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Blog 1: 07.10.2019 – BTCC: The 2019 Title Decider

Updated: Oct 9, 2019

Here we are, my first full blog for The Hard Compound, and it happens to be for the BTCC decider for 2019!

Before I go into my thoughts on this, it is only right that I send my heartfelt condolences and very best wishes to Sam and Georgie Tordoff after the recent awful events that have befallen them. I am sorry to say I have experienced a similar thing, and I can only advise them to try and stay positive no matter how hard things are right now, talk to their family and friends, and trust in good things happen. You will both feel like yourselves again soon, if not fully.

So, to Brands Hatch for the now traditional season-closer on the glorious Grand Prix Circuit. The title is a five-way joust for supremacy, and it is really is incredibly difficult to call. Realistically, it seems like a genuine three-driver fight with West Surrey Racing’s chargers Colin Turkington and Andrew Jordan being split in the pre-Brands standings by Team Dynamics / Halford / Yuasa Racing’s second season flyer Dan Cammish.

Here’s a reminder of how we stand:

1. Colin Turkington 297pts 2. Dan Cammish 281pts 3. Andrew Jordan 280pts 4. Josh Cook 263pts 5. Tom Ingram 236pts

So, how so I feel going into the weekend, and what is my gut feeling on who is going to prevail? Let’s see….

COLIN TURKINGTON I’m going to admit, I have been a big fan of Colin Turkington for many many years and it’s hard for me to pull myself away from wanting him to go and clinch his 4th title, thereby matching the great Andy Rouse’s total from way back when I thought motorsport was a television programme and Steve Rider, well, looked the same! Colin has led for much of the season, but for one reason or another he has had to play the damage-limitation game at Thruxton, Snetterton and Knockhill, meaning his lead has been cut to a mere 16 points going into the decider. Squeaky-bum time perhaps, but it’s made it exciting! He certainly had some luck at Silverstone with the read flag (some will say the powers that be stopped the race when they did to aid Turkington and WSR, but I don’t go in for conspiracy theories!), and will therefore be feeling positive. Moreover, of course, “The Turk” holds all the cards in terms of points, and that BMW 3 Series went round the Indy Circuit like a rocket at the start of the season, but ballast and the order in which the tyre compounds are used are going to be absolutely vital here. My view is that he’ll get on the ‘faster’ tyres in the early round to counteract the ballast he’ll be carrying to try and rack up as many points as he can, then try to fend others off in the remaining two rounds; the old “run ahead and put the shield up” approach.

ANDREW JORDAN In my view, a lot of people would love to see AJ lift the title for the first time since 2013 for three reasons:

1. The pummelling he took at Donington Park in Race 4 of the Championship (and the subsequent loss of points in races 5 and 6) really took the wind out of Mr. Jordan’s sails at a very early point in the season. But the way he has driven, aggressively, fairly and sensibly in the season since, most notably at Knockhill where yours truly was in the crowd, has been excellent.

2. With Pirtek withdrawing their sponsorship at the end of the season, there’s a very real chance that we could be losing AJ, one of the best drivers out there, from the BTCC for 2020, which would be a terrible shame. If he is to bow out, then what better way than with the Championship under his belt? I’d personally be very happy to see him win it, whether he’s around for 2020 or otherwise.

3. He’s won the most races and has been exhilarating to watch at times, which let’s face it, is why we all tune in!

He’s also got the least ballast as we hurtle towards Kent, which is going to help him in Race 1 at least.

DAN CAMMISH Honestly, I really, really didn’t see DanCam coming! After a solid enough debut season and winning the Jack Sears trophy in 2018, it was thought that he’d perhaps be shadowing the legendary Matt Neal for 2019 as Team Halford / Yuasa prepared for their shot at the favourites in WSR. DanCam was steady in the first half of the season after being down in 18th in the standing after the early exchanges, and really showed signs of getting to grips with the “new” Civic in the first half of the season; but since the summer break he’s come out with more zest and zing than a backseat full of lemons! Winning Race 3 of the Thruxton weekend was a mighty impressive drive, that Civic seemed to be on rails through the fast 2nd section of the circuit and Captain Cammish never put a foot wrong, particularly when it comes to tyre management and race management when ballast has been weighing him down. Indeed, Team Dynamics have given him a superbly balanced car in the latter part of the season, up there with the WSR BMW 3 Series’, and the surprise package of the season the older Civics of Rory Butcher and Sam Tordoff / Mike Bushell from RCIB Insurance and AmD / Cobra. He also secured podiums and points in the majority of races coming into this weekend, and in his own words “has everything to gain and very little to lose”.

