At Donington Park, Tom Ingram was able to finish each race within the top five, his win in race two went a long way to giving him a clear lead in the BTCC driver standings with 86 points, 15 more than WSR’s Colin Turkington in 2nd. Will Ingram and the Avensis remain at the top of the pecking order after three races at the fastest circuit on the calendar?
There are many drivers who will be trying to prevent this, the BTCC can be a bit of a lottery with the tightness of the field in 2017 and given the format, one poor race or retirement in race one can ruin the weekend. One driver who experienced this but tenaciously turned it around was Mat Jackson, who finished a lowly 21st in race one at Thruxton in 2016, but clawed his way up to 8th in race two, got the reverse grid pole and then won race three.
The Top Ten:
Team Shredded Wheat with Duo are due some good fortune after a few retirements at Donington. This will be the circuit to bounce back and build some momentum, but there are some very consistent drivers in the way of doing this.
Of the thirty-two drivers on the 2017 gird, only three have been able to finish in the points at every race so far and they’re all in the top six of the driver standings. It proves that consistency is king in the BTCC, and if any of these three can secure another hat-trick of points at the weekend, they will remain in contention for the title, they’re also our ones to watch this weekend:
Compared to the start of the 2016 campaign, Ingram has enjoyed much better results. Two victories, a third, two fifths and an eleventh place finish puts him at the top of the standings early on. It will be vital to get the Avensis set-up to deal with the harsh kerbs and full-throttle nature of the track. The aerodynamic makeover Ingram’s car went through over the break will surely not be as effective at any other circuit on the calendar, so we’d expect him to have another strong weekend.
If Morgan can have a similar Thruxton race weekend to 2016, he could well find himself leading the Championship heading to Oulton Park. Three podiums, including a race one win were on the menu last time the Cicely Motorsport Mercedes was whizzing around Thruxton, Morgan looks to be having another season at the sharp end of the grid, and Aiden Moffat’s shock victory at Donington highlights the underlying potential of the Mercedes.
Eurotech are having a breakthrough season and the addition of Jack Goff to the team is clearly rewarding them. Jeff Smith’s remarkable pole position at Brands and Goff’s ability to keep the car in the points evidences an Independents team punching above their weight at the moment. Goff finds a gap of 21-points to the top five in the standings, a small chasm in what is a very closely contested championship. To take it to the next level, he needs a podium at Thruxton.
In other news, Honda Yuasa’s Gordon Shedden will be determined to get his title defence back in order after a ride height disqualification in Donington Park’s race three denied him victory and plunged him into fourth in the standings. Had he not been disqualified, he would have a one-point lead over Ingram at the top.
Subaru, spearheaded by Jason Plato are desperate for some points. Last season, they withdrew all of their cars from the Thruxton round due to concerns over the high pressure fuel rail the car was running. This time, the team head to Thruxton with the disadvantage of not having any data from last season to fall back on, it makes their progress a taller order, but anything can happen in the BTCC and they have four very hungry drivers, so barring any fundamental problems, could bounce back this weekend.
With five different race winners in six races so far, it is borderline impossible to predict the podiums for this weekend, but if you’re felling brave, the IHG Rewards Club has a BTCC podium predictor HERE.
It’s also worth noting that the support for British F4 driver Billy Monger will continue this weekend at Thruxton, with collection buckets and bumper stickers once again bringing exposure to the young drivers cause.