The dust has settled on the final races of this year’s Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
After 30 races, only four points separated the top two drivers in the standings and the destiny of the crown was only made certain with two laps to go at Brands Hatch.
Here we look back at the men who have made the headlines this year and rate our top 10 performers of the season.
1 Gordon Shedden
Championship position: 1st; wins: 4; podiums: 11
You can’t take anything away from Shedden and the Honda Civic Type R this season. Devastatingly fast, particularly in qualifying, no matter what success ballast was on the car, he stepped up his consistency, too. Superb, clean overtaking was the bedrock of his title charge. He shrugged off the pressure in the finale for a deserved win.
2 Jason Plato
Championship position: 2nd; wins: 6; podiums: 10
Joining a new team could have been seen as a left field choice, but Plato surrounded himself with some of the best engineering brains in the business and set to work turning the VW CC into a winner. Won more races than anyone else, gave it everything in the showdown and came up only four points short.
3 Andy Priaulx
Championship position: 8th; wins: 2; podiums: 8
Returning to the British Touring Car Championship could have been a risk for three-time world champion Priaulx, and everyone thought he would get beaten up in the heat of competition, but he rolled his sleeves up and got stuck in from the opening event in the WSR BMW 125i M Sport. Won two races and could well have been in the top four of the points had he not been forced to miss an event due to BMW commitments.
4 Andrew Jordan
Championship position: 5th; wins: 0; podiums: 5
The 2013 champ went the whole season without winning a race but that didn’t stop him trying. Jordan, who is clearly Captain Car Control, picked up whatever points were available but just couldn’t conquer the top step. Left nothing on the table, though, and the fact he was in the title fight until the final round was a mark of his ability rather than the pace of the MG 6.
5 Colin Turkington
Championship position: 4th; wins: 4; podiums: 8
The champion coming in to the season swapped teams to join Jason Plato at Team BMR and also brought his engineer Kevin Berry with him. It took Turkington a time to readjust to front-wheel drive, and he lost ground early on while he found the right feeling in the car. That process didn’t really click together until mid-season, but he still managed to win four races in the VW CC.
6 Matt Neal
Championship position: 3rd; wins: 3; podiums: 7
The old master had a new toy this season with the rapidly built Honda Civic Type R, which only arrived weeks before the start of the season. Turned it into a winner at the opening round, and used tactics to win three reversed-grid races without really being on the ultimate pace of team-mate Shedden. Third in the points was a strong effort.
7 Mat Jackson
Championship position: 12th; wins: 4; podiums: 8
Despite joining halfway through the campaign, if Jackson’s points-per-race average had been extrapolated over the season, he would have been champion. Sure, the Motorbase Performance Ford Focus had plenty of straight-line speed, but the driver has to be able to harness it – and Jackson did. A title tip for next season, should he return.
8 Rob Collard
Championship position: 10th; wins: 3; podiums: 7
Only some very poor luck stopped the often underrated Collard being a major player this season. He was twice taken out by his team-mates Sam Tordoff and Andy Priaulx, which robbed him of big points, so should realistically have finished inside the top 10. Still, he managed to win three races in the WSR-run BMW 125i M Sport.
9 Jack Goff
Championship position: 9th; wins: 1; podiums: 4
In only his third full season, Goff stepped up to the factory MG team and big things were expected. He delivered, too. Winning at Snetterton was the highlight, but there were other fighting performances that put him firmly on the map in terms of his ability. He quickly became a favourite among the team and will be a title challenger should he remain.
10 Tom Ingram
Championship position: 13th; wins: 0; podiums: 2
It is sometimes hard to remember that Ingram is only 22. Mature beyond his years, his first podium finish at Rockingham after a proper dogfight with old master Jason Plato was epic and a real spotlight on his talents. Another podium at Brands Hatch, this time without the aid of a reversed grid, was another breakthrough. Ingram is the best of the next generation of BTCC stars.