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Rating the highest 10 BTCC title deciders

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The battle for the British Touring Automotive Championship all the time appears to go right down to the ultimate race. It doesn’t fairly, however there have been loads of unbelievable finales within the class’s historical past, stretching again to the very starting in 1958.

For this record, we’ve checked out how tight the title fights had been, the circumstances of the ultimate spherical and the drama of the decider. With multi-race conferences, now we have targeted on the ultimate encounter reasonably than the entire weekend and thought of the drivers nonetheless in rivalry at that time.

 

10. 1958 Manufacturers Hatch

Sears beat Tommy Sopwith in 1958 in a two-heat race throughout which they swapped automobiles

Picture by: Motorsport Images

Contenders: Tommy Sopwith, Jack Sears
Winner: Jack Sears
Champion: Jack Sears

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This one both needed to be at primary or quantity 10 as a result of it’s the one time in sequence historical past {that a} particular race was placed on to resolve the crown. We’ve popped it at 10 as a result of later bouts had been extra dramatic or action-packed, involving extra protagonists, and even Autosport reckoned the promise of a “grand scrap” was “not likely fulfilled”.

Tommy Sopwith and Jack Sears each dominated their lessons within the inaugural season of what was then often known as the British Saloon Automotive Championship. Sopwith did a lot of the total profitable together with his 3.4-litre Jaguar, whereas Sears set the tempo in Class C for automobiles as much as 2700cc in his Austin A105 Westminster.

Following the ultimate spherical at Manufacturers Hatch, they had been tied on 48 factors, only one forward of Speedwell Austin A35 driver John Sprinzel, so a shootout was organised on the identical day, with each in Riley 1.5s.

In appallingly moist situations, Sopwith received the primary five-lapper by 2.2 seconds. The duo then swapped automobiles and this time Sears got here out on high by round 4s, giving him the victory on mixture and turning into the sequence’ first champion.

9. 2013 Manufacturers Hatch

Through atrocious conditions, Jordan's privateer Honda Civic claimed the title in 2013 by defeating MG driver Plato

Via atrocious situations, Jordan’s privateer Honda Civic claimed the title in 2013 by defeating MG driver Plato

Picture by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Contenders: Andrew Jordan, Jason Plato, Gordon Shedden
Winner: Gordon Shedden
Champion: Andrew Jordan

Andrew Jordan had been a rising power within the BTCC for a while, notably as soon as he received his arms on the NGTC Honda Civic, and put one over the manufacturing unit groups in 2013. A constant marketing campaign that included six wins meant he carried a 34-point lead over Matt Neal into the wet last spherical. Gordon Shedden, Colin Turkington and Jason Plato had been additionally in rivalry, however it regarded like Jordan’s title to lose.

After a advantageous fifth in race one – forward of Neal – issues received so much tougher for Jordan due to the second encounter. Jordan and Neal had been the harmless victims of a multi-car incident on lap two, which put Neal out of title rivalry and meant Jordan needed to begin the finale in twenty fourth. His factors benefit had additionally been slashed to fifteen, now over MG driver Plato. One way or the other, that put Jordan into a greater mind set.

“Earlier than the race I used to be extra relaxed than I had been all week,” he mentioned. “If Jason received I wanted to be eighth so we had a purpose. I used to be fairly chilled.”

Jordan rose from twenty fourth to 18th on the primary lap of 15 and reached thirteenth on lap 4. With a struggling Plato solely operating sixth and race chief Shedden 20 factors behind, that might have been sufficient for Jordan to take the title, however he pressed on.

After six laps the blue Honda was tenth and now Jordan responded to his crew’s requests to gradual. A second for Plato handed Jordan one other spot and he duly crossed the road ninth, whereas very good victor Shedden snatched second within the standings, seven factors down having come into the weekend 35 adrift.

PLUS: Autosport tests Jordan’s BTCC title winner

8. 1977 Manufacturers Hatch

While Dron's Dolomite claimed the class crown, he lost out on the overall spoils to Unett

Whereas Dron’s Dolomite claimed the category crown, he misplaced out on the general spoils to Unett

Picture by: Motorsport Images

Contenders: Bernard Unett, Tony Dron
Winner: Gordon Spice
Champion: Bernard Unett

Tony Dron and Broadspeed’s focus for 1977 wasn’t simply to win the 1601-2300cc class, it was to take total victories in opposition to the bigger-engined Ford Capris. Dron’s Triumph Dolomite Dash proved extremely good at that and scored extra total wins – 5 – than some other mixture.

