You could be forgiven for thinking that the British Touring Car Championship is a level playing field, with all cars built to the same NGTC regulations and the difference being made by the resources at each team’s disposal and the driver it puts behind the wheel.
And while on paper that’s how it’s supposed to be, do you really think manufacturers such as BMW, Honda and Subaru would compete in the championship if they didn’t believe they could beat the non-works teams?
The regulations state that teams can either lease one of TOCA’s unbranded NGTC-spec engines or develop their own, but those who run a works (i.e. manufacturer-backed) engine naturally have more scope to optimise its performance.
So it should come as no surprise to find the standings dominated by the manufacturers, but that hasn’t stopped two independent drivers – Tom Ingram (Speedworks Motorsport) and Jack Goff (Eurotech Racing) – from showing up the better-funded teams when the opportunity arises.
And last Sunday, during the series’ penultimate round at Silverstone, the opportunities were ripe for the picking.
The weekend started with Goff beating Ingram to pole by a scarcely believable 0.001 seconds, heading a competitive field where the top 22 cars were separated by less than half a second.
Ingram took the lead from Goff in race one, romping home to secure his fourth win of the season, while Goff returned the favour in race two securing the first win for Eurotech since Jeff Smith took over the team. Both drivers finished the weekend with a hoard of points (1st, 2nd and 4th for Ingram, and a 2nd, 1st and 9th for Goff), with the Eurotech Honda Type-R outscoring the works cars of Neal and Shedden despite carrying 66kg of ballast in race two.
These results are all the more impressive when you consider the team’s financial constraints. Rubbing is racing, especially in the BTCC, but for many drivers the damage they incur in a race could spell the end of their season, so those working to a tight budget must choose their battles carefully.
The title race is set for its showdown at the next round (Brands Hatch on 30 September/1 October), where Ash Sutton (Adrian Flux Subaru) and Colin Turkington (Team BMW) will compete for the overall crown, but in many ways the real action will be further down the field as Ingram and Goff settle the Independents title and their fellow competitors provide a fitting send-off to another vintage season. Don’t miss it.
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