The 2013 British Touring Car Championship has seen the introduction of a new trophy for those drivers who are competing in the older S2000 specification machinery.
With the Next Generation Touring Car regulations the main force on the grid for 2013, the series organisers have created the Jack Sears Trophy for anyone entering an S2000 car.
After the opening six races of the 2013 season, four drivers out of the six entered have won the class with two drivers having been victorious more than once.
Five different types of car are represented on the grid with Motorbase Performance and Welch Motorsport entering Ford Focus ST’s, AmDTuning.com running their Volkswagen Golf Mk5, Wheel Heaven/Houseman Racing running a Vauxhall Vectra, Team BMR Restart running a SEAT Leon and M247 Racing running a Chevrolet Cruze.
Brands Hatch saw James Kaye in the Golf secure the first ever Jack Sears Trophy victory before Liam Griffin secured top spot in the Addison Lee Motorbase Focus in rounds 2 and 3.
Donington Park saw Kaye repeat his Brands Hatch victory before Lea Wood in the Vectra and Joe Girling in the Chevrolet open their accounts in the second and third races of the weekend.
The only drivers yet to win in the class are two debutants to the BTCC in 2013; former bike racer Warren Scott in the SEAT Leon and former SEAT racer David Nye in the second Focus.
Looking back over the opening six races, TouringCars.net reviews each driver’s performance and the likely inaugural Jack Sears Trophy winner.
James Kaye – AmD Tuning.com, Volkswagen Golf:
Kaye has secured 2 wins to date in the class and could have had more if it hadn’t been for unforeseen incidents and problems out of his control.
The Isle of Wight based racer has an outright podium finish to his name – he finished 3rd in the opening race at Oulton Park in 2006 – and is the most experienced racer out of the six entrants.
2013 marks his first full BTCC campaign since 2006 and hasn’t shown any signs of rustiness thus far and has finished as the top S2000 runner in qualifying at both Brands Hatch and Donington Park.
As the season progresses, he is likely to get stronger and stronger and will be one of the favourites to capture the crown come Brands Hatch in October.
Liam Griffin – Addison Lee Motorbase, Ford Focus:
Griffin is in his third season with Motorbase Performance and in the Focus and openly admits that the BTCC is the only place he saw himself racing.
After a difficult couple of seasons where he got involved in a number of incidents, the 2013 campaign has seen him stay out of trouble and been consistent and his first visit to the podium at Brands Hatch proved that he will be a force in the class.
Donington Park was a tough weekend for him but with circuits coming up which the Focus has been strong at before – the car has won at Thruxton, Oulton Park, Croft, Snetterton, Silverstone and Brands Hatch, he will fancy his chances as the season progresses.
Lea Wood – Wheel Heaven/Houseman Racing, Vauxhall Vectra
Out of the six entrants for the Jack Sears Trophy, Wood was the one most likely to move into an NGTC car for 2013 but after his plans fell through; he decided to remain in the proven Vectra for his second full BTCC campaign.
He took his maiden class win at Brands Hatch before being excluded for a Ride Height infringement but made amends at Donington Park as he took his first win in the second race.
Wood has run strongly in the car previously – he was on for a podium at Snetterton last year before his gearbox gave up and he was putting the NGTC BMW 125i of Nick Foster under pressure at Donington Park.
The Vectra is a proven car at all the circuits and will give Wood a good platform to progress as the season progresses and is a good bet for causing a major upset at some stage in the season.
Joe Girling – M247 Racing, Chevrolet Cruze
Girling is in his debut year of the BTCC and early signs show him to have a bright future after he took his maiden class victory in the final race at Donington Park.
He didn’t get to show his abilities at Brands Hatch as the Chevrolet Cruze had problems on race day and thus he could only take to the grid in the final race of the day but he made up for this at Donington Park.
He finished third in class in the opening race at Donington Park before taking the victory in the final race of the day – in the three races he has finished, he has finished inside the top three in all three races.
As he and the team gain more experience of the car and of the BTCC, he’ll become a regular thorn in the side of Kaye, Griffin and Wood and a threat for an outright top 15 finish if things go his way. He has a bright future in the BTCC.
Warren Scott – Team BMR Restart, SEAT Leon:
Scott has made his debut in the BTCC at the wheel of a SEAT Leon having moved across from bike racing and has already broken into the outright top 15.
He is yet to visit the podium in the Jack Sears Trophy but has finished inside the top 3 on two occasions and will only get quicker as he gets more experience in the car and in the series.
He has a proven car as the SEAT Leon is a race winner in the BTC and S2000 regulations era and he will be popular with the SEAT supporters, who didn’t have a driver to support in 2012.
He will finish on top of the Jack Sears Field at some stage during the season but ultimately will end up with mixing it with the others.
David Nye – Welch Motorsport with Sopp and Sopp, Ford Focus ST:
Nye is the oldest driver on the grid in 2013 and is living the dream of being able to compete in the BTCC. He joined the same team which ran him in other categories.
He knows the circuits having raced in the SEAT Cupra cup which used to support the BTCC until SEAT pulled the plug on their UK racing activities. He also has experience of racing overseas.
He has already secured a top three finish in class and as he and the team get to grips with the car, he will move forwards and could break into the outright top 15 as the season progresses.
Each of the six entrants in the Jack Sears Trophy have an equal chance of finishing the season on top of the pile, and if the season so far is anything to go by, it’ll be as unpredictable as the overall Championship – and the fight for the title could go to the final race of the season.
Trying to predict who will eventually come out on top at the end of the season is as impossible as predicting the overall Champion but one driver appears to have a slight advantage over the others – so the TCN prediction for the 2013 Jack Sears Trophy is Liam Griffin.
Rounds 7, 8 and 9 of the season take place at Thruxton over the 4th/5th May and the Jack Sears Trophy will be as fiercely contested there as it has been at Brands Hatch and Donington Park.