PLUS: The forgotten BTCC wins scored by the Capri’s first nemesis

He additionally went to the season finale with an total championship likelihood in opposition to Bernard Unett, already a two-time title winner and the pacesetter within the smallest-engined class together with his Chrysler Avenger 1300 GT.

Using Dunlop qualifying tyres had helped Dron all season and he managed to beat the Capri hordes to pole by a scarcely plausible 1.1s. He was engulfed at first however didn’t have to beat the Class D automobiles and all regarded good for the crown, notably as a shunt in observe had left Unett’s Avenger trying second-hand.

Then Dron received an odd feeling as a tyre started to fail. “I nursed it as finest I might on the right-handers however the injury was achieved,” Dron informed Autosport in 2021. “As that tyre steadily fell aside, I discovered myself going ever extra sideways, at much-reduced velocity. With about three laps to go, I noticed the nostril of a Vauxhall Magnum within the distance behind me, gaining quickly.”

That was class rival Jeff Allam. One way or the other, the struggling Dron saved Allam behind till the ultimate nook of the season.

“My left rear was utterly shot by then and so, with nice chunks of tread flying off it, I went by means of that nook on practically full reverse lock at a painfully gradual velocity whereas nonetheless attempting my finest to make myself into an impediment,” added Dron. “It was hopeless, and Allam slipped previous very simply and beat me to the end line by lower than a second.”

It turned out that, unbeknown to Dron, Broadspeed boss Ralph Broad had gone for a softer-compound tyre than initially deliberate. The outcome was that, though Dron took the category crown, he missed the general title by one level to Unett, the 1300cc dominator who suffered his personal defeat at Manufacturers.

7. 1966 Manufacturers Hatch

Ford Anglia driver Fitzpatrick, pictured at Brands Hatch earlier in the 1966 season, narrowly won out over Mini driver Rhodes

Ford Anglia driver Fitzpatrick, pictured at Manufacturers Hatch earlier within the 1966 season, narrowly received out over Mini driver Rhodes

Picture by: Rainer W. Schlegelmilch / Motorsport Images

Contenders: John Rhodes, John Fitzpatrick
Winner: Jackie Oliver
Champion: John Fitzpatrick

Total victories in 1966 had been shared round so, not for the primary or final time, the general crown boiled right down to a battle between these within the smaller-engined lessons. Rising star John Fitzpatrick was the person to beat within the as much as 1000cc class together with his Broadspeed Ford Anglia, whereas the entertaining and constant John Rhodes scored properly within the 1300cc break up together with his Cooper-run Austin Mini Cooper S.

Neither might afford to slide up on the Manufacturers finale, run over two heats for an mixture rating and described by Autosport’s Gregor Grant as “extremely thrilling”. Whereas Jackie Oliver’s Ford Mustang received, Rhodes confronted a stern check from the Superspeed Anglia of Mike Younger.

Autosport reckoned the duo had been “dashing around the circuit in slightly ball of tyre smoke” as Younger pressed Rhodes till discovering a well beyond in warmth one. The Anglia held on to beat Rhodes by simply 0.2s and take fifth total.

Rhodes grabbed the benefit in warmth two in a contest that once more went all the best way to the flag. “On the final lap the 2 of them had been facet by facet spherical Paddock, facet by facet up the hill and facet by facet spherical Druids,” reported Simon Taylor.

Younger got here out forward and held on to pip Rhodes as soon as once more and limit him to second on mixture. In the meantime, Fitzpatrick beat the Imp problem in each stanzas to take Class A.

That meant the duo completed the season on equal factors and, with six class wins to the considered one of Rhodes, Fitzpatrick grew to become the youngest sequence champion, a report that also stands.

6. 2000 Silverstone

Reid was unfortunate in the 2000 final round at Silverstone, staged under the floodlights, to lose out to Ford team-mate Menu

Reid was unlucky within the 2000 last spherical at Silverstone, staged beneath the floodlights, to lose out to Ford team-mate Menu

Picture by: Peter Fox

Contenders: Anthony Reid, Alain Menu, Rickard Rydell
Winner: Tom Kristensen
Champion: Alain Menu

By way of producer involvement, the high-cost Tremendous Touring period was previous its peak by 2000, the ultimate yr of the ruleset within the UK. However the high quality was extremely excessive, with crack groups from Ford, Honda and Vauxhall.

Prodrive’s subtle V6 Ford Mondeo was the automobile to have and all three of the crew’s drivers – 1997 champion Alain Menu, 1998 title winner Rickard Rydell and 1998 runner-up Anthony Reid – went to Silverstone with an opportunity of the crown.

