The British Touring Car Championship gave us another season to remember in 2020 and although it was shortened and without fans, the racing was just as good.
Twenty seven races at eight tracks in less than four months was a herculean effort by everyone in the BTCC and, unsurprisingly, it was the same teams and drivers fighting at the top.
Here are my top ten drivers of the 2020 season:
10 – Ollie Jackson – Motorbase Performance – Ford Focus ST
2020 Championship Position – 12th
Wins – 2
2020 was the breakout season for Jackson, an experienced runner having competed in every season, bar one, since 2011 he gelled with the new-for-2020 Ford Focus ST Mk. 4 quickly finishing on the podium at the second round at Brands Hatch GP.
He was consistently in the points throughout the middle part of the season but claiming his maiden victory at Silverstone and following that up with victory at Snetterton elevated his confidence and he backed it up with two top five and a top ten finish at the Brands Hatch Indy finale.
Should we see Jackson stay at Motorbase for 2021 then we almost certainly see see him add to his win tally.
9 – Tom Oliphant – Team BMW – BMW 330i
2020 Championship Position – 6th
Wins – 1
It’s never good to see your team mate fight for a championship when you’re not involved, however Oliphant’s season was a marked improvement compared to 2019.
He took his first BTCC victory at Brands Hatch GP and finished in the podium another three times, doubling his tally from the 2019 and whilst he wasn’t a force in the title fight, he helped Team BMW win both the Team’s and Manufacturer’s championships.
Although finishing four places and 108 points behind your team mate is rarely a good sign, it shouldn’t be forgotten who is team mate is and that his trajectory in the series looks good.
A top six finish in the championship is not something to be scoffed at and given how competitive the field is, it is a good achievement.
8 – Adam Morgan – Carlube TripleR Racing with Mac Tools – Mercedes A-Class
Although Morgan has been driving a Mercedes A-Class since 2014, his performances and results haven’t dipped and 2020 showed just how strong a performer he can be.
He has had more prolific seasons but he finished on every step of the podium and finished in the points 24 times out of a possible 27.
Although it was an under-the-radar season in terms of out and out results, he was consistently in the points and never far off the ultimate pace despite being in an aging car.
7 – Josh Cook – BTC Racing – Honda Civic Type R (FK8)
2020 Championship Position – 9th
Wins – 3
A hugely frustrating season with BTC Racing for Cook whose results do not match his performances.
A double victory at Croft showed just how much pace he and the car had, however losing his Race 1 victory at Oulton Park early in the season stopped any realistic chance of a title push and was a cruel blow to his weekend after a great qualifying performance and well-executed victory.
The FK8 Civic was not the car to have this season with Matt Neal and Tom Chilton also struggling to get the best out of the car consistently, yet he was able to get three wins and finish ninth in the Championship and second of the FK8 runners.
6 – Rory Butcher – Motorbase Performance – Ford Focus ST
2020 Championship Position – 5th
Wins – 3
Although he won the same amount of races as he did in 2019 and finished 5th in the standings for the second year in a row, 2020 was a major improvement for Butcher in the new-for-2020 Focus ST.
A double podium at the opening round at Donington showed that the Focus was quick and that he had gelled with it quickly, which in a shortened, bunched up calendar hinted that a championship challenge could be on.
However, suffering two punctures in three races at Brands Hatch GP and that horror crash at Silverstone halted any genuine title chances and although he came into the finale with a mathematical chance of taking the title, it wasn’t a realistic chance.
A great season for Scotsman whose results don’t do justice to his performances.
5 – Tom Ingram – Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters – Toyota Corolla
2020 Championship Position – 4th
Wins – 3
A season of two halves for Ingram who struggled to show the pace both he and the Corolla possessed at the beginning of the season, only finishing on the podium twice in the first four rounds.
His breakthrough at Thruxton was spectacular, taking a double victory and after a slight blip at Silverstone, was on the podium six times in the last three rounds including a victory at Croft and and triple podium at the Brands Hatch finale.
