The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship reaches the business end of the season this weekend (26/27 August) with rounds 22, 23 and 24 taking place at Rockingham.
In what has been a frenetic campaign so far, just nine races remain with a maximum of 201 points still up for grabs. Often a pivotal stop on the calendar, a championship protagonists title charge can be ended or intensified at the popular oval circuit – a point that has been proved in years gone by.
Team BMW’s Colin Turkington sits in prime position heading to the Corby circuit after a trio of podium finishes at Knockhill sent him to the top of the standings. Consistency has been at the core of the double champion’s surge towards the summit and he will need to continue that this weekend if he is to maintain his push for a third title – especially carrying 75kgs of success ballast.
Many eyes have been fixed on the man flying the flag for Team BMR, Ashley Sutton. From non-scoring at the season-opener, the 23-year-old has emerged as a juggernaut in his Subaru Levorg, taking five wins and countless podiums to sit four points off the top.
Proving to be cool, calm and ruthless up to now, Sutton is well in the mix and has shown no signs of letting up in recent events.
Defending champion Gordon Shedden heads to the eighth event of the year the lightest he has been in four months after dropping to third. The Halfords Yuasa Racing driver is still in the running for a fourth title but will need big points to keep up hi charge.
The same can be said for Rob Collard who saw his run of podiums come to an end at Knockhill. The BMW driver sits fourth overall and will be keen to get his title assault back on track.
Whilst many now believe the battle for the title is down to the top four, nobody can be counted out in the BTCC until it is mathematically impossible. Tom Ingram took victory in race three at Knockhill and heads to Rockingham confident that his Toyota Avensis will be on the pace.
Triple champion Matt Neal meanwhile has endured a rocky few rounds but is still one to watch, likewise for Andrew Jordan and Mat Jackson.
Jason Plato is back in the top ten after enjoying a triumphant return to the sharp end of the grid north of the border. Enduring a tough four months battling car issues, Plato stormed to pole position and then onto a 96th career victory at Knockhill. With his tail now firmly in the air, expect him to be in the mix again as he eyes ore silverware whilst also aiding Sutton’s title pursuit.
So far there have been ten different drivers that have graced the top step of the podium; however there are several notable names that will be keen to add themselves to the list of winners.
Rob Austin, Jack Goff, Josh Cook, Adam Morgan, Tom Chilton, James Cole and Dave Newsham are just a few of the drivers that have starred at some stage during the 2017 campaign but are yet to take the chequered flag first.
With three high-octane, 16 lap races awaiting the 32-car strong field this weekend, this latest chapter in the season will be vital as drivers fight to stamp their authority on the title battle.
For those attending Rockingham this weekend, important spectator information surrounding the Turn One grandstand can be found here.