2013 BTCC season review


The British Touring Car Championship is going through something of a renaissance. In 2013 the series boasted capacity grids, varied machinery and a five-way title fight heading into the last round.

Eventual champion Andrew Jordan is very much the “right man” for this era. He finished 2013 with six wins, six other podiums and points scored in 29 out of 30 races.

That he was so consistent – which not only meant keeping his pace up all year but staying out of trouble as well – is astonishing for a 24 year old. You have to go all the way back to John Fitzpatrick in 1966 to find a younger series champion.

It’s the mark of a changing BTCC. The old guard were still there, fighting at the front, but for the first time in years new talent is coming through and sticking.

As well as Jordan, Sam Tordoff, Árón Smith and Adam Morgan have all showed flashes of promise and are drivers to watch in the future.

The low-cost NGTC formula is a huge reason for this change, opening up the grid to smaller teams and ensuring parity among the established ones.

The development work done by Mike Jordan’s Eurotech team in particular raised its Civic above the factory-supported Team Dynamics cars on many an occasion and allowed son Andrew’s talent to shine.

The combination of professional teams and family run outfits keeps the series grounded. We might like to see the glorious ‘90s Super Touring era come back, but we also know how that ended up: Manufacturers pumping millions into their programmes only meant that the inevitable fall was that much harder.

The BTCC is only just recovering and returning to respectability after years in the wilderness. With new teams signing up for 2014, the future finally looks bright.

Much like in Formula 1, every driver is required to use both hard and soft tyre compounds during the day’s racing. But with no pitstops the rules stipulate that teams have to nominate one race in which to use the softer compound, before qualifying.

This random element, sometimes combined with the reverse grid race (although the jury’s still out on them) leads to some electrifying racing.

Championship standings

01 Andrew Jordan 397
02 Gordon Shedden 390
03 Jason Plato 380
04 Matt Neal 356
05 Colin Turkington 347
06 Sam Tordoff 286
07 Adam Morgan 233
08 Mat Jackson 225
09 Aron Smith 201
10 Dave Newsham 176
11 Rob Austin 154
12 Tom Onslow-Cole 152
13 Robert Collard 140
14 Jeff Smith 132
15 Nick Foster 98
16 Frank Wrathall 76
17 Jack Goff 73
18 Daniel Welch 72
19 Will Bratt 32
20 Ollie Jackson 32
21 James Cole 11
22 Michael Caine 8
23 Lea Wood 8
24 Jake Hill 8
25 Howard Fuller 6
26 Liam Griffin 6
27 James Kaye 5
28 Kieran Gallagher 3
29 David Nye 3
30 Robb Holland 3
31 Aiden Moffat 2
32 Warren Scott 1
33 Shaun Hollamby 1
34 Andy Wilmot 0
35 Chris Stockton 0
36 Andy Neate 0
37 Mike Bushell 0
38 Aaron Mason 0
39 Paul O’Neill 0
40 Joe Girling 0

Turkington returns

The most interesting aspect of that five-way title fight was that it included 2009 champion Colin Turkington. The Ulsterman had not raced in the BTCC since that year, spending time in the World and Scandinavian championships with some success. For 2012, though, he found himself without a drive.

Turkington returned to West Surrey Racing – where he had won his championship – which was giving the BMW 1 Series its debut. With a new car expectations were kept in check, but by the end of the season Turkington had five wins and a shot at winning the title. It was not to be – contact with team-mates Rob Collard and Nick Foster ended his hopes at the first corner.

In reality his challenge was effectively snubbed out at the previous round at Silverstone when he tangled with Mat Jackson. But he had made his mark – his wins were often of the dominant variety and his pace at sodden Croft was devastating.

“We’re bringing the car to the circuits for the first time,” he told Motor Sport in October, “and there are only two 40-minute practice sessions so there’s not a lot of time to make it fast.”

Even though he’s cleared every hurdle along the way, Turkington’s not guaranteed a drive for 2014. “I’m only signed up for one year, but I really want to continue next season,” he said at the time. “When this one’s finished we’ll sit down and see if we can come to an agreement again, the car has loads of potential so it’d be great to come back and put up a good fight.” At the time of writing Turkington has just completed a test for back-of-the-grid Team Hard and is weighing up his options.

Jack Sears Trophy

Occasionally lost behind the action up front was the Jack Sears Trophy for the outgoing S2000-spec cars. The lower class was often sparsely populated (six cars was the highest number at any point during the season), but the racing was close and action packed.

Lea Wood (below) and Liam Griffin spent the season swapping victories, but Wood’s seven in a row put the trophy firmly in his hands. During that run Griffin failed to finish once.

The sight of Wood flat out in his ageing Vauxhall Vectra, hounding the NGTC tail-enders, was a common one in 2013. With the S2000 cars on the way out it’ll be interesting to see what he can do in newer, more competitive machinery in the future.

Rob Austin makes his mark

Perhaps the biggest feel-good story of the year was Rob Austin’s surge up the grid. He’d spent two years thrashing his Audi A4 (‘Sherman’) around with only two podiums to his name as an owner-driver but took a huge step up this season.

After a podium at Brands Hatch in the first race of the year was followed by an enormous shunt on the run-up to Druids later in the day he sold T-shirts to raise the necessary funds to repair the damage. But even with all that fan power decent results were scarce for the Evesham racer over the next few rounds… until Knockhill.

There he bagged his first BTCC pole position and in the next round at Rockingham he picked up his first series win. No driver scored more points than Austin over both weekends, with three other podiums on the scoresheet.

“We’re up against teams with four times our budget,” he said after the victory, “and to beat guys like that is just incredible. I backed off a bit towards the end but Sherman was brilliantly prepared and the guys did a great job. I’m so proud of the whole team.”

Outside of established stars Jason Plato and Matt Neal there may be no more popular driver on the grid. His eponymous team has met the demands of an increasingly professional series head on, but 2014 will be the true test and a lot of fans will be waiting to see if Austin can keep the ball rolling.

More season reviews
Formula 1 season review (podcast) with Gary Anderson
WRC by Anthony Peacock

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