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Rating the best BTCC drivers to not be champion

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The British Touring Automotive Championship has been some of the aggressive and fashionable sequence within the UK because it started in 1958.

Within the six many years since, many fantastic drivers have appeared – and gained – within the championship. And, as a part of our sequence of BTCC High 10s, we’ve put collectively a listing of the best BTCC racers who by no means fairly managed to win the outright crown.

High 10: Ranking the greatest BTCC cars

For this rating, we’ve regarded on the quantity of success the drivers had within the BTCC, how shut they acquired to the crown, the character of their defeats, and different elements akin to their affect and the way they stacked as much as their team-mates.

We’ve positioned an emphasis on outright success, however class titles have been thought-about.

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As ever, some robust contenders missed out. Honourable mentions go to double Method 1 world champion Graham Hill and Mike Parkes, who each starred within the early days of the sequence aboard the pacesetting Jaguars, and spectacular Mini ace John Rhodes, who was a serious title menace all through the second half of the Nineteen Sixties.

We’ve additionally excluded these nonetheless energetic within the BTCC. Jake Hill and Josh {Cook} will certainly get their likelihood in some unspecified time in the future…

10. Jeff Allam

Exhausting charger Allam wasn’t fairly the pressure within the sprint-format races of the early 90s that he had been within the earlier decade

Picture by: Motorsport Images

Years: 1977-83, 1986-87, 1989-95
Wins: 17
Class titles: 1 (1982)

Allam first made an affect along with his personal automobiles, initially a Vauxhall Firenza after which a Ford Capri through which he took his maiden sequence wins in 1978. He was often a frontrunner in the course of the aggressive Capri years, however may by no means fairly defeat period benchmark Gordon Spice within the standings.

That was till he turned a part of the Rover V8 onslaught that finally usurped the quick Fords. Allam took extra wins than Tom Walkinshaw Racing Rover team-mate Pete Lovett in 1981 solely to overlook out within the factors race, however turned the tables the next yr.

Allam and Vince Woodman’s Capri each scored 4 wins and 60 factors in 1982, with Allam topped class champion. However that was nonetheless solely adequate for fourth general as each have been defeated by drivers in different lessons.

Allam was extremely constant in 1983 however the arrival of RWD rookie Steve Soper moved the goalposts. Allam was overwhelmed within the factors by team-mates Soper and Lovett earlier than all three have been excluded months later for technical irregularities.

Consideration then turned to the European and World levels with TWR and, apart from some profitable ad-hoc appearances, Allam didn’t totally return to the BTCC till 1990 in a Vic Lee Motorsport-run BMW M3.

More at home in the longer races of the European Touring Car Championship, Allam discovered the going robust within the cut-and-thrust of the dash occasions of the early Nineties. He spent 4 years supporting John Cleland within the manufacturing unit Vauxhall workforce, his finest yr coming in 1992 when he took a string of podiums, together with his last two BTCC wins, and completed fourth within the standings.

PLUS: Jeff Allam reflects on his BTCC career

There was only one podium in his last full season in 1994, although Vauxhall referred to as upon him another time the next yr after rising star James Thompson’s crash at Knockhill.

Till not too long ago, Allam served because the driving requirements advisor within the BTCC.

9. Richard Lloyd

Latterly known for his successful exploits as an entrant in sportscars, Lloyd was a handy pedaller of Golf machinery in the 1600cc division

Latterly recognized for his profitable exploits as an entrant in sportscars, Lloyd was a useful pedaller of Golf equipment within the 1600cc division

Picture by: Motorsport Images

Years: 1973-80, 1983
Wins: 15
Class titles: 3 (1977-79)

A number of drivers on this prime 10 have been saved off the BTCC champions listing by the idiosyncratic class construction that existed previous to 1991. However Lloyd managed to be on either side of the fence at totally different instances and nonetheless missed out.

Unusually, Lloyd’s first forays into the BTCC – then often called the British Saloon Automotive Championship – got here within the largest class. He hauled his Simoniz-liveried Chevrolet Camaro to seven wins throughout 1974-75, every time ending second within the quickest class to V8 pacesetter Stuart Graham.

