The 2015 BTCC Brands Hatch Finale preview

Turkington still has a chance to defend his 2014 crown (photo by Marc Waller)

Turkington still has a chance to defend his 2014 crown (photo by Marc Waller)The 2016 BTCC season comes to an end at Brands Hatch this weekend with five drivers, all former champions, in mathematical contention for the driver’s title.

Honda Yuasa Racing’s Gordon Shedden is in the best position, heading to Kent with a twenty three point lead over nearest rival Jason Plato of BMR. Although twenty three points is a decent margin, Shedden can’t afford to relax and he needs to make sure he scores well in each of the final three rounds, especially if Plato can win races. Plato needs to go for it and out score Shedden by quite a lot in all three rounds. Behind the top two is Colin Turkington, also of Team BMR in third. He is thirty two points off the lead and although it’s less likely, it’s certainly not impossible that the Irishman could successfully defend the title he won last season. If he did, he’d join the ranks of the drivers who have won the title three times or more, a group that has fourth placed Matt Neal as a member. Neal does have a chance at yet another title but it would require him to have a perfect weekend while his rivals all have a nightmare. Not entirely impossible but unlikely. Andrew Jordan is the fifth and final championship contender. To be in this position at the finale shows how consistent Jordan has been in his Pirtek MG6, and he’s remained a title contender despite not winning a race. Although he theoretically could take the title with a perfect weekend, realistically he isn’t in contention but he will still try for wins and end his season with MG on as big a high as possible.

Away from the title fight there is plenty of other BTCC news going on. Hunter Abbott’s Rob Austin Racing built Audi A4 was heavily damaged in a shunt in race three at Silverstone. When Exocet Alcosense (RAR) got the car back to the base they found the shell was a write off and so Panzer, as the car was affectionally known, was no more. Fortunately the team have a spare shell and Panzer has been rebuild around that. With RAR retiring both it’s Audi’s (Sherman and Panzer) next year, this will be the last races for the popular cars. Both Hunter Abbott and Rob Austin will be looking to go out on a high.

Their popularity was emphasised when it was announced that the team had won the Dunlop Pole position (#dunloppoleposition) contest to find the most popular team amongst the fans. After several knockout rounds, they found themselves against Welch Motorsport and Team hard to win the title of the fans favourite team and took the title with well over half the votes cast.

Fellow #dunloppoleposition finalists, Team Hard continue with Tony Gillham for the Brands Hatch Finale after he took over from Kieran Gallagher at Silverstone. The team hope to expand their one car team to a multiple entry next season.

Over at BMR, an existing multi car entry, team Boss Warren Scott is to sit out the finale after injuring his back at Silverstone in a practice crash. He will be replaced by Alain Menu who has been Scott’s driver coach this season. He has made no secret of his wish to get back behind the wheel and will be itching to get going around the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit. Menu will be a useful “wingman” for his title chasing team mates, Plato and Turkington.

Nicolas Hamilton has chosen to sit out this rounds in his AMD Tuning Audi as he looks to sorting out a full BTCC season in 2016. His place in the Audi A3 Saloon has been taken by Jake Hill, who has been driving for the squad’s GT outfit in British GT this season, taking a best result of fourth in GT4 at the Belgian round this year. He will be in at the deep end, with first practice being his first chance to drive the car. He has impressed on previous BTCC outings though, Out pacing Rob Austin in the second RAR and winning the Jack Sears trophy honours (Frist S2000 car in that season) on his debut in a Motorbase Ford Focus. Jake was one of the first to confirm the news on his social media accounts;

“Its Official, can’t wait to make my return to the BTCC with AmD in their Audi S3, so grateful to everyone who has helped put this together in such short notice and a massive thank you to everyone at AmD!

The AmDtuning adventure continues”

The maths says Jordan can be champion but it's unlikely (photo by Marc Waller)The AMD Audi to be taken over by Hill (photo by Marc Waller)Shedden heads to kent as points leader and title favourite (photo by Marc Waller)RARs Sherman and the resurected Panzer race for their final three races (photo by Marc Waller)Some teams are already looking to the 2016 season with Eurotech racing announcing the purchase of three of the latest spec Honda Civic type R’s from Team Dynamics. The team intend on expanding to become a three car outfit in 2016 and are already talking to potential drivers.

Team owner and driver Jeff Smith explains the plans;
“We have been impressed with the performance of the new Type R this season run by Team Dynamics and feel it is the logical way to progress forwards. We have negotiated a deal with
Dynamics to enable us to run the latest car, along with re-establishing the data sharing agreement Eurotech had with them back in the 2012 and 2013 seasons.” He continues;

‘To facilitate the third car we are moving to much larger premises later this year, this will allow us to expand the BTCC operation and give us considerable scope to develop into other series should the right opportunity arise.”

“We are here for the long term and see this as the natural progression to move the team to the next level. It’s a huge investment but one that will give us a package that will enable us to be at the sharp end of the grid for 2016. We are already talking to potential candidates for the third seat and would like to be in a position to announce the driver line up by the end of October.”

Plato had a difficult Silverstone but is still very much in the hunt (photo by Marc Waller)Neal has a title chance of his own at Brands but may help his team mate instead (photo by Marc Waller)Eurotech are already looking to the future (photo by Marc Waller)Gillham remains at Team Hard for his local race (photo by Marc Waller)Jake Hill takes over from Nicolas Hamilton at AMD (photo by Marc Waller)The weather forecasters are predicting dry settled weather on both days of BTCC action at the weekend so we look set for more comfortable conditions than the wet and cold finale’s of recent years.

Whatever the whether, it seems certain the 2015 BTCC season will come to a dramatic and entertaining end on Sunday and we will end the day by crowning the new 2016 BTCC champion.

If you want to witness the event in person, tickets are available on the gate or you can watch live on ITV4. We will of course be reporting from the event as usual as the BTCC looks to end the 2015 season on a high.By Marc Waller 

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