BTCC 2014 team by team review of the season

Turkington leads another race for Ebay Motors (photo by Marc Waller)With the 2014 BTCC now fading into memory and Colin Turkington and Ebay Motors (West Surrey Racing) long since crowned as champions,

this seems a good time to look back at how each team did during the season as well as looking forward to 2015 for the teams that have announced plans. I’ve kept the teams in the same order as our season preview from the beginning of the year.

Andrew Jordan started strong but faded (photo by Marc Waller)Pirtek Racing
Andrew Jordan started 2014 in winning form and looked a strong challenger for the title during the first part of the season. But his season fell apart with a practice crash at Snetterton which ruined not only that weekend but also his title bid with things not really going well from then on.

Martin Depper certainly did better than his previous stint in the BTCC but still failed to match his champion team mate. He certainly seemed to have got the hang of touring car racing this time and if he returns in 2015

It seems certain that Andrew Jordan will return in 2015 but there is a possibility it may not be with Pirtek Racing, his family team. Jeff Smith is returning for 2015 and now owns some of the team and Martin Depper owns a stake of his car. The team have said they wouldn’t rule out running a third car but they’d have to have a third licence from Toca to do so which would require another entry dropping out.

Turkington was on fire in 2014 (photo by Marc Waller)Ebay Motors (WSR)

From Colin Turkington’s side, things couldn’t have gone better with Turkington scoring multiple wins to take the championship and the independent championship. Ebay Motors as a team also took the teams championship. But the team’s other driver’s didn’t do so well, Rob Collard returned to the stop step but wasn’t a regular winner and Nick Foster never made the podium.

Turkington’s dominance led to rival Plato claiming the rear wheel drive car had an unfair advantage but the performance of the two other cars in the team suggested much of the performance was down to the BTCC champion himself. There is no doubt that the BMW 1 series is a very good car but you’d expect a dominant car to be ahead with all it’s drivers and the fact that a proven driver such as Rob Collard only won once in the car suggests that it wasn’t the car making all the difference. T

he team returns in 2015 but not as Ebay Motors with the sponsor leaving the team. It’s certain that the driver line up will change too with Sam Tordoff joining the team from MG. No further drivers have been confirmed at the time of writing and Turkington has said he is looking at a number of options. It’d be a big surprise if Collard didn’t return as he has become more involved with the team in recent years, with one of the team trucks bearing Collard Racing Branding.

The Honda Civic Tourer won in the hands of Shedden but Neal lagged behind (photo by Marc Waller)Honda Racing (Team Dynamics)

The team ran the new Civic Tourer and scored a major first taking the first win for an estate car in the BTCC, Shedden taking the first victory for the car at Donington. The Civic wasn’t quite as strong in tourer configuration as it had been in Hatchback form. Neal in particular seemed to struggle with the car and he gave up his championship battle well before the end to support Shedden. It was by no means a bad year for Honda but they lagged well behind compared to previous season’s. The Tourer won’t be run again in 2015 with the team returning to hatchback Civics. This time however they will be run as the new Type R model. In reality this won’t make a huge amount of difference with a lot of the mechanical parts standardised in the rules. Most of the Type R elements will be cosmetic. Honda haven’t confirmed drivers as yet but Neal and Shedden look likely to return once more.

Motorbase Performance (Running as Airwaves Racing and Crabbies Racing.)

The team struggled this season, with Giovanardi failing to win on his return. Mat Jackson took a win but the team was far from the championship challengers they hoped to be. Jack Clarke also struggled in the Crabbie’s Car although finally got his first podium at the final meeting. It was definitely a very disappointing year overall for the Wrotham based team.

For 2015 they lose the Airwaves sponsorship and at least one driver will be different as Alex Martin joins the team. His car, one of the teams self-built Ford Focus, will be run under the Dextra Racing banner. The other drivers and possibly even cars, are unconfirmed with rumours suggesting they may build some BMW’s. It looks likely that unless the team find another big sponsor, that Giovanardi won’t be staying. His lack of success in 2014 could mean that he’ll be unable to find a drive elsewhere. It would be a shame if the career of one of the most exciting BTCC drivers of the last decade ends on such a disappointing note.

