all with at least a slim chance of taking the title. In this article we review how each team did in 2015 and report on their possible 2016 plans.
Honda Yuasa Racing (Team Dynamics)
With Shedden taking his second championship, the season was a success for the works team although Jason Plato ran him close again. Matt Neal was often off Shedden’s pace during the season but he was still a championship contender all through the season, he supported team mate Shedden well in his title battle with Plato. The usual recent internet rumours started during the season of Neal retiring but he has been confirmed as returning for another season in 2016 alongside Shedden. The team will also be running a third car with the driver so far unconfirmed.
After springing a surprise at the start of the year by signing not only the defending champion in Colin Turkington but also former champion Jason Plato, they were expecting to be front runners.
They didn’t disappoint with their third driver Aron Smith joining the two champions on the top step. Boss Warren Scott again drove a third car with driver coaching from Alain Menu.
Although he wasn’t close to the pace of his team mates he made progress throughout the season and had some good races. His low point was crashing in practice at Silverstone, the injuries he sustained put him out for the rest of the season with Alain Menu taking his place.
Both Plato and Turkington were championship contenders going into the final round with rival Shedden just edging the title from Plato in the final race of the season. Plato actually won two more races than Shedden, 6 to 4 but he wasn’t consistent enough in his other results, giving Shedden the championship.
The team spent most of the season without a title sponsor, only gaining RCIB insurance for the final few rounds.
The team is returning for 2016 but the cars and the driver line up has still not been announced at the time of writing.
MG Triple Eight Racing
Great things had been expected of Andrew Jordan in 2015 as he joined the manufacturer supported MG team. Triple Eight have a history of winning and Jordan himself was confident of great results. In the end, he couldn’t seem to find his feet with the team or the car and failed to score a single win in 2015. Despite this he remained in contention for the title for almost all the thirty rounds. It fell to Jack Goff to take a win for MG. Goff took to the team well and actually led the championship after the first round. He became a bit more inconsistent as the season went on but his first ever BTCC victory in the final race at Snetterton was certainly his season highlight.
MG have already announced they are continuing in 2016 with Triple Eight. Andrew Jordan won’t be with the team however as he has already announced he is off to Motorbase and he takes his Pirtek Sponsorship with him. Jack Goff has signalled his intentions to stay in the championship and so he seems a likely possible driver for MG in 2016.
WSR (Team JCT600 with GardX and Team IHG Rewards Club)
After winning the title with Colin Turkington in 2014, WSR saw two new drivers arrive in 2015. Sam Tordoff replaced Nick Foster and Andy Priaulx arrived to replace Turkington. Priaulx had clashing commitments in GT and Sportscar racing for BMW and so was forced to miss the Rockingham round. This ensured he wouldn’t be a title contender but he still won twice on his return to the championship. Tordoff also won twice with Collard being the most successful driver of the trio with three wins. Overall though they seemed to suffer from rule changes aimed at slowing rear wheel drive cars.
They have so far announced they will be returning in 2016 but have given no other details as yet. Andy Priaulx certainly won’t be back though having joined Ford to drive their new GT in the WEC. Collard is a strong bet to return and Tordoff is another driver looking to continue his BTCC Career. It’s likely the team will once again run BMW’s updated with the most recent parts by new BTCC supplier RML.
Wix Racing (Ciceley Motorsport.)
Adam Morgan ended the 2014 season with a win and he entered 2015 hoping for more. In the end he got just one but his season certainly wasn’t a disappointment with consistent points finishes keeping him in the top of the championship table all season. He was the only driver who managed every racing lap during the season. He finished the season in seventh in the overall driver’s championship. He’ll be returning in 2016 with the same car and will be hoping the two years’ experience in the car will help him go from a consistent points finisher to a consistent podium finisher or even a consistent winner. A new colour scheme is promised when the car is launched for 2016.
After missing the first half of the season, the team came back more competitive than ever in the second half. Mat Jackson won four races the joint second highest total of the season, equal with Shedden and Turkington with only Jason Plato scoring more. Of course the other three had twice as many races to score them in so it was an incredible achievement. As well as this he scored several poles which included Motorbase’s first ever in the BTCC. He ended up twelfth overall in the final standings despite doing only half the season. His team mate James Cole didn’t do quite so well although as the season drew to a close he was moving closer to the front but still he couldn’t match his rapid team mate. Motorbase have already confirmed their 2016 return with Andrew Jordan joining the team. They plan to run two cars again but it’s not currently clear who will be in the second car. After his 2015 performance, Mat Jackson has made a good case to be included in the team once again.