A season in an Opel Commodore was unproductive however for 1977 Lloyd switched to the front-wheel-drive Volkswagen Golf GTI within the 1600cc class, run by his personal workforce. It proved a revelation, Lloyd charging to 3 class titles and even eight extra outright wins when the smaller-engined automobiles got separate races to the large bangers.

Regardless of his success, he was invariably overwhelmed by these dominating different lessons, most notably ending second within the general standings to Richard Longman’s Mini 1275 GT in 1978.

Lloyd remained a category contender in his last full yr in an Audi 80 in 1980, however his consideration quickly switched to GT and sportscar racing along with his profitable operation.

PLUS: Remembering racing pioneer and deal-maker Richard Lloyd

8. David Leslie

Leslie was capable of mixing it with the very best of the Super Touring era, and finished second to team-mate Aiello in 1999

Leslie was able to mixing it with the easiest of the Tremendous Touring period, and completed second to team-mate Aiello in 1999

Picture by: Malcolm Griffiths / Motorsport Images

Years: 1987, 1990-2000, 2002-03
Wins: 9
Class titles: 0

The mild-mannered Scot was a BTCC stalwart for a lot of the Tremendous Touring period and, on his day, may combine it with the most effective skills within the sequence.

After a handful of sporadic outings, Leslie joined the privateer Ecurie Ecosse workforce run by RML for 1992. He was a constant thorn within the facet of the larger outfits and took his Cavalier to victory at Thruxton in 1993, in addition to successful the non-championship TOCA Shootout on the finish of the yr, a race well-known for Nigel Mansell spectacularly crashing out.

After an unsuccessful marketing campaign with Mazda, Leslie joined the Motor Sport Developments manufacturing unit Honda operation. He resurrected his profession within the Accord, ending the 1996 season strongly with three wins and taking fourth within the desk, comfortably beating team-mate James Kaye.

Leslie joined the brand new RML Nissan workforce for 1997 and initially outperformed team-mate Anthony Reid. However because the automotive improved Reid got here on robust and it was he who put collectively a championship problem in 1998, taking seven wins and the runner-up spot within the desk, whereas Leslie completed sixth with two victories.

Friday favorite: Anthony Reid on David Leslie

The Primera GT maintained its momentum into 1999. Leslie gained three races and was second within the standings however was overshadowed by new team-mate Laurent Aiello, who stormed to the crown with 10 victories. That was actually no shame, given Aiello’s standing as one of many standout tin-top drivers of his era.

There have been no extra wins after that, however Leslie did handle to haul the mediocre Proton Impian to 4 podiums in the course of the early days of the cut-price BTC-T period.

Leslie, who additionally assisted the careers of different Scottish skills, final competed within the BTCC in 2003 however was nonetheless an energetic racer when he died in the identical aircraft crash that killed Lloyd in 2008.

7. Paul Radisich

When the Mondeo made its arrival late in 1993, Radisich was supreme but never managed to scoop the BTCC title

When the Mondeo made its arrival late in 1993, Radisich was supreme however by no means managed to scoop the BTCC title

Picture by: Motorsport Images

Years: 1990, 1993-98
Wins: 6
Class titles: 0

If the Andy Rouse-prepared Ford Mondeo had been prepared for the beginning of the 1993 season, Radisich may need grow to be champion. He missed the primary seven races however managed three wins from his 10 begins to storm to 3rd within the factors, overwhelmed solely by BMW twins Joachim Winkelhock and Steve Soper.

To underline his and the Mondeo’s tempo, Radisich additionally gained the FIA Touring Automotive Problem at Monza that October, beating the cream of European tin-top racers.

The Mondeo was usually fast in 1994 and Radisich once more comfortably beat four-time champion team-mate Rouse, however there was no reply to the bewinged Alfa Romeo 155 of Gabriele Tarquini, which took the crown. Because of engine failures and a few clashes with the second Alfa of Giampiero Simoni, Radisich was pushed down to 3rd within the desk by Renault’s Alain Menu.

Radisich nonetheless once more gained the FIA Touring Automotive Problem, this time at Donington Park, and took the TOCA Shootout the identical weekend.