MG challenged for the championship and beat all but Turkington (photo by Marc Waller)888 (MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save and Quantel Bifold Racing)
As usual Jason Plato was a championship challenger and kept up the fight throughout the year, winning the qualifying battle with an average grid position of 2.6, beating champion Turkington whose average position was 3.3! Plato never qualified outside the top six. He did criticise both the team and the car during the year and regularly complained that his Front wheel drive MG was at a disadvantage. His claim that front wheel drive cars in the championship were only good for the skip, seemed a little over the top when looking at the statistics but it is true that he was unable to defeat Turkington. Tordoff was mostly close to Plato’s pace but seemed to feel he lacked the support from the team that Plato had. He has announced his departure to WSR in 2015 but Plato is yet to announce his plans. He has said he has several offers both in and out of the BTCC. Triple 8 and MG have said they will continue in 2015 but with new drivers and sponsors. They are yet to announce the identity of any of these and there will be much interest to see who they have signed to the works team for the new season.

Marc Hynes found the BTCC even harder than he expected and was never really a front runner. He seemed to be finally getting the hang of things by the end of the season and will likely be hoping to continue in 2015.

Aron Smith was the best of the BMR drivers ahead of even Alain Menu (photo by Marc Waller)Chrome Edition Restart Racing and RCIB Insurance Racing

This team, formed from the former Team Hard and Warren Scott’s BMR Racing looked strong from the start if not quite championship contenders. It was Aron Smith that looked the strongest driver throughout the season rather than big name signing, Alain Menu. Smith was the only driver to win, Menu making the podium as he got to grips with the modern BTCC machinery. Jack Goff was very up and down during the season but his consistency improved when the team changed to an all VW CC line up. Goff and team owner Scott started the season with Vauxhall Insignias and switched to VW’s mid season. Goff also then made the podium with only Scott failing to make the top three. He did have some strong results with some top tens, better than many expected at the start of the season. The team are expected back in 2015 but the driver line up is still unknown at this stage.

Rob Austin Racing (Fast Exocet Racing and AlcoSense Breathalysers Racing)

Hunter Abbott had a good rookie season (photo by Marc Waller)Sherman and Panzer, the team’s two Audi A4 touring cars made the headlines again in 2014. They still didn’t manage to be regular front runners but Rob Austin won a race again, once again at Rockingham, the scene of his 2013 victory. Hunter Abbott was new to the BTCC in 2014. Driving Panzer, he learnt and progressed throughout the season, taking some strong top ten finishes. He also bought mandatory Breath testing for Alcohol to the BTCC through his company Alcosense. Rob Austin racing were one of the first teams to announce 2015 plans with a statement in their end of season press release saying they would return. Hunter Abbott has also stated he intends on being back so the team look set to field and unchanged line up in 2015.

Wix Racing (Ciceley Motorsport.)

Adam Morgan had another strong season in his brand new Mercedes A Class. A consistent top ten qualifier, he had some strong races but a win seemed to be eluding him until the finale meeting where he finally took a well-deserved win. He and his team look set to return in 2015 and will have a link up with Aiden Moffatt. (See Laser Tools Racing.)

AMD and Newsham took an emotional second at Knockhill (photo by Marc Waller)AMD Tuning

Newsham and AMD never looked like taking a win for most of the season apart from at Knockhill where he took an emotional second place. Qualifying rarely went his way but this led to some brilliant drives up the field. As a consequence of this, he won the Jack Sears trophy in 2014. This was awarded to the driver making the most place gains and Newsham took this from Alain Menu and Hunter Abbott. Newsham leaves the team for 2015 to make way for Mike Bushell. Newsham, doesn’t have a 2015 drive at the time of writing but is looking to secure one. He lacks the funding of some of the other drivers which may hamper his efforts to secure a place.

Speedworks Motorsport

Tom Ingram impressed on his BTCC debut but was plagued with some awful luck. Some great qualify sessions were then ruined on race days, often through no fault of his own. He showed some great speed though. He wants to return in 2015 as do the team but nothing is confirmed so far. Ingram may yet change teams if he gets a better offer.

Handy Motorsport

Simon Belcher never looked like troubling the front runners in 2014 and never really made the headlines apart from at Thruxton. It was there that he barrel rolled into the trees after a car failure, an accident which could have ended his season but fortunately the car escaped terminal damage. The accident did put a big dent in the budget though. Speedworks were strongly involved with Belcher’s team Handy in running the car and their experience definitely helped Belcher’s progress. He has said he will return in 2015. Initially he was looking for someone else to driver to help with funding but he has since confirmed that he will now be driving once again.

