The 2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship heads to Silverstone this weekend for the penultimate round of the season.
After a dramatic afternoon of racing at Knockhill, the top three drivers in the Championship go into this weekend separated by just 11 points. Colin Turkington continues to leads the standings from his BMW teammate Andrew Jordan, with Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Dan Cammish a further single point behind in third.
Championship leader and defending title holder Turkington insists he’s not looking to ‘defend his lead anymore’ but is instead going into the weekend to ‘attack’ and ‘really enjoy’ it.
“Knockhill was a real rollercoaster ride,” admitted Turkington. “Through no fault of our own, we sacrificed a lot of points, but we live to fight another day and I firmly believe that out of a setback arises the opportunity for a comeback.
“With that in mind, I’m very much looking forward to Silverstone. I had a really positive weekend there last year and we’ve been strong and able to hunt out good results everywhere we’ve been so far this year, so I’m feeling confident.
“The final couple of race weekends of the season are always a little bit different – the formbook tends to go out of the window and it’s a question of grinding out results, and that’s exactly what I intend to do. I’m not focussing on protecting my lead anymore – I’m going out there to properly attack and really enjoy the weekend, and in many respects, that is a simpler approach than keeping a constant eye in your mirrors.
“Every point will be crucial now and I’ve just got to go for it, which has always been the way I prefer to race. Even with the reduced ballast in the BTCC this year, I still expect qualifying to be tough because the whole grid has tightened up. The extra weight will certainly hurt and shuffle the pack, but my job is to deliver the best lap time I can and then move forward in all three races.”
Turkington has scored a total of 11 podium finishes around Silverstone in his BTCC career so far and will be looking to add to that this weekend.
For Jordan, it has been a season of misfortune with six ‘non-scores’ – three of them coming at Donington Park alone – but despite this, Jordan is still looking to secure his second BTCC title.
“We’re in a proper fight now – it’s game on!” said Jordan. “Up to this stage, I’ve been playing catch-up. I’ve had six non-scores this year compared to just two for Colin – without that, we would be leading the championship but that’s the way it goes sometimes in racing.
“Knockhill was the first time since before Donington Park that I thought, ‘I can win this, I can 100 per cent win this’. To take 20 points out of Colin’s championship lead was great. The momentum is firmly on our side, and hopefully we can build upon that at Silverstone.
“When you look at how well we went there last year with weight on-board, I think we have reason to feel confident. It’s obviously very serious because there’s a championship at stake, but I’ve been in this position before and I’m feeling very chilled about it all. I’ve got a lot of respect for both my main rivals, and it’s certainly going to be an exciting battle for the fans and for us as drivers.
“I can’t wait! I go to Silverstone aiming to win races. Second or third in the championship simply doesn’t interest me – my sole focus is the title.”
Cammish secured his 10th and 11th podiums of the season at Knockhill last time out, more than any other driver, and has now put himself firmly in the Championship hunt.
“Knockhill was another mega weekend for me,” beamed Cammish. “Starting second set me in great stead for the rest of the day. The rear-wheel-drive cars get more traction off the start, so I lost out to Jordan early on, but managed to keep Turkington behind me and finish third.
“The second race, I was particularly chuffed with second place and then the third race was a tough one, I wanted to just keep the gap to Turkington and not take any risks that would compromise my Championship push.
“That’s 11 visits to the podium in 17 races now, and I’m more determined than ever, coming out of this weekend, to fight for that championship title.”
Josh Cook and Rory Butcher sit fourth and fifth in the Championship and aren’t completely out of the hunt yet either. Cook is 19 points behind Cammish and 30 points off table-topping Turkington. Butcher, meanwhile, is 41 points behind Championship leader Turkington with 134 points still up for grabs across the final two race weekends of the season.
After Sam Tordoff announced he would be withdrawing from the rest of the season after the tragic passing of his son Arlo, AmD Tuning have confirmed that Mike Bushell will continue to partner Butcher in the final two race weekends at Silverstone and Brands Hatch.
Team principal Shaun Hollamby said: “All season we have tried to make sure that we didn’t get carried away about our results, and with two rounds to go, we now find ourselves right in the mix for each of the championships we are eligible for. To be able to say that against the competition we face in the BTCC is something I am hugely proud of, and we will be giving our all over the final two rounds to see what we can achieve in the final standings.
“On the back of his results at Knockhill, Rory can head for Silverstone with plenty of confidence behind him, and we are confident that he will once again be right at the sharp end of the grid and fighting for the podium places.
“Sam’s involvement with the programme and the experience he has been able to bring from racing with some of the top teams in the series has been invaluable this year. He has shown his undoubted speed and has been a key part of the success we have enjoyed, and certainly deserved more than the win he secured at Thruxton.
“Whilst it is unfortunate that his season has ended early, family must come first in these circumstances. His decision to sit out the final two rounds is one that is completely understandable, and he and Georgie remain firmly in our thoughts and have our ongoing support.
“After an unlucky weekend at Knockhill, I’m sure that Mike will do a good job on Sam’s behalf through the final two rounds and will be able to challenge for some strong points at both Silverstone and Brands Hatch.”
Motorbase Performance’s Nicolas Hamilton is another driver unable to complete the season, this time due to ‘sponsorship complications.’
Team principal David Bartrum said: “It’s an unfortunate end to what has been a very positive season for Nic. We’ve been on a truly unique journey together this year, and I’m sad that we won’t have the opportunity to complete it.
“It has taken a huge amount of effort, hard work, and determination from Nic to reach the BTCC grid. I think he’s shown that he’s a very capable driver, and surprised people along the way.
“Everyone at Motorbase Performance wishes him the very best with his journey and future motor racing career.”
Header image from BTCC.
By Jordan Hollands.