2017 demonstrated the sheer competitiveness of the BTCC. With the youngest champion for 50 years, 13 winners and new manufacturers in the fray. But aside from Ash Sutton, who should you keep an eye on in 2018? Here’s my prediction:
1. Tom Ingram
2017 was Tom’s strongest BTCC season to date. In the face-lifted Toyota Avensis, Tom produced a carbon-copy of 2016 at the season’s opening round at Brands Hatch with pole position and a win. Following Donington Park he was actually leading the drivers championship. But torrid performances at Oulton Park and Croft would ruin his title hopes. A late resurgence in the final rounds would see him clinch the Independents championship for Speedworks Motorsport over his main rival, Jack Goff, as well as a career-best third in the overall championship. Continuing for another season with Speedworks Motorsport, Tom has ironed out the mistakes that have cost him vital points in the past few years and has become a very accomplished driver. As long as luck remains on his side I believe the overall title could well be in his grasp in 2018.
2. Jack Goff
As Independents runner up, 2017 was by far Jack Goff’s best season in the BTCC. Claiming three pole positions along the way (the most of any driver). He would demonstrate how would not relent to pressure from experienced championships, and in the Honda Civic Type R chassis could deliver results on a consistent basis. Staying with Eurotech Racing for a second season, Jack will be looking to solidify his position at the sharp end of the grid. His ability to bring the Dunlop compounds up to temperature quickly and perform on a single lap basis is certainly his strongest asset. Which will put him in good stead for the 2018 season.
3. Tom Chilton
Returning to the BTCC in 2017 alongside a full WTCC campaign, Tom will continue driving in the BTCC for 2018. But this time under Motorbase Performance as opposed to Power Maxed Racing. Although his WTCC campaign was stronger on paper than his 2017 BTCC campaign, luck was not on his side for several rounds. A dominant performance in his opening weekend at Brands Hatch demonstrated his skill behind the wheel of anything he drives. Moving back to a familiar Ford Focus RS chassis should help, as he looks to claim further wins in the BTCC.
4. Aiden Moffat
With a maiden BTCC win in 2017, the young Scot didn’t hang around before claiming his second. Highlighting this youngster – still only 21 despite 5 years within the BTCC – as a star of the future. Like many of the drivers in this list, luck was not always on his side in 2017 (such as being pitched heavily into the barriers at Oulton Park). But when it was, Aiden was in a class of his own. With his win at Brands Hatch GP being a prime example in tricky wet conditions.
Even if he was faced with adversity, charges through the field such as at Silverstone – claiming the most overtakes in a single race alongside Colin Turkington – highlight his ability behind the wheel. With a couple of wins now under his belt, Aiden will have the confidence to push harder and stronger than ever before. So the rest of the grid better watch out.
5. Andrew Jordan
Andrew was a man reborn in 2017. Three years, and three separate teams since his BTCC title in 2013 has seen doubt rise in many that he would ever take another crown. Moving to West Surrey Racing was a major step forward though. His first time in RWD machinery, Andrew quickly got to grips with the BMW 1 Series.
Although it may have been teammate Colin Turkington who claimed all the glory for the German marque in 2017. Andrew provided a string of consistent performances that created flashbacks to his championship-winning year. Now in his second year with the team, Andrew will be looking to capitalise on the consistency it now brings and will certainly be one too watch.
Picking just five drivers in such a competitive field is a tough call. There are many others that could easily have made the list; the returning pair of Sam Tordoff and James Nash both still have something to prove in the British Championship. While Porsche graduate Dan Cammish has big boots to fill at Honda. Only time will tell who will lift the trophy come September.