The thrill ride that is Thruxton will be the scene of the next BTCC instalment as Rounds 7, 8 and 9 take place at the hugely popular Hampshire venue next weekend (18/19 May).
Josh Cook, Andrew Jordan, Rory Butcher and Tom Ingram have all claimed a win apiece so far as the early title picture continues to take shape, whilst reigning champion Colin Turkington is the only man to score two victories after his Donington Park double last time out.
A big crowd is expected to descend on Thruxton for its packed bill of racing in the middle of May with advanced tickets still on sale, whilst many more will watch the exciting action unfold live on ITV4.
Sutton sits atop early standings
Despite the aforementioned race winners, it is Adrian Flux Subaru Racing’s Ash Sutton who is currently leading the overall standings.
The championship order will make for further encouraging reading for the 2017 champion when you consider his BMR-run Subaru squad usually makes a slower start to proceedings in the BTCC. The talented young gun was outside the top ten at this early stage of his title winning campaign, with the attributes of the Subaru Levorg often suiting certain circuits later in the calendar.
“It’s great to be leading the standings and quite unexpected to be honest," said Sutton. "I am sure it’s going to be challenging with maximum success ballast on board. One slight error at Thruxton can lose you momentum, and before you know it you’ve got three cars steaming up behind you.
“The track is fantastic! It’s the fastest circuit in the UK and as a driver it is a roller-coaster ride, you are white knuckled. It’s one of those tracks where you do a lap and think ‘right, now breathe’, and then you are straight back into another one.
"You are just constantly on edge and the heart rate is racing, so it great for fans and drivers alike.”
Three podiums for Sutton tells only part of the story in what has been a dramatic start to the 2019 BTCC season.
Josh Cook (BTC Racing), Andrew Jordan (BMW Pirtek Racing) and Rory Butcher (Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance) shared the spoils in changing conditions at Brands Hatch, before Team BMW's Colin Turkington claimed a double success and Tom Ingram – last year's runner-up – took the first win for the new manufacturer-backed Toyota Corolla at Donington Park.
Just six points separates the top five drivers in the current standings, but many more still harbour hopes of winning the most coveted prize in British motorsport in 2019.
Hampshire man Rob Collard will be banking on home support when the series roars into Thruxton next weekend and the BTCC veteran arrives at his local track in good form.
Collard has switched to the Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall for 2019 after several seasons driving a rear-wheel-drive BMW. The multiple race winner has adapted well, scoring a second place finish during the final race at Donington Park last month.
“I was very, very pleased to get my first podium for Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing and Vauxhall,” said Collard. “A lot of people wrote me off over the winter, and I was pleased to prove to the team and everybody that I’m still here and in-amongst it! It’s all looking very positive going in to Thruxton.”
Bath racer Josh Cook also regards Thruxton as his home patch and the BTC Racing driver has made his best ever start to a BTCC season with a victory and further podium from the first two events. Cook currently sits second in the overall standings, just three points off the championship summit.
“Thruxton is my home circuit and I love the place,” he said. “Obviously I had a good meeting there last year, so as always I’m hoping for good things. We will be looking at the championship, however, and we are after another solid points haul like we had at Donington.
“You can’t go into a weekend with any preconceived ideas. If you go there hoping to get what you had the year before then it never goes that way.
“Last year was good for me – to take a win there – but like I said we are here for the long game and I just need to make sure that we keep working on the car. It’s a long season, we are getting to grips with the car but there is an awful lot to learn.”
“It should be a great weekend. I think the first complex is a really good place to watch for fans, it’s an enjoyable part of the circuit. But my favourite corner is probably between Noble and Goodwood, which are really really fast corners. Church is great fun too but I actulally think you need to be braver at Noble and Goodwood.”