You can never take anything for granted in the BTCC and 2019 was no exception. From the moment the lights went out at Brands Hatch Indy in race one, to the penultimate lap of race 30 the 2019 season was one of ups, downs and plenty of action along the way. Whilst the season as a whole might not go down in some people’s eyes a vintage one, the final day of the year at Brands Hatch GP certainly will and the final race of the day remains the best race I’ve seen in any global touring car category this year.
I’ve taken a look back at some of the highlights, low points and biggest talking points of the 2019 season starting what feels like ages ago on the weekend of the 6th/7th April.
Round One – Brands Hatch Indy
Josh Cook Announces Himself As A 2019 Contender
As mist and fog lingered over Brands Hatch Indy on Sunday morning, it would be Josh Cook who would strike first in 2019 with a stunning race through the field on dry tyres in tricky conditions. Whilst the majority of the frontrunners would start on wets, Cook’s choice to place his faith in a drying Brands Hatch paid off and he took the first silverware of 2019 and his first win for BTC Racing.
Whilst race one was nothing short of chaotic, the changeable conditions meant that we didn’t get to see much indication of the true pecking order, but for anyone waiting for answers, they came in race two as Andrew Jordan stormed through from 15th on the grid to 1st to take the all-new BMW 3 Series’ first win in the BTCC. It was a statement and a victory which would go on to set the tone for the opening half of the year.
The third race of the day would see Rory Butcher claim his first race win, but the celebrations would come post-race as Tom Chilton was handed a five-second penalty for making contact as he passed Matt Neal for the race lead. The revised result saw Butcher, Chilton and Stephen Jelley complete the top three, and it lead to an interesting championship table.
It was advantage Josh Cook following the opening stanza of the season as difficult conditions at Brands Hatch made for an unexpected championship top ten after the first three races. Well-deserved podiums for Jake Hill and Stephen Jelley meant their campaigns had started with some hard-earned silverware but as the championship rolled on, Donington Park would turn the table on its head.
Points Standings After Brands Hatch Indy
01 Josh Cook – 44
02 Tom Chilton – 40
03 Stephen Jelley – 35
04 Rory Butcher – 34
05 Adam Morgan – 31
06 Jake Hill – 30
07 Ashley Sutton – 27
08 Andrew Jordan – 23
09 Matt Neal – 22
10 Tom Ingram – 20
Gap to leader – 4 points.
Round Two – Donington Park
Colin Turkington Stakes His Claim To The Throne
If it was the weather at Brands Hatch which contributed to the chaos up and down the field, it couldn’t be blamed again at Donington Park in what was a crash-strewn second round of the season.
Colin Turkington secured his first pole position since 2016, and then followed up with a fine lights to flag victory as he suddenly clicked with the BMW 3 Series following a difficult opening weekend. In what would become a pivotal moment later in the season, Andrew Jordan was taken to hospital following a huge shunt at the Old Hairpin on lap one of race one, causing him to miss all three of the day’s races.
Turkington would make it two from two in the second race in another assured performance from the front. The Team BMW driver led from lights to flag, managing the gap to Neal and Sutton behind as once again there was an array of questionable incidents up and down the field.
Race three saw Tom Ingram take his first win for Team Toyota GB and the first for the new Corolla GT in the BTCC. Cheered on by Toyota staff and guests, Ingram took advantage of pole position in the reverse grid race and never looked back until he took the checkered flag. The Corolla had proved to be fast, winning in just it’s sixth BTCC race, however as the season continued it would become apparent that the car wouldn’t have the speed to consistently run at the front at all different types of racetrack
Despite not yet winning a race, it was Ash Sutton who left Donington Park as the championship leader. Three podium finishes in the first six races of the season allowed Sutton a three-point buffer over previous points leader Cook, but the man on the rise was Turkington, now just five points off the summit heading into Thruxton.
Points Standings After Donington Park
01 Ashley Sutton – 70
02 Josh Cook – 67
03 Colin Turkington – 65
04 Tom Chilton – 65
05 Rory Butcher – 64
06 Tom Ingram – 58
07 Matt Neal – 52
08 Jake Hill – 47
09 Adam Morgan – 43
10 Stephen Jelley – 35
Gap to leader – 3 points.