Of course we shouldn’t rule out Josh Cook for BTC Racing, nor the in-form and flying Tom Ingram for Speedworks with Ginsters; the latter of whom flung that dialled-in Corolla round Silverstone faster than the Wild Cornish Pasties of Devon, who hurtle across Dartmoor at night, if you believe certain old wives’ tales! It would of course take a perfect storm to create the chain of events needed for these two excellent young lads to take the title, indeed either would be a popular winner, but they have every chance to come up on the rails as they say. Because…

…Let’s not forget the other great leveller in play here; the Great British Autumn weather! As we all saw at Silverstone, the setup of the car, the ballast, the form book, the reverse grid and most other factors in the BTCC can often go down the river (almost literally in this case) once the heavens open! The ups and downs of the Brands Hatch circuit can lead to wet patches and dry patches, slippery white lines and grass verges like glass table tops should anyone step of line…. Which is almost guaranteed during a soggy plunge into Paddock Hill Bend, and more so into Graham Hill Bend after the blast down from Druids.

Again, this makes it incredibly difficult to predict. I mean let us face facts here, nobody saw a top 3 of Goff, Moffat and Neal when the lights went out at the start of the last outing, and if you say you called it, I’d venture to say you’re lying 😉 That was an utterly ridiculous race in which Matt Simpson was incredibly unlucky. Furthermore, Matt Neal showed all his experience to carve the field up, while Aiden Moffat floated around on water seemingly as Sam Osborne became the day’s “King Of The Drift”. Further still, Mark Blundell got his elbows out again, and Team HARD secured a fantastic result with their first win courtesy of Jack Goff, and the new hero of Social Media, Mr. Michael Crees, got a very very popular first top ten finish. More of the same at Brands? We’ll see what the BTCC weather overlords are planning for us…

Just as an additional note, I am particularly excited for Brands this year as I am fortunate to be one of a few competition winners picked by RCIB Insurance and AmD / Cobra to be their VIP guests for Sunday, but that’s neither here nor there.

So, at the end of all this, my first blog, what are my conclusions?

The popular old stager? The possibly departing fans favourite? The unexpected charger?

Very hard to call, I’d be happy to see any of them win. Even as a Turkingtonite, my heart says Andrew Jordan will be heading home a happy bunny on Sunday night after a tough start and a fantastic recovery, plus I had a wee next to him at Knockhill, but that’s a weird additional facet to things! But my head? It says Colin Turkington will just about fend the off the rest.

I should say, with the wet weather predicted, keep an eye out wet-weather kingpin Ash Sutton, his team mate Senna Proctor, the ever improving Adam Morgan, and the veterans Matt Neal, Rob Collard and Jason Plato, to put their experience to the fore and get into the shake up for points and points, and maybe disrupt a title charge or two…

Elsewhere on the grid, the Jack Sears Trophy for drivers who up until this season hadn't scored a podium finish in the BTCC, with starting positions and subsequent finishes among other things taken in to consideration, is up for grabs of course, and it’s a 2-horse race between WSR’s Tom Oliphant who’s garage have got the 3 Series wired up right in the last few meetings, and perhaps the season’s surprise package in the shape of the aforementioned Rory Butcher. As it stands:

1. Rory Butcher - 460 JST points 2. Tom Oliphant - 449 JST points

Given that I fancy Rory Butcher to qualify strongly, I think Tom Oliphant has every chance of making up the points deficit between his BMW 3 Series and the Civic of Butcher. A big ask perhaps, but we’ll have to see how qualifying and the reverse-grid pan out. It’s a nice little sub-plot on a what should be fascinating and thrilling day of racing.

We all have our opinions and I respect all of yours, Dear Reader, so let’s sit back and see what happens.

Thank you for reading, I hope that wasn’t too bad for a first run through! Do sign up and comment below.

Over to you Colin, AJ, DanCam and the rest…..

Rich – The Hard Compound

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