Welcome to touring cars 2018!
This year the UK’s premier motorsport championship is celebrating its 60th Anniversary. In this 60th year there’s a capacity grid entry, plenty of new and returning faces and a few well-known ones who you won’t recognize as they are no longer here. So, who’s in and who’s out in this year’s 30-race series?
Starting with the manufacturers who have been reduced in entries to four this year with MG deciding not to continue with their works-backed Triple Eight squad. However, that still leaves Honda, BMW, Vauxhall and Subaru to do battle.
Defending champs Subaru with three cars this year rather than four, but the drivers are familiar. Defending champ Ash Sutton and Jason Plato, who’s returning from the retirement home, in the senior team with Josh Price once again in the academy. Honda have also reduced their line-up with just two cars now. Matt Neal, who’s from the same retirement home as the ancient and illustrious Mr Plato, is joined not by “Flash” Gordon Shedden, who’s gone off to race in the World Cup, but by Dan Cammish. Although a rookie in the series Cammish has a stellar career in Porsche Carrera Cup and Supercup for bragging rights. BMW are unchanged with former champs Colin Turkington and Andrew Jordan joined by Rob Collard. Vauxhall has kept two cars but a change of driver. Senna Proctor is joined by Josh Cook, who’s raced with Power Maxed Racing (the team that runs Vauxhall’s cars) before.
Cook has replaced Tom Chilton who has decided to return to base this year and fully focus on this series, therefore leaving the World Championship. Chilton is now at Motorbase who are running an RS Focus this year. He’s joined by 2016 runner-up Sam Tordoff, who had a year out racing GT cars, and James Cole. Cole is a latecomer because everyone expected Mat Jackson to continue. But Jackson and Motorbase parted company not long after the Tordoff announcment, leaving Motorbase scrambling to find a suitable replacement. So they poached Cole from Subaru.
Speedworks Motorsport have no reason not to continue with Tom Ingram considering his form last year and they do so. Eurotech stick with Jack Goff and Brett Smith but will also run Matt Simpson’s Honda. Norlin have changed to a Honda Civic from a Chevrolet Cruze and have also hired Jeff Smith to drive alongside Chris Smiley after Dave Newsham’s retirement. Adam Morgan’s Ciceley Motorsport has its owner driving a Mercedes once again with Aidan Moffat running his Merc with him. They’re joined by former Ginetta GT4 champ Tom Oliphant.
Handy Motorsport has become HMS Racing and while its driver is still Rob Austin they’ve taken a gamble with a brand new car, an Alfa Romeo! AmD has expanded to four cars but with two models. They’ll run the Audis like last year but will also be running two ex-works MGs. These will be driven by relative newcomers Rory Butcher and Sam Smelt as well as veterans Ollie Jackson and Tom Boardman, who returns for the first time since 2011. Parker keep the experienced Stephen Jelley and finally Tony Gilham has renamed his team “HARD” and has added another VW CC. His drivers are Clio Cup champ Mike Bushell, Jake Hill, the returning Michael Caine and VW Cup champ Bobby Thompson.
So there you are. 32 cars ready to race over the next five months for the 60th British Touring Car Championship. You might ask who’s going to win. Are you kidding me? With this championship? Who knows. It’ll be fun to watch though and it starts this Sunday.