Last week marked the final news of driver announcements that makes up a 29-car grid for 2021 – hear our BTCC writers’ thoughts on it all.
The 64th season of the British Touring Car Championship will play out to a fight for the top spot in the standings like it has always been.
Even if the opening round at Thruxton is a while away in May, we thought best to give our general views after the end of anticipating driver announcements.
What are your general thoughts on the BTCC grid this year?
Now that all 29 drivers have been announced for 2021, the grid looks shaped up to be incredibly competitive and close all season long. BTCC veterans Jason Plato and Gordon Shedden returning to the series will no doubt give the younger drivers a run for their money, which will add another layer of competitiveness at the front of the grid. I think Colin Turkington will be eager to bounce back from missing out on the title last year and will enter 2021 looking to be faster than ever.
One of the most exciting prospects of this season is going to be Ashley Sutton’s title
defence. Although Dan Cammish isn’t there to push Sutton to his limits like he did last year, Colin Turkington with his ever-consistent BMW team behind him will make sure the young Brit doesn’t have it easy. I also believe that the presence of Team HARD’s new Cupra entry is one of the most positively received car releases in years, the car itself and its drivers Taylor-Smith, Jack Goff and Glynn Geddie are anticipated to be a genuine title threat to Sutton this year.
I’m quite excited at the prospect of a 29-driver grid. The BTCC has always been a competitive championship, if not a little too much like in 2018. But here, we have highly-rated and talented drivers who each fight their own narrative in this year’s campaign. Jason Plato makes his return as he is not only going to make his 600th BTCC race start in Thruxton, but is chasing his 100th victory. There are other notable returnees of which I am pleased to see back on the grid like three-time champion Gordon Shedden. This season’s title fight will be a fantastic follow.
Are there any particular drivers to look out for this season?
In 2021, I believe Ash Sutton is the one to watch. Coming off the back of a championship winning season will breed confidence into the Laser Tools Racing Driver. The Infiniti Q50 in 2020 was arguably not a car that was capable of winning the title, but Sutton proved us wrong and this year he can only get stronger in the car. Keep an eye out for BTCC newcomer Rick Parfitt Jr, who enters the championship after taking a year out of racing in 2020, but will no doubt have the pace in his Hyundai.
The returning Jason Plato is going to be a strong force in the 2021 BTCC campaign, after missing the 2020 season due to team budgets, he is going to want to push right back to the front where he rightfully belongs. Taylor-Smith driving for Team HARD in the new Cupra will be very competitive out of the blocks especially following his successful season in British GT Racing. His teammate Jack Goff is also a hot topic in BTCC right now and will definitely have his sights set on that driver’s title.
My eye is on Tom Ingram who made the move from a seven-year journey with the Speedworks Motorsport outfit he debuted in 2013. He really showed the potential of the Corolla, but more importantly his own spirited ability to mix among the last two title fights. With three other teammates to contend with, what can he do in that Hyundai package? Jade Edwards is another of my notable drivers as I’m excited to see what she can do in her maiden full-time campaign. She debuted strongly at Silverstone last year and now a more competent Civic Type R FK8 package is ready and waiting for her to take on the Jack Sears Trophy.
Dan Cammish’s departure from the BTCC was a notable event in the driver market narrative. What are your thoughts on it?
There was a point at the beginning of 2021 where everyone thought a Dan Cammish deal with Team Dynamics was signed and sealed, so when his announcement came that he would not be racing with the team this year, the BTCC world was left shaken. The 31-year-old was arguably one of the strongest drivers on the grid in 2020, ending the season third in the championship, just 16 points off the top spot. Cammish’s absence on the grid will no doubt be a miss in 2021, but with his return to the Porsche Carrera Cup GB, I’m sure we’ll see him fighting at the front in that series too.
Having Dan Cammish out of a drive is a massive loss for the sport and fans alike. The thirty-one-year-old has only been in the championship for two years, however he is one of the most influential drivers in the last decade. He managed to win the Jack Sears Trophy in his debut season and was able to rack up 8 wins and 3 pole positions in his two years if competition. Cammish will undoubtedly be looking for a competitive drive for the 2022 campaign and the sport will truly miss out in seeing a true racing talent doing what he does best if he isn’t snapped up by a constructor next year.
The news was quite a shock to be honest. It hit me that the BTCC, an ultra-competitive championship (as you can probably tell), just lost one of their potential future champions. As Connor highlights, he made a strong entry into the campaign that led to consistent performances in all his three years. Even if I’m keen to see what Dan Rowbottom can do, teams must not get carried away with attractive sponsorships and financial sums that effectively invite certain drivers into a seat – almost like a paid driver situation. I look forward to seeing Dan battle it out in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB, though I further anticipate him returning to the BTCC in the near future.