What is the old phrase? A little knowledge is a dangerous thing? Well, that is certainly the case going into the new British Touring Car Championship season.
I have nailed my colours to the mast and picked Andrew Jordan as my tip for the year. He is a former champion, he is driving the well-engineered WSR BMW 125i M Sport and he now has a season’s knowledge of rear-wheel-drive under his belt.
Sure, he is up against super-consistent team-mate Colin Turkington, but if Jordan can beat the Northern Irishman, then he is likely to end up on top of the overall points table anyway.
There are a few bookmakers who are offering odds on the BTCC title chase in 2018, and Betway is one of them. Others are even offering odds on a round-by-round basis. This is the point where that modicum of knowledge you have could be put to some use.
Betway’s Alan Alger, said: “Ashley Sutton took the title for the first time in 2017 and the [Team BMR] Subaru driver looks in pole position at 3/1 to retain his title in 2018. He beat Turkington by 21 points last season and Turkington is our second favourite at 5/1 to win his third British Touring Car championship.
“[Team Dynamics Honda Civic driver] Matt Neal, who endured a disappointing 2017 campaign, is next in the betting at 8/1. He is ahead of a number of others including last season’s third placed driver, Tom Ingram [Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis] at 12/1.”
I have taken a punt on Jordan at 20/1 for the crown – and Betway has priced every driver on the grid. But you know the BTCC: nothing is quite as it seems.
Last season, there were 13 different winners over the course of the season. This year, we go to the opening round at Brands Hatch on Sunday with 15 former race winners in the line-up. How much more unpredictable do you want it?
We asked ITV4’s Tim Harvey, the 1992 BTCC champion, whether the multiple number of race winners means it is now too easy to win in the tin-top series.
“It is harder to win the championship, but it might be easier to win races,” said Harvey. “To win the title is as hard, if not harder than ever, because there are so many people now that can score well in each race.
“In days gone by, there would only be three or four who were at the front and they would sort it out. You can have a horrendous weekend, not your fault at all, and because there are so many other people doing so well, you can be out of it.”
But his ITV4 co-commentator David Addison adds another very valid opinion: “The title is hard to win, but I don’t think you could go back through the champions in recent history and say there was a champion who didn’t deserve it. The cream will rise to the top.”
There is considerable jeopardy in putting your hand in your pocket. With so many drivers at the sharp end, it can be factors outside of an individual competitor’s control which can determine the destiny of their season.
We will know a lot of answers at the end of the 30-race season at Brands Hatch on September 30.