High 10: Ranking the greatest BTCC Super Touring drivers

Reid led Menu by 9 factors, with Rydell the outsider in a dropped-scores system. And issues began badly for Menu in race one when, after a poor begin, he misplaced management and was hit by Plato. “It was my fault,” recalled Menu in 2007.

He might solely watch as Rydell took second and Reid seventh, however it might have been worse. A ballast-laden Reid had been operating fourth when contact with Gabriele Tarquini’s Honda, for which the Italian obtained three penalty factors, pushed him again.

“I used to be utterly relaxed between the 2 races as a result of I had nothing to lose,” added Menu. His job was made simpler when on engine leak cruelly prevented Rydell from beginning the finale, organising a straight duel for the title.

Menu ran second early on within the evening race and the strain was on sixth-starter Reid. Each made certain of grabbing a degree for main in the course of the pitstop section.

The title nonetheless hung within the stability, with Menu operating within the second place he wanted however with an attacking Plato pressuring him and Reid fifth. However when a tentative Reid was hit by an aggressive Vincent Radermecker’s Vauxhall at Becketts with lower than three laps to go, it was throughout. The Belgian was handed 4 penalty factors for the transfer however that was little comfort for a distraught Reid, who was left within the gravel.

Menu was then joyful to let Plato by. The Swiss completed third, sufficient to safe his second BTCC title by two factors. “It feels a lot better than 1997,” he mentioned.

“What a end!” reckoned Autosport.

5. 2015 Manufacturers Hatch

Shedden carved his way through the pack from 19th to finish fourth and pip Plato to the 2015 crown

Shedden carved his method by means of the pack from nineteenth to complete fourth and pip Plato to the 2015 crown

Picture by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Contenders: Gordon Shedden, Jason Plato
Winner: Jason Plato
Champion: Gordon Shedden

A 23-point lead heading into the ultimate assembly is to not be sniffed at within the fashionable period. That’s what works Honda ace Shedden had going into 2015’s finale however there was a rollercoaster journey earlier than the Scot secured his second BTCC crown.

Title rival Plato had thrust his VW forward of Shedden in race one after which backed him up, although a minimum of Shedden had team-mate Neal enjoying rear-gunner. However in race two a punt from behind gave Shedden injury and he completed nineteenth, scoring no factors and giving him a row 10 begin for the finale. Plato was now 12 factors behind and ranging from second…

Plato did his bit by grabbing the lead when poleman Neal slid extensive at Paddock on lap one, and headed the pack all through, placing the onus on Shedden to get deep into the factors. At the least he now had no success ballast, permitting Shedden to unleash the total potential of the Civic Kind R.

A mixture of hard-charging, security automobile restarts, assist from sure rivals and others hitting hassle, allowed Shedden to maneuver ahead. “I simply couldn’t do something aside from give it every little thing,” he mentioned. “If I didn’t give it most assault I wasn’t going to win something.”

With 4 laps to go, Shedden moved into fifth however nonetheless wanted yet another place given Plato’s lead, quickest lap and better variety of 2015 race wins.

With two laps to go, third-placed Neal backed off to permit Jack Goff and Shedden by means of. Sam Tordoff additionally stole the quickest lap level on the penultimate tour, which means Shedden’s drive from nineteenth to fourth was sufficient to beat Plato to the title by 4 factors.

Shedden’s profitable margin in 2016 was even smaller – two factors – and he needed to come again from a 52-point deficit midway by means of the season, however rival Tordoff simply wasn’t in a position to put up as a lot of a battle within the finale, so 2015 will get the nod right here.

4. 2019 Manufacturers Hatch

Turkington stormed back into contention after race two drama and became champion after Cammish's brakes gave out

Turkington stormed again into rivalry after race two drama and have become champion after Cammish’s brakes gave out

Picture by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Contenders: Dan Cammish, Colin Turkington, Andrew Jordan
Winner: Jason Plato
Champion: Colin Turkington

BMW duo Colin Turkington and Jordan had set the tempo early in 2019 with West Surry Racing’s new 330i M Sport. Sometimes, Turkington’s marketing campaign grew to become considered one of consistency whereas carrying vital success ballast, whereas Jordan banged in additional wins as he strove to get better floor misplaced to a severe shunt at Donington Park.

And in addition within the combine was Dan Cammish, in simply his second BTCC season with the Dynamics Honda squad. A win and a 3rd within the first two Manufacturers races put Cammish forward of Turkington and Jordan, regardless of solely taking two wins to their 5 and 6 respectively. He’d been helped by a controversial conflict between team-mate Neal and Turkington in race two, which had restricted Turkington to twenty fifth and earned Neal a five-place penalty for the finale.

