The whole point of the BTCC is to deliver a spectacle of motor sport unlike any other; closely harmonised regulations, world class driving talent and mostly short & tight circuits, all combined to pitch cars into packs in a hard, sometimes brutal fight for the line… only nobody seems to have sent the memo to BMW.
Recent years have seen record numbers of teams and drivers competing for honours and often, half-term reports (such as this one) would most likely focus on the battles ahead and the opportunities to be won. This time it’s different.
The roll-call is, if anything, more impressive than ever, yet the statistics tell a singularly brutal truth: The new BMW 330i M Sport of West Surrey Racing has won nine times from the fifteen starts, or put very simply, it has won 60% of the races held thus far.
There’s no single reason behind this success but rather a culmination of years of effort and investment by both the German marque and Dick Bennetts’ squad, firstly in developing then refining the previous 1-Series model, and then skilfully adapting the new 3-Series to allow this knowledge to be transferred over. In particular, the exceptional performance and handling with added ballast, and the surety of grip from the Dunlop tyres has allowed both Colin Turkington and Andrew Jordan to deliver commanding performances for race, after race, after race.
It was after the opening rounds at Brands Hatch that I remarked “..from what I’ve seen from testing and this past weekend, I’ll already happily say that this car could well prove to be the greatest of the NGTC era, ready to usurp Honda’s exceptional FK2 Civic Type R.” And after Donington, I added “..Turkington is in his element, and the new BMW 330i M Sport looks set to be a most capable of partners. There will be challenges ahead but I have no hesitation in predicting that this could very easily become one of the finest touring car combinations ever.” I stand by each and every word.
Here are twenty of our favourite images featuring our top-rated drivers, teams and cars from the first half of the 2019 BTCC season.
* * *Images: Steve Hindle (The Black Stuff) and Pete Walker (PAW Photography)..