After a stunning season in the 2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship where ten different drivers took race wins, Chris Ashby delivers his top ten drivers from the season for BTCC Crazy.
1: GORDON SHEDDEN
Adding his name to the illustrious list of double champions, Honda Yuasa Racing’s Gordon Shedden was the man to beat from the outset of 2015 and was a deserving champion in the end. Taking the first win for the all-new Civic Type R on its debut, Shedden went on to take four race victories, one notably at his home circuit of Knockhill. With his back against the wall after Snetterton where he scored just one point, Shedden bounced back to win the title in dramatic fashion.
RACE OF THE SEASON: Starting from P19 with the drivers’ title hanging in the balance, Shedden’s performance in the final race of the season was nothing short of stunning. After three separate safety car incidents, the Scotsman worked his way through the field to finish fourth and win the title by a few points.
2: JASON PLATO
Moving from Triple Eight Racing to Team BMR, many questioned Jason Plato’s move in pre-season but the all-time race winner once again proved why he is one of the best behind the wheel of a touring car. Notching six wins, the most of anybody, Plato took the title fight till the bitter end and left nothing on the table, eventually moving onto a stunning 94 race wins. With a season under his belt at his new team, Plato has laid the foundation for future success with Warren Scott’s ever-impressive outfit and the hunt for that elusive third title is bound to end sooner rather than later.
RACE OF THE SEASON: Aside from his victory in round 30, Plato became the first man to win with full success ballast on-board at Oulton Park. Lugging 75kgs around the Cheshire circuit after dominating race one, the Volkswagen racer held off Shedden to cross the line and take control of th championship.
3: COLIN TURKINGTON
Entering the season with the famed number one on the side of his car, Turkington may be a surprise to some to sit third on our list. Having to adjust to racing with front-wheel-drive machinery after joining Plato at Team BMR, the Northern Irishman gave it his all to defend his crown. Four wins and two pole positions was a solid performance in his first season with Warren Scott’s team.
RACE OF THE SEASON: Round 27 at Silverstone saw Turkington decisive in making his way to the front and then subsequently dominating proceedings before taking the chequered flag to remain in the title picture.
4: MAT JACKSON
There will be those that say the Ford Focus was too fast in a straight line and others that say differently. At the end of the day, someone still had to pilot Motorbase Performance’s Ford Focus towards the front and Mat Jackson was in inspired form. Joining the fray at Snetterton, Jackson gave the BTCC a taster of what it may been like had he and the team competed for the full season. On top of his game and storming to three consecutive pole positions, the Motorbase pilot scored four wins and amassed 200 points in just 15 races.
RACE OF THE SEASON: Four wins for Jackson out of 15 races was a fantastic showing for Motorbase Performance but Jackson’s second place at Rockingham must be credited. Having not carried 75kgs of success ballast on-board in race trim before round 23, Jackson brought the car home behind Gordon Shedden.
5: TOM INGRAM
In his second season in the BTCC, Tom Ingram finally gave Speedworks Motorsport what they have been working tirelessly for – a podium finish. Often mixing it towards the sharp end in a car that his talents outperformed on numerous occasions, Ingram underlined his talent with a stunning drive at Rockingham, battling Jason Plato for the win. Certainly a champion of the future.
RACE OF THE SEASON: Drawn onto pole position at Rockingham, 21-year-old Ingram diced with Plato for much of Rockingham’s reverse grid encounter and retook the lead on several occasions before finally settling for second. A world class performance hailed by many as one of the best the BTCC has seen in a long time.
6: ANDREW JORDAN
Didn’t lead a single lap of the season nor win a race but still somehow entered the final round of the year with a mathematical shot of the title – and that in itself deserves a lot of credit. Andrew Jordan’s move to MG Triple Eight Racing had seen him tipped as a title contender but it was to be a battle for the Red Bull athlete from the outset. Gritty determination and consistency saw the 2013 champion never give up and produce some brilliant performances to amass five podiums in total.
RACE OF THE SEASON: In what was a race filled with action as well as chaos, Jordan mixed it with more than half a dozen drivers at Donington Park in round six and after a wheel-to-wheel battle with Matt Neal, the MG6 driver settled for second place.
7: SAM TORDOFF
Moving out of the shadow of Jason Plato, Sam Tordoff emerged as top BMW driver at West Surrey Racing in 2015. Joining Rob Collard and Andy Priaulx at Dick Bennetts’ team, the Yorkshireman wracked up a pole position and two victories to outscore the duo, cementing his place as the fastest front-wheel-drive racer on paper. A second season at the Sunbury-based outfit will be vital in giving Tordoff a championship challenge moving forward.
RACE OF THE SEASON: Withstanding pressure from Matt Neal and Andrew Jordan in the reverse grid encounter at Oulton Park, Tordoff held on to secure a first win of the season and kick start a pivotal run of races where he would move into the title picture.
8: ADAM MORGAN
Like Tom Ingram, WIX Racing’s Adam Morgan is also a candidate for being a champion of the future in the BTCC. Running the Mercedes A-Class for the second successive season, Morgan became the only driver to complete every racing lap of the season and went on to take his first win on the road (his second career victory) at the high-speed Thruxton circuit.
RACE OF THE SEASON: Winning in the stewards room at Brands Hatch GP in 2014, Morgan finally took a race win on the road at Thruxton as he took a lights-to-flag win after being drawn on pole position.
9: ANDY PRIAULX
One of the headline names in touring cars, Andy Priaulx made a return to the BTCC for the first time since 2002 with West Surrey Racing. Competing in nine of the ten events, the three-time World champion stormed to pole position at the season opener and would then go onto claim a brace of race wins. If he returns for another stab at glory it will be intriguing to see how Priaulx performs with a season under his belt.
RACE OF THE SEASON: Despite winning two races, Priaulx’s most notable performance came at Brands Hatch Indy as he diced with Gordon Shedden in race two for outright honors – ultimately finishing second.
10: JACK GOFF
Entering his third season joining the reigning manufacturer/constructor champions MG Triple Eight Racing, Jack Goff was thrust into the spotlight with nowhere to hide for 2015 and delivered for the team. Gaining valuable experience from team mate Andrew Jordan the BRDC Superstar took a podium in round three and then went on to take a breakthrough and popular first victory in the BTCC at Snetterton.
RACE OF THE SEASON: Drawn onto pole position for the final race of the day at Snetterton in August, Goff took a commanding lights-to-flag win on the soft tyre for MG and survived a late scare to send the circuit into raptures of applause.
Despite taking three wins and finishing third in the championship, Honda Yuasa Racing’s Matt Neal narrowly missed out on making it into the top ten. Jack Sears Trophy champion Josh Cook was also in sublime form after graduating from the Renault UK Clio Cup. Team BMR’s Aron Smith clinched five front row starts and five podiums as well on his way to a strong campaign.
Don’t agree with our selection? Let us know who you would have in your top ten in the comments box below.
PHOTO CREDIT: Matt Sayle Photography