Cammish began eighth and reached sixth simply after one-third distance. A charging Turkington was already ninth however, with Jordan solely fifth, a shock title gave the impression to be heading to the Honda driver.

Remarkably, Turkington saved coming and, on lap 12 of 15, discovered a method by Cammish to take seventh, with Tom Ingram additional demoting the Civic to ninth.

Even Turkington rising to sixth wasn’t sufficient for the BMW ace however on the penultimate lap Cammish’s overheating brakes lastly failed him heading into Hawthorns. The following crash dramatically put the Honda out and handed Turkington his fourth crown by simply two factors from Jordan and Cammish.

“It’s positively been the race of my life,” mentioned Turkington. “There have been some wonderful finals however for me personally, I might by no means replicate that.”

3. 2004 Donington Park

Muller led all the way in the 2004 finale, but third with fastest lap was enough for Thompson to edge to the crown

Muller led all the best way within the 2004 finale, however third with quickest lap was sufficient for Thompson to edge to the crown

Picture by: Jeff Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Contenders: James Thompson, Yvan Muller
Winner: Yvan Muller
Champion: James Thompson

Vauxhall and Triple Eight dominated the early years of the cut-price BTC-T period with the Astra Coupe, its high drivers battling it out for the title. The 2001 conflict between Plato and Yvan Muller might have made this record, however we’ve gone for the Donington decider three years later as a result of there have been extra frontrunners and the championship battle was even tighter.

It was the primary yr of three races per spherical and MG driver Reid had a mathematical likelihood of the crown on the last assembly. However actually it was about James Thompson and Muller, separated by simply 4 factors, each having scored 4 wins.

Thompson was in an uncharacteristically tough temper and received a advantageous and factors on his licence for a giant lunge on Neal’s Honda in race one. He apologised however crucially completed second, with Muller solely seventh after his personal contretemps together with his team-mate.

Muller clawed some floor again in race two, ending second to Thompson’s fifth. That meant the Frenchman was six factors behind heading into the thirtieth and last contest – and had extra success ballast.

In what Autosport known as “one of many tightest, closest battles of the season”, Muller grabbed the lead, with Thompson rising from fifth to 3rd on the opening lap. There have been 15 factors on supply for a win, one for main and one for quickest lap. Solely 10 had been awarded for third, so the future of the crown was on a knife edge all through.

Muller needed to fend off the attentions of Plato’s lighter SEAT, whereas Thompson managed to set quickest lap on the third tour. If anybody apart from Muller took it away from him and the Frenchman stayed the place he was, the duo would end on the identical variety of factors, with Muller taking it on wins countback.

Regardless of a giant effort and slightly contact from Plato, Muller held on to win by 0.291s. However even tighter was the quickest lap level: Plato’s finest was simply 0.021s slower than Thompson’s. The Brit thus took his second BTCC crown by a single level – not many titles are determined by 0.021s!

“That was all the time the sport plan – to take quickest lap,” mentioned a cool Thompson. “Then I simply needed to sit there and hope nobody else went faster.”

“It was a advantageous finish to an thrilling BTCC season,” concluded Autosport.

2. 2009 Manufacturers Hatch

Turkington had to get his elbows out to secure his first BTCC title in 2009

Turkington needed to get his elbows out to safe his first BTCC title in 2009

Picture by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Contenders: Colin Turkington, Fabrizio Giovanardi, Jason Plato
Winner: Jason Plato
Champion: Colin Turkington

The 2009 marketing campaign was one of many nice BTCC seasons. Double champion Fabrizio Giovanardi was aiming for a hat-trick with the Triple Eight Vauxhall squad, Plato grew to become increasingly more of a menace with the RML Chevrolet Lacetti, and Turkington had come of age with the WSR BMW crew.

Turkington, with six wins, arrived at Manufacturers with a 13-point lead over five-time victor Giovanardi, whereas Plato (4 wins) appeared the outsider, one other 15 factors behind. All three confirmed their mettle throughout a fittingly enthralling showdown.

A comparatively tame opening affair was enlivened on the finish as Plato managed to outfox long-time chief Tom Chilton at Clearways, profitable the drag to the road by simply 0.015s. Giovanardi was third, whereas Turkington might solely progress from tenth to eighth.

