A look back on the statistics at the half way point of the 2012 British Touring Car Championship, a week before the season kicks off again at Snetterton next weekend. Some are certainly quite surprising.
Firstly, a simple points table showing the visual distance between the drivers in the championship.
Matt Neal has an almost non-existent lead over team-mate Gordon Shedden, with Jason Plato close behind in third.
There’s a tight battle for fourth at the moment between Andrew Jordan (Eurotech Racing) and Rob Collard (West Surrey Racing), with Mat Jackson (Motorbase Performance) having dropped behind and is now under-threat from Tom Onslow-Cole in what could be considered a four car battle for fourth.
Team ES Racing’s Dave Newsham leads the next highly competitive group, just ahead of Frank Wrathall (Dynojet), Jeff Smith (Eurotech), Nick Foster (WSR) and the three-way tie of Tony Gilham (Team HARD), Lea Wood (Team Wood Racing) and Rob Austin (Rob Austin Racing).
Next, a look at the top three battle in the overall drivers’ standings.
The top three championship battle shows how held back Honda’s Gordon Shedden was by his terrible opening weekend at Brands Hatch, suffering with technical glitches with the new Honda, whilst Jason Plato and Matt Neal have been scoring consistently at least in the first four weekends of the season.
A slight drop off in points from Jason Plato from Oulton Park onwards has seen the 2001 and 2010 champion fall a little behind the Honda pair just before the break.
Now looking at the top three in the independents’ trophy…
The independents’ top three battle is almost as close as the overall championship. Andrew Jordan was particularly strong in the first few rounds, pulling out a slight lead whilst Rob Collard and Mat Jackson constantly swapped second place in the standings for some time.
Collard’s been scoring well since Oulton Park and has matched Jordan at the front of the trophy, whilst a disastrous pair of race weekends for Jackson has seen him drop behind.
Now looking at how well the drivers qualify…
Andrew Jordan and Jason Plato are the masters of the grid spots, both averaging third on the grid. That makes Jordan the top qualifying Honda driver, whilst Rob Collard’s average position of 4.6 makes him the top S2000 runner, which has kept the West Surrey Racing driver right in the lead battle at the start of most races in rear-wheel drive BMW.
A disastrous qualifying session at Thruxton for the Team Dynamics Honda pair, where they qualified 18th and 19th keeps the average of Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal down.
In total victories, Gordon Shedden leads the way with six ahead of team-mate Matt Neal.
With 10 wins between them, the Honda pair have taken a full two-thirds of the wins available in the first half of the season. Mat Jackson and Jason Plato are matched on two wins each, whilst Rob Collard has a victory on the table from the opening round of the Championship at Brands Hatch.
On pole positions, Jason Plato has the edge with two so far.
Matt Neal took the works Honda team’s first at Croft, whilst Andrew Jordan took the first pole position for the NGTC Honda Civic at a wet Thruxton.
Dave Newsham took a surprise pole position at the first round of the Championship in his Vauxhall Vectra which accounts for the five pole positions of the season to date.
On fastest laps however, it’s a three-way tie between Gordon Shedden, Jason Plato and Tom Onslow-Cole:
In the independents’ trophy, Mat Jackson and Andrew Jordan both share four wins apiece:
Quite interestingly, the West Surrey Racing pair of Tom Onslow-Cole and Rob Collard also have two each. With single wins are Rob Austin, Frank Wrathall and Tony Gilham – the only other drivers to have won races in the independents’ class this season.
On pole positions, it’s Andrew Jordan who takes point…
Jordan has taken three independents’ class poles (one of those of course also an overall pole), the same applies to Dave Newsham – with Rob Collard the only other driver to have taken an independents’ pole. Though in the BTCC, there are no additional points for this achievement in the independents’ class.
Next a car based graph: this table looks at the average gap between the top placed of each model of car in qualifying using a percentage scale, and for the sake of making it better to visualise, scales that against a 1m30s lap to give a representative gap. In short, if all things were as they have been this year, this is the gap you should expect to see around any circuit where the best lap is 1m30s.
The Honda Civic comes out on top, even though it’s only claimed pole position twice in the first five weekends, with the Triple Eight MG6 just over three-tenths of a second behind.
THe BMW 320sis of West Surrey Racing, the NGTC Toyota Avensises and the Vauxhall Vectras of Team ES Racing and Team Wood Racing are also all within a second of the Championship leading Hondas.
The Motorbase Performance run Ford Focus STs are just outside of the second mark, with Rob Austin’s Audi A4s 1.7s down and the sole S2000-spec Honda Civic so far raced by Tony Gilham averaging 2.5 seconds off pace along with Ollie Jackson in the VW Golf.
The Proton Persona has been excluded from the chart as it was recorded with an excessively slow time due to problems in qualifying at Brands Hatch which creates a unusable average.
Next, a look at the drivers’ average finishing positions:
This table does not count DNFs, so when a driver finishes this is the overall average position, which shows it’s pretty close at the top with Gordon Shedden the top finisher averaging 2.8. Jason Plato finishes on average in third position, with Matt Neal averaging 3.3 in the other Honda.
Andrew Jordan also shows his consistency with 4.4, and Mat Jackson’s early season form keeps him up the sharp end with an average spot of 5.2.
On the other side of the table, John Thorne’s average of 16.5 is an average from his few finishes recorded, since the team have been absent since Donington Park. The three Speedworks ‘ drivers also show down this end of the table, with Paul O’Neill averaging in one weekend where Tony Hughes and Adam Morgan have been finishing all season in the NGTC Toyota Avensises, just behind Chris James and Ollie Jackson in their S2000 cars.
Looking at best finishing position…
The best finishing position of the season shows that Andrew Jordan, Tom Onslow-Cole and Dave Newsham have been just one step away from victory this year, with Tony Gilham, Rob Austin and Frank Wrathall as the only other podium finishers.
Just outside of the podium has been Jeff Smith and Dan Welch in their NGTC Honda and Proton cars respectively, with Lea Wood high on the table with a best finish of fifth in the ex-Triple Eight Vauxhall Vectra.
John Thorne again brings up the rear. Paul O’Neill, Adam Morgan, Tony Hughes and Chris James are the only other drivers to have never finished within the top ten so far (and so would be yet to score points using the previous points system).
Lastly a look at reliability…
This is one of the more interesting tables, which shows that only one driver has a completely clean record when it comes to reliability and that’s West Surrey Racing’s Rob Collard.
Matt Neal and Nick Foster are recorded as the next most reliable drivers, with Andrew Jordan, Gordon Shedden, Lea Wood and Tom Onslow-Cole next – showing the new Hondas and the West Surrey Racing BMW teams and drivers to be the most reliable.
On the opposite end, Adam Morgan leads the DNF charts with nine DNFs against his 14 starts of the season (and one DNS).
It’ll be interesting to see what the last half of the 2012 BTCC season brings.