Excocet Alcosense (Rob Austin Racing)
The team went into 2015 with high hopes having made a lot of changes to their Audi A4 and with the same line up of Rob Austin and Hunter Abbott. However the team failed to win a race and were often further down the grid than they’d like. Hunter still impressed in his second season in the BTCC and was sometimes the quicker of the two drivers. But with the team struggling to get the car competitive, they were usually battling for the lower points scoring positions. Towards the end of the season it was decided that the car was no longer competitive and they are working on something new for 2016. They have an entry for two cars once again but so far no announcement on who will drive has been made. What they will be driving is still very much under wraps.
Laser Tools Racing
Aiden Moffat moved to a Ciceley Motorsport built Mercedes A Class, run by his family team with Sponsorship once again from Laser Tools. He certainly progressed gaining his first podium but a crash at Snetterton put him out of that weekend with concussion and was definitely the season low point for him. He returns in 2016 with the same car, hoping to make further progress, aiming to try and be a regular front runner.
Mike Bushell was signed to drive the Focus for the whole season with Lewis Hamilton’s brother, Nicolas joining the championship at Croft as a guest entry in the ex Rob Holland Audi S3. Bushell initially had a good start, leading the Jack Sears Trophy for Rookie drivers after Brands hatch but disaster struck with a big crash at Thruxton after clashing with Simon Belcher. This caused him to miss all of Thruxton’s races but some fan funding got him back on track. His season seemed to be badly affected by both the damage and lack of track time and it took until Snetterton for him to find his old pace. It was a case of what could have been for the 2014 Clio Cup champion. Nicolas Hamilton became the first driver ever to race in the BTCC with Cerebral Palsy. He came into the championship rather race rusty and had a solid debut at Croft, mostly keeping out of trouble. He did better than many people had been predicting but he withdrew from the final rounds with his place being taken by Jake Hill. Hill was rather dropped in at the deep end but is keen to return to the championship on a full time basis. For 2016, AMD initially had two entries but they’ve since sold one entry along with the Ford Focus to Stewart Lines new team (More of that later) and so are currently set to enter just a single Audi S3 with no word yet on the driver. Mike Bushell is looking to return to the BTCC but admits that finding the funding is a struggle.
Alex Martin joined the championship after previously running on TOCA weekends in the Porsche Carrera Cup. He was run in 2015 by Team parker racing in a Ford Focus built by Motorbase. He never seemed to fully get to grips with the championship or the car and was usually towards the back. He missed several rounds and on the Snetterton weekend was replaced by the experienced Barry Horne. Horne actually scored three points at Snetterton, more than Martin managed for the rest of the season.
The team are entered for 2016, still branded as Dextra Racing so it seems likely that Alex Martin will again be the driver. He’ll be hoping to move up the field in 2016 and score his first points.
Support our Paras Racing (Infiniti)
Things looked very positive initially for this team. They had works backing from Infiniti and the two drivers, Richard Hawken and Derek Palmer Jr had touring car experience in historic racing. The mechanics in the team are all ex Paratroopers who retired through injury and they helped build the cars as well as running them. Things rapidly went wrong though when the cars were finished late and then proved to be uncompetitive. There were further problems at Thruxton when Richard Hawken was unexpectedly replaced by ex F1 driver Martin Donnelly. The cause of this proved to be Infiniti Japan who it appears didn’t initially know about the team and were unhappy at it’s competitiveness. They then withdrew their backing putting the future of the team in doubt and the team dropped to one car.
At Croft they appeared to have a change of fortunes, they were back up to two cars when Max Coates was signed for the second car. Coates had a strong debut and things were looking positive for the future but by Snetterton, Coates was out having been unable to secure the funding for the drive. TOCA by now were fed up with the constant driver changes which were more than permitted in the rules and their licence was withdrawn meaning they were down to one car for the rest of the season. Palmer did gradually drag the one remaining car up the field and by the end of the season he was knocking on the door of points scoring positions. Sadly the team finished the season on a minus score due to penalties.
They still have only a single licence left for 2016 (Which officially is a loan one) and it seems likely that Derek Palmer will be back behind the wheel.
Jeff Smith brought the team from the Jordan family in the off season and he was joined by 2014 driver Martin Depper in the team’s two Honda Civics. The engines were changed to Swindon units from the previous Neil brown built Honda Engines, presumably on cost grounds. It was a bit of a transitional year for the team but both drivers were regular points scorers even if they didn’t get close to the front.
For 2016 the team intends to run three new Honda Civic Type R’s, the same as the works team ran in 2015. They have obtained a licence from Houseman racing as well as the team’s Toyota although it’s unknown what they will do with that. Depper and Smith look certain to return but the third driver remains a mystery. The new Civics should enable them to make further steps forward and the extra data from running three cars will also help them progress.
Tom Ingram had his best season in the BTCC so far and nearly took his first win at Rockingham, eventually finishing second to Plato. He then got another podium at the season finale. Speedworks are entering again in 2016 and have been issued with 2 licences. It’s likely that Tom Ingram will return if he can raise the budget again and the second car will be a Honda Civic Type R driven by two time stock car champion Matt Simpson.