Round Three – Thruxton
Andrew Jordan Strikes Back
There can be no doubt that scoring no points at Donington Park cost Andrew Jordan dear in the 2019 title race. However, on his return to action behind the wheel of his PIRTEK Racing BMW, the 2013 champion responded in the most emphatic way possible with a dominant performance at Thruxton to break into the championship’s top ten.
Race one fell to Jordan, who made the most of a fast start to get himself into a position where he able to capitalise on any misfortune which could strike pole-sitter and race-leader Sam Tordoff. After following the back of the AmD Tuning Civic for much of the race, Jordan seized his opportunity on lap 13 as he capitalised on a wobble from Tordoff through Church Corner to take the lead.
Starting from the front in race two, it was Jordan who followed in the footsteps of Turkington two weeks before, as he became the second double-race winner of 2019. Jordan led home a WSR one-two as Turkington followed in second and the BMW 3 Series continued to be the cream of the crop over the season’s early exchanges. It was a remarkable turnaround for a driver taken out in a massive accident just two weeks before, and the double-victory would kick-start a brilliant run of form for Jordan over the summer months.
Josh Cook put in a fine performance in the reverse grid race to take his second victory of the year in race three. He battled with Ash Sutton before sneaking his BTC Racing Civic through at the first chicane on the opening lap. Cook then dealt with race-long pressure from Sutton and Butcher, as well as two safety car restarts but held on strongly to continue his record of scoring silverware at every round of 2019 so far.
Following three intense races at Thruxton the championship had closed up, with four drivers within five points at the top of the table. However whilst it was Jordan and Cook who shared the Thruxton spoils, it was Turkington and Butcher who rose to the top of tree with consistent performances across all of Sunday’s three races. Eventual title contenders Jordan and Cammish had both begun their climb up the standings, and the stakes couldn’t be higher as the BTCC headed into a crucial summer.
Points Standings After Thruxton
01 Colin Turkington – 102
02 Rory Butcher – 102
03 Josh Cook – 100
04 Ashley Sutton – 97
05 Matt Neal – 85
06 Tom Ingram – 81
07 Tom Chilton – 68
08 Dan Cammish – 66
09 Andrew Jordan – 65
10 Jason Plato – 60
Gap to leader – 2 points.
Round Four – Croft
Jordan Continues To Reign Supreme
If anyone had hoped WSR’s strength at Donington Park and Thruxton was a flash in the pan, round four of the season at Croft put an end to that speculation as Jordan continued his great run of form.
Race one would see Jordan notch up his fourth win of 2019 as he converted pole position into a brilliant race victory ahead of Chis Smiley and Ash Sutton. On a track where rear-wheel-drive cars had traditionally had the upper-hand, it appeared that the front-wheel-drive cars were closer, but come the end of race one they still didn’t have an answer for the marching BMW 3 Series.
Jordan’s run of form wouldn’t stop just yet, as he took his fifth race victory of the season in race two, converting another lights to flag race as he defended from the fast-charging Turkington and Cammish, the two drivers who would go on to become his fiercest championship rivals. Jordan had now won four of the past five races, a remarkable feat in a series as competitive as the BTCC.
Race three saw Tom Chilton make amends for his penalty at Brands Hatch earlier in the season as he took his first win of 2019 in a fantastic defensive drive in damp conditions. Chilton was pushed to the line by Josh Cook and Jason Plato, but the Motorbase driver held on to claim a victory which at the time, looked set to ignite his championship charge. So good at the end of 2018, the opening exchanges of 2019 hadn’t been kind to Chilton or Motorbase, but a well-deserved victory would close the gap to the top of the table.
For the first time in 2019, Colin Turkington moved into the outright lead of the title race, and it was a position which he would strengthen over the following races. Jordan’s second double-victory of the campaign saw him continue to climb the standings, whilst a tough weekend for Rory Butcher would see the AmD Tuning driver drop from the joint points lead to 6th in the table after scoring just 11 points.
Points Standings After Croft
01 Colin Turkington – 143
02 Josh Cook – 132
03 Ashley Sutton – 130
04 Andrew Jordan -117
05 Matt Neal -115
06 Rory Butcher -113
07 Tom Chilton – 111
08 Dan Cammish – 97
09 Tom Ingram – 96
10 Jason Plato – 93
Gap to leader – 11 points.