Thereafter, the Mondeo turned much less and fewer aggressive, although Radisich beat his team-mates (Kelvin Burt in 1995, Steve Robertson in 1996 and Will Hoy in 1997) yearly. There was just one victory in 1995 and Radisich went winless over the following two seasons as West Surrey Racing took over the Ford programme.

Archive: The World Cup winner left floundering by Ford’s BTCC nadir

Radisich maintained his report of at all times beating his team-mates within the BTCC factors by defeating 1992 champion Tim Harvey at Peugeot in 1998, however the 406 was uncompetitive and the affable New Zealander moved to Australian Supercars for 1999.

6. Brian Muir

Muir again finished second in the 1973 British Saloon Car Championship aboard his BMW 3.0L CSL

Muir once more completed second within the 1973 British Saloon Automotive Championship aboard his BMW 3.0L CSL

Picture by: Motorsport Images

Years: 1966-82
Wins: 22
Class titles: 2 (1968, 1971)

Not often the outright pacesetter, Australian Muir was a daily characteristic on the entrance of British Saloon Automotive fields within the late Nineteen Sixties and early Nineteen Seventies. He scored a second and a primary on his arrival with a John Willment Ford Galaxie in 1966 earlier than switching to a Ford Falcon.

Muir twice gained the highest class with V8 equipment, in 1968 (with a Falcon) when he was overwhelmed to the general crown by Frank Gardner’s Alan Mann Ford Escort Twin Cam and in 1971 (with a Chevrolet Camaro) throughout Invoice McGovern’s golden period with the George Bevan-prepared Imp.

When Gardner was within the prime class, Muir often needed to play second fiddle, however he was usually the principle challenger. His Camaro was the one automotive to beat Gardner’s Ford Mustang to an outright victory in 1970, Muir’s three wins together with the Silverstone Vacationer Trophy in opposition to ETCC opposition.

Muir switched his distinctive Wiggins Teape livery to a Ford Capri RS2600 for 1972, choosing up one other couple of wins, then drove a BMW 3.0 CSL the next yr. For the fourth time in his BTCC profession, Muir was second in his class, once more overwhelmed by Gardner.

Success was more durable to return by within the second half of the last decade, however Muir nonetheless took two wins in the course of the aggressive Capri period and was second in his final two championship outings driving a Rover 3500S in 1982. Muir died on his approach dwelling from the 1983 Silverstone TT, aged 52.

5. Mat Jackson

Jackson's privately run BMW 320si was a thorn in the side of works operations in the late 2000s during the Super 2000 era

Jackson’s privately run BMW 320si was a thorn within the facet of works operations within the late 2000s in the course of the Tremendous 2000 period

Picture by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Years: 2001, 2007-17
Wins: 31
Class titles: 0

Jackson was a frontrunner within the Manufacturing class in 2001 however correctly turned part of the championship in 2007, after successful the SEAT Cupra crown. He instantly made his mark in a BMW 320si, brilliantly beating Jason Plato to second within the 2008 standings with three wins within the final 4 races.

A change again to front-wheel-drive as Plato’s RML Chevrolet team-mate the next yr did not halt his progress. Jackson added 4 wins to his seven scored within the BMW to complete fifth within the championship after lacking a number of races, albeit behind Plato.

Again in a BMW for 2010, Jackson gained as soon as and was usually a menace over the following few years with Motorbase Efficiency (now Alliance). Between 2011 and a sudden parting of the methods with the workforce earlier than the 2018 season, Jackson steered varied iterations of the Ford Focus to 19 victories, together with storming from seventeenth on the grid at Silverstone in 2012.

His finest championship finishes in that point got here in 2011 – when he beat James Nash to fourth within the general contest however one way or the other misplaced out to the Vauxhall driver within the Independents desk – and 2016, when he completed third.

It wasn’t at all times clear whether or not the lack to go all the way in which and take the crown lay with Jackson, the workforce or a mix of each, however Jackson stays essentially the most profitable BTCC driver by way of wins with out a title to his title.