High 10: Ranking the greatest BTCC champions

Plato did it once more in race two, although this time Turkington made it to 3rd, with Giovanardi between them. “The Italian’s automobile teetered getting ready to adhesion greater than some other – that was how arduous he was pushing,” reported Autosport. “It was breathtaking to look at.”

All this left Turkington 4 factors forward of Giovanardi and Plato solely one other 4 additional again. They began sixth, seventh and eighth respectively for the finale.

Turkington picked his method by means of an eventful opening lap to run second, with Giovanardi third and Plato sixth. Chief Neal tried to carry Turkington as much as assist his Vauxhall team-mate and the BMW needed to get tough, forcing the difficulty at Druids at half-distance.

Giovanardi adopted Turkington by means of after which attacked at Clearways, the duo flirting with catastrophe. Giovanardi received two wheels onto the grass and each had been delayed, permitting a flying Plato to get a run on his rivals. The Chevrolet powered by the Vauxhall after which went across the outdoors of Turkington to brilliantly take the lead. “If anybody wanted proof of this yr’s BTCC being a basic, this was it,” reckoned Autosport.

Whereas Plato headed to a outstanding hat-trick, Turkington needed to be extra sturdy than ordinary to maintain Giovanardi again, the Vauxhall being delayed sufficient to permit Chilton’s Ford into third. “Staying forward of Fabrizio took in all probability one of the best two laps my life,” mentioned Turkington after ending second to take his first title by 5 factors from Plato.

1. 1992 Silverstone

Cleland and Soper's dramatic crash secured the 1992 title for Harvey

Cleland and Soper’s dramatic crash secured the 1992 title for Harvey

Picture by: Motorsport Images

Contenders: John Cleland, Tim Harvey, Will Hoy
Winner: Andy Rouse
Champion: Tim Harvey

Is that this probably the most well-known BTCC race of all? It in all probability did greater than some other to spice up the championship’s profile.

Regardless of a nasty testing crash that left him with a damaged again and sternum, Dave {Cook} Racing Vauxhall’s John Cleland held a slender benefit heading into the finale, however Tim Harvey arrived on the again of 5 consecutive wins together with his Vic Lee Motorsport BMW. Rouse Toyota driver and 1991 champion Will Hoy was additionally in rivalry.

All had troubled qualifying classes, Cleland lining up seventh, Hoy ninth and Harvey twelfth, whereas Andy Rouse scored a spectacular pole, the final of his illustrious BTCC profession.

The primary drama concerned Harvey’s BMW team-mate Steve Soper. Contact with David Leslie’s Ecurie Ecosse Vauxhall at Membership despatched him spinning and he was collected by Robb Gravett’s Peugeot. One way or the other Soper’s shortened 318is was nonetheless cellular and he charged again into the race to start out a outstanding restoration drive.

Though Hoy had brilliantly jumped to fourth, Cleland remained the title favorite as he battled Harvey. However Soper was quickly closing on all three.

With two laps to go, lower than 3s coated the highest seven, with Hoy main Harvey and Cleland. That may have been sufficient to present Cleland the crown, however then Harvey barged previous Hoy at Copse, sending the Toyota extensive.

Cleland and Soper glided by the Toyota and Harvey, earlier than Soper’s ABS-equipped BMW dived by the Vauxhall at Membership. Whereas Cleland confirmed his disapproval, Harvey overtook him at Bridge, with Soper instantly permitting his team-mate by means of. Now Harvey was set to take the crown.

At Brooklands, Cleland launched the Vauxhall down the within of Soper, going up on two wheels. Soper retaliated by attacking the Cavalier into Luffield, hitting Cleland within the door – and the duo disappeared into the gravel collectively. Cue the notorious, “The person’s an animal,” line from Cleland.

The famous crash made for the ultimate dramatic conclusion to a season full of intrigue

The well-known crash made for the final word dramatic conclusion to a season filled with intrigue

Picture by: Sutton Photos

Harvey raced on to fourth, with Hoy fifth. That was sufficient for the BMW driver to take the crown by three factors – and for Hoy to grab second from Cleland.

“Nobody might have scripted a extra dramatic end,” mentioned Autosport, which additionally plastered the conflict throughout its cowl. “It had been a mighty spectacular race, however slightly too bodily.”

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

Up on the entrance, the race underlined how shut competitors beneath the two-litre rules was as Rouse pipped Allam by 0.1s for his last BTCC victory, with Leslie solely 0.72s behind the winner.

Toyota driver Rouse was the almost forgotten winner of the most famous BTCC title decider of them all

Toyota driver Rouse was the just about forgotten winner of probably the most well-known BTCC title decider of all of them

Picture by: Motorsport Images



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