Round Five – Oulton Park
Turkington Stamps His Authority On The Title Race
If rounds three and four of the 2019 campaign had been all about Andrew Jordan, the midpoint of the season was the perfect place for Turkington to strike back as the momentum in the championship battle swung back to the way of car #1 on a historic weekend at Oulton Park.
Race one would see Turkington claim a lights to flag victory and his third win of 2019 as he led home Dan Cammish and Andrew Jordan to complete the podium. Kept honest by Cammish throughout, Turkington’s BMW was able to hold an advantage over Cammish’s Civic by being faster through the chicane as opposed to Cammish’s advantage at the hairpin, and the victory meant Turkington would secure that all-important pole position for the second race of the day.
History would be made in race two as Colin Turkington became only the fourth driver in BTCC history to take 50 race wins. Leading from the front, Turkington prevailed in an incident-packed race which included a sizeable accident between Jack Goff and Chris Smiley. Keeping his cool on the restart to take victory, the podium would once again be completed by Jordan and Cammish, this time however it would be Jordan who finished second.
The third race of the day was an action-packed affair and was another which was decided after a post-race penalty was applied. Jake Hill took the checkered flag on the road, but a 20-second time penalty following contact with Matt Neal at turn one on lap three consigned Hill to 14th, and it was Stephen Jelley who inherited the victory, his first in the BTCC for ten years and a first for Team Parker Racing.
Turkington’s dominant weekend at Oulton Park had served him well in the title race as his double victory moved him 33 points clear in the table. Jordan’s strong performances were enough to see him move into second, and Cammish’s good results allowed him to rise to 8th. After a positive start to the year, Ash Sutton had begun to fall away from the top of the table, but it was all systems go for WSR heading into the second half of the campaign.
Points Standings After Oulton Park
01 Colin Turkington – 195
02 Andrew Jordan – 162
03 Josh Cook – 148
04 Rory Butcher – 147
05 Ashley Sutton – 147
06 Dan Cammish – 130
07 Matt Neal – 125
08 Tom Chilton – 119
09 Tom Ingram – 113
10 Jason Plato – 107
Gap to leader – 33 points.
Round Six – Snetterton
Status Quo At The Top As Sutton and Plato Clash
As the BTCC headed into the second half of the year, the onus was on the chasing pack to reel in both Colin Turkington and Andrew Jordan at the top of the standings. The opening half of 2019 had seen the WSR BMW 3 Series cement it’s status as the car to beat, taking victory in nine out of 15 races. As the series arrived at Snetterton, the pressure was on the rest of the field to cut into Turkington’s championship lead.
Tom Ingram claimed his second win of 2019 with a lights to flag victory in race one, converting from pole in a second win for the Corolla. Under pressure from Cammish in the opening laps, Ingram eventually got into his groove and drove away from the field to take the flag with a three-second margin from Cammish and Tordoff. His victory would mark the first time since Brands Hatch that Turkington or Jordan hadn’t won the opening race of the day.
Race two saw Colin Turkington take his fifth victory of 2019. The win saw Turkington move level on the number of races won with teammate Jordan, but more importantly, extend his championship lead. Turkington’s pass for victory came on lap seven as he rubbed with Ingram in a move which sent the Corolla slightly wide. After the dust had settled, it was Turkington who lead Cammish and Jordan to the flag.
The third race of the day would be the one which provided the biggest talking points. Rory Butcher prevailed to take his first on the road victory in the BTCC, but it was Plato and Sutton who made the headlines after the pair came together whilst battling for the lead at the end of the Bentley Straight. Both drivers traded blows several times in the opening laps before they went three-wide with Butcher who had risen from 12th on the grid. Three into one never goes, and as Plato and Sutton made contact, Plato went onto the grass and Sutton spun out of the points. Butcher slid through to take a popular race win.
Another consistent weekend, coupled with an impressive race two victory saw Turkington extend his championship lead by three points to 36 over teammate Jordan. Turkington had successfully negotiated one of the five rounds he would need to defend his title, but there was movement behind as both Rory Butcher and Dan Cammish made the most of strong weekends to move to 3rd and 5th in the standings respectively. The race was well and truly on, but the likes of Sutton, Ingram, Neal and Plato were fast being removed from title contention.