He gave himself a chance of the title at the finale but was on the back foot after the early season struggles.
4 – Jake Hill – MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square – Honda Civic (FK2)
2020 Championship Position – 7th
Wins – 0
How can driver with no wins and almost as many retirements as podiums be this high on this list?
On the face of it Hill had a good season, multiple podiums and 7th in the Championship.
But if you delve a little further into his season you quickly realise that this has been a fantastic season for the Kent-born driver.
Not only did he join the newest team on the grid in MB Motorsport, he was driving a car which first joined the grid in 2012 and only had one points finish, 10th, in the first 6 races.
Reliability was the main problem for the team with Sam Osbourne also suffering from setbacks at the beginning of the season and for Hill to finish the season just 16 points behind the works BMW of Oliphant shows just how strong Hill and the FK2 Civic were.
Hill deserved much more from 2020, however returning with the same team for 2021 bodes well for him and the team.
3 – Dan Cammish – Halfords Yuasa Racing – Honda Civic Type R (FK8)
2020 Championship Position – 3rd
Wins – 4
A quieter year for Honda’s lead driver, but highly effective. He again comfortably outperformed his three time champion team mate Matt Neal and finished in the points 25 times out of a possible 27.
He came into the finale with a decent opportunity to challenge for the title and did all he could by taking a victory and another podium finish but it wasn’t quite enough.
There were five FK8 Civics on the grid this year and Cammish was the only one of the five to consistently get a handle on it as shown by his performances and his results over the past two years.
The fact he was able to get the Civic as high up the table as he did compared to to his fellow FK8 stablemates is testament to the speed and car control he showed throughout 2020.
2 – Colin Turkington – Team BMW – BMW 330i
2020 Championship Position – 2nd
Wins – 5
Consistency has always been a key word for the Northern Irishman and 2020 was no different.
He finished on the podium thirteen times, two more than Ingram on eleven. Four podium finishes in a row at Oulton Park and Knockhill set him up to challenge for the title and two victories and a third at the penultimate round at Snetterton put him in the driving seat coming into the finale at Brands Hatch.
However a less-than-competitive weekend saw him lose out on a fifth title to take him above Andy Rouse but it looks inconceivable that Turkington wouldn’t take that record breaking title in the near future.
Turkington’s cause also wasn’t helped by what appeared to be a certain amount of inconsistency in the performance of the BMW 330i, which when on form was almost unbeatable at Snetterton and Brands Hatch GP but lacked in pace at Thruxton and Brands Hatch Indy.
1 – Ash Sutton – Laser Tools Racing – Infiniti Q50
2020 Championship Position – 1st
Wins – 5
The 2020 season saw the absolute best from Sutton. His performances at Knockhill and at the Brands Hatch finale were top drawer and worthy of any BTCC champion.
Sutton’s speed on a Sunday won him this year’s title however struggles on Saturday’s made life much harder for the Infiniti driver.
Had his Sunday form been replicated on a Saturday we probably would’ve seen him wrap up the title earlier in the final weekend.
It also shouldn’t be forgotten that this year was Sutton’s first with both the Laser Tools Racing team and the Infiniti Q50 which may be an ominous sign for the rest of the BTCC field.
Tom Chilton had a quiet yet effective season, only on the podium three times but scoring points on 22 occasions out of a potential 27 gave him his third consecutive top 10 Championship finish in a car that appeared to lack consistency. Jack Sears Trophy winner Michael Crees had a much improved season in the BTC Racing run FK8 Honda Civic scoring almost five times as many points as he did in 2019. It was a year of unknowns for the Excelr8 Motorsport duo of Senna Proctor and Chris Smiley debuting the new-for-2020 Hyundai i30N, however both had podium finishes and both were competitive throughout the season. Until his spectacular crash at Croft, Bobby Thompson was having a strong season, with more points than 2019 despite missing the final two rounds.