Back on Track
Taking it to the limit
The British Touring Car Championship, BTCC, has long been one of the most hard fought motor racing championships in the UK. Originally founded in 1958 as the British Saloon Car Championship, it really came of age in 1987 when it was renamed to become the familiar acronym we know today. With the introduction of TV coverage in 1988, the series really took off. The adrenaline levels went with with it.
With the introduction of TV coverage in 1988 the series really took off. The adrenaline levels went with with it
Spectacular door to door racing virtually created overnight stars from these drivers who took no prisoners in their quest for the title. John Cleland, Andy Rouse, Robb Gravett, Tim Harvey, Will Hoy traded paint and body parts (of cars, that is). The racing got so intense that more than once a truce had to be called.
Decades later, that hyper-competitiveness hasn’t gone away and BTCC still delivers some of the most exciting weekend entertainment to be found in the country.
BTCC still delivers some of the most exciting weekend entertainment to be found in the country
This ambition to win has led to some heroic tales of disappointment and victory, but also tenacity and determination.
Take Colin Turkington as an example. 32-year-old Colin began his BTCC career back in 2002, driving an MG with Team Atomic Kitten (yes, pop fans, they were sponsored by the girl group of the same name). He moved across a few teams and totted up some stand out successes in his formative years, but it wasn’t until he rejoined the West Surrey Racing team in 2006 that he truly proved himself as a challenger. Colin won the championship three years later in 2009 and left for a two year gap racing in the World and Scandinavian Touring Car Championships.
You might have thought Colin Turkington’s BTCC days were behind him, but that’s not how it works. BTCC has more returning stars than a soap opera and more twists than a Shakespearean drama.
In 2013, Colin decided to return to the fray with his old team (now renamed eBay Motors) and driving a new BMW 1 series. With a new car, a rejuvenated team, a history of championship glory and a couple more years of international experience under his helmet, you’d be forgiven for expecting smooth steering ahead.
But again, that’s not BTCC.
As it turned out, this proved to be a testing year for the eBay Motors team. They suffered several DNFs (Did Not Finish) for a disappointing season. If Colin’s return to the sport was a play by Shakespeare, it looked set to be a tragedy.
However, buoyed by the obvious potential within the car, eBay Motors kept their heads up and came back to start 2014 with redoubled effort. This perseverance led to a victory in Race 3 of the first meeting of the season at the UK’s best loved race circuit, Brands Hatch.
It wasn’t long in the season before the momentum gathered and Colin went from strength to strength, gathering podium finish after podium finish, with several top steps along the way. Things were looking good, the team was hopeful, but it took until the final round for the championship to become his as Jason Plato – the most successful BTCC driver in history – was giving chase whenever possible.
As it turned out, the season really couldn’t have turned out better for the team. Not only did Colin take his second driver’s crown, eBay Motors also won the Teams’ and both Independents’ championships with only the manufacturer’s title eluding them (Mr Plato’s MG team took that one).
But does this conclusion live up to the high-tension drama we’ve long expected from BTCC. In the end, how close was it?
Well, at the final Brands Hatch meeting three drivers were given official reprimands. Two more had points taken away. Another was given a verbal warning. And last but not least the aforementioned Jason Plato was given 20-second time penalty and made to start the following race from the back of the grid for an incident involving Colin Turkington.
So, of course it was close. It was BTCC!