Points Standings After Oulton Park
01 Colin Turkington – 236
02 Andrew Jordan – 200
03 Rory Butcher – 177
04 Josh Cook – 166
05 Dan Cammish – 166
06 Ashley Sutton – 160
07 Tom Ingram – 144
08 Matt Neal – 130
09 Jason Plato – 128
10 Tom Chilton – 123
Gap to leader – 36 points.
Round Seven – Thruxton II
Testing Weekend For WSR As Cammish Closes In
It’s never all plain sailing in the BTCC and if you were to pick one moment where WSR’s season began to slide, Thruxton would be that round of choice. So dominant up until now, Thruxton proved to be a crash back down to earth for Turkington and Jordan as the pair struggled in qualifying, setting themselves up for a difficult race day.
After coming so tantalisingly close at many points during the season, it was Sam Tordoff who took a long-awaited first victory of 2019 in race one. Tordoff converted pole position to the win, and any doubts about the destination of the victory were soon removed after the start when 2nd place man Plato was given a penalty for lining up ahead of his grid box. Tordoff lead home Cammish and a resurgent Adam Morgan, who was back challenging at the front after a testing opening half of the year.
Josh Cook claimed his first race victory since Thruxton in May in race two, reigniting his championship charge with a solid drive from 4th on the grid. Cook gained the lead in a fantastic exchange between himself, Tordoff and Morgan at the final chicane on lap four and never looked back as he led home Morgan and Neal who completed the podium.
Race three saw Dan Cammish, who had come close to victory many times throughout the season take his first race win of 2019. Cammish gained the lead of the race on lap ten, as Rob Collard’s Astra lost grip through Church Corner and allowed Cammish to pull alongside on the approach to the final chicane. As the heavens opened, Cammish kept his Civic Type-R on the road on a treacherous final lap of the race to secure a long-awaited win, which capped off the incredible form he’d been in since Thruxton earlier in the year.
A poor weekend for both Turkington and Jordan had allowed the chasing pack to catch up, with Cammish now sitting in 3rd in the table after a sensational rise up the standings since May. Surprisingly, given the fact that both Turkington and Jordan both struggled, Turkingotn’s lead was still relatively intact at 30 points, but the pair will have been casting a nervous eye back to the resurgent Cammish who was leading the Honda charge.
Points Standings After Thruxton II
01 Colin Turkington – 249
02 Andrew Jordan – 219
03 Dan Cammish -215
04 Josh Cook – 211
05 Rory Butcher – 188
06 Ashley Sutton – 179
07 Matt Neal – 168
08 Tom Ingram – 165
09 Sam Tordoff – 147
10 Jason Plato – 143
Gap to leader – 30 points.
Round Eight – Knockhill
From Good To Bad To Worse For WSR As Turkington’s Lead Is Slashed
As the final third of the season approached, both Turkington and Jordan will have been hoping that their Thruxton misfortunes were merely a blip in an otherwise dominant year. However, Knockhill is a track which always throws up plenty of surprises and 2019 was no different as the championship took a fascinating turn in Scotland.
If he hadn’t already convinced people that he was a force to be reckoned with, race one at Knockhill will go down as the race that Rory Butcher firmly announced himself on the BTCC scene. After securing pole position in front of a home crowd, Butcher lead off the line fending off the fast Andrew Jordan in a brilliant race-long battle. The home hero looked to have lost the race lead on the penultimate lap as he clipped the kerb at the final hairpin leading to a slow run up the main straight. Jordan pulled alongside and looked set to take a first race win since Croft until he outbraked himself going into the first corner of the final lap and handed the lead back to Butcher. Cammish and Turkington would finish 3rd and 4th as all three of the main championship contenders battled hard at the head of the field.
Race two was another typical Knockhill affair as Andrew Jordan took the win in a grandstand race in the Scottish hills. Jordan beat Butcher off the line and would go on to lead from the front, but it was behind that the action was unfolding as Butcher and Turkington made contact at McIntyres on lap seven. As Butcher looked to make a move on inside, the pair came together and the result was that Turkington was sent spinning into the gravel and out of the points. Whilst Turkington recovered to finish 19th, Jordan’s race victory slashed Turkington’s lead at the top of the table to just four points heading into the final race of the day.