4. Stuart Graham

Former bike racer Graham was no less spectacular in Capris than in the Camaro

Former bike racer Graham was no much less spectacular in Capris than within the Camaro

Picture by: Motorsport Images

Years: 1974-75, 1977-81
Wins: 19
Class titles: 2 (1974-75)

Ex-motorcycle racing star Graham’s time within the sequence was transient in comparison with some on this listing, however he was among the best within the huge V8s of the mid-Nineteen Seventies. His Faberge Racing/Brut 33-liveried Chevrolet Camaro stays one of many championship’s iconic machines.

Graham was a winner immediately, taking eight victories from his 12 begins in 1974 and taking the category crown. As was the norm for the interval, he missed out on the general title to opponents within the smaller-capacity lessons.

It was an identical story in 1975 and few acquired as near successful the title with out doing so. Graham once more topped Class D, this time ending on the identical variety of factors as Rouse and Win Percy however shedding out on countback.

The final king of the V8s, Graham skipped 1976 when the Yank Tanks have been outlawed, however returned in a Ford Capri in 1977. He was by no means as dominant however scored three extra outright wins over the following three seasons.

His last outing was in 1981, however he underlined his standing as one of many V8 aces by immediately proving aggressive when returning to competitors in historics in his {old} Camaro.

3. Anthony Reid

Reid came close to the title in 1998 with Nissan, and again in 2000 with Ford - losing out to Rickard Rydell's Volvo and team-mate Alain Menu respectively

Reid got here near the title in 1998 with Nissan, and once more in 2000 with Ford – shedding out to Rickard Rydell’s Volvo and team-mate Alain Menu respectively

Picture by: Gavin Lawrence / Motorsport Images

Years: 1997-2004, 2009
Wins: 15
Class titles: 1 (2004)

Many of the stars of the Tremendous Touring period have been rewarded with a BTCC crown, however Reid narrowly missed out twice.

Following a profitable profession in Japan and a season within the German Tremendous Tourenwagen Cup, Reid arrived within the BTCC with Nissan. After a studying yr, the RML squad got here on robust in 1998 and Reid’s Primera GT was the pacesetter.

He took his first win in spherical 11 of 26 at Donington Park and added six extra (plus one misplaced following a post-race penalty) to narrowly fail to cease Volvo’s Rickard Rydell turning into champion.

Reid then gave up what was then the most effective seat within the BTCC for a profitable Prodrive Ford deal for 1999. The primary yr was robust, however the subtle Mondeo was the automotive to have in 2000 because the period got here to an finish.

Although not as comfy within the Ford as he had been within the Nissan he’d helped develop, Reid put collectively a constant marketing campaign. Though solely successful twice, Reid misplaced out to six-time victor and team-mate Menu by simply two factors – and beat third Ford driver Rydell.

Not like a lot of his rivals, Reid stayed within the BTCC for the early days of the low-cost BTC-T period. Armed with the WSR MG ZS (first as a works automotive, then as a privateer), Reid was usually the principle challenger to the pacesetting Triple Eight Vauxhall Astra Coupes.

Highlights included stopping a Vauxhall clear sweep of the season by successful on the Manufacturers Hatch finale in 2001, main team-mate Warren Hughes in an MG 1-2 at Manufacturers the next yr, and ending as the highest non-Astra driver within the 2002 and 2004 standings.

PLUS: When a new car interrupted a perfect season of dominance

Reid’s last full BTCC season was arguably one among his finest. He took three wins within the ageing MG, confirmed the way in which to rising star team-mate Colin Turkington, and have become Independents champion.

2. Gordon Spice

Spice's Capri leads the pack into Druids - Dolomite driver Rouse, right, won four outright titles to Spice's zero

Spice’s Capri leads the pack into Druids – Dolomite driver Rouse, proper, gained 4 outright titles to Spice’s zero

Picture by: Motorsport Images

Years: 1965-70, 1974-84
Wins: 27
Class titles: 7 (1968, 1975-80)

Maybe greater than another driver within the historical past of the championship, Spice suffered from the championship’s pre-1991 scoring system that allowed these within the smaller-capacity lessons to attain as extremely as these battling for outright victories.

Spice first appeared with a Mini in 1965 and was a 1000cc class champion in 1968 however actually made his mark with the Capri. Spice took the Class C crown in 1975 earlier than the well-known coupe turned the automotive to have after the American V8s have been regulated out of the sequence.