Welch Motorsport had a nightmare season with engine problems (photo by Marc Waller)STP Racing with Sopp&Sopp (Welch Motorsport)

The team made a brave decision to develop and run their own engines in 2014 and this decision cost them badly. Not only did they struggle with performance but they fell foul of rules designed to protect smaller teams like them! As their engine troubles meant they got through engines, they were penalised for using too many. Both Dan Welch and Ollie Jackson were usually found at the back when they were running. The team will return in 2015. Andy Wilmot has been confirmed in one of the cars and it’s likely Dan Welch will be in the other. Ollie Jackson has left the team and looks set to pursue a drive outside the BTCC in 2015

Rotek Racing

Rob Holland’s team produced one of the best looking cars of 2014 with their Audi A3 Saloon but things did not go their way on the track. Holland made slow progress but several big crashes set them back badly, with Holland missing Thruxton. Tony Gillham was due to replace Holland at the finale but the car had again suffered major damage at the previous meeting and so once again they were forced to miss a meeting. They intend on returning in 2015 but not further plans have been announced.

Lea Wood did as well as he could with Houseman racings small budget (photo by Marc Waller)Houseman Racing

Lea Wood’s family team found things hard in 2014 up against much better funded teams. He showed some flashes of speed but also had some very bad luck including a bad crash at Rockingham which badly damaged his Toyota Avensis. The team did an incredible job to fix it for the next round at Silverstone. Wood and the team hope to return for 2015 if they can secure enough funding.

United Autosports

Both James Cole and Glynn Geddie really struggled this year with Cole having a couple of big crashes. Both did start to progress throughout the season but Geddie’s progress came to a halt when he was charged with drink driving on the road. He was suspended and his place was taken by Luke Hines. A former BTCC race winner, Hines couldn’t find his way to the front in the Avensis although he only had two meetings to do so. The team has the potential to be a front runner but it’s currently unknown if they will return in 2015. The driver’s plans are also unknown, although Geddie was convicted of drink driving and received a driving ban from the road.

Laser tools racing

Aiden Moffatt and the team were always well presented but struggled on the track. A link up with Cicley Motorsport later in the season helped his pace and this has led to a stronger link up in 2015. Moffatt will swap his Chevrolet Cruze for a Cicely Motorsport built Mercedes A Class. His family team will continue to run his car but they will be working closely with Cicely in 2015

Power Maxed Racing struggled (photo by Marc Waller)Power Maxed Racing (BTC Racing)

The final team in this run down were often the final team on the track. Chris Stockton never seems to have much luck in the BTCC and engine problems severely hindered his and the team’s progress. A couple of changes of suppliers helped the reliability and performance. By the end of the season the team were finally showing signs of progress. They questioned if their Chevrolet Cruze hatch shell hampered them aerodynamically and so have bought Moffat’s 2014 car. They intend on evaluating both configurations of Cruze over the winter ready for a return in 2015.

Further 2015 season news

Several new teams look set to join the field in 2015. Perhaps the most significant is a team with backing from Infiniti. Although not a fully works team, Infiniti Support Our Paras Racing will have significant manufacturer support. As the name suggests they are supporting the Parachute regiment’s new charity formed form the amalgamation of the previous two charities. They intend on eventually having mechanics and possibly even a driver trained from injured paratroopers. The 2015 drivers are Derek Palmer Jr and Richard Hawken. Neither driver has previous BTCC experience but both have competed in historic super touring cars. Derek Palmer Sr will run the team.

They won’t be the only military linked team with Josh Cook announcing he is joining the BTCC with the Racing for Heroes team. This is a new team linked to the charity help for heroes. They also intend on having injured soldiers as part of the team. They will also be running cars in the support series including Jessica Hawkins driving in the new Formula 4 championship that replaces Formula Ford. The BTCC arm is yet to announce the car they will be using or any sponsors but they seem confident of being on the grid.

Team Hard have also spoken about a return. They have already confirmed they will be competing in the Renault Clio Cup but Tony Gillham has hinted that they may return to the BTCC possibly with a VW CC. It’s not known if this would be a new car or one of the cars run by BMR in 2014.

The Autosport international show is at the NEC during the second weekend of 2015 and further announcements look likely to happen there. We will bring you reports on those over the course of that weekend.

The 2014 BTCC season was one of the most interesting and exciting of recent times but 2015 is already showing signs of matching or even beating it, with plenty of new drivers and teams looking to join. The NGTC era of the BTCC seems to be going from strength to strength. By Marc Waller

The class of 2014 before the season (photo by Marc Waller) Oulton's Island layout didn't have exciting racing (despite how it looks in this shot)and the fosters layout returns for 2015 (photo by Marc Waller) Rivals battle off the start at Snetterton  (photo by Marc Waller)

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