Just when the championship momentum looked to have swung across the WSR garage, race three made headlines as again the championship momentum changed. The race was won by Jake Hill, who took a long-awaited and well-deserved race victory after starting from pole in the reverse grid race. Hill led from lights out and crossed the line ahead of Josh Cook and Adam Morgan who completed the podium. Whilst Hill took all the plaudits, Jordan was left to rue the early end of his race as he ended up in the gravel trap on lap one after collecting the spinning Subaru Levorg of Senna Proctor. Turkington’s recovery drive from 19th to 10th had extended his lead which was cut in race two, and Jordan has missed his chance to move into the driving seat in what was fast-becoming a three-horse title fight.
The title race had opened up dramatically over three action-packed races at Knockhill. Turkington’s’ lead, which had stood at 36 points just two rounds ago was cut to 10, and a no-score apiece for Turkington and Jordan had bought Dan Cammish right into play with the Honda driver sitting 11 points behind. With six races left of 2019, the title race was wide open and there was everything to play for heading into what would be thrilling penultimate round at Silverstone.
Points Standings After Knockhill
01 Colin Turkington – 268
02 Andrew Jordan – 258
03 Dan Cammish – 257
04 Josh Cook – 238
05 Rory Butcher – 227
06 Tom Ingram – 194
07 Ashley Sutton – 183
08 Matt Neal – 174
09 Jason Plato – 163
10 Tom Chilton – 156
Gap to leader – 10 points.
Round Nine – Silverstone
Ingram Dominates Amid The Chaos
You couldn’t have scripted a better penultimate round of the season than we had at Silverstone, as wet conditions and rising tensions all played their part in setting up a grandstand finale at Brands Hatch GP.
Race one saw Ingram take his third victory of the year, as the Toyota driver reeled in pole-sitter and early race leader Plato in the greasy and tricky conditions. Ingram passed Plato for the lead at Luffield on lap four and never looked back as he sailed into a 4-second lead over Plato and Smiley come the checkered flag. Whilst Ingram had taken victory, the title race had taken another turn as Turkington recovered from a mid-race spin which dropped him outside the top 20 to 14th at the flag, Jordan finished 10th and Cammish 11th and Turkington’s lead was again cut to four points.
The second race saw Ingram make it two from two as he prevailed in an incident-packed affair to take his fourth win of the season. As the rain arrived mid-race, the safety car, and then eventually the red flag came as the race was paused for the worsening conditions. On the restart, Oliphant led the field having passed Plato and Ingram in the opening phase, but the tricky conditions saw him run wide at Copse and Ingram re-took the lead. Turkington and Cammish surged through the field to finish 2nd and 3rd respectively and complete the podium. Races one and two had delivered some brilliant action, but more was to come in the final race of the day.
In another rain-affected race, Jack Goff secured Team HARD’s first-ever BTCC race victory with a brilliant call to switch from dry to wet tyres under the safety car. In rapidly dampening conditions, Jack Goff and Aiden Moffat carved their way through the field on the restart and it was soon a two-way battle for the lead of the race. Moffat ran wide through Copse whilst chasing Goff, and the Team HARD driver held on for a popular victory in pit lane. Turkington, Jordan and Cammish finished 7th, 8th and 12 respectively.
It was advantage Turkington heading into the final three races of the season at Brands Hatch GP. Despite a chaotic Silverstone weekend, the BMW driver had extended his championship lead to 16 points from 11, however, Dan Cammish was now his closest challenger having moved one point ahead of Jordan. Ingram’s double-victory earlier in the day had ensured that he headed to Brands Hatch with an outside shot of winning the title, with Josh Cook also in outside contention for the crown.
Points Standings After Silverstone
01 Colin Turkington – 297
02 Dan Cammish – 281
03 Andrew Jordan – 280
04 Josh Cook – 263
05 Tom Ingram – 236
06 Rory Butcher – 228
07 Jason Plato – 205
08 Matt Neal – 199
09 Ashley Sutton – 191
10 Tom Chilton – 174
Gap to leader – 16 points.