Spice turned the benchmark in each the Mk2 and Mk3 fashions, successful almost 4 instances as many races as another Capri driver and taking one other 5 class titles, every time being denied by drivers within the slower lessons. In different phrases, he topped his a part of the desk for six consecutive seasons.

Alongside the way in which there have been some epic scraps with drivers of the calibre of Tom Walkinshaw, Rouse (for a time Spice’s team-mate), Woodman and Allam. Spice’s personal immaculately ready automobiles continued combating a rearguard motion because the Rover V8 acquired into its stride within the early Eighties and Spice’s final sequence win got here at Oulton Park in 1982.

Apart from sporadic outings in Rover and Toyota equipment, that was it as Spice efficiently turned his consideration to world sportscar competitors. However there’s little doubt that he was the grasp of one of many championship’s most-famous automobiles throughout a aggressive period.

1. Steve Soper

Soper was stripped of the title he won in 1983 the following year

Soper was stripped of the title he gained in 1983 the next yr

Picture by: Motorsport Images

Years: 1982-85, 1988-89, 1991-94, 2001
Wins: 14
Class titles: 0

Statistically, Spice ought to beat Soper on this contest, however two issues put ‘Soperman’ forward. First, he truly gained the title on-track solely to lose it months later and, extra importantly, it’s the excessive regard through which he’s held by all those that raced in opposition to him or noticed him in his pomp.

Initially branded an FWD skilled, Soper actually made his mark within the championship the second he stepped into the RWD Rover Vitesse in 1983. Towards expectations, Soper led the way in which in opposition to the extra skilled Lovett and Allam, taking 5 wins and outscoring Class B pacesetter Rouse to grow to be champion.

So why’s he on this listing, then? Alongside the way in which TWR had upset varied rivals, together with former driver-turned-BMW-exponent Frank Sytner. Protests flew and finally – in mid-1984 – the engine-rocker meeting on the Rovers was discovered to be unlawful and all three have been thrown out of the championship, although saved their wins.

Regardless of shedding the title to Rouse, Soper had made his title. A lot of the following few years have been spent overseas, first with TWR, then with the works Eggenberger Ford squad and at last BMW. Throughout that point Soper often made raids on his dwelling sequence, at all times operating on the entrance. Three epic BTCC contests with Rouse in Ford RS500s, which ended 2-1 within the privateer’s favour, have been the highlights of the 1988 season.

After three wins in a part-campaign in 1991, Soper supported Vic Lee Motorsport team-mate Harvey’s title bid the next yr. The conflict with Cleland’s Vauxhall within the notorious 1992 finale wasn’t Soper’s most interesting second, however the unimaginable restoration drive to get again into the battle after a conflict with Leslie was the type of efficiency that few others within the historical past of the championship may have managed.

PLUS: The real story of the BTCC’s 1992 season decider

Apart from 1983, Soper’s finest likelihood to take the BTCC crown got here in 1993. The Schnitzer Motorsport BMW 318i set the tempo for a lot of the yr, however Soper narrowly misplaced out to on-form team-mate Joachim Winkelhock.

Soper scored his 14th and last BTCC victory in 1994 earlier than heading off to win the Japanese Touring Automotive Championship after which endurance racing. He made a return in 2001 with the uncompetitive Peugeot 406 Coupe, however a crash on the finish of the season ended his front-line profession.

Many regard Soper as one of many all-time tin-top greats. Harvey describes him as a “stupendous expertise, one of many kings of touring automotive racing”.

PLUS: The touring car great who never won the BTCC

Just like the late Spice, Soper isn’t bitter about not being a BTCC champion. “I had two good pictures,” he stated in 2018. “Via no fault of my very own, one was taken away, and the opposite time Jo was an excellent driver. I am unable to blame anybody however myself. It would not hassle me I haven’t got a title.”

Soper played the team game to help Harvey in 1992, but isn't bitter about not being champion himself

Soper performed the workforce recreation to assist Harvey in 1992, however is not bitter about not being champion himself

Picture by: Motorsport Images



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