The British Touring Car Championship returned for it’s 60th season at the weekend, in what promises to be the most entertaining action seen on four wheels this side of a wonky shopping trolley. As part of a huge celebratory year for the sport, I decided it was high time that the BTCC received it’s very own Randall’s Review treatment.
For those of you unfamiliar with the discipline, thirty-two drivers and their seemingly run-of-the-mill family saloon cars, highly tuned to the point that they can complete the school run in under 0.3 seconds, take to various circuits around the nation and compete for a bottle of champagne and a highly coveted yellow hat, sort of like the Tour de France but without the chafing.
Rounds one, two, and three, saw the championship descend upon the Brands Hatch Indy circuit, in Kent, for the much anticipated season opener.
At just 1.2 miles long, a single lap can be completed in just 48 blistering seconds, or the average man’s idea of foreplay, and crams in more drama and thrills into five corners than the Fast And Furious has managed in eight movies.
After setting the lap record during qualification, Team Dynamics’ new boy, Dan Cammish showed his early credentials, but was later penalised for failing to stop at a red light in the pit lane, subsequently handing pole position to Eurotech’s one-lap-wonder, Jack Goff.
The long-awaited season opener began after a morning of intermittent showers, presenting the full 32 car grid with a track greasier than an Italian football team. Despite the tricky conditions, packed field, and most challenging first corner in motorsport, the race began without any mishaps, at least until a slow moving Sam Tordoff caused a coming together through McLaren, that left Matt Neal beached in Clearways without so much as a towel. Sympathy was at a minimum for the three-time champion, and after the resulting safety car, Jack Goff extended away from the field with Colin Turkington in hot pursuit. For the remainder of the race, Coy Colin and Gentleman Jack treated us to an unusually polite, yet entertaining leadership battle as each man tipped their hat to the other during many a pleasant exchange. “Good day to you, Sir,” – “No, Good day to you,”
The result stood:
- Jack Goff – Honda
- Colin Turkington – BMW
- Andrew Jordan – BMW
If Round One had the elegance of Swan Lake, then Round Two was like watching someone catch a spider with a drone strike. Before the lights turned green, Colin Turkington’s BMW experienced the same gremlins that tainted his 2017 campaign, forcing him to limp the car back to the pit lane during the warm-up lap. From here, the drama was only just beginning. With the front half of the field opting for wet tyres and the back half of the field opting for slicks, the drying track would suddenly flip the occasion like saying the wrong name at the wedding altar. Aiden “Pretty Boy” Moffat, Jake Hill, and Senna Proctor stormed through the pack from 14th, 25th, and 27th on the grid respectively, taking zero prisoners as they went.
Though, in the heat of racing, something had to give. Running wide at the exit of Druids, stiff elbows were all that was needed from Proctor to send Moffat into the tyre barrier, a move that saw his gallant hopes of a victory dashed with only 2 laps to go.
The result stood:
- Senna Proctor – Vauxhall
- Jake Hill – Volkswagen
- Ollie Jackson – Audi
On to the final race of the day and the first “reverse grid” of the season, placing race two’s sixth placed finisher, Rob Austin, on pole. With the field now shuffled like a deck of razor edged playing cards, and with a dry track ahead of them, it made for some absolutely spectacular racing. Ashley Sutton finally showed up on the day and reminded us exactly what won him the 2017 season, by kissing more rear ends than a call girl’s Christmas party, while his veteran teammate, Jason Plato, drove another leisurely race as if he was too busy trying to remember if he’d taken his medication.
The star of the show was Brands Hatch specialist, Tom Ingram, who drove his Toyota through the field for a well managed victory and the spoils of leading the championship at the end of the first weekend.
The result stood:
- Tom Ingram – Toyota
- Adam Morgan – Mercedes
- Rob Austin – Alfa Romeo
Next up on the calendar is rounds 4,5,and 6 at Donnington Park, April 22nd.