Round Ten – Brands Hatch GP
Turkington Retains His Title On The Most Dramatic Of Final Days
After 27 races spanning some of the UK’s greatest race tracks, just 17 points separated the top three in the title race heading into the final round of the season. Each of Turkington, Cammish and Jordan had experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows during their quest for the 2019 title, and with just three races remaining, the BTCC was about to throw one final curveball into the mix.
It was Colin Turkington who struck first in qualifying to claim a brilliant pole position to put himself in the box seat for race one. Despite losing the lead to Sutton off the line, Turkington fought back to reclaim the lead of the race at Druids. But the weather was to play its part, and with rain now falling some runners changed to wet tyres, whilst others attempted to ride it out on a set of dry tyres. After struggling in the opening stages, Cammish’s dry tyre-shod car came alive in the greasy conditions and he began to climb through the field passing car after car including now race leader Rory Butcher on lap 16 at Paddock Hill Bend. It was a remarkable drive, and no doubt the most important of Cammish’s career so far as he held on for the win. Matt Neal and Tom Chilton completed the podium. Turkington finished 5th and Jordan in 8th as the BMWs struggled in the damp, but more importantly, Cammish had cut the lead to the top to just eight points with two races remaining.
Race two would prove to be even more dramatic, as part of a battle with Cammish and Neal off the line, Turkington was clipped by Matt Neal at Graham Hill Bend on the opening lap and sent spinning to the back of the field. On a seemingly drying track and with nothing to lose, Turkington immediately pitted for dry tyres as the race settled and Ash Sutton took his first victory of the year. It was a win which would prove to be Subaru’s last in the BTCC. Andrew Jordan rose through the field from 8th to 2nd and Cammish finished 3rd as for the first time all season, Cammish hit the top of the BTCC standings. Turkington’s 25th place finish meant a 16-point swing in Cammish’s favour, giving the Honda driver an 8-point advantage heading into the final race of the day.
Just when you thought the BTCC couldn’t throw anything else on the table, the final race of the season proved to be one of the most dramatic in living memory. Passing early race leader Stephen Jelley, Plato was able to pull a gap in his Vauxhall Astra and went on to win a relatively trouble-free race and secure his first race victory since Knockhill 2017.
However, it was behind where the championship permutations were about to change with every passing corner. Turkington, starting 25th and with nothing to lose scythed his way through the field, rising ten places on the opening lap alone as he wrung the neck of his BMW 3 Series. Following Ingram, the pair continued their charge through the pack, into the top ten and then eventually up to Cammish who was unable to make progress. Turkington then passed Ingram’s Corolla and then most importantly Cammish on the inside of Druids with four laps to go. However, as the result stood the positions would still have been enough for Cammish to secure the title.
But on the penultimate lap of the race, the 2019 season would play its final trump card as Cammish’s brakes failed on the run to Hawthorn bend, sending the championship leader into the tyre barriers. In a split-second, the title race was over as Cammish’s retirement meant that Turkington just needed to hold station and cross the line to secure victory. He would finish the race in 6th, and with it Turkington won his fourth BTCC title, becoming only the second driver in history to reach the landmark.
The final day of the season had seen the title race take twists and turns no-one would have expected, but come the end of race 30 it was Colin Turkington who had prevailed with a two-point advantage over Andrew Jordan and Dan Cammish. You couldn’t have scripted what happened during that final race, and all of Turkington, Jordan and Cammish would have been worthy winners of the 2019 title.
BTCC 2019 certainly had its moments. A dramatic start and finish to the season was punctuated by a period of WSR and BMW 3 Series dominance where after Oulton Park especially, you wouldn’t have been surprised if either Turkington or Jordan had crept into an unassailable championship lead. Whilst like any championship the BTCC rewards race wins, it also rewards consistency and I don’t think you would find many who wouldn’t agree that the final championship top three were the most consistent all year long. 2019 has been a brilliant year with some barnstorming moments included. I for one, cannot wait for 2020 to get underway.
Final Championship Top Ten
01 Colin Turkington – 320
02 Andrew Jordan – 318
03 Dan Cammish – 318
04 Josh Cook – 278
05 Rory Butcher – 266
06 Tom Ingram – 245
07 Jason Plato – 237
08 Ashley Sutton – 233
09 Matt Neal – 232
10 Tom Chilton – 200