaign with two race wins, one 2nd and one 3rd place finish, a fantastic set of results which lifted him to 5th in the overall driver’s standings. Butcher has shown he can hold his own when running at the front, and he’s a driver I can’t wait to see race again next year. He’s proved he’s got what it takes to win in the BTCC, the next step is a full title push in 2020.
The Wait Is Over For Jason Plato
Whilst virtually everyone’s eyes were on Turkington, Jordan and Cammish in the final few laps of race three, Jason Plato was leading from the front and he would come home 0.9s clear of Butcher to win his first BTCC race since Knockhill 2017. It had been a long time between drinks for Plato and after coming seemingly close to a victory several times this year, it was fitting that the two-time champion was rewarded with win number #97 in the final race. He drove a faultless race and stayed clear out of the battles behind to bring the victory home.
The win meant that Plato secured 7th place in the overall driver’s standings, his best final season placing since his 7th place in 2016. The victory was made even sweeter as it moved him above former Team BMR teammate Ash Sutton who he clashed with at Snetterton earlier in the year.
After two seasons of desperate struggle in the Subaru Levorg, Plato’s return to front-wheel-drive in 2019 has meant a return to the front of the pack, and it’s been refreshing to watch him battling at the sharp end of the field again. Three podiums at Croft, Silverstone and now including the win at Brands Hatch were probably slightly less than Power Maxed Racing would have hoped for at the start of the season, but it’s been a promising year for the new partnership, and I’m excited to see what they can do next year.
Look out for my full BTCC 2019 Season Review coming in the new few days! The 2020 BTCC season will begin on the 28th/29th March at Donington Park.