2017 was one of the most competitive in the series’ history
(Photo from: www.btcc.net)
After a fantastic year of racing in the British Touring Car Championship, it is time to look at the best 10 drivers of the 2017 season. Of course championship positioning will play a key role in determining the top 10 but also any standout performances throughout the season as well as drivers who outperformed what was expected of them this season.
10: Rob Austin
We will kick off the top 10 countdown with Round 30 winner Rob Austin who for me showed real signs of improvement this season in many areas. We all know how quick Austin is behind the wheel and how committed he is to getting a car going as quickly as it can possibly go. However this season I felt we all saw a much more rounded Austin, who was able to channel his commitment into much more rounded drives.
Consistency throughout the year was Austin’s strongpoint, however a mid season blip really halted his season charge. His and Handy Motorsport’s hard work throughout the year was rewarded though at the final round of the season where he won the team’s first BTCC win and in doing so, won in their Toyota Avensis’ final outing before switching to an Alfa Romeo for 2018.
Austin will be hoping that his fine form continues heading into 2018.
9: Michael Epps
Now I know Epps finished down in 17th in the standings, but that should not take away anything from the fact that Epps has been a very competent racer this season, notching up 9 top 10 results, three of which came at the opening weekend at the Brands Hatch Indi circuit.
Throughout the season you could see the improvements in Epps’ driving compared to his debut season in 2018. His speed was evident after the opening three races however consistency was where he has struggled at parts in the early stages of the year. As 2017 drew to a close though, the consistency developed as Epps only finished outside the points once in the final six rounds of the season.
In addition to this, Epps was the highest placed Team HARD driver, which is no mean feat in a team with Jake Hill and Will Burns partnering.
8: Andrew Jordan
Andrew Jordan may have expected more going into this season when he was swiftly announced at WSR at the end of 2016. The 2013 Champion knew he was joining one of the best teams on the grid and wanted to show the paddock that he still had championship fight in him, following his independents championship win with Motorbase in 2016.
Despite his bullish winter mood, Jordan would always face an uphill struggle getting used to rear wheel drive and with Colin Turkington and Rob Collard as teammates, he was always going to be compared to them, two of the best rear wheel drive touring cars for decades.
However Jordan was up to speed quickly and won the third round of the season at Brands Hatch with his second win coming at the opening round at Oulton Park. Jordan would win again once more at Rockingham in what has been a year of learning for the Pirtek BMW driver. Jordan will be hoping to continue to improve over the winter going into 2018 and his second season with WSR.
7: Rob Collard
Jordan’s teammate Rob Collard is seventh on my list for his continued class in the WSR BMW. For the second successive season, Collard finished fifth in the standings and for most of the season, he was in contention to take his maiden BTCC crown, as he fought for the points lead with the other front runners.
Once more Collard’s weakness is his qualifying performances though he more than makes up for it with his race craft as he sliced his way through the field race after race. Like many championship contenders, Collard’s championship was all about consistency, having only finished outside the points once before his first retirement of the season at Rockingham. Collard’s consistency could also be highlighted as he only won once during the season, despite his strong points haul.
Hoping to bounce back from those Rockingham disappointments at Silverstone, Collard was racing well before a violent accident involving Will Burns meant he would take no further part in the weekend’s running and was then deemed unfit to race after suffering from the effects of the concussion he sustained. Collard will hope he his up the front once more in 2018.
6: Aiden Moffat
You may consider this a surprise inclusion, let along being in the dizzying heights of sixth in my list of best drivers of 2017 and you may well be right. Moffat’s 2017 in many ways was not as good as the Moffat we saw in 2016, there were more retirements and less points on the board however overall as a driver, the young Scotsman has developed tremendously in 2017.
Throughout the year Moffat showed some signs of sheer class, taking a dominant maiden victory in tricky conditions at Donington Park a highlight of Moffat’s early season form, which was repeated at the first race at Brands Hatch on Sunday.
A string of points finishes between his maiden win and Oulton Park was also a peak in Moffat’s season, however a mid season plateau was a small dent on a excellent season for the Scott, though he will want to iron out those inconsistencies and turn points finishes into regular top 10s.
Moffat will be hoping he can take the form he showed at Brands Hatch through the winter and into 2018.