Simon Belcher and his Handy Motorsport team had another tough year with a crash at Thruxton again badly affecting his season (In 2014 his car rolled into the trees). The clash with Mike Bushell put him out of the weekend and nearly caused him to miss Oulton Park. The unexpected costs put a strain on the team budget and Belcher stepped down for several round to be replaced by Robb Holland who had been without a drive this season after withdrawing his own team. Neither Belcher nor Holland could make it far up the field. Handy Motorsport once again co-operated with Speedworks but with Ingram’s Toyota being a slightly different spec car they didn’t seem to be able to benefit from Ingram’s set ups.
Handy Motorsport have an entry for 2016 and it looks like the team will be back with an upgraded Toyota Avensis. it may not be Belcher behind the wheel though and we’ll find out the answer at the Autosport show.
Lea Wood stepped back from racing in 2015 due to a lack of racing budget and in his place came Stewart Lines to race the team’s Toyota. Lines has won in all sorts of cars but for whatever reason, found the BTCC much tougher. He was regularly found towards the rear of the field. It seemed there was disagreement towards the end of the season between Lines and the team over the reasons for the lack of pace. Lines has left the team for 2016. He has bought the EX AMD Ford Focus as well as their licence and will race it with his own team, Maxiumum Motorsport in 2016.
Lea Wood and the Houseman Racing team have decided to race elsewhere in 2016 with Lea Wood returning to the Pick up truck racing championship that he originally raced in. His car and entry licence have been sold to Eurotech to enable them to have a third car in 2016.
Lea Wood has stepped back from racing this year to manage the team and in his place has come experienced club racer Stewart Lines. He has won in most things he’s raced in but the BTCC is tough and realistically to start with he’ll be near the back but if he can learn fast, he should have the talent to do better in the second half of the season.
RCIB Insurance racing (Team Hard)
Tony Gillham’s team came into 2015 feeling very positive with Kieran Gallagher behind the wheel of the ex Dynojet Toyota Avensis. But things didn’t go according to plan and the team had repeated engine issues. A change to the Swindon engine seemed to fix this but by now the relationship between Gallagher and the team seemed to have broken down and he left the team for reasons which weren’t ever fully explained. Tony Gillham took over driving duties and enabled the team to finish the season.
For 2016 the team have an entry and apparently have plans but there has been no word yet on the car they will use or who will drive it.
Tony Gillham’s outfit is back after the previous incarnation was absorbed by BMR. He’s put together a small but experienced team to run Kieran Gallagher in an ex United Autosports Toyota Avensis. Gallagher doesn’t have much experience but has plenty of enthusiasm. It’ll be a tough task to do well in 2015 but the team does have a history of giant killing performances.
If Team hard had a difficult season, it was nothing compared to the nightmare that Welch Motorsport had. They started the season with two Proton Gen2 cars for Dan Welch and Andy Wilmot. Unofrtunately the engine that the team was developing proved to be very unreliable initially and this eventually caused Andy Wilmot to leave the team. Because the team could only then field one car they lost one of their licences. The team actually made progress with the engine but just as it had become more reliable, they started having issues with other components on the car. They were the team with the worst finishing record in 2015 and the unreliability left them no time to work on increasing performance leaving them as regular tail enders.
They have a single entry for 2016 and it seems likely that Dan Welch will return to try and rebuild the team’s reputation. It’s not yet been announced if this will be with the Proton or a new car.
Power Maxed Racing
Power Maxed Racing had the biggest turnaround from 2014 in the 2015 season. Power Maxed became the owners as well as team sponsors and invested a lot of money in the team. Some top people were recruited from other teams and the team prepared two RML Designed Chevrolet Cruze Saloons to compete with. Josh Cook and Dave Newsham were recruited on the driving side and both were regular top ten runners. They tied on 95 points each in the final drivers championship standings, showing how evenly matched the two drivers were. Josh Cook had the better results of the two overall with a third place finish and he even led a lap of a race. Newsham was slightly more consistent though and generally the two Power Maxed cars could be found close to each other.
The team has two entries for 2016 and both drivers have expressed a wish to return. The team look set to run updated versions of their Chevrolet Cruze Saloons.
2016 Entries (TBLs).
For this season, applications for a TBL (The licence a team needs to compete.) closed at the end of October. This means for the first time, we have some idea of the teams entering before all the announcements. They could however sell TBL’s to other parties before the season starts. The list released on the 4th November 2015 was as follows;
* denotes additional TBL issued
** denotes one 2016 TOCA TBL loan
After that there were several deals as we’ve discussed in the review. The new table looks like this
* denotes additional TBL issued
** denotes one 2016 TOCA TBL loan
The Autosport show takes place from the 14th to the 17th January where we are likely to see several BTCC announcements on possible drivers and cars entering in 2016. We’ll be reporting on all the BTCC news from the show during the weekend. By Marc Waller