To quote Murray Walker (not for the first time and certainly not for the last), anything can happen in grand prix racing, and it usually does.
The unrivalled voice of motorsport may have said that about Formula 1, but this classic Murrayism was, is and probably always will be more pertinent to the other arena that his ‘trousers on fire’ commentary is most associated with: the British Touring Car Championship. And it hits the nail smack on the head for the 2020 season finale, which will play out this weekend at Brands Hatch.
Colin Turkington is bidding to surpass the BTCC title record he shares with Andy Rouse by winning his fifth crown, and the BMW 3 Series ace holds a nine point lead over main rival Ash Sutton in his Infiniti Q50. Dan Cammish lies 16 points further back in his Honda Civic, with Toyota Corolla driver Tom Ingram another nine behind. But with 20 points available for a win and three intense races to be run, it’s all to play for.
As Turkington has been quick to point out, he was eight points down on Cammish heading into the final race this time last year yet emerged as champion when the Honda suffered a devastating brake failure with just two laps of the season to go. Hence my Murray plagiarism.
Who will get lucky?
Turkington is the most complete driver in today’s BTCC and one who would have shone in any era, including the Super Touring halcyon years of the 1990s. He’s also driving the best car and, at West Surrey Racing, with its factory BMW UK support, indubitably in the number-one team. But the beauty of the BTCC is just how competitive the series remains, thanks to cleverly devised technical regulations and success ballast that thwarts one team or driver dominating at every round.
Sutton, champion in 2017, has bounced back to the sharp end this year in what is an unlikely contender, given Infiniti’s withdrawal from the European car market. The 26-year-old has won four races to Turkington’s five and led the standings until the previous rounds at Snetterton. But form yo-yos from week to week in the BTCC: Turkington uncharacteristically crashed out twice at Croft but then won a brace at the Norfolk circuit and finished third in the reversed-grid race to claim back a lead he had held earlier in the season. As was the case last year, luck is likely to be the defining factor that decides who will be crowned this Sunday.
As for Cammish, what a story it would be if he can prevail, following his heartbreak last season. No one would rule him out, least of all Turkington. The only thing missing, of course, will be the ever-enthusiastic crowds that have been kept away from the intense nine-weekend BTCC season since it belatedly began in August, due to the pandemic. Still, it’s a relief that the meeting will happen at all during the lockdown, and the excellent wall-to-wall ITV4 coverage will ensure that not a drop of drama is missed. To again paraphrase Murray (I shall have to start paying him at this rate), you will be able to cut the tension with a cricket stump.