It’s been said before, and it’ll no doubt be said again – to win in a closely contested series such as the BTCC, you need to consistently score well, and you need one or two moments of sheer good luck.

In what has been a bruising year of racing (and there are still six rounds left to go), Colin Turkington and Team BMW have steadfastly raced into the position that they are now in; title favourites and championship leaders, with a 43-point advantage over nearest rival, Tom Ingram in the Speedworks Toyota.

The exclusions of Ingram and Ash Sutton from Race 2 at Knockhill could not have dealt bigger blows to the title rivals, but equally, they’ve handed the West Surrey Racing man the one piece of luck he might just need as he heads towards his third touring car crown.

Turkington has rarely been able to boast the fastest car in 2018. Being laden with (for the most part) 75kg of success ballast is never going to help, despite the prolific amount of weighted-testing that most teams now undertake. Yet so far this season, he has still to take an outright pole-position. Neither has the Northern Irishman scored the most wins. Indeed, up to now, he has only one (Oulton Park); whereas Ingram has two, and reigning champion Sutton five! But then look at the number of visits to the podium (including wins), and the evidence pointing to the success of Turkington’s campaign starts to emerge. He’s collected silverware on nine out of twenty four occasions, compared to seven each for Ingram and Sutton. Look more closely still and you will see sixteen top-six finishes to Turkington’s name; Ingram has eleven, and Sutton just nine.

You don’t need to win to win the BTCC, but you do need to know how to.

    • Ash Sutton drove like the champion he is to win his fifth race of the season; but a solid points haul from all three races saw the fully ballasted, current championship leader, Colin Turkington, significantly extend the gap to the chasing pack, with just six races now left to go.

    • Tom Ingram knew that this was going to be a difficult weekend for the front wheel drive Toyota but little would the Speedworks man have imagined that his title ambitions would be black-flagged for a ride-height infringement after a storming Race 2 drive to the podium. For Stephen Jelley, P2 in qualifying ought to have translated into his first BTCC silverware since winning at Rockingham nine years ago, but contact with former teammate, Colin Turkington, resulted in the Team Parker Racing car being fired into the gravel and out of contention.

    • The Race 2 exclusion of Ash Sutton and Tom Ingram saw Andrew Jordan elevated to his first win of the year. It also meant that Motorbase’s Tom Chilton took ‘reverse grid’ pole position (from Colin Turkington), which he duly converted into his first BTCC win since leaving to join the World Touring Car Championship in 2012.

    • Dan Cammish managed to achieve what few thought possible; to out-pace, in qualifying, the shorter wheelbase, rear wheel drive BMWs to deliver his first BTCC pole position. It was a remarkable feat, especially considering that the average qualifying place of Gordon Shedden (the man he replaced at Halfords Yuasa Racing) during the last five years (2013-2017), was just P7, and that Shedden’s best during this period was P4.

      Sadly he couldn’t deliver his first touring car win, but two podiums were still a welcome result as teammate, Matt Neal, saw his title hopes dashed after scoring just a single point from all three races.

    • The rain in Spain might fall mainly on the plain, but at Knockhill, race day was simply wet, wet, wet.

    • Once again, the BARC marshals were in the thick of the action, dealing with incidents on the track and consoling off-it.

    • When you’re named after one of motor racing’s all-time greats, you’re going to want to live-up to it. Ayrton Simmons didn’t disappoint with his fourth victory of the year in British F4. Meanwhile, Senna Proctor, already a race winner in the BTCC, showed that he’s just as adept to off-roading as he is on-track.

    • There was a BTCC debut for Carl Boardley, recruited to fill Michael Caine’s vacant Team Hard seat. Teammate, Mike Bushell, wasn’t able to repeat the form shown at Rockingham, but it certainly wasn’t down to a lack of trying.

    • There were important steps forward for two driven young racers: Glynn Geddie, already a British GT champion, scored his first Knockhill BTCC points (also his first since re-joining the championship), whilst Josh Cook, a two-time touring car winner in 2018, raced to another podium, and points-a-plenty as he seeks to secure the backing to take his career forward.

    • One team; same car; two champions; two very different stories:

      Ash Sutton started the year with an out-of-sorts car that could barely propel him into the midfield. After Oulton Park (12 races), the reigning champion languished in 13th place, with less than half the points of the then championship leader, Colin Turkington: Jason Plato was plumb last and pointless. Then, at Croft (rounds 13-15), the season came alive (for Sutton, at least). He’s now this season’s most-winning driver (5), and from the last four meetings has out-scored the rest of the grid, including title-favourite, Colin Turkington (by 15 points). Plato, on the other hand, has managed just a single podium and only three other points finishes. He sits in 26th place; Sutton is 3rd and racing harder than ever to defend his crown. Enough said.

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Images: Steve Hindle (The Black Stuff) and Mike Hills (Hills Speed Images).